Camera Myths : Western Australia Police

Source: Western Australian Police

Western Australian Police Logo

Myth: “Speed cameras are all about raising revenue.”

There are many myths about traffic cameras, offences and fines. See the facts below.

Fact: The use of speed cameras results in fewer people speeding and consequently fewer crashes, hospital admissions and loss of life. The money received from speeding fines is a fraction of the overall cost of serious injuries caused by speed-related crashes, estimated to be $1.16 billion per year. The Western Australia Police does not want to fine you, they simply want you to slow down. A third of the money collected from speed and redlight camera infringements goes into the Road Trauma Trust Fund and is spent on various road safety programs.

Myth: “Speed cameras do not make a difference to road safety.”

Fact: Speed cameras protect West Australians by reducing speed which is a major cause of road trauma from crashes. The presence of speed cameras is an ongoing reminder for motorists to slow down. Speeding is illegal and is a factor in one in every three road deaths. Police officers can’t be everywhere all of the time and so speed cameras are used to discourage speeding motorists. Speed enforcement measures are not about raising revenue. They’re about slowing drivers down and a slower average speed translates into reduced crashes. The effectiveness of speed cameras in lowering crash rates and reducing deaths and injuries is backed by volumes of research and overseas studies.

Myth: “Speed cameras aren’t accurate.”

Fact: There are strict requirements for the accuracy of speed cameras. To ensure this accuracy, the testing and maintenance of cameras in WA exceeds the standards required by the manufacturer and are among the most stringent and robust in the world. This rigorous standard of regular testing looks at both the primary and speed comparison measurement devices to ensure speed accuracy and speed reliability. Where applicable, an independent contractor assesses each device on a regular basis and provides a compliance report which can be used in court as proof that the device was tested and found to be operating correctly.

Myth: “Speed cameras are in sneaky positions.”

Fact: The Western Australia Police is happy for drivers to be aware of speed camera locations to encourage them to slow down and save themselves from being in a serious or fatal collision. Camera locations can be found on the ‘Camera locations’ link. Mobile speed camera sites are assessed and approved by specialist traffic police and these sites must conform to the criteria – fatal or serious crash locations; school zones; areas of reported speed related hoon complaints; or areas where 15% or more of vehicles are exceeding the speed limit.

Sites can also be chosen by police if they believe there is a specific risk at that location.

Red-light/speed cameras at intersections are installed at sites which have increased ‘right angle’ and ‘right turn through’ crash rates. These digital cameras capture both red-light and speed offences. While the benefits of enforcing red-lights are obvious, it is also critical to reduce intersection speeds given that side impact crashes can result in death at speeds as low as 30-40 km/h.

Myth: “There are no warning signs for cameras.”

Fact: In Western Australia, all fixed intersection (speed and red-light) cameras are signed. Although mobile speed cameras are usually signed it is not always possible to erect the sign in a safe and secure place. The cameras are not hidden but they must be placed in a safe and secure place to reduce risk to the operators and the equipment. Camera operator safety is also a paramount consideration during mobile speed camera operations. The scheduled locations of mobile camera units are published on the Camera location, page in various newspapers and broadcast on numerous radio stations. Due to local conditions (e.g. road works or road closures) alternative locations may be worked instead. WA Police carrys out additional speed enforcement using stationary and mobile speed detection devices in marked and unmarked highway patrol vehicles.

Myth: “Speed cameras are unpopular with the public.”

Fact: In general, there is high public support for speed limits and speed enforcement. Most people believe that speed limits, set by Main Roads WA, are set at reasonable levels and accept the link between speeding and road crashes. They understand that if they speed they are more likely to be involved in a crash and any resulting injuries will be more severe.

Myth: “The police pursue innocent motorists instead of catching real criminals.”

Fact: Speed cameras actually free up police time to focus on other police matters. By detecting speed and red-light offences, cameras allow police officers more time for other offences, such as dangerous and drug and alcohol impaired drivers. Breaking the speed limit and going through a red-light are serious offences that do result in death and injury to hundreds of people every year.

Myth: “There are ways of avoiding speeding fines.”

Fact: The easiest way to avoid speeding fines is to observe and stick to the speed limit. However it should be noted that it is an offence to drive a vehicle with an obscured or improperly displayed number plate. Moreover, modern traffic cameras are sophisticated devices capable of defeating attempts to prevent the taking of clear photographic images. Travelling at an excessive speed to avoid speed camera detection also does not work. The new digital speed camera can now detect vehicles traveling next to each other in different lanes. The only way to avoid a speeding fine is to slow down and drive within the speed limit.

Myth: “If there are two vehicles in the photo, police cant tell which vehicle was speeding.”

Fact: Previous radar speed cameras did have some limitations in that they did not distinguish between vehicles that passed though the radar beam in close proximity to each other.

The new mobile digital laser speed cameras identify and track moving vehicles and place an ‘evaluation template’ or box on the vehicle that was speeding.  This allows for easy identification.  The red-light/speed cameras at intersections detect vehicles moving independently in each lane.