25 July 2014 - In the USA state of Illinois, a Chicago man filed a lawsuit seeking class action status against the city’s former red light camera vendor, claiming that the company should provide approximately $100 million in refunds to motorists caught by the cameras because it only got the contract through bribery. Matthew Falkner filed the federal lawsuit on 24 July 2014 against Redflex Traffic Systems and its Australia-based parent company, Redflex Holdings.
Falkner received a $100 red light ticket at the intersection of 76th Street and Stony Island Avenue on 19 January 2013, according to the lawsuit. He claims that under the contract Redflex had with the city for 10 years, it received 20-25% of the money from every red light camera ticket. Redflex was dismissed as the city’s red light camera vendor in 2013, after company officials admitted that a Redflex employee bribed a city transportation official to steer Chicago’s red light camera contract to the firm.
Former Transportation Department executive John Bills, 52, was arrested by federal authorities in May 2014, accused of taking more than $643,000 in cash and cheques from an unnamed Redflex consultant. That consultant also allegedly bought Bills a $177,000 condominium in Arizona, helped him pay off loans, and paid for his retirement party. Redflex has since been replaced by Xerox under a new contract that the city has said will save taxpayers $50 million.
The lawsuit was filed one day before an investigation found that thousands of drivers received red light camera tickets they did not deserve, as a result of either faulty equipment or possible human intervention. It was reported that many cameras in Chicago experienced sudden and unexplained severe spikes in the number of tickets issued. Experts told the tribune the deviations should not happen in automated camera systems, and could only be the result of malfunctions or a change in procedure to catch more violators.
Falkner’s lawsuit estimates that the city received at least $500 million from red light tickets from 2003 to 2013 and Redflex received at least $100 million share of that revenue. "As a direct result of the bribery scheme, defendants were able to contractually retain approximately 20-25% of all ticket revenue generated by tickets," the lawsuit stated. Falkner claimed that because Redflex obtained the city contract through bribery, it should be forced to provide refunds.
"Both Redflex and the City of Chicago have recognised that the Redflex contract with the City of Chicago was secured through corrupt behaviour," Falkner's attorneys wrote in their complaint. "As such, Redflex’s $100 million-plus dollars in revenue since 2003 generated under the corrupt contract represents ill-gotten gains that have unjustly enriched Redflex."
The city is not named as a defendant in the lawsuit, which does not seek a refund of the full $100 fine from red light tickets, but only Redflex’s share of the revenue. "Defendants' retention of said benefit violates the fundamental principles of justice, equity, and good conscience," Falkner’s attorneys wrote. The lawsuit seeks class-action status to cover any person who received a red light camera ticket and paid the fine while Redflex had its city contract. A federal judge would have to approve class-action status. The suit estimates hundreds of thousands of motorists have received red light camera tickets to date.
Apart from the corrupt practices of the Redflex company that was caught engaging in corrupt practices in other jurisdictions, it is important to note that the red light cameras in Chicago were either faulty or deliberately manipulated to increase the rate of infringements, even by wrongful means. This is also prevalent in Australia, where in NSW, the government's own statistics revealed that around 14% of cameras are defective at any one time.
The problem for motorists is that without other means of showing that they were indeed driving within the law, they have little or no chance to have wrongful bookings dismissed. The state governments of Australia have rigged the infringement and court systems to make it as difficult as possible for motorists to contest wrongful bookings and most motorists consider that the cost and effort of fighting a wrongful booking simply is not worth the trouble, when it is easier to grit their teeth and pay the fines. This is exactly what these governments work to achieve in their pursuit of ripping revenue from motorists.
After seeing this report, CARR again advises motorists to take proactive measures to protect themselves by using GPS with camera warnings whenever they drive, Bluetooth devices to use their mobile phones hands-free and most importantly, install a car black box recorder with GPS logging of speed, position and time. Then if motorists are wrongly booked, they have hard evidence to present to court and also have firm grounds to sue the government for those wrongful infringements.
One very important piece of advice to motorists is to NEVER EVER sign any document or affidavit that comes with an infringement notice especially the one that demands that you either admit to being the driver at the time of the alleged camera booking or nominate another driver. Governments have passed a ludicrous law that "deems" the owner of a car to have committed the infringement if he refuses to nominate another driver, however because traffic infringements are actually criminal offences, every person has the right to refuse to incriminate himself.
"Deeming" a person to have committed an offence is not sufficient evidence under our criminal justice system to identify the perpetrator of an offence, therefore if the state cannot prove beyond reasonable doubt - and that is the minimum standard of evidence required - that a particular person was the driver of a car that was recorded committing a traffic offence, then the prosecution does not have a case.
No motorist should ever admit to driving a car that has been booked by a camera under any circumstances. We have the right to silence and we have the right to refuse to incriminate ourselves. So the best course of action for any person, motorist or even pedestrians is - DO NOT TALK TO POLICE. DO NOT ADMIT ANYTHING. DO NOT SIGN ANYTHING. Just keep your mouth shut, because without evidence, the police or the state government don't have much of a case to present. People are conned into thinking that they have to sign affidavits and admit things. Nothing could be further from the truth. You do NOT have to make it easy for the people who are trying to rip you off.
Thanks to Santo Calabrese for this item.
24 July 2014 - Recent studies in the USA have found that banning cellphone use while driving is not leading to a decrease in accidents. The results are somewhat surprising and have left researchers and regulators scratching their heads, especially given that 13 US states, the District of Columbia and several US territories have hand-held cellphone bans. Additionally, 44 US states specifically outlaw texting while driving.
The most recent study, published in the mid-year of 2014 in the journal Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, analysed California's cellphone ban for drivers in 2008. Researchers found that the number of accidents only dropped from 66.7 per day to 65.2 per day statewide, a statistically minor decline. The results were mirrored in many of the state's major cities, including San Francisco, though Los Angeles did experience a slight decrease in accidents. Researchers looked at the six-month periods before and after the ban went into place on 01 July 2008.
"We went in there expecting to see something," stated Daniel Kaffine, one of the study's authors. "But it was pretty clear to us that there was no compelling evidence of a decrease in accidents."
Though offsetting for safety advocates, Kaffine's research is in line with other findings. The Highway Loss Data Institute, the research arm of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, studied insurance claims rates in 2009 and 2010 studies and found no link that bans helped decrease crashes. "Unfortunately, there is no evidence that various kinds of cellphone restrictions states have enacted have reduced crashes," said Russ Rader, IIHS senior vice-president of communications.
Conversely, California's Office of Traffic Safety said in 2012 that research conducted by the University of California, Berkley found a 22% drop in traffic deaths in the two years after the ban went into effect. Furthermore, deaths resulting from hand-held use of phones was down 47%. While the studies have focused on accident and insurance statistics, the results have spurred wider discussions as to why the roads likely have not gotten safer.
Kaffine, an associate professor of economics at the University of Colorado in Boulder, said that it was possible many motorists are simply ignoring cellphone bans while driving. It's also likely hands-free devices, while meeting the letter of the law, are still distracting. And with a fine hanging over their heads, drivers may also be more reluctant to disclose that they were using their cellphones during an accident.
Another theory is drivers who talk on their cellphones are already easily distracted, and even if they do comply with the law, something else, like the GPS, satellite radio, passengers or even other motorists, is capturing their attention. "Cellphone use has become synonymous with distracted driving, but distracted driving didn't become a problem with cellphone use," Rader said. "People do a lot of things behind the wheel that distract them besides using cellphones."
Finally, there's the possibility that cellphone use isn't as bad as previously believed. Some reports claim it's as dangerous as drunk driving, which Kaffine is quick to rebuke, noting motorists can simply put down their phones at any time. "The idea that it's as dangerous as drunk driving is not true," he said. "It's much harder to get undrunk."
Most researchers and motorists don't dispute that making a call from behind the wheel isn't at least partially distracting. The question then becomes: how to remedy this? Bans on hand-held devices are one way to try, but the research of Kaffine and others suggests it hasn't been an effective tactic.
This study essentially has come to the same conclusion as the extensive study by Saurabh Bhargava and Vikram Pathania of Carnegie-Mellon University and the London School of Economics. These researchers studied a whopping 7 million instances of motorists driving while talking on their hand-held cellphones and concluded that there was no correlation between this activity and any increase in road accidents.
Of course texting while driving is definitely dangerous because it involves taking one's eyes off the road to type in the messages or even to read received messages, but talking on a hand-held mobile phone and driving is no more dangerous than scratching one's head and talking to a passenger at the same time. Steering with one hand is not dangerous and in fact most pilots fly their aircraft with just one hand on the control yoke or joystick. Of course if it was dangerous to steer a car with one hand, no arm amputee would ever get a driver's licence.
The truth is that motorists holding mobile phones and driving are the easiest targets of all for police to book and to raise all that revenue for state governments. Like the revenue from speed and red light cameras, along with the entrapment by police to book motorists, the mobile phone fine revenue is very important to government budgets and that is why they have made this activity illegal.
Driving while holding a mobile phone is no more dangerous than driving and smoking a cigarette. But just like governments refusing to ban tobacco products, despite knowing that they kill up to 20,000 people every year, governments will not actually do anything about preventing drivers using hand-held mobile phones by mandating phone jammers in cars because it's such a nice revenue-earner for them.
