5/15/2015Australian Territory Orders More Speed Cameras Despite Accident Increase
Australian Capital Territory will increase speed cameras in wake of report that finds accidents have increased where they were used since 2006.
Serious accidents increased where speed cameras were used in the Australian Capital Territory according to a report released Thursday by ACT officials who cited the finding as a reason to install more cameras. The much delayed evaluation examined accident records at 121 locations, half with and half without automated ticketing machines, from 1994 to 2012.
According to the analysis, since 2006 serious crashes increased 7.1 percent at the locations with speed camera enforcement compared to a 1.4 percent increase at control intersections that had no cameras. Similarly, the report found no benefit from the use of red light cameras.
"Trends in crash counts for [red light camera] intersections showed an increase in crashes following the introduction of the fixed cameras followed by a decline to rates slightly lower than baseline levels," the report concluded. "On the other hand, crash counts for control intersections were relatively consistent before and after."
Officials ensured that speed cameras were placed on streets with underposted speed limits. Most engineers believe it is safest to set the limit at the speed at which the vast majority of drivers travel in free-flowing conditions. This is known as the 85th percentile speed.
"The 85th percentile speeds on all streets were predominantly above the speed limit for the full time period," the report stated.
Despite the results, the report presumes that speed cameras are an effective safety tool and speculated that accidents increased because there were not enough of them in use after 2006.
"It is also strongly recommended that further research on injury crashes during this period is performed, i.e. a linked data analysis between crashes and hospitalizations in order to understand the causes for these changes, and identify priority areas and possible intervention strategies," the report concluded.
Opposition leaders last week blasted the ACT government for withholding the study for almost a year, suggesting it was hiding or even manipulating the results to protect the lucrative program.
"I will again ask the government why the report has not been released and ask them again to release it," opposition spokesman Alistair Coe said. "The long delay in releasing the report suggests that the government is trying to hide negative findings. It cost ACT taxpayers $163,924 and it is important that the community can see the report's findings."
The Australian Capital Territory (ACT) issued 721,802 speed camera tickets worth $106 million for the state government between 1999 and 2014.
A copy of the report is available in a 7mb PDF file at the source link below.