Are speed cameras just for revenue?

covert speed cameras

President of Queensland Police Union caused a stir recently when he claimed covert speed cameras were for revenue only. He also said too much time passes between speeding and getting a ticket for the fine to be relevant. No doubt, many would agree with him. But Queensland police are determined to keep using unmarked mobile speed cameras.

Cameras in Queensland

Across the state, there are currently 18 unmarked mobile speed camera vehicles in use. Unmarked or covert speed cameras capture drivers who are not expecting to be photographed. They are different from marked mobile or fixed cameras where drivers are warned there is a camera. During 2016-17 financial year:

  • Police issued 106,741 speeding fines (40%) using covert mobile speed cameras
  • Police caught 163,176 speeding drivers using marked mobile speed cameras
  • Total number of fines issued was 269,917.

Assistant Commissioner says the balance between marked and covert cameras is good. They have no plans to reduce the number of covert speed cameras on Queensland roads.

Do speed cameras work?

It is hard to be certain that speed cameras save lives, when so many factors influence the road toll. Police cite a 2017 study of the Queensland Camera Detected Offence Program. This study found the program was associated with 30% reduction in police-reported casualty crashes in 2013, 27% reduction in 2014 and 24% reduction in 2015.

In fact, road accident figures for 2017 in Queensland are slightly better than they were in 2016:

  • 247 people died, four less than during 2016
  • Fatality rate was 5.01 per 100,000 population, 3.2% lower than 5.18 during 2016
  • Queensland’s fatality rate was fourth behind ACT, Victoria and NSW.

The Queensland government has budgeted an extra 46% in speeding fines for the next three years. This seems to suggest that, in spite of all measures to promote road safety, it does not expect drivers to start slowing down.