As usual, CARR advises all motorists to use Bluetooth hands-free devices for their mobile phones when driving. These are very inexpensive and effective. Even better is for motorists to purchase their next vehicle with integrated Bluetooth or retrofit Bluetooth-equipped car radios to their existing cars. These are very cheap nowadays and are the neatest solution. But fines for driving and holding mobile phones are so easily avoided that it is staggering that anybody is booked for such offences these days.
Thanks to Santo Calabrese for this item.
22 July 2014 - A Brisbane nurse was hit with a $113 fine by a zealous parking inspector for parking in her own driveway. She was nabbed in the dead of night on a quiet suburban street. Rachael Cook accused Brisbane City Council of blatant revenue raising after she was fined for parking on her own driveway at 1.30am. Her $113 fine, issued while she was sleeping, was among four infringement notices handed out to residents of Farrington Street Alderley for the same offence.
"The fine is just ridiculous. This is a quiet suburban area and there's not even a footpath to warrant a worry," Cook said. "Why would there be an inspector in this area at that time? It's not West End, it's not South Bank or the City or Fortitude Valley."
A Brisbane City Council (BCC) spokeswoman said that council had received two parking complaints in relation to Farrington Street. She said that state laws only permit a car to stop on a driveway to drop off passengers. The driver must remain with the vehicle for a maximum of two minutes.
BCC Opposition Leader Councillor Milton Dick, who has appealed the fine on Ms Cook’s behalf, said it was ridiculous that inspectors were walking suburban streets in the dead of night. "The Lord Mayor has set a revenue target of $47.5 million from parking meters and parking fines this year and it's examples like this that make people think council is just revenue raising."
BCC lifestyle chairwoman Councillor Krista Adams said that parking inspectors could be dispatched 24/7 to respond to complaints, particularly where there was an immediate safety risk to pedestrians or other road users. She said that BCC enforced parking laws under the Queensland Government’s Transport Operations (Road Use Management - Road Rules) Regulation 2009.
"It has long been illegal for vehicles to park on the footway or driveway, regardless of whether or not there is a path, and given the serious safety issues caused by this illegal behaviour, there's really no excuse for not knowing the law," she said.
Councillor Dick said that BCC was undertaking a review of parking and he was organising a series of public meetings so that people could have their say about what should be done to fix Brisbane's parking problems.
Apart from this booking being a sheer act of bastardry by the Brisbane City Council and its parking ranger, it is more than apparent that this council has embarked on a program of revenue-raising from fines. Why the hell would the Lord Mayor set a target $47.5 million from parking meters and parking fines if she wasn't chasing the revenue and deploying rangers to book anybody and everybody in order to reach that projected target? This is beyond obscene.
Firstly, the law about parking in driveways needs to be scrapped. People should be entitled to park in their own driveways and the only time that council rangers ought to have the power to book somebody is if they have parked in somebody else's driveway and there was a complaint made. Secondly, the council should be taken to task for setting revenue targets from infringements, because these penalties are to deter offenders, not use them as cash cows.
It is time that all councils stopped relying on revenue from fines, just as state governments should stop relying on revenue from infringements. State governments make all the right noises about deterring speeding and other traffic offences, but the reality is that they want motorists to speed and run red lights, so that they can be booked and fill the government's coffers. Governments have become so reliant on revenue from traffic infringements that if everybody avoided being booked for just one month, those governments would collapse financially.
But it's so easy to avoid being a cash cow and being ripped off. If you don't want to be booked by cameras, use a GPS with camera warnings that will alert you of cameras BEFORE you get to them. If you don't want to be booked for talking on a mobile phone, buy a Bluetooth car device and a cheap phone cradle. If you don't want to be "verballed" for speeding by a cop with a speed gun, get a car black box recorder that will prove that you were driving at or below the speed limit. If you get pulled over by a cop, say nothing at all, just video record him as evidence.
If you take active measures to protect yourself against this disgraceful money grab, spend the money and get the equipment that will save you from it. CARR has heard all the stories about wrongful bookings and in every case, the motorists did not take any active measures to protect themselves. There's an old saying - God helps those who help themselves. If you don't take active measures to avoid being booked, you will just become another victim if you get booked.
17 July 2014 - A test by Drive magazine has shown that 93% of new car speedometers were inaccurate. A five-month study of 60 new vehicles ranging in price from $14,490 to $441,300 showed that most speedometers measured over the posted limit by an average of 5km/h at 100km/h, well within the Australian Design Rule parameters.
The difference in readings, as much as 6% at 100km/h, partially explains the difference in driving speeds on some freeways. It is particularly noticeable on heavily policed sections of road, where tailgating can be rife as frustrated drivers either urge others to speed up or are afraid to inch over what their vehicle's speedometer is displaying.
The Drive test was undertaken using a satellite phone application on the same flat stretch of road, with the device mounted securely in a cradle. Sitting on 100km/h with the cruise control activated, testers monitored the true speed of the application over a period of about 60 seconds, comparing it with a vehicle’s indicated speed. The application reading was then compared to an industry-certified GPS performance meter, to ensure absolute accuracy.
The worst culprits for inaccuracy were the Nissan Juke, Toyota Kluger, Alfa Romeo MiTo and Jeep Wrangler, all 6km/h off. The most inaccurate reading ever obtained by Drive was in a Nissan Patrol, which was out by 11km/h. Luxury cars fared better in the testing than regular passenger cars, usually within 2km/h of the true speed.
All cars fell within the parameters of the Australian Design Rule that requires that the speedometer must not indicate a speed less than the vehicle’s true speed or a speed greater than the vehicle’s true speed by an amount of more than 10% plus 4km/h. For instance, with the speedometer displaying 100km/h the vehicle must be travelling between 87.3km/h and 100km/h. This gives the perception that drivers are travelling faster than what they really are, or exactly at the limit.
The biggest fluctuations in speed readings usually come from tyre wear, pressure and tread depth, as well as calibration of the speedometer. The difference between a new and worn set of tyres usually equates to about 3km/h at 100km/h, as the car will actually be travelling slightly slower for the same reading on worn tyres.
All those tests were performed on new or near-new vehicles with unworn tyres. But how do speedometers perform on older cars with different-sized tyres to the original ones that came with those vehicles? The chances are that many of those speedometers will be reading slower than the actual speed of those vehicles at the time. This is where the ludicrously low tolerances of speed applied by Victorian cops when booking drivers is so unfair, among other factors.
The speed measuring devices used by police also have errors of tolerance, apart from the fact that none of them have been certified as measuring devices complying with the federal Weights and Measurements Act. Therefore any motorist who is booked for speeding, either by a cop holding a radar or laser speed gun, or by a speed camera, should always contest the fine in court, subpoenaeing the operations manuals for the particular devices that were used to book them and pointing out to the magistrate all the errors listed, as well as demanding that the infringements be thrown out because those devices did not comply with certification under the relevant Act.
15 July 2014 - The Federal Government says that it is closely considering charging drivers per kilometre they travel in order to pay for roads. A final report into infrastructure by the Productivity Commission has recommended pilot technical studies of how cars and light vehicles might be charged. It recommends adopting telematics, which can monitor a vehicle's location and movements in real time.
The report states, "The application of a charging mechanism created by rapidly changing communications technology appears promising. Importantly, these trials would introduce direct user charges as a substitute for other taxes, such as the fuel excise." The report suggests each state and territory hold its own road fund to pay for new roads, upgrades and maintenance. States and territories would be best placed to decide where money needed to be spent.
Despite Prime Minister Tony Abbott saying in March 2014 that road-user charging was unlikely to ever be adopted by any government, Assistant Infrastructure Minister Jamie Briggs said that the Government was considering all aspects of the report. Noting the majority of recommendations were relevant to state governments, Briggs said that the Government would consult with them before releasing its formal response.
Briggs stated that issues relating to road-user charging would be considered as part of the Federal Government's broader reform agenda. "There are already a number of initiatives on user charging already under way," Briggs said. That included consultation with motoring clubs and industry bodies on potential road-user charge models. The fuel excise is due to rise twice yearly under a Budget proposal, but legislation has not yet passed Parliament.
If there is one thing that is virtually guaranteed, it is that when governments say that something that has the potential to raise revenue is unlikely to be adopted, you can bet that the government will adopt it. About the only time that governments do not adopt revenue-raising strategies is if they are political suicide, but some politicians, like the liar Julia Gillard and her carbon tax do not seem to be deterred from trying to rip us off. So when Tony Abbott says that something is unlikely, in fact it is most likely to be adopted, once the government figures out how to implement it at some stage.
The most insidious aspect of this charging by the kilometre idea is that cars will be able to be tracked everywhere they go and this is another Big Brother intrusion and violation of the privacy of motorists. Why the hell should the government ever be permitted to track our vehicles and thus whoever is driving them? What next? Forcibly implanting microchips into us to monitor our every movement? This car tracking concept should never be allowed to raise its ugly head.
Nevertheless, governments constantly scrabble for more revenue, instead of balancing their books by reducing their spending. If Australia cancelled its foreign aid program, this would mean that around $7 billion would be available for roads infrastructure and that would mean a reduction in fuel excise and enough money to build and maintain our roads. Charity begins at home and squandering taxpayer revenue on other nations is ludicrous when Australia needs the money for the benefit of its own citizens. Australia does not owe any other nation anything and taxpayer money should be spent on those who pay those taxes.
