Glen Koorey, a UC senior lecturer in transport engineering Glen Koorey, a UC senior lecturer in transport engineering CREDIT: University of Canterbury

Speed cameras will help but not a silver bullet

Friday 31 August 2012, 8:13AM
By University of Canterbury


More speed cameras will cut down speeds but they are not the silver bullet for safety on New Zealand's roads, a University of Canterbury (UC) researcher said today.

The government has confirmed plans to spend $10 million doubling speed cameras on the roads over the next three years.

Glen Koorey, a UC senior lecturer in transport engineering, said today that inappropriate speed historically killed 30 percent of people who die on New Zealand's roads.

``Speed cameras have been very effective in helping to bring down speeds on rural roads which has resulted in significant reduction in the likelihood and severity of crashes. Seventy percent of all road fatalities occur on rural roads.

``We haven't had as much success in bringing down urban speeds with cameras - 60% of people still drive above the 50km per hour speed limit. Yet urban areas are where most people walk and cycle and they suffer considerably more if struck at 60kmh instead of 50kmh, or less.

``Our crash numbers for those walking and cycling are seriously over-represented in urban areas; perhaps this is where most of the new cameras should be targeted.

``Like any enforcement, the problem with cameras is that they are only effective while they are there. So while they are a part of the speed management toolbox, we need to continue to work harder at making roads more "self-explaining", so that drivers will be able to tell from the road environment what is an appropriate speed to travel at, irrespective of the level of enforcement.''

Koorey said roads could be safer if fines were done away with or significantly reduced them and instead we concentrated on greater demerit points and ultimate loss of licence. He said that would completely take the sting out of the "revenue gathering" arguments and switch focus more to road safety.

``I continue to be intrigued and disappointed by this country's relative lack of concern about routinely killing over 300 people and injuring thousands of others each year on our roads. The social cost of this to the country has been determined at over $4 billion, at least double the estimated costs of congestion to New Zealand.