Point-to-point speed cameras should be used on cars, not just trucks

A fatal car accident on the New England Highway near Singleton in September 2014.  A 72 year old man died and a 30 year old woman was flown to John Hunter Hospital with injuries. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers
A fatal car accident on the New England Highway near Singleton in September 2014. A 72 year old man died and a 30 year old woman was flown to John Hunter Hospital with injuries. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

Drive defensively.

This is the advice a senior Hunter highway patrol officer often used to give.

It’s a great piece of wisdom, but also one that some people fail to heed on a regular basis. Surgeons including the John Hunter Hospital’s Professor Zsolt Balogh are highlighting this fact, and how it intersects with the road carnage they witness regularly in trauma centres. 

Surgeons asserted that the state’s 25 so-called “point-to-point speed cameras” could be used to help reduce this kind of carnage.

Point-to-point enforcement works by measuring the amount of time it takes a vehicle to drive between two points and then calculates the average speed of the vehicle, Roads and Maritime Services say.

If the vehicle’s average speed is higher than the speed limit for the length of road, a speeding infringement is issued.

They cost about $1 million each to install, but are only used in NSW for trucks.

This is despite the fact they are designed to monitor cars and heavy vehicles.

NSW is the only state not to use them to monitor cars.

In the Hunter, point-to-point speed cameras are used on trucks travelling from Singleton to Muswellbrook, Aberdeen to Muswellbrook, and Sandy Hollow to Merriwa, an RMS map shows. 

Surgeons and safety advocates are pushing for these cameras to be applied to cars, as well as trucks.

They say such a change would take little effort and save lives.

The government is presently against this move, with the Minister for Roads – the National Party's Melinda Pavey – saying it would break a campaign promise.

Ten lives were lost on Hunter roads in January, the exact same figure as last year.

In the 12 months to January, 74 lives were lost on Hunter roads. This was a 22 per cent rise on the average of 60.7 lives lost a year from 2015 to 2017. 

The NSW government and police do often warn the public about the dangers of the big killers on the roads: speed, not wearing seatbelts and fatigue.

One of the government’s latest campaigns, Saving Lives on Country Roads, encourages drivers to rethink the common excuses used to justify their behaviour on the road.

The government should rethink its approach to point-to-point speed cameras.

Research shows these cameras save lives. They should be used for all motor vehicles, not trucks only.

 Perhaps it is time to heed the doctors’ prescription. 

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