14 July 2014 - In the USA state of California, Napa's remaining red light traffic cameras will continue to operate through August 2014 while the Napa Police Department finishes a study on the equipment's pros and cons. The Napa City Council voted to extend its contract with Australia-based camera operator Redflex Traffic Systems and its Arizona subsidiary on a month-to-month basis through the summer, while the department wraps its analysis. This is the second contract extension granted by the City Council. The first was a one-year extension approved in June 2013.
"We are looking at expanded data," said Napa Police Chief Richard Melton. "First off, we wanted to see collisions at the intersections that have these cameras, both before and after they were installed. I think the data will show some pretty positive results. Secondly, Redflex has had some issues over the past few years and we need to make sure we are doing our due diligence on the contract."
The problems Melton referred to stem from allegations of bribery and corruption among the company's former leaders. In January 2014, a fired Redflex executive named Aaron Rosenberg filed a civil defamation claim against Redflex, accusing the company of firing him to hide a tradition of bribing government officials. Redflex eventually lost its largest American contract with the city of Chicago, which the company said could cost it about $17 million in revenue. Other towns across the country have abandoned Redflex as well, including cities in Arizona, Louisiana and California. The nearby city of San Rafael in Marin County cancelled its Redflex contract in March 2014.
Despite the company's issues, Napa Police Capt. Jeff Troendly said that Redflex officials met with the department and assured city officials that the issues were regionally isolated to the Midwest and East Coast states. "Anytime an accusation of illegal acts comes up, it brings great concern to us," Troendly said. "But it's our understanding that the company took steps to safeguard against future corruption and bribery. Their assurances put us at greater ease."
Troendly also pointed out that Redflex's legal issues came about when executives were signing up new accounts, not dealing with existing ones. "But we're always open to looking at the possibility of another vendor, if the City Council wants us to," he said. "At this point though, our main goal is to figure out if the cameras are increasing safety and are financially self-sustaining."
Mayor Jill Techel, who voted against the contract, renewed her objection to the use of red light cameras, which she originally lobbied against in 2008 when the city was first exploring the technology. Her opposition has always been that the nearly $500 tickets charged to violators are exorbitantly high fines. The state sets the ticket price independent of local cities.
According to past reports prepared by the Police Department, the red light traffic cameras are proven to increase safety. The department's ongoing study, set to be released in August 2014, should present conclusive data to the council, as well as explain whether the program is financially sustainable. Troendly said the department hopes to present their findings to the City Council at the August 2014 meeting.
Napa Police Chief Richard Melton needs a reality check. He made an assumption that data from his local study will show positive results, in other words, a reduction of accidents at intersections where red light cameras have been deployed. Instead of making this unfounded comment, he should have merely studied all the independent reports that have proven beyond doubt that red light cameras increase accidents. However, like Australia state governments who ignore those reports and trot out fabricated statistics to bolster their false contention that red light cameras reduce accidents, any report in Napa that shows this needs to be examined with a very jaundiced eye, because it will fly against all global reports.
It is also obvious that the previous reports prepared by the Napa Police Department that allege that the red light traffic cameras are proven to increase safety are just a load of utter crap. Of course the police would like to see these red light cameras remain, because those devices save them having to do their job, which is maintaining a visible police presence on the roads to deter bad driving. Those reports were obviously made by vested interests and are thus completely worthless.
Of course a truly independent study of Napa's red light camera intersections will find that just like everywhere else in the world where these devices have been installed, the accident rate has increased. This will certainly not help Napa's budget, so those cameras will probably stay for a while longer until the people of Napa kick out their council and install one that is honest and refuses to continue to rip people off. As for the Napa police chief, he should be hunting for a new job.
Thanks to Klaus Luetjens for this item.
14 July 2014 - In the USA, the town of Riverside will turn off its red light cameras in September 2014, ending an eight-year program that lost money most of those years and aggravated a majority of residents. After several years of contentious public debate, in July 2014, the council to cancel the contract with Redflex Traffic Systems. Dumping the program will wipe out about US$450,000 in revenue that was anticipated in the 2014 budget.
Councilman Chris MacArthur stated, "I think the will of the people should take precedence over the desires of the bureaucracy. It's time once and for all to terminate this." In the Inland area, only Victorville and Cathedral City have red light cameras out of 10 cities that have tried them. Across California, more cities now have axed photo enforcement than continue to use it.
Riverside's red light camera program started in late 2006 and includes 18 cameras at 15 intersections, though four are not in use due to road construction. Until recently, the program ran in the red and it was in danger of being canceled in 2012 because of a projected $611,000 deficit. But officials reduced the number of cameras to cut costs and the city came out about $450,000 ahead in each of the past two years.
Supporters say that the cameras have reduced crashes and nudged drivers to be safer. Opponents counter that safety statistics are often misleading or inconclusive and that the roughly $500 ticket price is a hardship in tough economic times. The city may cancel its contract with Redflex without penalty by giving 60 days notice. The cameras will operate until then and any citations given out during that time would still be considered enforceable.
The same is happening in the town of Clive in the US state of Iowa. In July 2014, crews were working to remove red light cameras along intersections on Hickman Road. They were designed to catch people running red lights. The cameras had been in place since June 2006. Police said that officers will devote a significantly greater percentage of their time to traffic enforcement duties, especially along Hickman Road.
Unlike Australia's state governments and their rapacious grabs for money ripped from motorists, the various authorities in the USA who oversee the installation of red light cameras actually listen to their citizens and understand that these revenue-raising devices actually do not reduce accidents. Every independent study in the world has shown this, yet the blatantly dishonest Australian state governments will not take them into account and remove these cameras, even though David Andreassen of Monash University proved beyond a shadow of doubt that red light cameras increased accidents at the intersections where they were installed by a whopping 40%.
There is a worldwide trend for speed and red light cameras to be removed, simply because they are proven to be completely ineffective at preventing accidents and fatalities. In fact in Australia, it is obvious that governments rely so much on fines generated by these machines, that they really do want motorists to speed and to rip through intersections on amber and red lights, in order to bolster their coffers with the revenue from them. This is a disgrace, where governments are happy to condone road fatalities in order to raise money, but then again, they are taking a leaf out of the conduct of the federal government that refuses to ban smoking because of the whopping taxes on tobacco products, despite the fact that it kills up to 20,000 people per year.
Those towns of Riverside and Clive in the USA must be congratulated for removig these rapacious cameras. This should be happening all over the world and in many places it is, but not in Australia. Raising money from entrapping motorists and hoping that they will speed and risk lives in intersections is utterly obscene and the state governments and the sleazy politicians who deliberately operate such policies should be thrown out on their ears.
Thanks to Klaus Luetjens for this item.
13 July 2014 - NSW Government data has revealed that motorists paid $408,000 a day in fines from speed and red light cameras during the past financial year. The State Government collected just under $150 million in revenue from traffic fines in the 2013-14 financial year, according to official figures. Data from the Office of State Revenue showed that May 2014 was the highest-generating month for fines from speed and red light cameras. During that month, $18 million was collected from motorists, which equates to $580,000 a day.
The Eastern Distributor camera is the busiest in New South Wales, generating the most money, followed by the Pacific Highway at Ewingsdale, Botany Road at Rosebery and Cleveland Street at Moore Park. Annual revenue from speed and red light cameras had doubled doubled in just four years.
The State Opposition said that in the past financial year, the NSW Liberal Government collected almost twice the amount of revenue from road cameras than Labor did in its last year of power, when $78 million was made in 2010-11.
"No one supports speeding and I recognise the need for red light and speed cameras in fixed locations for safety reasons, especially in school zones, but I do not support their use for blatant revenue raising," said Labor's roads spokesman Walt Secord. "Unfortunately, the State Government has built the foundation of its state budget on collecting fines. There is no other explanation for the explosion in revenue. In Opposition, the Liberals and Nationals promised to reduce the number of speed cameras, but in Government, they are seen as cash cows for Treasury," he said.
The unmitigated hypocrisy from politicians is literally mind-blowing. There was Labor's roads spokesman ranting about the NSW Liberal government's revenue-raising from speed and red light cameras, when it was his government that installed and operated most of them and used the money to boost its coffers. But here is this Walt Secord person bitching about the Liberals doing exactly what Labor did in the 16 years that it was in power. Hypocrisy and dishonesty by politicians is normal and not one of them can be trusted in any way.
But the revenue figures from these speed and red light cameras just shows how dependent the NSW government is on these funds. Have these cameras stopped people speeding? Of course not - that's the last thing that the government wants. If all motorists took the measures that CARR advocates and used cheap GPS receivers or inexpensive GPS smartphone applications with current camera warnings and avoided being booked, the government would earn nothing from those cameras and would be in deep financial trouble.
The statistics show that NSW motorists simply refuse to take such very simple active measures to completely negate this rip-off, so it is hard to feel sorry for them. However, all motorists should understand that many of these cameras are defective and all infringements should be contested in court, with defendants firstly refusing to nominate who was driving their vehicles at the time.
There is no law requiring motorists to sign any statutory declaration that is sent with an infringment notice. Because traffic offences are actually criminal offences, the prosecution has to prove beyond reasonable doubt who the driver of the vehicle in question was at the time of the infringement. Without any admission or declaration from vehicle owners and in the absence of an actual photo of the driver, that would be impossible to prove to the requirements of a criminal offence.
