This guy did not use a speed camera
I am not a massive fan of those crime shows on the telly but there is one thing I have noticed about them which they all have in common.
As a general rule, crime shows are either set in a tough, gritty city, such as CSI Miami, or involve dogged if jaded cops on the edge of policing at its most brutal, such as Law and Order: Special Victims Unit.
It is probably for this reason that no producer has made a show called Law and Order: Speed Cameras, which chronicles the life and times of a hard-bitten copper who spends his days pointing a laser gun at passing Commodores in that confusing 70 km/h zone just outside of Swan Hill.
It simply would not rate. And it surely is not the thing which young men and women dream about when contemplating a life in the force. Locking up scumbags would seem to be where it’s at, not harassing law-abiding people who accidentally creep a few clicks past the permitted speed limit, often on stretches of road where the maximum changes so frequently that you need the mental powers of a savant to work out how fast you should be going anyway.
It surprises me that at a time when the public wants more police on the beat that no state politician anywhere in the land has hit upon this as an election slogan. If elected, my government will immediately pull out every single police officer from behind a speed gun or speed camera and redeploy them all on frontline duties. In their place we will maintain a sensible number of mechanised and mobile speed cameras which will be placed around the city and state, at different locations and at different times, in areas where speed is a problem and accidents have occurred. You’d get about a million votes for that in a jiffy.
There is a tremendous gulf between what the police and the government say is the intent of speed cameras and what the hard-bitten motorist thinks of them. I would not seek to defend speeding but there is a completely understandable view on the part of law-abiding motorists that it is largely about revenue. Especially when you will get pinged for being just a couple of kilometres over in areas where the speeds are so low that fatal crashes would not occur. Especially when you pick up the paper and read about recidivist offenders with dozens of unpaid fines who are usually driving without a licence anyway.
There are two things which are currently underway in Victoria and NSW which have aroused the suspicion of motorists. The first is the reinstatement of the fixed cameras along the Hume Highway which in a number of cases were found to have been faulty. Those cameras confirmed the view of many motorists which is that you often think you weren’t speeding but cop it sweet anyway, rationalising that there is nothing you can do anyway to challenge a fine.
The second is the phasing out of the confusing speed limits particularly in regional areas which in the past have caught generally well-behaved motorists not because they are driving flat out, but flat out knowing how fast they should go. On the face of it the rationalisations sound like they make sense – the government is getting rid of the 50kmh and 70kmh zones to have a standardised system where the maximum fluctuates in 20kmh increments.
What strikes me as suss is the plan to increase the number of 40 kmh zones. I know so many people who have been done for doing just a few kms over the limit in these irritating 40kmh zones which, outside of a school setting or an area with high pedestrian traffic, seem to be merely the latest flank in the revenue war, letting governments and police criminalise conduct which is both accidental and highly unlikely to make any difference to the overall road toll.
You can certainly make the case for the proper and vigilant policing of motorists in 60 km/h zones. A recent story in The Herald-Sun found that speeds in 60km/h zones has dropped by 10 per cent since 1998.
The average metropolitan speed in that year was 70.6km/h. By last year, it was down to 63.3km/h. In that period, the annual road toll in 60km/h zones in metropolitan Melbourne plunged from 102 to 30.
``The statistics show the camera system is working, drivers are slowing down and that saves lives,’’ said Victoria’s top traffic officer, Assistant Commissioner Robert Hill. ``If you don’t speed, you have nothing to worry about. It’s only those in the minority who speed who have a problem with the cameras.’‘
That is obviously true, but extending the same philosophy from a 60 kmh zone to a 40 kmh zone looks less like a public safety measure than an attempt to make up any shortfall from the fact that fewer people are going over the limit in 60 kmh zones.
And whatever the police might say, the more pertinent question remains – at a time when every Australian state has been appalled by the increasingly brazen and open violence by outfits such as bikies, why should the time of a single police officer be wasted sitting behind these cameras anyway? Are they working to protect and serve, or are they working for Treasury?
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