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Speed cameras are bunk? [With poll]

By johnboy - 25 June 2012 57

speed camera

The Liberals’ Alistair Coe is wearing his Member for Motorists hat and taking a swing at the safety impacts of fixed speed cameras:

Information obtained by the Canberra Liberals shows the ACT Labor Government’s fixed speed cameras are failing to reduce accidents, with accident rates actually increasing at most of the camera locations. ACT Shadow Urban Services Minister Alistair Coe said today this is evidence of the government’s flawed speed camera strategy, which prioritises revenue over safety.

“Overall, accidents have increased by 40 per cent at fixed speed camera sites, while revenue continues to rise in the millions of dollars,” Mr Coe said.

“It’s clear that instead of installing fixed speed cameras in places that will raise the most revenue, the government should be taking an evidence based approach to road safety.

Fixed speed cameras

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57 Responses to
Speed cameras are bunk? [With poll]
helium 1:14 pm 25 Jun 12

Looking at the source data there is no mention of how the accidents were measured (distance before or after the camera) ? e.g can you attribute an accident on a roundabout to a camera that was passed long ago or not yet reached.

Or the severity/type of the accident ? or of other reference material like general trend, comparison to other road sections over that time, etc, or of other factors (roadworks, traffic volume, DUI, using mobiles, etc).

If the claim is for “revenue raising”, why are those figures not included ? are cameras detecting more speeding that then correlates with accidents ? theoretically these well known sites should have revenue approaching zero, given slow down and speed up behaviors.

Personally I like these cameras, as it means I can merge with traffic or change lanes (to make room for merging traffic) on the parkway.

Unfortunately the camera’s don’t actually catch the perpetual speeders as they simply slow down for 10 seconds then continue on again at 20+ over the limit, hence point to point.

FioBla 11:44 am 25 Jun 12

When NSW Liberals swept to power (2011), Barry O’Farrell removed 30-something “revenue raising” speed cameras.

This month (June 2012), his Roads Minister (Duncan Gay) introduced 40+ mobile speed camera vehicles, and 100+ red light cameras. Of course the word is this is for saving lives, not for revenue. And the (now) opposition Labor calls it a cash grab.

I think this is pretty much what the ACT Liberals are proposing. Just come out and say it:

“Overall, accidents have increased by 40 per cent at fixed speed camera sites, while revenue continues to rise in the millions of dollars,”; “It’s clear that instead of installing fixed speed cameras in places that will raise the most revenue, the government should be taking an evidence based approach to road safety.”, “While fixed speed cameras may have a place, they cannot be robustly deployed like mobile speed cameras.”

just means: we will perform an audit, replace fixed speed cameras with even more mobile ones, and install some current fixed ones in different places.

Which may be fine. Just don’t make it sound like: “Speed cameras, we removes them”.

chewy14 11:35 am 25 Jun 12

gasman said :

There are lies, there are damned lies and then there are statistics.

I just had to sit down and actually examine the data that Coe presents, as it boggled my mind that accidents would increase with the installation of speed cameras.

As a scientific study, this set of data would not get past the first step of peer review. It would be laughed out of the room.

Firstly, there is no control group. Every scientific study needs a valid control – something to compare data to. It is a longitudinal study – ie looking at trends over time. It does not, and cannot compare the rates of accidents with and without cameras at the same time and under the same road conditions. It is entirely possible (and quite likely) that without the speed cameras, the accident rate would have increased even further.

Secondly, there are so may possible confounders. Most importantly, the amount of traffic on those roads has not been discussed. As traffic rises, accidents rise much more than proportionally. Congestion creates a higher incidence of accidents. The absolute amount of accidents does not mean much – the accident rate per car or per car.km travelled would be far more relevant.

The location of these accident have not been shown. Do they mean accidents along the entire stretch of the road (most of which is not enforced by speed cameras), or just that bit near the speed cameras?

Thirdly, the word “accident” has not been defined. Is it possible that there has been a rise in minor collisions (usually not speed-related) but fatal or injury-causing accidents (usually speed related) have decreased?

This set of data is absolutely useless and it is not valid to draw any meaningful conclusions from it. It is shameful that a politician is doing so to score points.

I think bad science is par for the course when politicians talk about speed cameras.

Its similar to the way the government used accident rates on the whole of Hindmarsh drive to justify the P2P cameras, completely ignoring the fact that most of the accidents occured at intersections that were never going to be included in the P2P stretch of road.

Mysteryman 11:23 am 25 Jun 12

Gungahlin Al said :

Correlation does not equal causation.

Unless you’re lobbying to install the cameras, right?

Mysteryman 11:20 am 25 Jun 12

gasman said :

There are lies, there are damned lies and then there are statistics.

I just had to sit down and actually examine the data that Coe presents, as it boggled my mind that accidents would increase with the installation of speed cameras.

As a scientific study, this set of data would not get past the first step of peer review. It would be laughed out of the room.