The government claims that it can "deem" the owner of a vehicle to be the driver of a car if he does not nominate another person, but that does not satisfy the burden of proof for a criminal offence. It is like the government trying to deem the owner of a car to be the getaway driver of the vehicle used in a bank robbery if the owner makes no admissions. No court of law could possibly convict a person like that. In legal matters, absence of evidence is not admissible evidence.
Motorists can do a lot to prevent themselves being ripped off by these obscene revenue-raising cameras, but it seems that most of them keep getting booked to the tune of nearly $150 million in the 2013-2014 financial year. CARR does its best to teach motorists to avoid this blatant scam, but it's like the old saying - you can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink. That is why CARR refuses to waste its time giving personal advice to anybody who asks for assistance in fighting camera infringements and has not taken active measures to prevent being booked in the first place.
Victoria's two major political parties have rejected a call from police to consider lowering the drink driving limit. Police say that the legal blood alcohol limit should be lowered from 0.05 to 0.02 to reduce road deaths and trauma.Inspector Martin Boorman stated that drivers whose blood alcohol levels are 0.05 are twice as likely to be involved in road trauma, and a new limit of 0.02 would reduce fatalities. But Premier Denis Napthine said that such a change would have a negative impact on the hospitality sector and more research was needed.
CARR's position on the level of blood alcohol that is acceptable may infuriate many people, however the statistics show how deadly alcohol can be to motorists. The grim fact is that overall, 20% of all fatal accidents involve drink-driving. The comments of Denis Napthine are absolutely disgraceful, simply because he seems to consider that the impact on the hospitality sector is more important than saving lives. In any case, his claim that more research is needed is complete bullshit because there has been extensive research done for many years and the conclusions are all the same, that a large percentage of road fatalities involve drink driving.
You can bet that Napthine and his cohorts in the government and even Victorian opposition politicians wouldn't dream of getting into an aircraft flown by a pilot with 0.05 blood alcohol level or even any blood alcohol level. The rule for pilots is - 8 hours from bottle to throttle - and flying aircraft is far safer than driving cars. There's a saying in the aviation business that the most dangerous thing about flying is the drive to the airport.
Again, the Victorian government has displayed its total disregard for the safety of its motorists, just to keep its cronies in the booze business in business. It is no different than the bullshit reasons for retaining speed and red light cameras when all independent studies show that they do not reduce accidents and are just revenue-raisers. It's even the same with the federal government that refuses to ban cigarettes when their own figures show that up to 20,000 people die from smoking every year. It's all about money taking precedence over lives and it's a thorough disgrace.
05 July 2014 - An American driver who just happens to be a judge has filed a lawsuit against the City of New York for a traffic camera ticket that he claimed was unjust. Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Geoffrey Wright filed his lawsuit in the same court. City attorneys said that they would review the suit upon receiving it.
Wright said that his family received a notice stating that a camera caught his car being driven in a Manhattan bus lane in October 2013. A bus-lane enforcement camera snapped Wright driving the 2005 Mazda that he co-owns with his 94-year-old mother Constance and issued a ticket for driving in the bus lane. Wright countered that the ticket mailed to his mother's home in December 2013 showed that he was not driving within the solid lines designating the bus lane, but within broken lanes where cars are allowed to turn right.
Wright later took his own photographs that he said backed him up. The photos were based on where certain street features were located in respect to his car. Wright contested the violation and appealed an administrative law judge's ruling against him. But when Wright requested an opportunity to testify and present evidence at a 13 January 2014 hearing, he was denied.
In court papers, Wright argued that the administrative judge refused to allow him to present photographic evidence proving that the city bus-lane camera was wrong. The suit charged that the administrative judge failed to perform a "legal duty to properly review evidence and issued a finding which was factually incorrect." Wright not only wants his ticket dismissed, he is demanding that an independent body investigate whether the appeals board conducts an objective, critical review of decisions made by administrative judges.
This is yet another example of why everybody should have GPS-equipped car black box recorders - not dashcams that just record video, but devices that log GPS-derived speed and position on a map, just like aircraft navigation systems. If that judge had the time and date-stamped recording from a car black box recorder, even that administrative law judge could not have made the ruling against him in the face of incontrovertible video evidence to show that he was not in the bus lane.
CARR constantly exhorts motorists to equip themselves with fairly inexpensive technology that literally guarantees that they have the means to not only beat traffic infringements, but not even be booked in the first place. A car black box recorder will prove that a motorist was complying with the law if he is wrongfully booked, but without such hard evidence, he stands very little chance of beating the infringement. A GPS receiver with speed and red light camera warnings as well as school zone warnings will alert motorists before they get to those revenue-raisers and they won't get booked in the first place.
Motorists have to learn to protect themselves and over the years, CARR has received a mountain of pleas for assistance in fighting traffic offences. However, it's almost impossible to beat the meat grinders that Australian states have established, which they laughingly call the traffic courts where the entire system is rigged to make it nearly impossible for motorists to beat wrongful bookings. But come to court with a time and date-stamped GPS-located video clip showing exactly that what you were doing was legal and you will wipe the floor with the prosecution and even have grounds to sue for damages.
Thanks to Joe Allen for this item.
03 July 2014 - Perth drivers are venting their rage about recently announced masssive hikes in road user penalties. These include a $1200 slug for an offence that previously didn't attract a fine or affect demerit points - altering number plates or fitting device that prevents effective identification.
Failure to wear a motorcycle helmet has jumped from a $100 penalty and three demerit points to a $550 fine and four demerit points. "It's just ridiculous," several radio callers stated. Others said that the penalty changes were blatant revenue raising.
But road safety minister Liza Harvey said they were designed to discourage unsafe driving behaviour, particularly those with the highest risk of causing crashes or injury. "Despite significant improvements in road safety since 2008, it is an unfortunate fact that Western Australia has one of the worst road safety records in the country," Harvey said. "We need to do everything we can to discourage unsafe driving behaviour, which is why penalties need to reflect how dangerous these driving offences are."
She singled out mobile phone use while driving, which now attracts a $400 fine and three demerit points, up from a $250 fine and three demerit points. The changes will apply from WA's Queen's Birthday public holiday in late September 2014.
Of course this is blatant revenue-raising. If Liza Harvey wanted to reduce preventable deaths in WA, she wouldn't be spouting on about road fatalities and accidents. In 2013, 86 people died in car accidents. However, in the same year 1200 died from smoking. So what is the bigger problem? Mitigating road deaths or mitigating smoking deaths? The grim facts show that nearly 14 times more people die from smoking in WA than do in road accidents.
It seems that the WA government is succumbing to the revenue-raising disease afflicting eastern state governments. They simply cannot resist slugging easy targets such as motorists and motorcycle riders. How many motorcycle riders would die if none of them wore helmets? Maybe four or five at the most. That's insignificant when compared to the 1200 deaths in a year from smoking, but the WA government does absolutely nothing about that disastrous statistic for the same reason - revenue from tobacco and GST go to the states, so they don't mind people killing themselves with cigarettes.
Unfortunately for the WA government, motorcycle helmets and driving are not addictive, so the revenue stream is non-existent, therefore traffic fines are used to gouge drivers and motorcycle riders. It's an utter disgrace and WA motorists ought to start screaming at the government for this rip-off and possibly field political candidates to stand against incumbent government politicians at the next election and hopefully win their seats from those incumbents.
15 June 2014 - A defiant Queensland pensioner has made a stand against electronic road tolls and so far, seems to be getting away with it. Self-proclaimed toll-buster Bob Jarvis has not paid a fee in three years despite making about 12 trips annually over Brisbane's Gateway Bridge. Jarvis, who wants to use coins, has sent refusals to every fine and demand notice from Queensland Motorways since July 2011 to the point they have stopped bothering him.
"They don't even send me them (bills and warnings) anymore," stated Jarvis, a former Noosa councillor. "The last notice I received was June last year and I've driven over the Gateway many times since then." Whether he's driving his wife Joy's Toyota Starlet or Peugeot 306 or his new Nissan Pathfinder, he has been getting away without even a letter.
While most motorists accepted the switch to electronic payment in 2009, self-confessed computer-illiterate Jarvis is adamant that he has a right to pay by gold and silver coins and would rather go to jail. He also refuses to hand over credit card details or pay at other designated locations that would divert his trip. His first fine in July 2011 was incurred as he approached the Gateway from the Sunshine Coast with a fistful of money, only to discover it was not a payment option.
Since then, he has badgered Queensland Motorways, Queensland Transport and the State Penalties Enforcement Registry (SPER) with handwritten letters outlining his constitutional right to pay with actual money at the location of the charge.
"I was willing to pay toll fees in gold and silver coin as per the Australian Constitution, chapter V, the states, section 115 – 'A State shall not coin money, nor make anything but gold and silver coin a legal tender in payment of debts'," he quoted. "But the Queensland Motorways no longer have the facilities on the actual toll road for me to pay the toll in gold or silver coin."
In September 2012, Queensland Motorways dropped its court case against Jarvis for his outstanding fines, even though a hearing date was listed. However, he continued to receive new fines to which he responded with more letters repeating his position. The notices stopped in June 2013, even though Jarvis has made numerous trips to this day from his home in Noosa to the Gold Coast.
