Source: The Mercury, Thursday, July 20, 1995, pp. 1-2
By STUART DIWELL
SPEED cameras have significantly helped cut the Tasmanian road toll saving the state millions of dollars. When they were first introduced in March 1993 about 3.4 per cent of drivers were speeding. After two years of operation, barely 1 per cent of drivers are detected speeding. Police Traffic Liaison Unit head Barry Stephens said yesterday: "Since the intro- duction of speed cameras Tasmania has recorded its lowest fatality rates since sta- tistics were recorded - 58 deaths on our roads for both 1993 and 1994." In 1992 there were 74 deaths on Tasmanian roads. The Federal Bureau of Transport and Communications Economics estimates each road death costs the economy $752,400 which equates to a saving of $12 million to the state in 1992 and 1993. Inspector Stephens said the number of veh- icles checked by speed cameras had also risen dramatically. In 1993-94 speed cameras checked 2,417,300 vehicles. In 1994-95 it had risen to 4,227,904. "The risk to drivers driving through a speed camera check has almost doubled but it must be remembered there is no risk to driv- ers who do not speed," Inspector Stephens said. Traffic Liaison Unit sergeant Gary Eastwood said speed cameras were the latest in a series of safety initiatives intro- duced since 1970 which had played a major role in reducing the road toll. In 1971 the Tasman- ian road toll was 130 but this fell to 106 the following year with the introduction of compul- sory seatbelt use. In 1982, the toll was 96 but this plummeted to 70 the following year with the introduction of random breath testing and the .05 blood-alco- hol limit. "With each of these measures we have seen an improvement in the number of lives saved on our roads," Sergeant Eastwood said. "That is what we are on about. We are not out there trying to raise revenue. "In fact, the best re- sult we could get would be to go out there and not hand out any fines because it would mean we had not detected any- one speeding." Sergeant Eastwood said the most common speeding offences were drivers travelling be- tween 15kmh and 29kmh over the limit. This carries a $110 fine and the loss of three demerit points. Sergeant Eastwood also defended the deci- sion to use speed camer- as outside designated blackspot areas, a move that has attracted some criticism from members of the Legislative Council. "One of the biggest enemies to road safety is driver complacency," he said. "If they know a cer- tain area has been de- signated they will take more care there, which is good, but they will not necessarily change their driving behaviour else- where. "Our experience shows that when we move to a new location we find a higher level of speeding offences but the more we come back the less offenders we detect. "Drivers have to real- ise they run the risk anywhere in the state of being detected if they speed. That is the way we will get them to mod- ify their behaviour even if we cannot eliminate speeding entirely." In 1994-95 revenue from speed camera fines was $3.8 million with a similar amount ex- pected to be raised this financial year. Battery Point Pro- gress Association presi- dent and Labor MHA John White said the community was now rec- ognising speed cameras as an important tool in lowering the road toll. Mr White said the money raised from speed camera fines should be used to ensure speed limit signage was ade- quate, including paint- ing speed limits on roads, and reflected the capacity of the road. Mr White said another step should also be to reduce speed limits on roads in high-density population areas such as Battery Point, Lutana and Goodwood. He said cutting the speed limit in these areas from 60kmh to 50kmh would cut road accidents by 30 per cent.
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