Firstly, there is no control group. Every scientific study needs a valid control – something to compare data to. It is a longitudinal study – ie looking at trends over time. It does not, and cannot compare the rates of accidents with and without cameras at the same time and under the same road conditions. It is entirely possible (and quite likely) that without the speed cameras, the accident rate would have increased even further.

Secondly, there are so may possible confounders. Most importantly, the amount of traffic on those roads has not been discussed. As traffic rises, accidents rise much more than proportionally. Congestion creates a higher incidence of accidents. The absolute amount of accidents does not mean much – the accident rate per car or per car.km travelled would be far more relevant.

The location of these accident have not been shown. Do they mean accidents along the entire stretch of the road (most of which is not enforced by speed cameras), or just that bit near the speed cameras?

Thirdly, the word “accident” has not been defined. Is it possible that there has been a rise in minor collisions (usually not speed-related) but fatal or injury-causing accidents (usually speed related) have decreased?

This set of data is absolutely useless and it is not valid to draw any meaningful conclusions from it. It is shameful that a politician is doing so to score points.

I’m not denying the validity of the points you make, but I doubt the ACT government used proper research methods when they were scrounging for stats to justify installing the cameras in the first place.

Gungahlin Al 11:14 am 25 Jun 12

Correlation does not equal causation.
But let’s not let proof get in the way of a beat-up in the name of some “free ink” with some lazy journos.

gasman 10:54 am 25 Jun 12

There are lies, there are damned lies and then there are statistics.

I just had to sit down and actually examine the data that Coe presents, as it boggled my mind that accidents would increase with the installation of speed cameras.

As a scientific study, this set of data would not get past the first step of peer review. It would be laughed out of the room.

Firstly, there is no control group. Every scientific study needs a valid control – something to compare data to. It is a longitudinal study – ie looking at trends over time. It does not, and cannot compare the rates of accidents with and without cameras at the same time and under the same road conditions. It is entirely possible (and quite likely) that without the speed cameras, the accident rate would have increased even further.

Secondly, there are so may possible confounders. Most importantly, the amount of traffic on those roads has not been discussed. As traffic rises, accidents rise much more than proportionally. Congestion creates a higher incidence of accidents. The absolute amount of accidents does not mean much – the accident rate per car or per car.km travelled would be far more relevant.

The location of these accident have not been shown. Do they mean accidents along the entire stretch of the road (most of which is not enforced by speed cameras), or just that bit near the speed cameras?

Thirdly, the word “accident” has not been defined. Is it possible that there has been a rise in minor collisions (usually not speed-related) but fatal or injury-causing accidents (usually speed related) have decreased?

This set of data is absolutely useless and it is not valid to draw any meaningful conclusions from it. It is shameful that a politician is doing so to score points.

p1 10:37 am 25 Jun 12

Thumper said :

Put more of them in, especially at schools, after all it’s just an idiot tax.

But if the stats ALCO states are true, that would increase accidents at schools. We don’t want that.

eh_steve 10:37 am 25 Jun 12

Also, I eagerly await the release from the Canberra Liberals that say they plan to reduce the number of accidents by 40 per cent, by removing speed cameras.

Jungle Jim 10:36 am 25 Jun 12

Thumper said :

Put more of them in, especially at schools, after all it’s just an idiot tax.

I agree in part. I reckon they should have point to point speed camera at every school zone. I assume they’re fairly easily adjustable or programmable to monitor the 40 zone during weekdays 0800 – 1600 and 60 at all other times.

eh_steve 10:33 am 25 Jun 12

While Mr Coe talks about accident rates, he only refers to accident occurences.

For this to be truly accurate, Mr Coe would have to analyse how many cars are travelling that section of road each day, and use that to work out the rate of accidents.

Traffic volumes change over time, and a figure of accidents per thousand vehicles would be the only way you could compare year on year data.

Who knows, it may make his point even more strongly, but one would hope for elected officials to be more aware of how rates and statistics work.

Mysteryman 10:32 am 25 Jun 12

I wanted to vote in the poll, but I think the two options presented are pretty pointless in relation to the article and neither of them apply to me.

I agree with Mr Coe on this 100%. I’d love to know why the hell it took him so long to figure this out – presumably he realised just in time for the upcoming election. Unfortunately for him (or me, depending on how you look at it) I don’t believe that he would actually do anything about the issue were he elected to government.

Thumper 10:20 am 25 Jun 12

Put more of them in, especially at schools, after all it’s just an idiot tax.

bundah 10:09 am 25 Jun 12

The money the govt spent on the point to point speed cameras on Hindmarsh Drive could have been used more wisely to install speed and red light cameras at Hindmarsh Dalrymple and Hindmarsh Jerrabombera where numerous accidents involving fatalities have occurred over the years!

Felix the Cat 9:53 am 25 Jun 12

As if Liberals would get rid of them if they were in power…AC is just taking a leaf out of Tony Abbott’s book and bagging out opposition policy just for the sake of it, and without coming up with any alternatives or solutions themselves.

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