27th Aug 2012
SUBURBAN speed cameras are costing Tasmanian drivers tens of thousands of dollars as police target 50km/h zones.
The number of speed camera set-ups declined by 2000 in the last financial year, compared with the previous year, but monitoring of 50km/h zones has intensified.
An amnesty in place after speed limits were lowered in the South a year ago is over and RACT spokesman Vince Taskunas said drivers were struggling to adapt.
"It's costing them," Mr Taskunas said.
Camera numbers were increased in 50km/h areas but were halved in 60, 70, 80, and 90km/h zones last financial year. Police statistics for 2010-12 reveal 606 cameras were set up in 50km/h areas, catching nearly 8000 drivers.
In 110km/h zones, where most fatalities occur, there were 362 cameras, but only 278 in 80km/h zones. The RACT said people were feeling the pain.
"Our members are telling us they're being caught in 50km/h zones for very low-level speeding offences," Mr Taskunas said.
"We're talking about speed zones that have been lowered in the South by 10km/h in and around the city and the suburbs."
Low-level fines were particularly infuriating for many drivers, Mr Taskunas said, because they did not consider their speeds dangerous.
"The fact is speeding offences now carry a minimum of two demerit points, so P-platers caught a few kilometres over in a 50km/h zone twice, lose their licence," he said.
"We support high-visibility policing over cameras and the fact is a few kilometres does make a difference and drivers have to slow down and obey the law."
The figures show overall camera infringements are down by 30,000 from 2010-11.
Mr Taskunas said it was too soon to say what impact lower speed limits had had on road safety. Most serious crashes occur in 100km/h and 110km/h zones, but the South has recorded a spike in fatal crashes involving pedestrians and cyclists this year in urban areas.
The Police Association of Tasmania said budget cuts prompted police to change their approach to road safety policing.
Civilian camera operators were sacked earlier this year forcing police to leave cameras unattended on roadsides. This led to claims police were putting cameras close to stations to save time.
"Obviously the safety of the cameras has to be considered when determining where to put them," association president Randolph Wierenga said. "But at the end of the day if you don't like speeding fines, don't speed."