Road safety expert says reintroduction of speed camera warning signs in NSW ‘populist madness’ | New South Wales

A leading road safety expert says the New South Wales government’s decision to reintroduce warning signs for mobile speed cameras is “populist madness”.

Prof Raphael Grzebieta of UNSW’s Transport and Road Safety Research Center said on Friday the decision was “very disappointing” and would lead to more road deaths.

“What’s going to happen now is people will start speeding again,” he told Guardian Australia. “It’s a simple formula. You will get more kinetic energy in the system and crashes will become more severe.

“It’s madness, it really is.”

Since fixed signage was removed across the state in November 2020, the number of motorists receiving fines for violations has risen.

From February 2022, large double-sided blue and white warnings will appear again, this time on the roofs of all mobile speed cameras.

The Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Regional Transport and Roads, Paul Toole, said on Friday the new signs would be rolled out, along with a further 1,000 fixed signs previously announced.

“This is about finding the right balance,” he told reporters.

“There is no excuse for those who speed…this is a government that has listened to the community.”

In November, the former NSW Roads Minister, Duncan Gay, told a parliamentary road safety inquiry that the removal of the signs had been done in good faith but was the wrong decision.

“Flashes are important, but they shouldn’t be there for entrapment,” he said at the time.

Revenue NSW data shows that the number of fines for mobile digital speed cameras exceeding the speed limit by 10 km/h or less increased from 3,222 in October 2020 to 27,855 in February 2021.

Grzebieta said the sales increase was because NSW drivers were “addicted to speed” and used to getting away with it.

“You drive the speed limit, you don’t get stabbed, you don’t get a fine,” he said. “Simple as that.

“There is really no speed above the speed limit that is safe, to be honest. A 5% increase in the average rate of population, you get a 20% increase in fatalities.

“That’s a very clear relationship, well established.”

NSW Opposition Leader Chris Minns welcomed the decision to bring the signs back and said common sense had prevailed.

“These hidden speed cameras were generating revenue in NSW on a massive scale that we had never seen before,” he said.

Removing signs was about increasing revenue, not road safety, he claimed.

“They were on track to raise more in one year than in the previous five years combined.

“We would rather that someone does not commit the violation than that we receive a fine in the mail two to three weeks after the violation was committed.”

The government says revenues from cameras will go directly to the Community Road Safety Fund to improve road safety and provide education, life-saving infrastructure and enforcement.