Police defend covert downhill speed cameras

Mt Mee downhill

Police have defended their use of a covert Trucam mobile speed camera unit at the bottom of a 7.9km downhill section of the rider-popular Mt Mee Rd, northwest of Brisbane.

This follows a call earlier this month from the Queensland Police Union for an immediate end to the use of unmarked and covert speed cameras, saying they do nothing more than raise government revenue.
QPU president Ian Leavers said the “sneaky” devices did not reduce the state’s road toll nor stop people from speeding.

“Getting a ticket in the mail up to a month after speeding when you can barely remember even where you were back then, has no effect and is quite rightly cynically viewed as revenue raising,” he said.

Police using covert TruCAM laser speed camera downhill
Police using covert TruCAM laser speed camera in suburban Brisbane

He called for a visible policing presence and well-marked police speed camera vans, saying covert cameras had damaged the reputation of police officers.

RACQ technical and safety policy spokesman Steve Spalding says they also prefer a visible police presence.

“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,” he says.

Downhill camera

However, Queensland Police have defended the use of the covert Trucam speed camera at the bottom of Mt Mee.

The camera has been placed at the bottom of a 7.9km section of smooth hotmix on the downhill section of rural Mt Mee that is posted at just 60km/h.

That is despite seeming to contravene rule 6.3.2 of the Queensland Police Traffic Manual about placement on downhill sections.

Mt Mee police blitz after residents complain downhill
Mt Mee police blitz last year after resident complaints

It follows many similar incidents in other states of police seemingly not following their guidelines for speed camera placement.

In a statement, Queensland Police says Section 9 of the Traffic Manual allows mobile speed camera sites to be placed on downhill sections of a road “due to the crash risk potential”.

Here is the Queensland Police statement:

There are a number of sites approved on the Mount Mee Road corridor.

The site at Mount Mee Road at Delaneys Creek is an approved speed camera site. Mount Mee Road has a sickening history of serious and fatal crashes, one of the crash sectors for this road alone has a crash social cost of over $23 million.

The operation of speed cameras on this section of Mount Mee Road are monitoring vehicle speeds in both directions. 

Mt Mee police operation mountains residents downhill
Riders heading uphill can also be detected

The Queensland Camera Detected Offence Program utilises an evidence based mixture of covert and marked camera operations.

The use of unmarked mobile speed cameras is just one of a suite of measures employed by QPS aimed at reducing the state’s road toll. Recent research conducted by the Monash University Accident Research Centre (MUARC) determined that a combination of both overt and covert mobile speed camera operations would produce the best results due to the strong effect covert cameras have on fatality crashes (as their unknown nature suppresses vehicle speeds across the network, thus reducing crash severity), combined with the substantial general effect overt cameras have on casualty crashes.

Results of a 2017 evaluation (also conducted by MUARC) estimated that the Camera Detected Offence Program (CDOP) was associated with an overall reduction in police reported casualty crashes of between 24 and 30 percent from 2013 and 2015. This represents an annual crash saving of 3,900 police reported crashes between 2013 and 2015, translating to annual savings to the community of around $1.6 billion per year. Over 98% of the savings associated with the program are attributed to the mobile speed camera program with its ‘anywhere, anytime’ philosophy.

12 Comments

  1. That area has some dangerously designed decreasing radius corners, the road west of Rathdowney is even worse in one place.
    I describe them as character-building.
    Only newer sections of these roads have this problem – it’s been designed in.
    Almost all the accidents occur on just these couple of corners, so bad that I refuse to go on rides thru these areas with new riders.

    Most of the accidents are actually caused by bad signage.

    Effective informative signage is totally absent.
    Existing signage is negligent, misleading & inappropriate.
    Speed limits are inappropriately low for a long time before the danger, lulling riders into a false sense of security (sleep) & creating an opportunity for revenue raising. Then highly dangerous corners are entered without warning.

    It’s well-designed trap :((

    If authorities wish to demonstrate an interest in safety they’ll warn specifically, specifically, specifically of a decreasing radius corner immediately before entry
    that means a big sign saying WARNING – DANGEROUS DECREASING RADIUS CORNER
    & replace the inappropriately low speed limits with the yellow speed advisory signs – whatever happened to them?

