4/12/2017Europe Lowers Speed Camera Tolerance To Raise Revenue
Malta and The Netherlands experiment with zero tolerance speed camera policies issuing tickets for as little as 0.6 MPH over the limit.
Several European nations have turned to low-cost speed camera tickets issued in high volumes to boost revenue. The Dutch newspaper Algemeen Dagblad reported a 31 percent increase in the number of automated citations mailed to motorists accused of exceeding the speed limit by 8km/h (5 MPH) or less.
According to an open records request, the number of low-speed tickets jumped from 2.4 million in 2014 to 3.1 million last year. A total of 69,000 drivers were ticketed after machines accused them of exceeding the speed limit by as little as 4km/h (2.5 MPH) -- the figure counts anyone accused of exceeding the limit by 1km/h after a tolerance that ranges from 3 to 5km/h (1.9 to 3.1 MPH), depending on the speed limit. The change in ticketing priorities boosted Dutch coffers from 80 million euros (US $85 million) to 113 million euros (US $120 million).
The top earning speed camera, located in Hilversum, was able to issue a ticket every five minutes, generating 6,237,365 euros (US $6,619,403) in revenue.
The Mediterranean island nation of Malta went all out and dropped the overall tolerance to just 1km/h (0.6 MPH) for a camera in the city of Siggiewi. Opposition spokesman Jason Azzopardi took to Facebook to condemn the government's move, comparing it to the much worse scandal of Maltese officials being exposed in the Panama Papers of depositing massive sums in hidden, offshore accounts.
"[Malta Justice Minister] Owen Bonnici lied about the Siggiewi mayor to hide his government's decision to introduce by stealth another road tax," Azzopardi wrote. "Owen Bonnici's mantra: no problem if you open secret Panama company to hide 1 million euros annually. It's a problem if you exceed speed camera limit even by .5 percent."
Radar units typically boast an accuracy of plus or minus 1 MPH, making it difficult to claim a vehicle is speeding by 0.6 MPH. In addition, an automobile speedometer's vehicle speed calculation depends on knowing the diameter of its tires. As the tires wears down, the speedo can read high by as much as four percent. When replaced with a new tire, the speedo reading will rise in comparison to the vehicle's true speed, making it difficult to hold an owner accountable for speeding by a margin beyond the accuracy of an uncalibrated speedometer.
After complaints mounted in Siggiewi, the mayor introduced a 10 percent speed tolerance, calling the zero tolerance policy a "misunderstanding."