Sunday, November 22, 2009

Speed Camera's: The User Pays System

I've never really understood the stance that speed cameras are bad because they are revenue raising. Surely, it is a great outcome for the user pays enthusiasts around. Why shouldn't the police force be funded by people breaking laws?

The front page of Today's Courier Mail was emblazoned - Tunnel Vision - Brisbane's new tunnel will open with eight speed cameras. The article is backed up by the editorial Save lives first before issuing fines.

The stories revolve around motoring groups' outrage at the revenue raising tactics of the QLD State Government, suggesting that 8 speed cameras over 6.8km of road is clearly evidence of revenue raising.

VIDEO: Bligh defends tunnel speed cams

My questions is, so what? Why shouldn't the police force raise its revenue in this way? It seems logical and reasonable to me that the police force be funded by people breaking the law. And if you don't want to pay more than the absolute minimum, don't bloody speed.

The down side is that the market is incomplete, causing equity issues in the proportion of police costs being collected from speeding fines. To rectify this we should increase the scope of this type of revenue raising. People convicted of all criminal activities should be expected to bare the reasonable 'police costs' involved in catching and convicting them. The system could be implemented in a similar way to court costs.

Is this a ridiculous idea, or a step in the right direction? It would help ease state government costs and it would add realistic punitive costs to crimes. It may also be suitable to use this in lieu of other punishments for less severe crimes (similar to a fine, but cost reflective rather than reflective of the seriousness of the crime).

Clearly there would be some argument that this would be hitting people while they are down, especially given that it is often those people in the lower socio-economic categories that are repeatedly in trouble with the law. But surely a fine is better to face than a jail term.

And either way, people should take responsibility for their actions. If you act in a way that requires a significant amount of police time, you should pay for that time.

If you speed, and are so stupid as to not slow down after the third "speed camera ahead" sign, you should suck it up and pay your fine.

If it was me, I wouldn't complain, I'd keep my mouth shut. I wouldn't want anyone to know I was dumb enough to get caught by a stationary speed camera.

If nothing else, you can always try the Mythbusters approach to avoiding speed cameras.