A Queensland Motorways spokesman would not comment on Jarvis's situation. He said that drivers had three days after a trip to fix an unpaid toll before extra fees were added. The first "unpaid toll notice" incurs a $7.71 fee before it rises to an extra $22.05 with a Notice of Demand. After 30 days, the problem is referred to SPER. The spokesman stated, "Once a Notice of Demand is referred to the State Penalty Enforcement Registry, Queensland Motorways has no further input in toll recovery process."
CARR has been telling motorists for many years that electronic toll collection can only happen with their consent. Most people don't realise that under the Australian Currency Act 1965, all transactions are to be made in Australian currency. Also, under various civil statutes, if a payment for something is offered and it is either refused or is not accepted, then the debt is forgiven. So in the case of tolls, if a motorist drives up to a toll road and there is nobody there to collect the toll in cash, legally the motorist is free to drive on that toll road without paying, as the toll road operator has abrogated his right to collect the toll by not being there to do so at the tolling point.
The other important issue is the way that unpaid tolls in Queensland are enforced by the State Penalties Enforcement Registry (SPER). The same happens in other states. What we have here is a government agency acting as a debt collector for private companies and this is wrong. All motorists who are booked on toll roads operated by private companies should always challenge the right of taxpayer-funded state agencies operating as debt collection thugs for private companies and penalising motorists for unpaid tolls by cancelling their licences. There should be a complete disconnect between states and private companies when it comes to incurring of debt. Private companies that claim that somebody owes them money have civil remedies available to them.
This is something that all motorists should do and have a template letter or even better, an email ready to fire back at either the toll road company or the state agency that is handed the job of recovering unpaid tolls. That letter or email should simply state that the motorist drove up to the toll road and the tolling point and was ready to pay the toll with "coin of the realm", the only acceptable form of payment under Australial law, yet there was no person there to accept it. Therefore under various civil statutes, the debt, as in the toll payment, was forgiven and the motorist was not liable to pay anything to anybody for driving on that toll road.
10 June 2014 - A speed camera that has dished out $1 million in fines has copped some pain in return after vandals set fire to it. The perpetrators are believed to have stood on two milk crates before hooking a burning tyre over the top of the camera at about 5:30am. Redfern Police and Roads and Maritime Services are investigating the incident, with an RMS spokesman saying they will be conducting a full assessment of damage. The event was captured on a CCTV camera mounted on traffic lights at the corner of McEvoy Street and Botany Road.
Office of State Revenue figures show that the camera has made $991,888 since it was installed in December 2010, with an average fine of $400 for each of the 2476 incidents. It raked in $403,872 in the 2013-2014 financial year, with all but $6972 coming from motorists running the red light. Locals defended the installation of the camera after a recent string of accidents. A three-year-old girl was killed at the intersection in 2007 when a truck ran her over. Her mother was injured.
That baloney from local residents defending this money-grabbing machine is stupid. No speed or red light camera has ever jumped out in front of a car or truck and prevented it from hitting and killing anybody. These locals say that there was a recent string of accidents at that location, presumably after that camera was installed. So did that camera prevent any of those accidents? Of course it didn't do anything of the sort. The government installed it, hoping that as many motorists as possible would be booked by it so as to fill the government's coffers.
The truth is that the government really wants as many people to speed and be booked as possible, simply because revenue from traffic infringements makes up a major proportion of the state's budget. In fact, former premier Barry O'Farrell even had the nerve to tell the truth for a change and call those fines a form of taxation, which proves what everybody knows. O'Farrell promised to remove those cameras because he considered them to be nothing but revenue-raisers, but as soon as he got into power and smelled the money flowing in from them, he quickly reneged on his promise - another lying scumbag politician, but what's new? They all lie.
The people who burned this speed camera are heroes and CARR applauds them for their act of civil disobedience. When governments act in unconscionable ways, such as entrapping motorists instead of properly enforcing the law by deterring speeders with a visible police presence, then the people have a right to fight back in any way against such scams. Obviously the people cannot trust politicians to keep their promises, such as the ones O'Farrell and his counterpart Ted Baillieu in Victoria made to remove those highway robber cameras, so the people have to take their own actions to redress such disgraceful ripoffs. We can only hope that these two heroes inspire more people to do the same as them and destroy as many of these ripoff cameras as possible.
Thanks to John Stead for this item.
14 March 2014 - A tiny Florida town is in trouble with the state, after its police department wrote a whopping 12,698 speeding tickets, despite holding jurisdiction over just 1,260 feet of road, just one-third of a kilometre. Hampton, the town of 477 is in the crosshairs of the state after taking in $419,624 in fines between 2011 and 2012, yet still ending each year with a big deficit in the city ledger.
Hampton is considered to be the most corrupt town in Florida, known all over the USA as an infamous speed trap, with one police officer for every 25 residents. State officials fear that at least $1 million in city revenue has gone to line the pockets of city workers. Barry Layne Moore, the town's elected mayor, is in jail awaiting trial for allegedly selling oxycodone, a restricted drug, to a cop for $20. An audit showed 31 potential city misdeeds, including a $132,000 bill at a convenience store next to city hall. Auditors were even told that some missing public records were "lost in the swamp".
The city keeps a bloated police force in order to continue pursuing what many say is its sole purpose: ticketing drivers as they drive through town. The town extended its city limits 1,260 feet down the width of a busy highway in order to lay claim to any and all traffic violations and their accompanying ticket fines in that spot. The sight of Hampton Police sitting alongside US Route 301 on lawn chairs and pointing their radar gun at passersby has become the norm on the outskirts of town. They became infamous for ticketing anyone and everyone they possibly could for even the tiniest of infractions and between 2010 and 2012 raked in an unbelievable $616,960 in fines.
The money allowed the Hampton police to upgrade their police cars to SUVs and check drivers' speed while wearing pricey riot gear. One such police officer became known by the nickname Rambo because of his swagger and the AR-15 rifle he wore while greeting vacationing speeders during traffic stops. "It became 'serve and collect' instead of 'serve and protect'.' Cash register justice," local Sheriff Gordon Smith stated. "Do y'all remember the old Dukes of Hazzard? Boss Hogg? They make Boss Hogg look like a Sunday school teacher."
"This town has struggled financially for years and years," said Jim Mitzel, the 50-year-old former mayor of the town. "But once we got Route 301, our chief went crazy." The town annexed the heavily patrolled route in the 1990s, installing a speed trap that dropped suddenly from 65 to 55 miles per hour. The town's police force increased from one to 17, with the county sheriff saying he was unsure if any of the new officers had training on radar guns. "The last couple of years were the worst," Mitzel said. "The police went after people like fresh meat. They pulled out in front of semis."
"I have said it before: It's something out of a Southern Gothic novel. You can't make this stuff up," stated State Senator Rob Bradley, who represents Hampton. "This town exists apparently just to write speeding tickets. Most people don't understand why it exists in the first place." Bradley continued, "This situation went on for so long and the mismanagement was so deep, we have to seriously consider abolishing the government." Unless the citizens can come up with a solution to the town's deep-seated problems with 30 days, dissolution looks to be Hampton's final fate.
What the police in that Florida town of Hampton are doing is literally the same as what the NSW government and its tax-collecting police are doing in Sydney. We know about these little American towns with redneck cops and the movie Rambo actually is closer to the truth than most Americans would like to admit and this town in Florida merely epitomises this.
But as far as entrapment goes, in the Sutherland area of Sydney, a major road with a speed limit of 70km/h suddenly reduces to 50km/h for no apparent reason. But of course there is a terrific reason for this, as far as the government is concerned. It gives police a golden opportunity to set up speed traps, where cops hide along the roadside and ping motorists with their notoriously inaccurate speed guns and hit them with infringements. There is no other valid reason for the sudden speed limit reduction. There are other places around the Sydney metropolitan area that suffer from the same situation.
Road conditions conducive to breaking the speed limit are deliberately set up in order to facilitate the ripping-off of motorists and this deliberate entrapment should be resisted at every step by active measures. Motorists travelling on the other side of the road who spot a police speed trap should always flash their headlights at oncoming motorists to warn them to slow down. Drivers with CB radios should broadcast the locations of all speed traps. Many of these sudden speed limit reduction areas have fixed speed cameras and these can easily be beaten by the use of GPS receivers with speed camera warnings.
Motorists have to fight this greedy gouging by government. The story of that Florida town may sound crazy, but motorists in Sydney are treated to the same sort of entrapment by revenue-raising cops and revenue-raising speed cameras. As for real entrapment, one only has to look back at the report of the cops driving unmarked cars on the Sydney-Newcastle Freeway, who darted out in front of motorcyclists, trying to annoy them into committing offences and then booking them. Those cops were caught by a motorcyclist who video recorded them, which is yet another good example of why every motorist should install and use a car black box recorder.
Thanks to Santo Calabrese for this item.
13 March 2014 - Motorists would be slugged with new tolls to drive on existing major highways under a plan being considered by the Abbott Government. Under a "user pays" model, road tolls would be treated in the same way as charges for electricity, telecommunications, gas and water. The recommendations were released in a draft Productivity Commission report. It argues that user charges should become the default option for funding roads. "User charges should be used to the fullest extent that they can be justified," the report states.
