Mobile speed camera vehicles to lose high-visibility decals, operating hours to triple

CHANGES: A mobile speed camera vehicle parked on the side of a suburban road. The 45 vehicles deployed statewide will soon have their high-visibility decals either reduced or removed. Picture: Les Smith
CHANGES: A mobile speed camera vehicle parked on the side of a suburban road. The 45 vehicles deployed statewide will soon have their high-visibility decals either reduced or removed. Picture: Les Smith

ALL mobile speed camera vehicles in NSW will soon have their high-visibility decals either entirely removed or reduced as part of changes which include tripling the operating hours of the 45 vehicles deployed statewide.

The suite of alterations to the mobile speed camera program began in December when signs previously displayed before and after the vehicles were removed.

It came after NSW government unveiled the changes in November on the back of a recommendation from the NSW Auditor General, who in 2018 advised it to compare its program to those of other Australian jurisdictions.

Transport Minister Andrew Constance and Regional Transport Minister Paul Toole announced the vehicles would no longer have warning signs, decals would be reduced and enforcement would be tripled from 7000 hours per month to 21,000.

Monash University modelling showed the changes could save between 34 and 43 lives, and prevent 600 serious injuries each year.

"This is about changing culture and changing behaviour," Mr Constance said.

"We've seen it happen with our world-leading mobile phone detection program, where the rate of people offending has steadily declined.

"No warning signs mean you can be caught anywhere, anytime and we want that same culture around mobile speed cameras."

Some vehicles have already been spotted in the Hunter without their decals, and Transport for NSW confirmed more would lose them over coming months.

About 70 per cent of vehicles will have their decals reduced and 30 per cent will have them removed entirely.

The vehicles are privately operated and the expansion of hours, which is subject to a tendering process, is expected to be implemented in the second half of 2021.

"These changes bring the program into line with other states," Transport for NSW Deputy Secretary for Safety, Environment and Regulation Tara McCarthy said.

"Every dollar generated from [fines] goes directly into delivering road safety initiatives.

"This will directly benefit regional drivers as any additional funding will be used to accelerate the roll out of life-saving road safety projects, including thousands of kilometres of audio-tactile line markings, wide centre lines and more crash barriers."

The locations of where the cameras regularly operate are published on the Centre for Road Safety's website.

Independent Lake Macquarie MP Greg Piper said the reduction of high-visibility operations was a concern.

"Hiding speed cameras in unmarked random cars on roadsides does nothing to promote 'high visibility policing', but does erode public confidence in government and police and promotes the theory that it's all about raising revenue," he said.

"Efforts to reduce speeding on our roads should rely on visibility and awareness as well as the use of fines and penalties.

"I think most people at some stage creep above the speed limit and while that's not the right thing to do, it is a reality and not always wilful.

"Seeing a police car or a mobile speed camera can be that gentle reminder to a driver that they've crept above the speed limit - a gentle nudge rather than getting the heavy hand of the law.

"Even for those drivers who aren't speeding, driving past fixed cameras that are clearly identified or seeing a police car is usually taken as a prompt to check the speedo."

This story Mobile speed cameras to lose decals, operating hours to triple first appeared on Newcastle Herald.