More speed cameras would be fair enough as long as they aren't going to be the tools of transport paparazzi sneakily stalking us with the de facto intent of making money.
There's $10 million in the New Zealand Transport Agency's coffers to pay for technology to reduce road trauma and though its precise use is not yet determined, it's clear the agency is thinking pictorially.
Hardly surprising. Speed cameras, properly applied, do reduce speeds and that does, in turn, reduce road trauma. The more there are, the more effective they can be.
The concern, and there is one, about potentially doubling the number of speed cameras nationwide is the widespread sense that there's long been an abiding and unseemly emphasis on revenue gathering.
Putting the blessed things in the right places would go some way to reduce that suspicion and it's good to see the Automobile Association has worked with police on where cameras could be placed.
But at least as important is that each camera's presence be signalled to the oncoming motorist.
There is a school of thought that sneakily concealed placements are more likely to catch, punish, and therefore correct the speedster. But an approach that is less punitive isn't necessarily less effective.
The more upfront advance-warning approach has more in its favour than than the virtue of striking motorists as less predatory.
Clearly signalled speed cameras - and plenty of them - bring about then-and-there speed reductions and reinforce speed limit awareness to each passing motorist.
And since we are assured the cameras are to be placed at areas where speeding is most hazardous, that's the very place we need drivers to slow down, rather than continuing ahead at excessive speed, quite possibly blissfully unaware they have been pinged. If they're lucky, they will have a financial reckoning days later, back home at the letterbox. If they aren't, it might be just moments after the secretive click, when they crash further up the road.
Exactly what style of new cameras might be bought remains to be seen but it appears a mix of fixed, mobile and point-to-point cameras are envisaged. Those last ones record a car at two different points, potentially kilometres away, and if the time taken indicates excessive speed, that's the ticket.
It's a secondary matter, but not a teeny-tiny one, that fines constitute Government revenue, quite apart from any contribution they may make to lessening the expenses to the nation caused by road trauma.
Inevitably, the expectation of more cameras is going to revive discussion of police having ticket quotas which, as we have so often been assured, they don't.
What individual officers do have is a clear understanding about what a quota might be if it did exist, and an acute awareness that their bosses are pretty clear on that point as well.
Every now and then there's a slip when someone in a police hat slips out of Hogan's Heroes Sergeant Schultz mode and instead of sticking to the "I see nothing!" script talks rather too plainly about "minimum expectations" or being able to "catch up" after cameras were out of commission.
Road safety policing isn't a sport, reliant on fairplay rules. Nor should our roads be a snipers' battleground. The goal is safer driving. Having more cameras can help that, provided they're used with the real goal at the forefront of everyone's thinking.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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