As part of a its proposed overhaul, the commission called for motorists to be hit with more tolls, arguing this was already the norm in paying for access to power. The commission argued that tolls, along with vehicle registration charges and fuel taxes, should be seen as a form of paying to use roads and the money should be set aside for future road upgrades. An existing plan to improve the process of charging heavy vehicles based on road usage should be expanded to cars and other light vehicles, the report said.
Pilot studies to extend tolling across existing road networks using new tracking technology would be funded by the federal government as part of the plan. A government regulator could either monitor the charges or set appropriate tolls to guard against unfair price hikes. Some government funding will still be needed for infrastructure, with the commission warning that public transport passenger numbers would plummet if ticket prices reflected the full cost.
This proposal has to be the most disgracefully rapacious attempt to rip-off motorists of all time. Those existing major highways have already been fully funded and paid for by taxpaying motorists who have been slugged with registration and other specific motoring charges and unjustified levies such as the luxury car tax, a massive percentage in petrol excise and revenue from fines and other imposts, just to name a few. The current taxes and excise on fuel and other charges are there to pay for the upkeep of those paid-for freeways and major roads, but of course every government has misused this funding by squandering it on stupid failed projects and pork-barreling for elections.
The motorists of Australia already pay far too much in taxes excise and levies that if used for road infrastructure, would provide them with the best fully freeway system in the world. But of course state governments and the federal government have been reaping this revenue and not ploughing it back to benefit motorists. But as usual, governments see motorists as easy targets to rip off, because unlike all those sin taxes on smoking, drinkin alcohol and gambling that can be avoided, people need to drive to their jobs and use their cars for shopping, taking kids to school and other necessary activities.
So again, the hapless motorist is the subject of yet another proposed money grab. This should be resisted in every way possible. What is really needed in Australia is a Motorists Party that, unlike the existing large motoring organisations such as NRMA, RACV, RACQ, RAA, RACWA and others, actually stands against these unjustified money grabs and organises a political arm that will field candidates at elections.
There are around 14 million motorists in Australia. Even a small percentage in every electorate voting for a Motorists Party candidate could unseat a Liberal, Labor, Greens or other candidate and get into parliament and start shredding all those rapacious rip-off ventures and prevent any more attacks on the pockets of motorists. We already pay too much tax as individuals, plus all those other motoring-based charges and fees, so this garbage has to be stopped.
12 March 2014 - Drivers illegally texting or using mobile phones may be photographed by police and their phones surrendered as evidence after a crash, under a NSW government plan to increase prosecution rates and improve road safety. The NSW government's response to the Staysafe inquiry into mobile phones and road safety comes as new data shows that police are issuing fewer fines. The Office of State Revenue says 2228 drivers were fined for mobile phone offences in August 2013, less than half the number fined in August 2012 (4522). In 2012-13, a total of 36,584 mobile phone fines were issued, down from 42,377 in the previous year, and 52,691 in 2010-11.
The police told the inquiry that the use of mobile phones by drivers involved in crashes was under-reported because they had no power under transport laws to compel drivers to surrender their phones. A phone could be seized only if there was evidence it was used at the exact time of the crash.
The government wants to make it easier for police to enforce penalties. ''Future legislative reform may be considered to allow photographic evidence from police operated cameras to be used for prosecution of mobile phone offences,'' it said in its response. ''The NSW Police Force will investigate various camera technologies that could be used to complement on-road enforcement offences of illegally using a mobile phone while driving.''
As usual, CARR again states that being fined for using a hand-held mobile phone while driving is the easiest offence for cops to see and the easiest infringement to avoid. It is simply astounding that so many motorists keep committing this offence, when a car cradle can be purchased for as little as $5 at a discount store and a Bluetooth hands-free car kit or earpiece is less than $30 in some places.
But this report merely proves yet again that governments are scrabbling to find more ways to penalise motorists by inventing new offences. When one sees phrases such as, "under a NSW government plan to increase prosecution rates", "new data shows that police are issuing fewer fines", "government wants to make it easier for police to enforce penalties" and other similar statements, we know that governments and their tax-collecting police force are simply out there to rip motorists off, not so much be concerned about safety.
As for police getting the power to seize mobile phones, this is where motorists need to protect themselves. CARR is not sure about Android and Windows OS phones, but the iPhone can be passcode protected. Once the phone is switched off or even put into sleep mode with the press of the OFF switch, more than 10 attempts at unlocking the phone by putting in the wrong passcode will lock the phone down and any attempt to start the phone up by bypassing the passcode will wipe all data from the phone.
And that is what every motorist needs to do now and do not leave this for another minute. He should set up his mobile phone with a passcode and ensure that if he is ordered to surrender it to police, that he immediately hits the OFF button first. Then when the cops try to turn the phone on and see that they require a passcode, the motorist should refuse to provide it. There is no law requiring citizens to even talk to police, let alone reveal confidential passwords or passcodes. Furthermore, if the cops try to enter more than 10 wrong passcodes and the phone locks and they wind up wiping all the data, it doesn't matter because the phone's owner can restore the data in minutes.
If the police don't try to access the phone by trying to guess the passcode and don't lock it down and the iPhone is returned to the owner, he can merely drive off and then punch in the correct passcode and his phone is back to normal. In the case of the iPhone that has been locked down by cops failing to guess the passcode more than 10 times, the backup on the iTunes software on the motorist's computer will restore his iPhone with all data in a matter of minutes when the iPhone is returned to the him. But if the iPhone is not returned, the motorist can merely go and obtain another iPhone and restore it with all data from his iTunes backup while the cops sit and stare at a locked-up iPhone that they cannot examine for alleged offences.
We all have the inherent right to not incriminate ourselves and giving police access to our phone data is no different than admitting details that may get us convicted of a crime. Being booked for holding a mobile phone while driving is utterly stupid when hands-free devices and car phone cradles are so cheap, but the fact that police may be able to seize mobile phones is very concerning and we all need to protect our data from scrutiny by strangers.
The evidence of governments trying to raise more revenue from motorists is incontrovertible and we have to fight this with every means at our disposal, but a gross invasion of our privacy by police examining the data and personal information on our mobile phones is unconscionable and we have to take all measures to prevent this from happening.
10 March 2014 - A veteran police officer has broken ranks to say that a tough new speed policy will turn people against the police force. Sergeant Phil Wild, who has been with Victoria Police for 42 years, said the push to book people for low-level speeding offences was a bad move. "The consequences of this flawed and unfair policy will be felt by the mostly law-abiding members of the motoring public, the mums and dads who are struggling to make ends meet. My junior members, the constables and senior constables at the front line of policing will also suffer when the respect and confidence of the public dries up," he stated.
Sergeant Wild said that there was near-unanimous community opposition to the policy and he could not argue with widespread opinion that it was about revenue raising. He said that vehicle speedometers were not calibrated to be 100% accurate and a driver drifting over the limit by a few kilometres an hour did not represent a significant safety threat. "Policing in this way would have the effect of turning the public away from the police and the ramifications of that would be horrendous for all. I took an oath to serve the people of Victoria. Nowhere in that oath did it say that I had the right to persecute the public or to encourage my junior members to do so," he said. Wild said that he accepted that he ran the risk of "consequences" for going public.
Victoria Police recently announced that officers had been instructed to start fining more motorists for low-level speeding offences. Assistant Commissioner Robert Hill said at the time that 15 deaths and 300 injuries could be prevented each year if drivers cut their average speed by 1km/h. Hill wanted to make low-level speeding as socially unacceptable as drink-driving. He stated, "Research indicates that 20% of our fatalities involve low level speeding." He said that police officers had discretion about when to apply the law but denied they had been instructed to fine drivers going 1 or 2km/h over the limit.
"A commonsense approach has always been encouraged," he said. "While we are disappointed at the comments made by the serving police officer, Victoria Police is committed to improving the safety of our roads for all members of the community."
(a) The instruction does not withstand public scrutiny:
I refer to pg40 of the Herald Sun of the 24th January where 18 of the 20 letters to the editor on that date provide totally negative feedback (the remaining two were unrelated). Radio talkback callers have been almost unanimous in their condemnation of the policy.
(b) The instruction is not ethical:
The reasons given for the implementation of this program are in my view, demonstrably wrong. Some of the conclusions reached as a result of "research" are questionable and cannot be properly measured. For example, it is claimed that if every driver on our roads were to lower their average speed by 1km/h, 15 lives would be saved every year. If the reasons given are wrong, then there must be another reason. The greater portion of the community appear to believe that the reason is revenue raising and I cannot disagree with that. For a government department such as Victoria Police to be used in such a way is unethical.
(c) The instruction is of questionable legality:
Much of our legislation, particularly the less serious summary offences were never intended to be policed to an absolute degree or at all times. There are many instances where police "turn a blind eye" to offences occurring in our immediate presence because of their trivial nature or because the circumstances in which they occur make rigid policing inappropriate. If this were not the case we would create a huge backlog in the courts as the majority of people “booked” would opt to take the matter before a magistrate who would, in most if not all cases, dismiss the charges as "trifling". Policing in this way would have the effect of turning the public away from the police and the ramifications of that would be horrendous for all.
(d) The instruction is unfair:
Vehicle speedometers, even in brand-new vehicles, are not calibrated to be 100% accurate. There have also been instances where speed measuring devices used by enforcement agencies have been shown to be inaccurate. Any driver, even the most prudent, can find his vehicle speed to have increased without his being aware of it simply by virtue of him coming to a slight dip in the road. He will correct his speed immediately upon becoming aware of the fact but may well have been photographed or clocked in that brief moment. That small increase in speed on a straight stretch of road over such a short period does not represent any significant threat to road safety. That, in my view is an irrefutable fact.
