Minisode 2A - Speed camera myths busted
Exclusive interview with Queensland Police Service about speed cameras in Queensland.
How to listen
We discuss how motorists are still taking unnecessary risks on the road and are being caught out by speed cameras. This exclusive interview with Queensland Police Service also reveals the myths behind the cameras.
- Allan Hales, Director Road Safety Camera Office, Queensland Police Service
This is RACQ Living.
Anthony Frangi: Speed cameras, you either love 'em or hate 'em. But they all serve one purpose, and that is to save lives. And given so many are dotted up and down Queensland, should drivers know their location, especially around the holidays? Allan Hales leads the Road Policing Command Unit for Queensland Police Service, and he joins us here at RACQ Living. Hello, Allan.
Allan Hales: Thank you, Anthony, for the invitation.
Anthony Frangi: How much has technology played in the advancement of these devices? Because in the past, rightly or wrongly, they had been criticised for their accuracy, haven't they?
Allan Hales: They have. It's unfortunate. I've come from a policing background where, operationally, I was on the roads at these peak times and all times of the hours and days of the week, and I've seen behaviours that still surprise me, how people take unnecessary risk. But I've seen the transition of when we're trying to enforce the road rules and trying to promote compliance that sometimes the environment is quite dangerous, not only for the other drivers and road users, but also the police when they intercept some of these people. So, some of the high-speed corridors like the M1, the Bruce Highway, the Warrego Highway, Cunningham Highway, every highway in Queensland, you've got traffic moving fairly quickly, and if we're stopped on the side of the road, that's a hazardous area.
Anthony Frangi: How many of those devices are automated today compared to police still being on the roads?
Allan Hales: In regard to cameras, we probably have about 130 speed cameras. That's a mobile fleet and trailers. And then we've got about another 70 cameras on the network for fixed sites. And for red lights, probably the same again. So, there's network coverage, obviously it's not at every street and not at every corner, and that's why the mobile cameras play an important part along with the trailers to deploy in high-risk areas.
Anthony Frangi: What's your view that commuters should be aware where there are cameras present on our roads?
Allan Hales: Well, where a camera's placed goes through a process of approval, so it's based on the crash history risk or the assessed risk for those sites. Those sites are approved through a committee process and involves the RACQ, the police, and the transport department, and also the road authority or local government.
Anthony Frangi: Let's look at suburban streets, for example. Do you often have devices there?
Allan Hales: We do. So, we operate in 40 zones and above. That was a change in government's decision a few years back, but we're operating in school zones which are very important to all of us for our children and our families.
Anthony Frangi: Because I've been called out a few times where I've had to remind myself as I'm heading towards a school that it's dropped from 60 to 40.
Allan Hales: Yes, and that's where being with other agencies, collaboratively, we've gone through the flashing lights at school zones. So, that flashing light's another trigger for you to know that the environment's changed, and you need to change your behaviour. So, those type of initiatives that go across the state, they're great, and I think that's what it's about, drivers that drive to the environment. And we'll have enforcement on uphill and downhill, and sometimes people are critical or they're downhill to catch you. Now, there's still crashes downhill roads and uphill roads, so cameras will be where the risks are.
Anthony Frangi: What about changing behaviour? Again, you've been part of Queensland Police for a long time, you've no doubt seen campaign after campaign. I think it was back in the '80s, we saw the beginning of random breath testing. There was a huge campaign not only on media, but right across the community. Has that paid off, do you think?
Allan Hales: I remember those days well, because it's interesting listening to the community's expectations. It was a breach of civil rights to be stopped by the police and provide a breath test, and the government's attitude was a little bit soft at the time in regard to how they would bring that in. But the random breath testing program has been so significant in changing the behaviour of people, people's attitudes about getting in a car after they've been drinking or getting in a car with somebody else who's going to drive that's been drinking. To look back on those days, the risks that were taken were quite frightening. And in fact, from a policing point of view, we actually were so busy with the high range drunk drivers that we weren't even looking at the low range. So, that change in behaviour and bringing that about was quite significant, and the public attitude now about drunk driving, they don't accept it and they think it's a terrible behaviour that people still do this day and age.
Anthony Frangi: But drug testing is fairly widespread today.
Allan Hales: Yes, and drug testing is at its infancy as well. So, some of the equipment tests for different drugs, but not all drugs. And it also tests for presence and not impairment. So, there's different levels of what type of drug people have in their bodies, and some are prescribed, and some are illegal drugs. But that behaviour, this needs to be a high incidence of drugged driving, and that attitude needs to change as well. And perhaps, with interlock systems, you won't be able to get in a car if you fail the drug test before you start the car.
Anthony Frangi: Always good to talk to you, Allan. Congratulations to you and your team for doing the work that you do and thank you for joining us on RACQ Living podcast.
Allan Hales: Been a pleasure. Thank you very much.