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Pedestrian Council of Australia
Safety – Amenity – Access – Health

ROYAL AUSTRALASIAN COLLEGE OF SURGEONS
(ROAD TRAUMA ADVISORY COMMITTEE)

 

JOINT Media Release


Friday 3 November 2006
 
TRADING LIVES FOR VOTES

Ted Baillieu Will Have Blood on His Hands

 

The Victorian Opposition Leader, Ted Baillieu, has committed to increasing the discretionary tolerance of Victoria’s speed cameras to 10% if he wins the next election.

 

The RACS Road Trauma Advisory Committee and the Pedestrian Council of Australia have jointly condemned this unbridled grab for power as outrageous, disgraceful and utterly irresponsible.

 

Dr Robert Atkinson, Chair of the RACS Road Trauma Advisory Committee said:  “Speed is the biggest killer on our roads.  We see the results of speed every day in our hospitals.  Up to 40% of road trauma casualties are speed related.  We challenge Mr Baillieu to spend just one night in one of our emergency departments and operating theatres and we guarantee he will change his selfish attempt to grab power in exchange for people’s lives and limbs.

 

The Chairman of the Pedestrian Council of Australia, Harold Scruby said: "Victoria has consistently led Australia in having the lowest annual road toll.  It has been through innovative campaigns, particularly speed camera enforcement programs that Victoria has achieved this commendable result.  But these are not just our views.  The Australian Transport Council’s National Road Safety Action Plan for 2007 and 2008 states:

Speed management - Improvements in speed management have generally been incremental since 2000, but in Victoria large scale integrated speed management initiatives were implemented from early 2002.  Measured travel speeds declined on many parts of the road network, not just at enforcement sites. These changes were followed by a large and sustained reduction in road deaths, particularly among vulnerable road users and in urban areas, where the effect of travel speeds was greatest.  There is evidence that improved speed management has made a major contribution to the overall improvement in road safety outcomes in Victoria.

 

Mr Scruby asked:  “What next Mr Baillieu, in your desperate attempt to win office?  Will you be campaigning for 10% extra time to run the red lights?”

 

http://www.atcouncil.gov.au/documents/nrss_actionplan_0708.pdf

Contact:  Harold Scruby      (0418) 110-011
Contact:  Rob Atkinson        (0419) 772-474

BRIEFING NOTE

 

Mr. Harold Scruby

Chairman,

Pedestrian Council of Australia.

 

 Ref:  Letter from Terry Mulder.

 

The whole situation needs to be put in perspective.  This campaign is politically motivated at the expense of road safety and contrary to the views of road safety experts locally and internationally.

 

To sift through the confusion, there are definitional and traditional policing issues to contend with.

 

Threshold speed = the trigger speed of enforcement equipment or the speed at which police choose to enforce the legislation.

Tolerance = the amount of flexibility to compensate for possible variations in the use of technology.  This is legislated. In Victoria the legislated tolerance is +/- 3kph when using radar equipment and +/-2kph when using laser equipment. (All equipment used by police is certified to that degree of accuracy).  The tolerance is always given in favour of the motorist i.e 2kph or 3 kph is subtracted from the detected speed as recorded on the instrument.

 

In Victoria the threshold speed was reduced BY 3KPH in 2002 (NOT BY 3% OR TO 3% as referenced in Mulder’s letter).  The threshold level or trigger point has never been declared publicly and SHOULD NEVER BE (because it creates a defacto speed limit.)

 

Internationally the threshold speed is a POLICE prerogative vested in the “Office of the Constable” and the Tolerance is a legislative prerogative.  i.e.  Anywhere in the world, a police officer can choose to enforce or not enforce at whatever speed deemed appropriate. e.g.  Traffic officers will enforce at X (?) speed, detectives may not book  speeders until they are traveling at 30+ over the speed limit (because of other priorities) or a diligent/officious officer may choose to book a person doing 1kph- 5kph over the limit (not that it wouldn’t be subject to challenge, but it is still within his rights and discretion). 

