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12/6/2008
Australian, French Motorists Question Speed Camera Accuracy
Motorists, including former chiefs of police, question speed camera accuracy in Australia and France.

Eastlink photo by Lachlan Doig/Flickr
Thousands of motorists are challenging the accuracy of automated traffic citations they have received in Australia and France. Police in Victoria, Australia maintain that the speed monitoring equipment on the Eastlink toll road is accurate, despite mounting evidence to the contrary. In particular, fixed speed cameras mounted on the Wellington Road Bridge have sparked controversy and complaints not just from ordinary motorists, but from the very individuals responsible for the first speed camera program in the state.

A 25-year veteran of the police force, and a former speed camera operator, was one of 14,500 drivers to receive a ticket from the camera in just thirty days, despite having a car with a cruise control or other speed limiting device set to avoid any citations.

"I know exactly where [that camera] is and I travel it twice a day and religiously drive at 100K's (62 MPH) -- especially there, I even drop below 100K's because I know it's there," the former officer told 3AW radio. "I look at the speedo all the time."

Eighty-percent of the violations since the cameras were activated in September have been for the minimum offense speeds of 103 to 110 km/h (two to six MPH over the limit). The current superintendent of the speed camera office, Shane Patton, insisted speeding motorists are always guilty when issued a ticket by the machine he insists is working perfectly.

"People aren't used to the cameras being there -- even though we told them they'd be there -- and they've got a rude shock," Patton told 3AW. "We're obviously pretty keen to be making sure they're tested constantly, which we do, and maintain they're all certified and independently tested and sealed."

Former Chief Traffic Superintendent David R. Axup, the man responsible for bringing speed cameras to Victoria in the first place, disagrees. He cited other infamous cases where the cameras were simply wrong and suggested history could be repeating itself.

"My instinct tells me you're getting too many complaints for there not to be an issue,"Axup told 3AW. "The number of complaints you're getting for that one and not the other cameras on the Eastlink says, 'Hold on, wait a minute, hold the phone.'"

Australia is not alone in having speed cameras with dubious accuracy. A fixed camera on the Saint-Christophe-du-Ligneron on the D948 has been generating similar complaints, according to Ouest-France, a provincial newspaper. Denis Jeanneteau, a typical camera victim, was accused of driving 122 km/h (76 MPH) by the device. When the camera flashed, Jeanneteau insists his speedometer read 88 km/h (55 MPH) and his GPS device 82 km/h (51 MPH). Despite this, officials ignored all of the complaints and insisted that Jeanneteau pay a 135 euro (US $171) fine.



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