South Australian speed traps catch 100,000 extra drivers
DRIVERS fined for speeding between 60 and 69km/h have risen from 1515 in 2002 to more than 100,800 last year - an MP branding them 'cash cow' revenue raisers.
In a further dramatic surge, the number of fines issued by police in the 60 to 69km/h speed range jumped from 76,536 in 2006 to 100,866 last year.
Official figures show that, overall, more than 1.38 million people have been fined a total of more than $200 million for speeding since 2002, when the Rann Labor Government came to power.
The figures were tabled in Parliament after a question from Opposition transport spokesman Duncan McFetridge, who last night said it "showed the Government was using motorists as cash cows".
But Treasurer Kevin Foley said it was "offensive to suggest that our motivation for making our roads safer is to raise revenue – it is to save lives".
Dr McFetridge said the figures raised serious questions about the accuracy of police speed detection devices, and the motivation behind lowering speed tolerance levels.
"Uncertainty over the accuracy of the SA Police speed cameras and laser guns is causing potentially thousands of motorists to be unfairly fined," he said.
"Police need to come clean and tell motorists about lowering speeding tolerances to catch more drivers.
"Motorists caught inadvertently driving one or 2km/h over the limit are not the same as drivers who deliberately endanger lives with their reckless behaviour on the road."
Police Commissioner Mal Hyde announced last year police were considering lowering the secret margin for error, given to speeding drivers.
New lower speed tolerance limits were introduced in December but Mr Hyde has refused to reveal the limit because it would allow drivers to speed. He did cite the Victorian limit of 3km/h.
Last night, a spokeswoman for Mr Hyde said speed detection devices were lawfully calibrated, and she reiterated the tolerance limit would not be revealed.
The spokeswoman said there had been a significant increase in the number of speed detection devices deployed by the police since 2002.
The data released by the Government is broken down for the past six calendar years by speed range and the total number and value of fines issued.
It shows the number of speeding fines has increased by 38 per cent since 2002, while revenue from expiation notices over the same period has gone up by 70 per cent. There was a total of 197,404 speeding fines issued in 2002, costing motorists in that year $25.24 million.
During 2007, the total number of speeding fines issued increased to 272,519, raising an annual revenue of $42.94 million.
From July 1, speeding fines will increase by about 3.5 per cent. Speeding fines from next month will range from $182 for those caught driving less than 15km/h above the speed limit to $435 for those driving more than 30km/h over the limit.
Mr Foley said the rise in the number of fines was linked to "the default urban speed limit being reduced" in March, 2003, from 60 to 50km/h.
"Police exercised a three-month amnesty period for speed enforcement on 50km/h roads from March 1, 2003," he said.
Mr Foley pointed to the latest findings by the Centre for Automotive Safety Research, which showed a 23 per cent reduction in casualty crashes on roads where the speed limit was reduced from 60 to 50km/h.
He said it was State Government policy that all revenue raised was "dedicated to enhance road safety".
Mr Foley also said in 2002 there were 154 fatalities on SA roads, compared with 125 last year – a fall of more than 18 per cent.
But Dr McFetridge said the continuing reduction in road fatalities "cannot be attributed to the single decision to ping drivers doing 60 to 69km/h".
"Where is the evidence of the impact of that multimillion-dollar revenue raising decision?," Dr McFetridge said.
"Treasurer Kevin Foley has drained more than $200 million from the wallets of motorists during the past six years. "He has used motorists as cash cows."
Mr Foley said the Government had created a Community Road Safety Fund, to provide "transparency in relation to income from speed detection devices".