Speed and red light cameras rake in $511,000 a day
MOTORISTS are riding a red light and speed camera roller coaster that is costing them $511,472 a day, an investigation by The Daily Telegraph can reveal.
The state's most notorious speed camera facing north on the Eastern Distributor at Darlinghurst raked in $641,000 in one month last year, yet just $35,500 in another.
In other major anomalies, the southbound speed camera on Silverwater Rd, Silverwater, nabbed 84 speeding drivers in August last year and 75 in September but only two in March and five in July.
When the speed limit on one of Newcastle's main arterial roads, Griffith Rd, Lambton, was dropped by 10km/h in March last year, the number of motorists caught speeding shot up from 16 in February to 1384 in May, costing drivers $256,014 that month, according to Roads and Maritime Services data.
With fixed speed and red light cameras alone pouring an incredible $139,120,454 into state coffers in nine months of last year, lawyers yesterday called for a statewide audit to ensure fairness for motorists.
"There is clearly a significant disparity in the figures," Jasmina Ceic, a senior associate with law firm Nyman Gibson Miralis, said.
"It is not unreasonable to assume that there are serious problems with the function of the cameras."
The high-profile firm is well known for successfully having camera-recorded speed fines dropped on behalf of drivers on grounds including technical faults.
"The RMS needs to disclose the frequency of calibration and the justification for the disparity in figures from month to month, as NSW motorists are entitled to know," Ms Ceic said.
"It would be prudent in the circumstances that a statewide audit be conducted to assure motorists that speed cameras are performing the deterrent function that they were intended to perform."
NRMA spokesman Peter Khoury said speed cameras saved lives but it was essential that they worked properly.
Data of all speed and red light cameras across the state between January and September last year shows 442,720 motorists were fined an average of $314 for each offence.
The fine for running a red light is $405 and the loss of three demerits points. Speeding fines start at $119 for motorists doing less than 10km/h over the limit.
Among the consistently highest-revenue cameras are northbound in Elizabeth St, Sydney where motorists paid out $2,669,195.
Yet while the red light camera in January 2018 caught 567 drivers, in February 526 and in September 408, the trend ended abruptly in July when it caught just 165.
The southbound speed camera on Avoca St, Randwick caught 112 drivers in April and 123 in June but the numbers shot up to 726 in August and 546 in July.
On Anzac Pde, Moore Park, the red light camera regularly nabs around 200 motorists a month, with 289 caught in August with fines totalling $161,728.
Yet in April, only 63 motorists were caught and in May that was down to seven.
Westbound on Pennant Hills Rd at Pennant Hills, the speed camera caught 448 motorists in August and 416 in July but only 211 in March.
Mr Khoury said the NRMA campaigned successfully in recent years to ensure cameras were calibrated and audited annually because running a red light while speeding was like playing Russian roulette with life.
"Speed cameras save lives and it is essential they are working properly," he said.
He said that roadworks, weather and excessive traffic could be some reasons for the massive anomalies but camera hot spots should be looked at to see if the location could be made safer. "Let's not take the photos and send the fines, let's make the road safer," he said.
The $15 billion Pacific Highway facelift has not only reduced deaths and serious accidents, it has cut the number of motorists speeding.
A Transport for NSW spokesman said the calibration of NSW enforcement camera systems was conducted in consultation with the National Measurements Institute and met National Association of Testing Authorities guidelines
"Variations in offences detected may be the result of several factors, including the date of activation within the month, traffic flows through the period, and other impacts such as school holidays," the spokesman said.
No explanations were provided for the individual anomalies.