  2. Mark,
    So please explain what this ‘covert’ camera looks like. The supplied picture in the story has a blue unmarked station wagon with a copper in the front seat, so that hardly can be ‘fixed’.
    So for it to ‘permanent’ what are we to see if we use this road; and the bottom of the hill is a bit vague – do you mean at creek crossing or elsewhere ?

    1. ” use of a covert Trucam mobile speed camera unit at the bottom of a 7.9km downhill section of the rider-popular Mt Mee Rd, northwest of Brisbane. ”

      To answer myself my unanswered question, I travelled that section of road in both way’s today slowly looking for it, and there is no camera or any sign of a ‘covert’ device, no warning signage, so the article was written with a lack of an appreciation of what the term was meant to convey to the reader IMHO.
      So I conclude ‘covert trucam’ is a plain old unmarked car, that we Old Timers call a Q Car be it a car, SUV or tray ute manned or not.

  3. The government says “one location has a social cost $23M… overall $1.6billion per year”.
    No quotes on death or injury numbers. Just dollars. That’s all they care about, dollars, not people.

  4. Anecdotally I’ve found police in marked cars are the best thing for slowing riders/drivers down. See 1 marked vehicle and you’re careful. See 2 and it completely ruins a “good” ride.
    But what do I know. I don’t have a budget or a state treasury to worry about and I’m certainly not paid by the governement.
    I’m just glad saving us from our own stupidity and evil ways is the most important thing to the powers that be.
    Damn. I almost sound cynical.

    1. EVERYONE slows down after seeing a marked police car
      nobody slows down after passing a covert one.
      But then, they’re not interested in safety, are they?

  5. While I agree with gists of the artical, protesting the police involvement kind of opens the door to outsourcing such detection to private companies. Then we will have no recourse.

  6. Covert speed cameras are 100% revenue raisers look at NSW there speed cameras are clearly marked and signs posted by the road side to clearly see now that’s prevention

  7. I really don’t mind speed cameras THAT much but they really need to be in places where there is a realistic speed limit not a “revenue raising limit” and also not calibrated to catch drivers/riders just 2 or 3 kph over the speed limit however, we all know the politicians regard the money raised from speed cameras as more important than road safety.

  8. There was an Australian standard for speed radar and in the standard placement at the bottom of hills is not allowed especially if there has been no engineering survey done to ensure accuracy. This standard may have been watered down due to pressure from revenue junkies to make the prohibition less technical and more PR based with a line about not bringing radars into disrepute and needing specific approval from a area commander and other such criteria taken from the police handbook rather than the technical specifications that preceded them.
    Placing radar at the bottom of hills can result in false readings due to getting more than one signal back from the target.
    What happens is the beam bounces off the road surface then off the vehicle as well as straight off the vehicle causing the radar to see double only it is not an exact doubling of speed as the police may try to claim if you take it to court Doppler radar works by measuring the wave length or in other words the gap between wave peaks when you have two identical waves coming in a fraction of a second apart the radar will see the two signals as one with shorter gaps between the peaks and short gaps mean higher speed. That is if you are approaching the radar if you are traveling away from the radar shorter gaps means lower speed which is secretly why the police prefer front facing radar it is little to do with number plates and more to do with revenue maximisation.

    1. Agreed. That’s why in NSW the Macquarie Bank speed cameras now have leveling blocks that they put under the wheels of the vehicle to ensure the fine can’t be thrown out of court.
      There was a precedent that triggered the need for these leveling blocks where a fine was contested on the grounds you mentioned and it was upheld!! Along with many others at that time!

  9. The fact they dropped the speed limit from 100kph to 60kph then putting a permanent radar at the bottom of the hill makes there objectives quite clear. I’m sure it will provide enough revenue to get a few politicians a nice pay rise!

    If every k over is a killer – they have been trying to kill us for years!

    Last time I rode thru there it was wet. I’m a very slow rider in the wet. I was still struggling to stay under 60kph. Its bloody ridiculous!

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