'Unacceptable': Controversy over 'world-first' speed cameras

·4-min read

One Australian state is trialling a world-first technology which will target speeding drivers in school zones and sites where roadworks is being carried out.

Queensland's Transport and Main Roads Minister Mark Bailey announced on Friday the state government would roll out hi-tech hidden cameras mounted on solar-powered flashing road and street signs.

"They look like regular school zone or roadworks signs but have hi-tech cameras fitted in them, in a world-first.

“I don’t want to see another roadworker killed, or someone’s child badly injured on their way to school because of the reckless actions of a speeding driver,” Mr Bailey said in a statement.

“In just over 12 months to February this year, 1,484 drivers were clocked doing more than 20km/h over the speed limit in school zones across Queensland, this is unacceptable.

“We’ve put flashing signs at more than 1,100 school zones since 2012, worked to increase signage around roadworks, and run strong advertising campaigns, but sadly it appears the message isn’t getting through to some road users."

Cameras will be rotated across 24 prioritised high-risk school zones for the trial. Source: Facebook/Mark Bailey MP
Cameras will be rotated across 24 prioritised high-risk school zones for the trial. Source: Facebook/Mark Bailey MP

On his Facebook page, Mr Bailey revealed diagrams of what the new cameras will likely look like.

In the statement, he said the pilot program will see the cameras rotated in 24 prioritised high-risk school zones and cameras will be available for roadwork sites, including Bruce Highway Upgrade Program.

RACQ spokesperson Renee Smith said if people are caught speeding in school zones or roadwork areas during the trial, they will be fined.

"A fine is the least of your worries," she said.

“Imagine the horror of hurting a child, teacher or road worker because you were either not paying attention to the speed limit or couldn’t be bothered to slow down.”

Mr Bailey went on to say there were 277 lives lost on the road, while 6952 people who were seriously injured.

“Of those fatalities, 69 people died as a result of road crashes involving speeding motorists – that's almost 25 per cent of all road deaths," he said.

"Unfortunately, this year is looking even worse, with 176 (as at August 19) lives lost. Please slow down, drive to conditions and know the fatal five risky driving behaviours."

The new cameras will also be available for road work sites during the trial. Source: Facebook/Mark Bailey MP
The new cameras will also be available for road work sites during the trial. Source: Facebook/Mark Bailey MP

Cameras met with mixed feelings online

The post on Facebook Mr Bailey made about the new cameras generated a lot of buzz.

One person argued the government need to "fix" the length of the school zone times, saying a two-hour window was a "joke".

"Pulling someone over at 7:15am when no kids are entering the school is a joke. Same as 3:55pm when the school is a ghost town," they said.

"Many schools have differing hours," Mr Bailey responded.

"So the hours are designed to be easy to understand and catch that diversity depending on the school."

Among those who showed their support for the new cameras was Gold Coast Councillor Ryan Bayldon-Lumsden.

"I am 100% in support of this initiative," he said, adding he had some "worthy" locations in his division who he believes could benefit from the cameras. 

Some people thought the world-first technology was a good idea, some seemed opposed to it. Source: Bloomberg via Getty Images
Some people thought the world-first technology was a good idea, some seemed opposed to it. Source: Bloomberg via Getty Images

A school crossing supervisor said they "applaud this action" in the comments.

"It's amazing the amount is speeding on the roads at both crossings," they said. 

"We have even had people driving straight through the crossings nearly hurting children and parents."

Some accused the cameras of being nothing more than a "revenue raising" tactic, while some questioned how "covert" cameras could be a deterrent.

"Well, you get fined in the mail and it tells you where and why," Mr Bailey said.

"Then you don’t do it again to avoid another fine. Then school kids and parents are safer."

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