Public opinion polls on speed cameras consistently find they are revenue-raisers, prompting motorists to attack them or take unusual, sometimes illegal, measures to avoid them.
There are many reports from around the world of speed cameras being attacked and many websites that sell “proven methods” for avoiding them.
In a recent attack spree across France lenses of dozens of cameras were spray painted.
Other common camera attack methods include lopping them off their poles, blocking their line of sight and shooting them.
The UK Motorists Against Speed Camera Extortion group even fire-bombed cameras.
The reverse of thwarting speed cameras is deploying fake cameras.
One Italian businessman recently tried to slow down motorists by painting a garbage bin to look like a speed camera.
His fake speed camera resulted in disaster when rider Matteo Contadin hit the brakes on his BMW R GS 1200 motorcycle to avoid copping a speeding fine.
The rider of a Ducati Multistrada who was following Matteo ran into the back of his BMW, causing him to lose control and crash. Matteo died from his injuries.
Thankfully there were no reported incidents and the camera was swiftly removed.
It remains a mystery who erected the fake camera.
Avoiding a fine
Motorists who disagree with speed cameras have tried many different methods to try to avoid a speed camera fine.
One rider I know has his number plate on a hinge. When he sees a camera, he hits a button on the handlebars that rotates the number plate.
Of course, he still has to remain vigilant for the cameras and it doesn’t work where they are hidden.
Motorists have also tried infrared LEDs, hairspray, Gladwrap and special sprays to prevent their number plate from registering on the cameras.
There are many websites that will sell you their “proven” methods, but we cannot find any independent proof that they are effective.
In fact, the Mythbusters TV series has tried many of these methods and busted them all.
Up to 10% of speed camera offences cannot be issued because of obscured, dirty, worn-out or tampered plates.
However, it is illegal to tamper with or obscure a number plate with fines up to $1000 in some states.
Some motorists reckon they can fool the cameras by swerving at the last second.
Not only is this dangerous, but this 2007 MythBusters video also shows it doesn’t work.
You can also subscribe to an app or satnav that warns of known speed camera sites, but these are only as good as the updated data.
Radar and laser detectors (or jammers) are not permitted to be sold, owned or used anywhere in Australia except Western Australia.
In fact, they are only legal in a few USA and Canadian states, the UK, New Zealand, Bulgaria, Japan, Iceland, Israel, Phillipines, Pakistan, Romania, South Korea, Slovenia and Taiwan.
In some countries they are legal to own, but not to use! So what’s the point?
As they say, the best way to avoid copping a speed camera fine is to not speed.
However, with frequently changing speed zones it can be difficult to avoid being accidentally caught.
The result is that we are becoming a world of dangerous speedo gazers.
Proper use of cameras
We certainly don’t condone any illegal or dangerous behaviour to avoid speeding fines, no matter what you think of speed cameras.
However, if you believe speed cameras are an affective method in improving road safety, they should at least be properly deployed.
That means sign-posting them with warnings on the approach side, deploying them at the exact spot of a fatal crash and never using them on a downhill slope.