When I joined Victoria Police in 1972, I took an oath to serve the people of Victoria. Nowhere in that oath did it say that I had the right to persecute the public or to encourage my junior members to do so. I have written to Road Policing Command and expressed my concerns to them. In a series of emails and a face-to-face meeting with the Assistant Commissioner, I have outlined my views on the likely consequences of their policy and urged them to reconsider their position. I have also asked for their advice on what I can do about this matter. They have offered no advice other than to try to convince me that their actions are appropriate.
On January 29th I wrote, and hand delivered, to the Office of the Chief Commissioner (Ken Lay) a detailed letter in regard to this issue. I asked that he advise me as to what avenues are open to me, as I do not wish to retire at some time in the future knowing that I could have done something further to ward off a lessening of the community's respect and confidence in its police. The Chief Commissioner did not reply.
The consequences of this flawed and unfair policy will be felt by the mostly law-abiding members of the motoring public, the mums and dads who are struggling to make ends meet whilst feeding and educating their children and wondering whether they will still have a job when their employment contract expires in the next few months. They are not, however, the only ones who will suffer. My junior members, the constables and senior constables at the frontline of policing will also suffer when the respect and confidence of the public dries up.
As Chief Commissioner Lay has stated often enough, we (the police) need to have the public "on side". Otherwise, a very difficult job will perhaps become nigh on impossible. There is no doubt that compliance with this instruction will have the affect of swelling the government coffers and that in turn may enhance the promotional prospects of the programs authors and/or those who champion it. The long-term effects however will be sorely felt by the general public and our members alike.
The Victoria Police manual, under the section covering professional standards and conduct, lists the organisational values of the Force. Under the subheading 'Integrity' the manual advises us that we are, among other things:
(i) required to act with honesty, respecting the right of fair process for all;
(ii) demonstrate moral strength and courage; and,
(iii) behave with honour and impartiality.
In the absence of any meaningful instruction or advice from the hierarchy of my department, I see no other avenue open to me but to voice my concerns via this public forum.
Phil Wild, Sergeant 17312
Finally the Victorian Police Force has an honest copper who understands that he and his colleagues should be fair with the motoring public. The fact is that this new directive for Victorian Police is not only ridiculously stupid, but is also literally unenforceable. Any motorist who is booked for driving at 1 to 3km/h over the speed limit can bring into question the accuracy of the equipment used to measure his speed, which has a tolerance of accuracy of 5% or more, meaning that at 1 to 3km/h is within the error parameters of the device and cannot be relied upon. On top of that none of the speed measuring equipment used by any police force has been certified under the federal Weights and Measurements Act and therefore cannot legally be used as accurate measurement devices.
Then there is the accuracy of a car's speedometer, which is covered by the Australian Design Rules (ADR) and has an allowable degree of error. No magistrate would be crazy enough to uphold an infringement against a motorist who proves that if if the police radar gun that was used to book him had a degree of error of 5%, being 3km/h at 60km/h and the car's speedometer also had a degree of error of 5%, also being 3km/h at 60km/h, the motorist could assert with confidence that if he was booked driving at 65km/h, the combined degrees of errors of the speed gun and his speedometer meant that he could have been driving at 60km/h when that cop booked him for speeding.
Of course the real reason for this new and really stupid directive is just about revenue-raising. Nobody driving at 63km/h in a 60km/h zone is driving more dangerously than somebody driving at 60km/h, because the difference is negligible. What is highly dangerous is that Victorian motorists will now drive with their heads buried in their speedometers and cause even more accidents, putting a lie to the mealy-mouthed bullshit coming out of Assistant Commissioner Robert Hill.
Let's see this clown point out one single speed camera that has actually stopped somebody from speeding. Let's see him show us how red light cameras allegedly reduce accidents when literally every intersection that was fitted with these rapacious devices showed an increase in accidents worldwide. Let's see Assistant Commissioner Robert Hill explain how cops hiding in bushes and behind billboards with speed guns prevent speeding, when it is more than obvious that the one thing that is guaranteed to stop people speeding is a visible police presence on the roads.
It is an utter disgrace when Hill sends his cops out to set up speed traps and lie in wait for motorists, hoping that they will speed and get booked, rather than sending those cops on the road to show a visible presence and stop people speeding in the first place. Of course the difference is that the visible presence actually stops people speeding, but doesn't raise any revenue, but those speed traps are just a money-making ploy that work by entrapping motorists.
And when Hill comes out with statements like " 15 deaths and 300 injuries could be prevented each year if drivers cut their average speed by 1km/h", we know that this is utter bullshit. 1km/h is not even noticeable and CARR challenges Assistant Commissioner Robert Hill to drive a distance of one kilometre maintaining an accurate speed of 60km/h and then doing the same at 59km/h in an ordinary car. He couldn't do that in a million years, but that's what he expects Victorian motorists to do, or he will book them if they exceed the limit by such a minuscule amount.
CARR commends Sergeant Phil Wild for having the backbone to reveal this travesty. CARR is thoroughly disgusted at Assistant Commissioner Robert Hill for being a party to this disgraceful new directive, because we all know that it's just about revenue-raising and ripping off the motorist. Any motorist who is booked at a speed within 5% over the speed limit anywhere should fight the matter in court and if he proves that the combined inaccuracy of the speed gun and his speedometer are at the known tolerance, he should win handsomely. Then he should sue the bastards who booked him for damages.
Thanks to John Vance for this item.
08 March 2014 - A Queensland Police officer was hit by a utility vehicle while conducting traffic operations on the Gold Coast. The male sergeant suffered minor leg injuries after being struck by the vehicle during radar operations on the M1 motorway at Pimpama about 7.30am on Saturday 08 March 2014. He was taken to hospital for treatment. The driver, a 21-year-old man, wasn't injured and is assisting police with their investigations.
CARR has no sympathy for cops who attract the wrath of victimised motorists and are attacked when they are operating radar traps and acting as tax collectors for the government. CARR is not saying that this happened in this particular instance, but if a motorist decides that he has had enough of being a victim and mows down a cop operating a speed trap, most people wouldn't shed a tear.
Why wasn't that Queensland cop driving his highly marked police car up and down the M1 motorway and deterring motorists from speeding? The answer is very obvious. He was manning a radar trap because he was entrapping and booking motorists who were driving over the speed limit in order to raise revenue.
Cops could stop motorists from speeding merely by maintaining a visible presence on the road, but instead, they lurk behind bushes and billboards with their radar and laser speed guns and hope that motorists speed so that they can rip money from them, instead of properly doing their jobs and preventing those offences occurring in the first place.
Very few motorists would feel sorry for any cop who is injured or killed when he is engaged in entrapping or enticing motorists to speed so that he can hit them with expensive infringements. Cops should not be doing this because it's immoral and repugnant. It's no different when we cheer when an irate motorist ploughs into a speed camera or enraged victims set fire to those revenue-raisers. We have a right to exercise legitimate civil disobedience to fight back against despicable government rip-off tactics.
04 March 2014 - Motorists who fail to register their car now face fines of up to $2500, the highest in the nation. The combined fine for driving an unregistered and uninsured car has jumped from $954 to $2500. The Royal Automobile Association (RAA) and the state's peak welfare group are lobbying the Government to reconsider the hike because it says the existing penalty is a sufficient deterrent.
RAA road safety manager Charles Mountain stated, "We also believe the increasing number of safety cameras creates a much greater chance of people being caught and this also acts as a deterrent. Really the new fines are way in excess of the crime. Our argument is the fines are already substantial and a lot of money to pay, especially in those cases where the car is unregistered due to an oversight."
The fines changes are:
The penalty increase is the most significant change to registration regulations since the Government abolished registration stickers in July 2011 as a money-saving initiative. Attorney General John Rau said that the increase was timed to coincided with a new fine enforcement unit tasked with clawing back millions in unpaid penalties. The South Australian Centre for Economic Studies stated that South Australia had a reliance on heavy traffic penalties, indicating an overly strong preference for revenue-raising in the pursuit of greater road safety.
Firstly, the comments from the RAA Safety Manager Charles Mountain about "safety cameras" shows how completely out of touch the mainstream motoring organisations are and how they fail to take governments to task in regard to these revenue-raisers. What the hell do speed and red light cameras have to do with safety, when they cannot prevent accidents? All speed cameras do is take happy snaps of speeders going by on their way to major accidents, but the cameras don't stop those accidents from occurring, nor do they stop those motorists from speeding at the time.
As for red light cameras, hard statistics from all over the world, including the massive 10-year study of these devices by David Andreassen of Monash University has proven beyond any shadow of doubt that these cameras actually increase accident rates at intersections, often up to 40% and more. So how the hell can anybody call these things "safety cameras" and completely disregard the facts about them? This is why RAA, NRMA, RACV, RACQ and other mainstream motoring organisations need to fight against these insidious cameras in support of motorists who are being used as cash cows for cash-strapped governments.
Secondly, it is interesting to see the comments from the South Australian Centre for Economic Studies, which stated that South Australia had a reliance on heavy traffic penalties, indicating an overly strong preference for revenue-raising in the pursuit of greater road safety. That is only half-true. Yes, South Australia had a reliance on revenue-raising heavy traffic penalties, but not in pursuit of greater road safety. Far from it.
