Mobile speed camera locations should be kept secret to reinforce the “anywhere, anytime” message, Road Safety Minister Michelle Roberts believes.
She has asked WA Police to consider stopping advertising where kerbside mobile cameras will be, a move backed by prominent road safety expert Max Cameron who says covert cameras are proven to be more effective at widespread speed reduction and cutting fatal crashes.
But it has raised concerns from shadow police and road safety minister Peter Katsambanis that it could give camera critics ammunition for their “revenue-raising” claims.
“It is important to make sure we are putting speed cameras in the most dangerous locations, not the locations that will drive revenue and we need transparency,” he said.
A WA Police spokeswoman said they would consider the Minister’s request. “The current arrangement to publicise speed camera locations has been in place for many years and is one of many efforts to increase awareness of road safety,” she said.
Mrs Roberts’s move has been prompted by revelations a company is marketing a GPS device to WA motorists as a speed camera locator and legal way to “avoid tickets and stay safe”, which she slammed as a “stupid gimmick”.
“Drivers considering this purchase should be aware that it won’t alert them to dash-mounted speed detectors in police cars,” she said.
The device alerts drivers to fixed speed and red light cameras and school zones – which other satellite navigation equipment provides. But motorists with the in-car devices can also log the sites of mobile cameras to alert other device owners.
Acting Road Safety Commissioner Teresa Williams said if drivers travelled at safe speeds, they would not be concerned about the need to avoid a speeding ticket.
“It’s unfortunate that this product has been marketed in a way that appeals to drivers who like to exceed the speed limit and put lives at risk,” she said.
“Speed cameras are just one tool the WA Police Force uses to deter drivers from exceeding speed limits and save lives on our roads.”
Speeding is linked to the deaths of about 60 people in crashes on WA roads each year.
WA’s 2018 road fatality rate was 33 per cent above the national average, according to the Federal Government’s latest road fatalities report released this week.
The RAC said that was the worst of any mainland State and 84 per cent higher than Victoria’s rate.
RAC Corporate Affairs general manager Will Golsby said speeding was the leading cause of deaths and serious injuries on WA roads.
“RAC supports a range of strategies being used to enforce speed limits including both overt and covert measures, red light cameras and point to point technology, as well as increased police presence on our roads,” he said.
Max Cameron, from the Monash University Accident Research Centre, supported Mrs Robert’s call, saying analysis of enforcement in Victoria and Queensland showed covert cameras were more effective at widespread reduction of speeding.
“It particular it reduces the really excessive speeding and that translates into bigger savings in fatal crashes,” Professor Cameron said. “It is all about giving drivers this fear of being caught anywhere at any time.”
Professor Cameron said he believed West Australians still felt they had a right to exceed speed limits, whereas there was a change in social attitudes in other states where speeding was regarded negatively, similarly to the view of drink driving.
He said police and Government Ministers had to stop apologising for enforcing speed limits and penalising drivers who flouted the laws.
A WA Police Force spokesperson said police had a job to keep people safe on the roads by enforcing road rules.
“Any advance in technology that could alert or remind a driver that they might be exceeding the speed limit, that they are approaching a school zone and which may help keep road users safe, would always be welcome,” they said. “However, motorists should be reminded not to rely on technology alone to make decisions about their speed or the manner of their driving.”
The company that sells the camera locator devices did not return calls from The West Australian.