The government runs TV advertising campaigns proclaiming "Every K over is a killer" and for now let us assume they have the best intentions in the world.Clearly it has to be a good thing to reduce accidents and their human impact assuming this is in fact the objective.
The simplest measure is to evaluate their actions and when we do that, it is clear that they have alternative objectives.
To find the answer we only need to pose one question - Cui bono, a Latin phrase meaning "To whose benefit?"
Last week I received one of their surprises in the mail. Apparently I drove at 70kl/h in a 60kl/h zone. This "zone" happens to be a 4 lane feeder road at the back of an industrial area. Not knowing this area at all, it is quite possible that I indeed travelled at the claimed speed, but just for a moment let us examine this "transaction" a bit more closely.
The fine is for $ 168 and this is the first indication that these fines were probably determined by a committee. Not $ 160 or $ 170 but $ 168. Can you imagine a room filled with bureaucrats from every department and division having muffins or meatpies while debating these "life changing" issues. How long did the debate last to determine the fine to be $ 168 as I am sure there would have been some strong supporters who would have maybe favoured $ 173 or even, and I tremble at the excitement, $ 174 or "gasp" $ 174.50 !.
The big lie is that this is all about road safety as it is clearly not. Having dealt with governments and freedom to information ( oxymoron ) requests I would not even think of requesting information on the stats around these automatic camera fines. I would however put money on it that the vast majority of fines are in this low range and that it is a very lucrative source of revenue.
Consider, we are faced with an apparent array of speed limits that change in unpredictable ways. Around the corner from where I live is major North / South road where the speed limit varies from 40 to 80kl/h. It only takes on truck to obscure the changed speed limit sign and there you have another $ 174.50 gift in the mail.
As creatures of habit we are inclined to drive at the speed of the traffic flow, while trying to drive as safely as we can. They know this so where do the place the speed cameras ? On downhills, on open roads where it would make no difference should you go 10kl too fast, on roads where there has been no accident for 10 years and always on roads with confusing speed limits.
There was a time when they had to post a sign stating that speed cameras were in operation but I think even that has been changed. The operators did put out signs, not before you reach the camera vehicle, but in front of it and parallel to the road making that exercise worthless, but still compliant with the "rules".
Let us for a moment be generous and assume their objective is to promote road safety, then maybe I could suggest an alternative approach.
They have access to all our information regarding previous fines and any other breaches of the traffic ordinances. When their system receives the picture of my "transgression", their system could quickly determine that I have had no such event or any other for at least 5 years.
They could then send me the information relating to this "major transgression" and suggest, in a friendly manner, that I should be more careful in future and then note should I do this again during the next 12 months, I will be expected to pay the fine for which I received this warning.
This would get my attention and motivate me to be even more careful and they would achieve their objective.
Dream on !! they give not a damn about encouraging road safety when issuing these small speed infractions but they are addicted to the easy money.
Maybe they should change their advertising campaign to "Please speed safely, just a little bit, as we need your money" or even "Every K over is only $ 16.80, please keep our budget strong".