Are average speed cameras fairer?

Average speed cameras

Average speed or point-to-point cameras continue to increase their presence on our roads, but are they actually fairer than multiple speed cameras?

Some of these cameras are front facing, so motorcyclists evade detection, but most are rear facing.

The cameras are used in all states. However, in NSW (above photo near Inverell) they are only used to gauge the speed of heavy vehicles. That is because trucks represent 3% of road traffic yet are involved in 20% of fatalities.

Queensland is about to add three more average speed cameras to its arsenal on the Bruce and Mount Lindesay highways.

Tenders have been called for the new cameras to be installed along a 30km, 110km/h stretch of the Pacific Motorway, between Beenleigh and Gaven; 9km of the Gateway Motorway, between Nudgee and Deagon; and the 41km Toowoomba Second Range Crossing when it is completed.

How average cameras work

Average speed cameras record registration plates at fixed points on a section of road many kilometres apart. They then calculate the average speed between the two points.

If the stretch of road has roadworks, the cameras may be turned off or recalibrate to account for the lower speed limits.

They cost up $200,000 to buy and install. Of course, fine revenue easily pays for the cost!Average speed cameras

Fair enforcement?

Many opinion polls have found most motorists believe mobile and fixed speed cameras are simply revenue collectors. 

However, there seems to have been no public opinion polls conducted on average speed cameras.

Some believe they are actually fairer.

For example, one notorious 22km stretch of Old Cleveland Road in Brisbane has 19 approved camera sites. And there is no reason why many of them couldn’t be deployed at the one time!

So these cameras could theoretically fine motorists several times in the one stretch of road.

Whereas, point-to-point cameras only detect the one cumulative offence, often over a long stretch.

They also only fine the motorist for their average extra speed, not their maximum speed, which is a lower offence.

UPDATE: It has since been pointed out that average-speed cameras in South Australia can issue up to three fines as the cameras are also fixed-speed cameras. So you could be fined for the average excessive speed and excessive speeds as you pass each camera.

Average speed cameras also detect motorists driving and riding unregistered or stolen vehicles, or unlicensed motorists. Mobile and fixed cameras do not have this functionality.

Various international and Australian studies have found average cameras significantly reduce the number of speeding motorists, crashes and fatalities.

Average speed cameras
Whew! NSW average speed cameras only detect heavy vehicles

Police presence preferred

RACQ technical and safety policy spokesman Steve Spalding says the cameras also monitor a greater stretch of road than a single speed camera.

However, it doesn’t stop some people riding or driving at ridiculous speeds and stopping for a cigarette break before the next set of cameras. It’s happened in Victoria.

“Of course our preference, as always, is that we see a visible police presence,” Steve says.

“Our members have repeatedly told us that over the years, they much prefer to see a police officer use a marked vehicle, not just for speeding, but for all of the other problem behaviours that we see on the road.”

Of course, there is also the case that all this overuse of speed detection devices in a country with speed limits set too low turns us into dangerous speedo gazers!

  • Tell us what you think! Leave your comments below.

17 Comments

  1. Six bikes, widely spaced, 130-140ks, alert & enjoying themselves is perfectly safe on a road like that
    but instead we have half a dozen bored shitless speedo gazers half asleep, all bunched up & if the first bike backs off the throttle they’ll all run into him & go down like ninepins.
    Or run off the road trying to avoid each other & hit the barrier.
    Or run into the opposite lane & have a head-on.
    This is the mess our obsession with speed speed speed has got us into.

  2. Has nothing to do with safety. Photo shows a road with a wide recovery area (safety zone) past edge of bitumen
    eliminated by dangerous cheese-grater armco posts put in to protect the revenue cameras.
    Killing motorcyclists to protect revenue.

  3. I already find ‘speedo gazing’ a problem, such is the paranoia induced by these ridiculous revenue-raisers. I have for years been aware that the basis for most road-use problems is that fact that obtaining a driving/riding license is too easy. All potential road users should attend far more comprehensive, advanced driving courses and be made aware of how dangerous irresponsible driving can be.
    Attack the problem at the root and stop penalising those of us experienced and wise enough to be competent road-users even if we occasionally stray over the stupidly-low speed limits.

  4. How about some cameras placed on corners to photograph all the idiots who can’t stay on their own side of double centre-lines? I find drivers crossing centre-lines to be one of the most dangerous things drivers do.

  5. There’s a few point to point cams in SA that not only get you for exceeding the average speed but also if you exceed the limit as you pass one. You could be booked three times. All of these are in 110 k/h zones with the distance between each cam measured to get the time it takes. If you take less than the calculated time you’re booked.

    I don’t live anywhere near them though I do pass through the one every few months at Port Augusta which was installed mainly for heavy vehicles; might be used for cars as well by now.

