The West Australian – 5th May 2014

More than 2400 WA drivers are getting caught speeding every day and about half are doing at least 10km/h over the limit.

Figures obtained by The West Australian  show police issued 879,300 speeding infringements last year – up 53,559 from the 825,741 tickets handed out in 2012. But fewer drivers were caught ignoring traffic signals over the period, with the number of red-light offences dropping to 17,009 from 19,874 the previous year. The offending motorists were fined more than $105 million, with more than $86 million from camera fines earmarked for the Road Trauma Trust Account for road safety initiatives.

The Road Safety Council hopes the Government will fund more integrated speed and red-light cameras for “black-spot” intersections, with council chairman Murray Lampard saying they had been highly effective in reducing intersection crashes. A 2012 review found the new integrated cameras, installed at 30 busy city intersections, had cut serious crashes 72 per cent and changed driver behaviour. Last year, the cameras identified 116,907 speed and 15,349 red-light offences and, among those, 370 drivers were caught speeding and running a red light at the same time. Police Minister Liza Harvey yesterday revealed funding for up to 24 covert cameras to catch hoon drivers, at a cost of up to $170,000 over four years.

In a pre-Budget announcement, Mrs Harvey said cameras would be hidden at known hotspots to film drivers being reckless and endangering others, with the footage used to prosecute hoons. Professor Lampard said more speed cameras and tougher penalties would have some effect, but drivers had to slow down and take responsibility for their safety and that of other road users. “Excessive speeds continues to be one of the major causes of death and serious injury on West Australian roads,” he said. Road safety adviser Peter Palamara has again called for low-level speeding to attract a demerit-point penalty to reflect the increased crash risk and deter higher-level speeding.

Mr Palamara, from the Curtin-Monash Accident Research Centre, said having no demerit point for speeding up to 9km/h over the limit trivialised the dangers when research showed travelling just 5km/h above the 60km/h limit doubled the risk of a crash. He said using a hand-held phone while driving increased the risk of being in a crash fourfold and had a penalty of $250 and three demerit points. “An activity that has half that risk should at least have half that penalty,” Mr Palamara said. “You can have recidivist (low-level) speeders and it doesn’t have any impact on their ability to drive because all they have to do is keep paying a $75 fine – they don’t risk their licence.

“Let’s try to deter the higher-level speeding by having a more substantial penalty for lower-level speeding.”