15 Sep 2011

Big rise in speed camera tickets

3:59 pm on 15 September 2011

The number of speed camera tickets being issued almost doubled last year compared to the year before.

In 2010, there were 627,000 infringements - almost double the previous year and more than 200,000 above the four-year average between 2006 and 2009.

Figures also show 200,000 tickets were issued by the country's 55 speed cameras in the first four months of this year.

Superintendent Paula Rose, the national road policing manager, says the increase is due to the introduction of digital cameras, better deployment of resources and reducing the speed tolerance during holiday periods.

She says the cameras are there for road safety and not to generate revenue.

However road safety consultant and crash investigator Hamish Piercy, who was a police officer for more than a decade, says the huge jump in tickets does smack of revenue gathering.

And he says international research indicates that speed cameras, especially hidden cameras, are not particularly effective in making drivers slow down.

Road safety commentator Clive Matthew-Wilson, of car review website dogandlemon.com, also says peppering drivers with speed camera tickets doesn't work.

"There is very little evidence that speed cameras stop offending by the highest risk groups," he says.

The chief executive of road safety group BRAKE, Mary Williams, disagrees, saying speed cameras have been proven over and over again, in various pieces of research, to be effective.

"Anybody who is breaking the speed limit and is caught by a speed camera deserves to be penalised because they're breaking a safety law." Ms Williams says roads are safer when the law is strictly enforced.

Of the $206 million in issued tickets, about $150 million has been paid into the Government's consolidated fund, with the rest either overdue or referred to the courts.

The site resposible for the most tickets this year is Great North Road in West Auckland, which issued more than 8,600 infringements.

The Automobile Association says brightly covered and signposted speed cameras would do more to improve road safety than hidden cameras do.

Spokesperson Mike Noon told Morning Report that might result in less tickets but would encourage people to slow down in key areas.