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Govt pays price for ignoring speed cam warnings

 EARLIER this year the CPSU gave the Government a report that clearly said sacking cutting civilian speed camera operators would be a bad decision for road safety.

The report warned that

– Camera operations would return to a kerbside based system with cameras deployed at the closest possible location. This would mean deployment was not at all aligned to improving road safety, as about 63% of crashes happen in secondary high speed zone roads with 100kph limits.

– There’d be an increase in vandalism to the equipment

– The failure of equipment would surge.

But the warning was ignored, civilian operators were sacked and now some very ugly chickens are coming home to roost with media reports of plummeting speeding infringements, vandalism to camera vehicles and equipment breakdowns – as predicted.

Media reported recently that the state’s speed cameras used to issue between 2,000 and 3,000 tickets a month, but after civilian operators were laid-off fines had fallen to just 400, then as low as 177 in August.

The CPSU estimates from publically available information that Police would have issued about 10,500 speeding fines between 1 January 2012 and 31 August 2012, and according to the performance measures in the 2012-13 budget they should have issued 28977 over this period.

Although it’s difficult to covert this to a revenue lost figure as speeding fines range from $80 to $900, even taking a conservative average of $100 each, this represents revenue forgone of around $1.8M this year so far, and this revenue is much needed with the State’s current budget woes no secret.

Incidentally, the cost of employing 11 civilian camera operators fulltime over this 8 month period would have been around $300,000 or 1/6th of the revenue forgone.

It’s been reported that only half the cameras in the North and North-West are working and over the last few months speed cameras that would have been operated by civilians have been badly damaged, and civilian operators are a known deterrent for this vandalism.

Keeping this type of technology running reliably requires a skilled and dedicated workforce, and it was entirely predictable that asking Police to operate the cameras ‘off the side of their desks’ would result in greater breakdowns and fewer speed camera operating hours.

Recent callers to local radio spoke of increased speed cameras in urban and built up areas rather than in the high speed zones where serious crashes occur.

Tasmania Police blamed of the enormous drop in speeding ticket infringements on “software issues”, but the CPSU doesn’t accept the plummet in fines issued can be attributed to software issues.

It may have been a contributing factor but doesn’t explain the number of cameras that are currently unserviceable.

If the drop in fines was attributable to software issues that have now been resolved we should expect the number of fines in September to rise from the 177 we saw in August to the 3570 that was forecast in the budget.

The Government failed to listen and is paying the price in lost Treasury revenue, which is desperately needed.

Even more disturbingly, Tasmanians will also pay the price, with the decision’s impact on road safety not yet fully realised.

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