Hey Google, Show Me All Speed Cameras In NSW
The State Liberal government is reportedly floating ideas to remove warning signs positioned ahead of NSW speed cameras which could open up opportunities to the likes of Google who could potentially increase its user base with add-in warnings to their Map applications for speed cameras, as fear spread over Andrew Constance’s revenue-raising recommendations.
Initially reported by the Daily Telegraph, Roads Minister Andrew Constance has switched his stance citing expert advice that removing the signs could save an additional 54 lives per year if implemented, despite the state government rejecting any suggestions speed camera warning signs would be removed.
‘Signage defeats the purpose in changing people’s behaviours,’ said Mr Constance when defending his position on the matter, saying the state government would consider any advice that saves lives.
The NRMA has expressed opposition to the Berejiklian government stance with spokesperson Peter Khoury particularly concerned over possible revenue motivations.
‘Obviously we don’t support it,’ said Mr Khoury when asked about removing speed camera signage, stating that warnings and visibility of cameras are part of the deterrence and should not be seen as revenue-raisers, though Sydney drivers have already been issued $104 million in speed cameras fines in the last twelve months.
The NRMA offered an alternative to removing signage, suggesting increased police presence could help reduce the death toll on NSW roads, claiming that clearly marked police vehicles were the best deterrents to speeding and reckless driving.
This position change by the state government is especially concerning as speed camera revenue has reduced dramatically by almost $80 million this year, with forecasts expected to reach $160 million next year thanks in part to new mobile cameras that can detect drivers using mobile phones, which will not have warning signs.
It comes after the recent rollout of Digital Licenses in NSW, where more than 600,000 people have created a digital pass already in the first week of its unofficial launch.
‘We’ve always put the customer at the heart of everything we do,’ said Gladys Berejikilian at the launch, characterising the people of New South Wales as customers rather than citizens.
Now it seems there is a genuine possibility that the warning signs for speed cameras may go digital as well, posing the question, if the Liberal state government, headed by Gladys Berejikilian, remove signs will they outlaw third-party warnings within online map applications?
Currently, applications such as Waze, and some proprietary GPS navigation systems within motor vehicles, will periodically warn drivers when approaching speed traps and for speed limit changes.
Waze, which is owned by Google, displays all fixed speed cameras but also allows users to add the location of mobile speed cameras and RBTs through a real-time reporting system.
Funnily enough, PerthNow covered the Waze app back in February 2017, titling the article ‘How to never get a speeding fine again with the Waze app’.
In Google Maps, for example, speed camera alerts can be enabled by turning the ‘Speedometer’ on which will then provide audio signals when approaching a speed camera.
At the time, news.com.au labelled Google’s speed camera warning feature, which was inherited from Waze, as though drivers could wave goodbye to speeding fines; or Waze goodbye to them.
For those using these map applications while driving effectively have two sets of warnings, one being the digital alerts from your smartphone, while the other is the physical warning signs placed on NSW roads.
The law currently states that a warning sign must be placed 250 metres ahead of the mobile speed camera, though curiously when first introduced by the state Labor government in 2010, they were placed without warning signs.
Even at that time, NSW Roads Minister David Borger rejected the rationale that warning signs for fixed speed cameras should be removed.
Warning signs and high visibility markings for mobile speed cameras were introduced by then Road Minister Duncan Gay, stating, ‘we don’t want your money – we want you to slow down – we want to save your life and the lives of your loved ones’.
At the time Minister Gay echoed the NRMA’s suggestion that high visibility was critical to deter drivers from speeding saying, ‘I’ve also increased the trucks’ visibility and put speed limits on signs to get more people to slow down’.
‘Today’s landmark changes make what is already the most visible program in the country, even more obvious to motorists.’
Where the backflip has occurred is still unclear, but what is clear is that the Liberal state government is proposing to remove this deterrence under the guise that it will save lives, rather than put more at risk.
Andrew Tiedt from Armstrong Legal said ‘there was no law against telling someone where a camera might be’; however, this could all soon change.
In the last NSW Auditor-General report (October 2018), suggestions were initially made to remove warnings signs for mobile speed cameras, with Margaret Crawford claiming the current system did not effectively prevent drivers from speeding, explicitly criticising mobile speed cameras for not being placed as randomly as required.
The report stated that general speed surveys indicated 28% of drivers travel at up to 10km/h over the limit and over 5% at more than 10km/h over, however, less than 0.1% of drivers that pass a mobile speed camera in Australia is fined.
At the time of the report, then transport minister, Melinda Pavey, ruled out pulling down signs ‘like they do in Victoria’, although, Andrew Constance does not hold these same sentiments.
For a current list of all speed cameras in NSW, please refer to the State Transport website.