Sydney and Parramatta offices

Mobile Speed Cameras Traffic Law Case

In March 2010, the State Government announced that it would be introducing state-of-the-art Mobile Speed Cameras across NSW in an effort to catch and penalize even more motorists.

These speed cameras constitute part of a $170 million taxpayer funded spending spree by the NSW Government.

Do you think the Government is revenue raising or genuinely attempting to reduce the road toll?

It is anticipated that the Mobile Speed Cameras will result in a significant increase in speeding infringements and traffic infringement notices issued by the RTA. As a direct consequence, more drivers will be accruing demerit points and many will be faced with licence suspension , or worse, as a result.

These cameras will be put into operation across NSW on 19 July 2010.

The upshot of all this is likely to be an dramatic rise in the number of people being hauled before the courts for disqualified driving, suspended driving or driving whilst cancelled.  A mandatory minimum disqualification period of not less than 12 months applies where a conviction is recorded – sometimes more depending on the traffic record.

If a traffic offender completed a court election notice to plead guilty and try and avoid a fine – the RMS (when it was known as the Roads and Traffic Authority, or RTA) would still take the demerit points even if the local court magistrate dismissed the fine pursuant to Section 10 Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act.  It is outrageous.  Magistrates have a discretion to dismiss matters under certain circumstances.

These new cameras will be fitted to unmarked vehicles and are able to be placed at over a hundred different RTA approved locations at any given time. The exact nature of the speed detection device is not clear at this stage, however it is anticipated that these cameras will utilize Radar or Lidar devices.

There will be no signage before the mobile cameras to warn motorists, nor will motorists be stopped and issued with an infringement notice.  One would think that the RTA would have thought about the problems caused by similar fiascos in the past – such as the Beverly Hills Speed Camera – where the RTA failed to put up appropriate signage for quite some time about the change of a school zone and implementation of fixed speed cameras resulting in thousands of motorists being fined – many of which were ultimately withdrawn thanks to the efforts of the traffic law specialists at Nyman Gibson Miralis.

The ridiculous situation currently exists where an infringement notice is sent to the registered owner some time after the alleged offence – hopefully the owner knows who was driving ‘weeks ago’.  At least they had some warning of the camera even if they were still speeding.

With the new mobile speed cameras, there is no notice of a speed camera in operation – just a penalty notice received at a later date.  What were you doing 3 weeks ago?

The Mobile Speed Cameras will record the vehicle speed, time, date and location along with a photograph of the offending vehicle. Infringement notices will be processed by the State Debt Recovery Office.

The Mobile Speed Cameras will NOT be operated by NSW Police or the RTA. The operation of the cameras has been subcontracted by the RTA to a private company. The private company will be paid a reported $2 million to operate the cameras for the first year.

There is little information available to the public that outlines the qualifications or training received by these operators. The RTA has indicated, however, that the operators are only required to drive the vehicle, set up the camera and ensure the camera is secured and operating correctly.

This seems inadequate given that other Radar/Lidar operators, such as NSW Highway Patrol officers, are required to complete advanced training before operating such devices.

You might just ponder how many infringement notices need to be issued to pay for the millions of dollars being spent on the rollout of these cameras and payment to a private company to operate them?

Many people believe that the best deterrent to speeding drivers is to have more Highway Patrol cars on the road which not only has the instant effect of slowing traffic, but also can dispense speeding tickets and other driving penalties on the spot.

These new cameras have the capability to catch up to six cars per second. The RTA will rely upon the covert nature of these cameras to catch out as many motorists as possible.

Don’t be fooled into thinking these cameras have been implemented to catch drivers who blatantly exceed the speed limit. There are reports that the RTA intend to lower the ‘buffer’ zone for speeding infringements to 4km/h.

If the RTA are successful in making this change, motorists will face a speeding ticket if they exceed the speed limit by just 4km/h. At 60km/h, this represents a deviation of 6%, at 110km/h, a deviation of only 3%.

NSW Roads Minister David Borger has expressed a similar attitude to the RTA, stating that; “Motorists should know… that if they speed by one kilometre over the speed limit then they could be caught.”

Prior to July 2006, the Australian Design Rules require a motor vehicle to have a calibrated speedometer which indicates vehicle speed to an accuracy of 10%. (ADR 18.5.1.1.2). In theory, any motor vehicle produced prior to July 2006 is required to comply with ADR 18.5.1.1.2, which allows a 10% deviation for speeds above 40km/h.

If the RTA reduces the ‘buffer’ zone to 4km/h, motorists will run the risk of being fined for exceeding the speed limit, even if their speedometer indicates that they are not speeding.

Worse still, the natural reaction of drivers will be to take their eyes off the road the check the speedometer regularly.  If this caused an accident through momentary inattention, the consequences could be devastating and involve a possible prison sentence if another person were to be seriously injured or killed.

Let’s remember that the supposed idea of these cameras is to reduce the road toll – yet on one view may result in people having accidents by paying less attention to their driving and more attention to the speedo.

Further, if a vehicle has an incorrectly calibrated speedometer, low tyre pressures or improperly sized wheels, the speedometer reading may be inaccurate. This is a significant concern for all motorists, who are now under such strict scrutiny at all times.

The rolling out of the Mobile Speed Cameras represents the latest revenue raising initiative from the RTA and the NSW Government. Traffic fines are expected to rise by a reported $137 million over the 2010/2011 financial year; no doubt a reflection of the expected income from Mobile Speed Cameras. It remains to be seen whether this multi-million dollar exercise will have any affect whatsoever on road fatalities.

If the NSW Government were serious about saving lives they would be investing taxpayer money in better road infrastructure and extensive, ongoing driver education. Instead, the NSW Government and the RTA have made the decision to adopt covert methods to catch out everyday motorists.

If you have received an infringement notice from a Mobile Speed Camera and you wish to obtain some advice, speak with our traffic law experts Sydney office or traffic experts Parramatta office.

Our criminal law specialists and traffic law specialists have extensive experience in Traffic Law, Speed Camera, Radar, Lidar and all types of traffic matters and would be happy to discuss such matters with you.