 

Comments on Mulder’s letter and motivation:

 

(Terry Mulder is aware of the issues I raise because he instigated a long and involved process through the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT)- at a hearing for which  I and Assistant Commissioner Hastings, gave evidence.  In both the oral and written findings, the Judge rejected Mulder’s application along with the rationale – yet Mulder continues to promote and publicise the same arguments. 

 

Factual errors in the attached letter:

·        States that the Victorian tolerance is 3%.  IT IS NOT AND NEVER HAS BEEN.  Neither the Victoria Police nor the current Victorian Government has made this statement – it is something which has been strenuously rejected by the authorities but continuously fixated upon by Mulder.

·        States there is a legislated 2kph tolerance for fixed speed cameras and 3kph for mobile speed cameras.  THIS IS INACCURATE AND MISLEADING.  As outlined in the preliminary information the situation is +/- 2kph for laser technology and +/- 3kph for radar technology.  It has nothing to do with fixed or mobile.  It applies equally to both as it does to hand held equipment (laser/radar), police vehicle mounted laser/radar, tripod mounted etc used by police.  In summary Laser equipment has a higher degree of accuracy and the legislation takes that into account.

·        He continually quotes the trigger point for tolerance as being 7kph or 8kph and references a document which was used during a phased implementation and another document which was rejected at the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (comments attributable to a S/Constable in a written inaccurate statement).

·        The information relating to Breath Alcohol readings and procedures is inaccurate and irrelevant to the issue at hand.

 

Opinion  issues:

 

  • Why have a speed limit if you then create another defacto speed limit. i.e.  if the speed limit is 60kph and by legislation you say it is ok to drive up to 66kph then drivers will increase their normal/usual speed from their current 60kph to 65kph with the perception that they are immune from prosecution.
  • If a defacto speed limit of 66kph is brought in for “speed cameras” there is NOTHING to stop any police officer for intercepting and prosecuting a driver for doing e.g. 65kph.  How confusing will this be for the public?
  • Mulder has not made any statements about what the opposition will do about the current legislated tolerances for equipment (radar/laser).  Will those levels be included in the 10% proposal or will they be cumulative.  In any legal system about procedural fairness there will always be the argument that any grace that should be given should err on the side of the accused.  So in effect, unless specific legislation is introduced, the defacto speed will then become 10% plus/minus 2kph or 3kph.  This makes the speed limit in a 110kph zone effectively to be about 124kph.   What does that do for road safety?
  • Mulder ignores or is ignorant of the international research which was the basis for the threshold reduction and “Wipe Off 5” campaign introduced in Victoria.
    • Comment:  The Road Safety Strategy for speed compliance was developed in 2001 in Victoria by TAC, Victoria Police and VicRoads on the basis of providing Education (Wipe off 5), followed by Enforcement (3kph threshold reduction) to ensure compliance and save lives.  Education and enforcement mutually applied provide the most effective change management strategy as proven over years of research and evaluation.  This actually achieved its objective with an 11% reduction in road fatalities in 2002 and a further 17% reduction in 2003.  To now increase the defacto speed limit is COUNTER PRODUCTIVE to road safety.  Law enforcement strategists will need to re-focus with other initiatives to maintain the gains made during that time.

 

Let’s stick with the basics for public compliance.  Whatever the speed limit is - that is decreed to be the law in any country – 60kph MEANS 60kph – it doesn’t mean 65kph or 70kph. 

 

The current strategy must be maintained under the police discretional prerogative supported by new road safety innovations to ensure public compliance of legitimate speed limits.

 

These cheap, politically motivated pre-election stunts are counter-productive to road safety.  The focus should be on saving lives.  OPERATIONAL policing and enforcement strategies are the prerogative of police. Politicians should stick to governing for the good of the community and not kowtowing to the whims of those who wish to breach the current laws.

 

 

Ray Shuey APM, B.A. Pol Stud, (former Assistant Commissioner Victoria Police)

International Road Safety Advisor.

Victorian Director, Pedestrian Council of Australia.

(Only one motivation - to save lives in a safe driving environment)