Monday, 09 February 2009 10:30

K-ching!

Income from low range speeding fines has more than doubled in the last year putting an extra $4.6 million into government coffers.

Around 52,000 fines were sent to motorists in 2008, well up on the 18,165 issued in 2007 when changed tolerances on speed cameras started to catch unsuspecting drivers travelling between 50 and 60 kph in a 50kph zone.

The figures are revealed in a letter to Shadow Transport Minister Duncan McFetridge, replying to a written question to the government in October last year.

“The figures are quite staggering,” Dr McFetridge said.

“Even though the 50kph default speed limit was introduced in 2003, it was rare for motorists to be fined if they were in the 50-60 range.

“But policy changes saw fines imposed in 2007 and once government got a taste for the money, they have now ramped up the attention on drivers who can’t keep their eye on the speedo every second they are driving.”

Dr McFetridge’s colleague and Shadow Attorney-General Isobel Redmond, who spent 10 years on the Road Safety Advisory Council said constituents were complaining to her about the location of speed cameras and other devices.

“Their view is that the areas they are being trapped are not areas where safety is the concern, but the higher likelihood that you might slip over the limit,” Ms Redmond said.

“We all know the safety message and we all know that slower driving is safer driving, but putting speed cameras at the bottom of a hill, or close to zones where it’s confusing whether its 50 or 60 are more about catching someone than it is about safety.

“I have people coming to my electorate office that have driven for 20 and 30 years and never had a fine for speeding and they are quite embarrassed and angered by the fine.”

Dr McFetridge said the written reply from Police Minister Michael Wright had inadvertently confirmed that the practice of fining people in low speed ranges had changed.

“The Government has never wanted to confirm publicly that it applied a tolerance in the 50-60 range and that the tolerance had changed.

“But the letter advises that the practice of issuing infringement notices started in March 2007, four years after the 50kph default speed limit first started.”


Dr McFetridge had posed the written question after an answer to previous questions showed that no fines had been issued in the range 50-59 kph since 2002.

In total, the Rann Government’s take from speeding fines since 2002 has been more than $200 million.

A total of 1.38 million fines had been issued.

“No one has any argument with catching reckless or dangerous drivers, nor anyone who regularly exceeds the limit, but these figures show that people who inadvertently cross over the limit, often due to uncertainty about the speed limit, are being pinged more than ever.”

Text of question and answer:

SPEEDING FINES

            354       Dr McFETRIDGE (Morphett) (21 October 2008).  For each year since 2002:
            (a)        how many motorists were detected speeding and how much revenue was raised by the use of speed cameras, laser guns or other means in the default range of 50 59 kph?
            (b)        how many speeding fines were challenged; and
            (c)        how many cases were not proceeded with once the fine was challenged?

            The Hon. M.J. WRIGHT (Lee—Minister for Police, Minister for Emergency Services, Minister for Recreation, Sport and Racing):  For the years 2002-06, no infringement notices were issued for the offence of speeding in a default speed zone 50-59 kph as the 50k default did not come into effect until March 2007.
            For the year 2007, 18,165 notices were issued and $3,196,512 was expiated. 34 defendants elected to be prosecuted. One notice was withdrawn/not proceeded with by prosecution.
            For the year 2008 to 30 October, 43,835 notices have been issued and $7,799,398 expiated. 73 defendants have elected to be prosecuted and one matter has been withdrawn/not proceeded with by prosecution.

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