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.


  1. NIce to see you back on the blog Rimu.

    I guess there are no issues with enforcing laws per se, but with speed cameras there is not only a tradition of trickery (police hiding out on downhill bends immediately after a speed reduction from 70 to 60 with trees covering the speed sign - you know what I mean), there is also a big brother element to speed cameras. This makes us feel powerless and robbed of our independence.

    I drove to Toowoomba last week and the speed limit must have changes about 50 times, and there are plenty of radar zones on that trip - it really did feel like a trick - speed signs every 100m - 80, 70, 60, 80, 50 then bang, radar zone. Which bloody speed was it anyway?

    I think your 'user pays' logic about criminals covering costs of policing is backwards. Non-criminals are the users of police - they want police to maintain order, and hence are willing to pay per criminal apprehended, law enforced, or degree safety established.

    So to answer your question, I choose ridiculous idea!

  2. Tickery? Why should it matter where they are located. They only fine you if you are speeding. Stay within the speed limit and it doesn't matter where they are.

    I conceed that I have on many occasions been confused about the correct speed at a particular section of road. But since when is not paying attention to signs when driving a reasonable defence? If anything, there should be additional fines for careless driving.

    Either way, that isn't an issue with the fixed speed cameras. Each camera has a number of signs (three I think) on the approach, each letting you know that there is a speed camera ahead and the correct speed. Surely, everyone should be reading at least every third sign.

    That said, I do have concerns around the potential missuse of these:,23739,26553282-952,00.html