    1. … and therein lies the glaring fault in the ‘government logic’ – but we the public constantly let it slide. How can it possibly be three offences if I enter the zone at 130 (the highway limit where I live, and a perfectly safe speed for that stretch of road) – continue at 130 and exit the zone at 130? What if I was travelling another road without revenue technology installed and plod pulls in behind me at 130 and paces me over 10km – can plod pull me over and give me three tickets because I wen’t past the Jones barn at 130 and went over the bridge at 130 and went past Marafiotes glass houses at 130?

      Sadly these clowns we elect have no idea – and that probably goes for the majority of road users who never leave suburbia; for whom a ride/drive to the shop or child/car or office is all they ever do. Probably all seems quite reasonable …

  6. One advantage of these structures that’s not mentioned is that the frame can also be fitted with the new cameras that catch drivers using their mobile phones to talk/txt/twitter etc.

  7. “fairer” is not the same as “fair”
    “fair” is not necessarily “reasonable”
    This has nothing to do with road safety – it’s purely another mode of the revenue raising shell game.

    1. Like to hear what the excessive speed accidents ratios are between now and 30 years ago?
      The roads are better, the cars are better, but the drivers are worse.

  8. Regardless of whether point to point cameras are fairer or not, they are not being used in Queensland to replace other forms of velocity measurement and taxation, but to augment them. Covert detection will continue to proliferate in the Southeast corner where traffic densities and revenue opportunities are highest. Time to fight this weasel stuff!

  9. The reason I heard time and again for the use of speed cameras is driver education. What they’re supposed to be educating drivers about is the dangers of excessive speed . Here is a link to a dashcam that shows exactly what excessive speed is https://youtu.be/aLi8aFZt_ag If you look closely at the bottom right corner of the screen you will see the very dangerous excessive speed of 55kph in a sixty zone. This is exactly the type of accident that causes forty four percent off the forty six percent of fatalities attributed to excessive speed.
    Fining people for doing ten twenty or even thirty kph above the limit on a highway on a dry clear day has absolutely nothing to do with education it has always and only ever been about revenue.

    1. I got my percentages wrong in my rant.
      The figures are forty six percent of fatalities have excessive speed as a major contributing factor. Ninety eight percent of those accidents are at speeds equivalent to or below the speed limit. Only two percent of the total number of accidents where speed was considered a contributing factor occurred at speeds above the posted limit. About seventy five percent of that two percent are drunks stolen vehicles medical events including sleeping at the wheel and suicides, the other twenty percent can be attributed to street racing and hooning. Only the last five percent of that two percent are people who were driving too fast above the limit and came to grief.
      So let’s do the math . Out of ten thousand fatalities four thousand six hundred were attributed to excessive speed. Of that only ninety two fatalities occurred at a speed above the limit of those only about three people were doing the kind of speeding that speed cameras are supposed to educate them not to do. Clearly they are not listening or the teaching method is a pile of bull shit.
      Considering that areas that have had fixed speed cameras removed with no other changes made to the road environment have had spikes in fatalities when the cameras were installed and reductions in fatalities after their removal to below that of before their installation the claim speed cameras save lives is also false propaganda and anyone who uses that lie to install cameras in any locations other than where they may actually do some good should be charged with negligent homicide.

  10. Speed limits. agree they are set too low, I spend a lot of time driving and riding, all over the place, and been doing it since I had a licence fifyseven years ago ,I love driving, and riding, trouble is, in the day, you would drive and relax, look around and enjoy the journey, sitting on the speed limit or somewhere near it, with the vehicles that we drove,the speed limit was right, now even in my 4×4 diesel sitting on a hundred on the open road is near impossible,and as for my late model motorcycle, it is impossible, cruise control. yes, I use it, bloody dangerous, another control we have to use, and less control of the car/motorcycle.and point to point camera’s better than murphy’s law ,that states. you can sit on the speed limit, all day. and the one time you go over it, gone, it has happened to me a few times, just getting more common now days,

  11. They are a lot fairer as they don’t catch momentary speed increases.
    Exceeding the speed limit is not speeding nor is it the excessive speed quoted as the cause of forty six percent of fatalities only less than five percent of that forty six percent of fatalities occurred at speeds about the limit.
    So the purpose of speed cameras is a lie. Mobile and fixed cameras only catch one moment of exceeding the speed limit out of an entire journey that could have been below the limit for the rest of the time, overtaking coasting downhill that level bit after a steep hill before you notice you need to decrease the throttle pulling away from a tailgating idiot all of these are momentary and should not incur a massive fine. At least with point to point cameras you have to be actually speeding to get a fine. BUT having to stare at your speedo is a greater danger than ten or twenty kph over our ridiculous speed limits.

    1. Good point. Just hope the above the limit tolerance isn’t set to a stupid margin like 5 above. However, just receiving a fine in the mail weeks later is hardly likely to change behaviour.

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