Does camera surfing cause speeding?

Camera surfing is the phenomenon where riders and drivers slow as they approach a speed camera and then speed up after the cameras.

The expression of camera surfing was developed by former Victorian Road Safety Camera Commissioner Gordon Lewis and it’s been proved in research by his office.

So does that mean rather than generally slowing traffic, speed cameras may be causing motorists to speed up in areas they know or believe there are no speed cameras?

University of Melbourne Chair of Statistics and motorcyclist Professor Richard Huggins says he has experienced this phenomenon, “especially on the freeways around town where there are fixed cameras”.

Do speed cameras cause camera surfing?
Fixed cameras

“Frequent users of the roads know their locations,” the Prof says.

“Mobile cameras can only be set at approved locations and those are also known to regular users of the roads.

“In any case, most GPS systems know where they are.

“The Highway Patrol and solo motorcycles are a different matter as there are no fixed sites.”

‘Surfing’ speed cameras

The phenomenon of camera surfing has been proved by two Victorian Road Safety Camera Commissioner surveys of point-to-point or “average speed” cameras on the Peninsula Link and Hume Highway.Do speed cameras cause camera surfing?

They measured millions of trips and were able to assign the speed of each vehicle as they passed the first and last cameras as well as their average speed over the distance.

(By the way, only South Australia and Victoria have instantaneous cameras at the start and end of point-to-point camera installations which means you could possibly cop three fines for speeding. In other states you can only cop the one “average speed” offence.)

It found that drivers slowed at the start and end and sped up in between. Check the animation below which clearly shows this trend.

In fact, it found that drivers who averaged up to about 113km/h average speed on the 100km/h sections were actually going slower than the speed limit at entry and exit.

Surely that means they would have had to travel at much more “dangerous” speeds than 111km/h to reach their average speed.

We put it to current Commissioner John Voyage that the average speed cameras were therefore prompting some motorists to speed faster than if there were no cameras.

He says we are “100% wrong”.

What do you think? Please leave your comments in the section below.

9 Comments

  1. If the NSW Government were serious about speed over and above the posted limit on any particular road being dangerous they may well have legitimate concerns. Speeds over and above the posted limit can be dangerous.
    When is the NSW Government going to look at other factors in road fatalities? It seems to me that they have no intrest in lowering road and road related deaths. We have cars (& Motorcycles) that have ABS, Stability Control with a dozen other devices and systems. There is no testing of these devices and systems by the driver of the vehicle.
    Having your child drive you around for 50 or 150 hours does take up a lot of time. I have been amazed over the years the number of times I have heard something like “I filled in the booklet of Johnny / Jenny because it was taking to much of my time being the car with Him / Her”.
    Those Parents & Guardians that sign off on hours that the child has not completed will be those crying at the Funeral & Gravesite of their child while blaming all sorts of other causes to the incident (not accident) that takes the life of their child.

  2. I have never understood the logic behind average speed cameras.
    To me, the law is saying; ‘you will be safe as long as you take x minutes to travel between cameras, even if you sit on 100mph most of the way and then stop for a pee near the end’.

  3. hahaha – I read a few pages on the report and people are idiots.
    page 22 Quote “Discussion with many infringers also revealed a surprising misunderstanding of how point-to-point systems work; for example many said they thought the point-to-point was an average of the instantaneous speeds, rather than the average speed as calculated by distance divided by time………… I am of the opinion that this amply establishes, over millions
    of journeys, the trend for vehicles to slow at cameras, and
    speed up in between. “

  4. There is so much wrong with the philosophy behind speed cameras that it would take several volumes to point it all out in a manner that most of the imbecile academics who champion them might understand.
    I will however give you an abridged version because we are not as dumb as the idiots who don’t understand that speed enforcement surpassed the law of deminishing returns long before the first speed cameras were invented.
    Firstly there are three types of speeding that all get lumped together to make the statistics justify the revenue raising cameras. There is the very rare exceeding the limit that actually results in an accident that wouldn’t have occurred at the limit. Next is the now more prominent type of speeding that occurs much more due to the wrong messages being given by the revenue raising and that is that it is safe to drive at the limit even when the limit is too fast for the conditions. All most all accidents occurred at speeds equivalent to or just below the speed limit , traveling too fast but below the speed limit is still speeding.
    The third and final type of speeding is the one nearly everyone gets booked for, traveling safely at a reasonable and safe speed that just happens to be a little bit above the ridiculously and dangerously low speed limits.

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