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Controversial plan for speed cameras

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A speed camera warning sign on Albion Street in Surry Hills. Picture: Richard Dobson

The NSW government is considering removing all speed camera warning signs across the state in a move it says could save dozens of lives a year.

But critics say it's simply a revenue-raising exercise that will add to the nearly $1.12 billion in fines paid by drivers since 2012.

NSW Transport and Roads Minister Andrew Constance said the road toll had increased and the government was "looking at everything" using an "evidence-based approach".

"Expert advice says we could save 54 lives a year by removing speed camera warning signs," Mr Constance said in a statement. "We will consider any advice that tells us we can save lives."

In the first 10 months of 2019, 310 people have been killed on NSW roads, 16 more than the same period last year. The final road toll for 2018 was 347.

The 54 lives a year figure comes from Monash University research.

The NSW government estimates that speed-related crashes cost the community around $1.7 billion each year through emergency services, hospital and health care and loss of productivity.

NSW currently has 110 fixed speed cameras and around 45 mobile speed cameras. Next month it will begin rolling out mobile phone detection cameras.

A report by the state Auditor-General last year into the mobile speed camera program recommended removing warning signs as they "limit the effectiveness of the program".

"A key aspect of providing an effective general network deterrence is creating a perception that speeding can be enforced anywhere at any time," the report said.

"Multiple warning signs have increased compliance at the sites and locations that MSCs currently operate but reduced the likelihood of achieving a general network deterrence - the main purpose of MSCs. This is because the use of signs reduces the perceived risk of detection, thereby limiting the ability of MSCs to moderate driver behaviour at other locations."

Mr Constance said, "If we continue to have signage, that defeats the purpose in changing people's behaviour. People need to understand that they could be caught anywhere on the road network at any time, doing the wrong thing."

He added, "Everybody needs to know fine revenue goes straight into a road safety fund to educate people on what they've done wrong in the first place."

NRMA spokesman Peter Khoury said "we're not fans" of the proposal, which would increase the $200 million a year already raised from speed cameras.

"Revenue will go up, there's no doubt about that," he said, but added, "We don't want it to be a discussion about revenue, we want it to be about what we can do to reduce this horrific road toll."

Mr Khoury pointed out that Victoria has no warning signs at all - either for fixed or mobile speed cameras - and the road toll in the state was up 33.5 per cent this year at 231 deaths so far.

"The signs are important, they play an important educational role on our roads and the cameras then do the enforcement," he said.

"These cameras intentionally go into some of the most dangerous locations on the roads where people have been killed or injured. What we want is people to slow down - there's no point telling them two weeks later with a fine in the mail."

The NRMA believes the solution is more police on the roads. "That is the most effective way to change all forms of bad driver behaviour," Mr Khoury said.

 

Last year, Mr Constance's predecessor Melinda Pavey slapped down suggestions the Government would put up more mobile speed cameras or remove the 250-metre-ahead warning signs.

"It's not going to happen. It's not our policy," a spokesman for her office told The Daily Telegraph. "We're not going to start pulling down signs like they do in Victoria."

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