Speeding cars with obscured number plates are much bigger evaders of speed camera fines than motorcyclists without front number plates.
A New Zealand authority earlier this year called for fixed and mobile speed cameras to be turned around to photograph the rear of vehicles after noting many motorcyclists evading fines.
For years Australian police, safety Nazis and transport authorities have been researching the introduction of motorcycle front number plates to address the issue.
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Statistics don’t lie
However, our research shows that motorcyclists are not the biggest evaders of speed camera offences, after all.
We asked for statistics from several states, but only received replies from NSW and Queensland transport and police departments.
In the past year, NSW recorded 71,111 speed camera offences unable to be issued because a vehicle could not be identified. It was 60,332 in Queensland, representing about 10% of all 582,554 speed camera offences.
However, NSW says speeding fines could not be issued to only 2712 motorcycle riders, or just 3.8% which is fair as motorcycles are about 4% of all road users.
In Queensland, the stats show only 759 motorists or 1.2% could not be recorded because there is no front number plate. Furthermore, not all of those would be motorcycles as some cars, trucks and other vehicles may have been missing a front number plate.
So the argument that motorcycles should have front number plates so they can’t avoid speeding fines is ridiculous. Statistically, it’s just not that much of an issue!
That doesn’t stop police and mainstream media frequently demonising riders by publishing sensationalist stories showing riders speeding or doing a wheelie past speed cameras.
They claim thousands of riders are wantonly avoiding speeding fines, but the statistics show they are not as big an issue as obscured plates on other vehicles.
Speed camera use
Fixed and mobile cameras can be used to photograph the front or back of a vehicle.
It seems police are often likely to shoot the front of a vehicle so the motorist has less time to reduce their speed when they see the camera.
Also, the rear plates are often obscured by road grime, tow balls and other fixtures.
In fact, in Queensland, unclear plates represent 45,121 (75%) of the unidentified speeding vehicles and in 3081 cases (5%), the plate is obscured by a fitting.
Case against front plates
A comprehensive 2014 Victorian Motorcycle Council report found that implementing front number plates – or “people slicers” as they used to be called – would cost the motorcycle community millions in initial outlay and ongoing annual costs.
Their front number plate policy statement covers issues such as aesthetics, costs, road safety, history, speeding offences, design rules, electronic tags and more.
In one of the most compelling cases, the VMC claims it would cost the Victorian motorcycling community some “$30 million with an ongoing $1 million-plus annually plus the cost of a yet-to-be-determined suitable FNP design. This is a significant impost on any community and such a cost imposition for no net benefit should categorically rule out the proposal”.
They say it would also ruin the resale value of Victorian motorcycles and affect the interstate trade in bikes.