The truth is that the last thing that the South Australian government wants to see is less speeding, less red-light running at intersections and less traffic offences, because that would have a drastic impact on the revenue that this government reaps from infringements. This is why the government deploys those cameras, knowing that not one of them will prevent speeding, but they sure will raise some money for government coffers. It's the same reason why no government will ban smoking and the sale and use of tobacco products, because the revenue from this toxic substance far outweighs any safety and health considerations.
However, it is easy for motorists to avoid being booked for driving unregistered cars. Most people these days have mobile phones with reminder features. All that motorists need to do is to put reminders with alarms into their mobile phones to alert them two weeks before their car registrations expire, to give them plenty of time to renew those registrations. It's that simple. Or if they really miss those defunct registration stickers, they can attach a sticky label to the corner of their windscreens with the registration renewal date on it. Taking such simple measures will ensure that not one cent of revenue from those preposterous fines get into the coffers of the South Australian government.
Thanks to John Vance for this item
04 March 2014 - Four men died in separate accidents on South Australian roads on the weekend of 02-03 March 2014, including a driver who ploughed into five pedestrians before hitting a tree. South Australian Police Superintendent Bob Fauser said that speed was a factor in each accident and drink-driving was possibly involved in two. Each fatality involved a male driver - one was on a motorcycle - colliding with a tree.
On Sunday night, 03 March 2014, a 32-year-old driver died in Adelaide after his car hit the pedestrians, injuring four of them, and then a tree. Superintendent Fauser said that the driver was disqualified, adding, "We can just consider ourselves lucky that these pedestrians weren't killed".
The statements and conclusions of South Australian Police Superintendent Bob Fauser in these matters are so ridiculously fallacious that it is beyond belief, but this is what is wrong with the way accidents are handled in Australia. Firstly, speed does not cause accidents. Speed is just an intangible measure of velocity and doesn't cause anything. Speed doesn't kill. What does kill is motorists who drive beyond the safe capability of the road and their own skill.
But to really show the utter stupidity and illogic of the "Speed Kills" mantra, every one of these accidents involved a male driver colliding with a tree. So maybe driving too fast was a factor, but the absolute common factor of each accident was a tree. So obviously using the same logic from Superintendent Fauser, instead of saying that "Speed Kills", we should be saying "Trees Kill" and that they are dangerous and all of them should be removed in order to protect motorists.
Then there is the aspect of drink-driving, where Australian state governments refuse to mandate a zero-alcohol limit for motorists. Pilots are not permitted to drink alcohol 8 hours before flying and aviation is far safer than motoring, especially with the level of automation and safety features in modern airliners, so why the hell are motorists legally permitted to drive immediately after consuming strong alcoholic drinks that will impair their reflexes and judgement?
It is more than obvious in these four accidents that they were a result of drivers who operated their cars beyond their abilities and who may have been drunk or impaired by alcohol. None of this has anything to do with speed. But as each of these fatalities involved trees, we can come to the firm conclusion that trees anywhere in the vicinity of roads are a menace and should be removed forthwith. Will that happen? Of course not, because it's politically incorrect and the greenie tree-huggers will be offended.
02 March 2014 - A NSW man was caught drink driving three times in 30 hours. The first reading was taken on Saturday 01 March 2014 after he drove to Toronto police station on to collect his 19-year-old daughter, who had herself been caught drink driving. The 37-year-old returned a blood alcohol reading of 0.192 and had his provisional licence suspended.
At lunchtime on the same day, he received another high-range drink driving charge after blowing 0.190. Then 10 hours later, he lost control of his car and drove down the wrong side of the road. He was breath tested again and returned a reading of 0.159 and received his third high-range drink driving charge. The man will face Toronto Local Court later in March 2014.
This idiot is a menace to everybody in his vicinity on the roads. If NSW had proper laws and did not pander to the alcohol industry, we would have zero-alcohol laws, just like the aviation laws that prohibit pilots from consuming alchohol at least eight hours before flying. But like the revenue from smoking, despite the fact that this dangerous and addictive habit kills more than 15,000 people every year, the government will not introduce laws that will really stop people drinking booze and driving.
Alcohol is one of the major contributors to road accidents and deaths, yet people are still allowed to drive with a certain amount of alcohol in their systems and this is so wrong. If pilots are not allowed to fly with alcohol in their blood, then motorists who are in a far more dangerous situation on the roads should be constrained in the same way. And that fool who was caught three times in one day driving with alcohol in his blood should be banned from driving for life, not just for this, but for being an irresponsible and dangerous idiot. You cannot cure "STUPID".
01 March 2014 - For many years, professionals within the USA criminal justice system have acted upon the belief that driving a motor vehicle upon public roads was a privilege that was gained by citizens only after approval by their respective state government in the form of the issuance of permits or licences to that particular individual. Legislators, police officers and court officials are becoming aware that there are now court decisions that prove the fallacy of the legal opinion that driving is a privilege and therefore requires government approval such as a licence. Some of these cases are:
These court decisions affirm that American citizens do indeed have the inalienable right to use the roadways unrestricted in any manner, as long as they are not damaging or violating the property or rights of another. In requiring the people to apply and obtain drivers licences, vehicle registrations, mandatory insurance and demanding they stop for vehicle inspections, breath tests, roadblocks and other obstructions without question, are restricting and therefore violating the common law right of people to travel.
Unfortunately, the people of Australia do not have a constitution that really protects their basic rights in the same way as the US Constitution and the first 10 Amendments which are known as the Bill Of Rights. However, it could be argued that Australians do have certain Common Law rights that supersede any statutes that mandate them having to obtain driver's licences to be permitted to drive on public roads.
Common law has been recognised for centuries in Westminster justice systems, however Australian governments and the judiciary have mostly trampled on those very important rights by passing laws that restrict citizens from exercising them. The right to travel on public roads without having to obtain permission from governments should be one of those common law rights that should be recognised without question.
28 February 2014 - Australian toll road company Transurban has lost US$51 million in the first year of operation of its underperforming toll road in Virginia. Located just outside Washington DC, US state and federal authorities poured hundreds of millions in taxpayer funds on what was supposed to be a showcase for public-private partnership innovation. Transurban charges up to $10 for a short 13-mile trip high occupancy toll (HOT) lanes on the Capitol Beltway, a proposition that far fewer motorists than expected have found worthwhile.
Although Transurban collects an average of US$64,000 per day from drivers, this amount is well below projections. Transurban unsuccessfully attempted to draw extra traffic to the pay lanes by holding down the speed limit in the general purpose lanes with a non-compete clause in its contract with the Virginia Department of Transportation. The idea was to lure customers with the chance of legally driving 10mph faster by paying a toll. In total, the 495 project lost US$51.6 million in 2013.
Seeing Transurban lose this much money in just one year on one road is terrific news.Transurban deliberately held down the speed limit in the regular lanes of this toll road in order to try and coerce motorists into paying a higher toll to use the higher-speed lanes. This is more or less what happened in Sydney when the once-excellent three-lanes per direction Epping Road in Lane Cove was narrowed to just one lane per direction, in order to coerce motorists to use the Lane Cove Tunnel toll road. Hopefully the motorists around Washington DC will not succumb to the same disgraceful scam as Sydney motorists suffered.
CARR's position is that motorists pay more than enough in fees and charges to deserve a top-class network of free roads and governments of nations such as Australia and the USA have an obligation to provide those roads as normal infrastructure and not allow toll roads to exist. Unfortunately motorists don't seem to get much say in these matters, as governments collude and conspire with toll road operators such as Transurban to allow them to impose onerous and scammy conditions on those toll roads.
But we motorists have the ultimate weapon in our arsenal to beat these bastards - the power of the boycott. Any motorist who objects to this gouging can simply deny those toll road operators the revenue simply by boycotting the toll roads and using free roads. If every motorist did this, the entire toll road system would collapse on the spot and governments would be forced to provide good networks of free roads from the revenue that we motorists already give them in all those charges we pay each year.
So CARR again advises all motorists to boycott all toll roads. It's easy to do. Just use inexpensive GPS and select the "Avoid Toll Roads" option and the GPS will guide you to your destination on free roads and save a considerable amount of money. For instance, a return trip on toll roads from Castle Hill in Sydney to Sydney Airport costs around $25, all to save around 6 minutes each way in time. The fuel for the average medium-sized car on this trip is around $12. So the tolls for this trip are more than double than the cost of the petrol used. It's an utter disgrace and a monstrous rip-off that is easily avoided.
Thanks to John Vance for this item.
23 February 2014 - Speed cameras will be switched on at three of Melbourne's busiest intersections in the next two weeks. Police said that the fixed cameras are in 40km/h speed zones at the intersections of Flinders and Williams Streets and Exhibition and Victoria Streets in the CBD and Fitzroy Street and Lakeside Drive in St Kilda. The cameras were switched off in 2012 to give motorists time to adjust to reduced speed limits. They will be turned on again some time in the next two weeks. Signs will warn drivers of the changes.
Road Policing Superintendent Kevin Sheridan said that he hoped the new cameras would discourage drivers from speeding in areas with large numbers of pedestrians and cyclists. "We encourage everyone to be responsible on the roads and to drive within the required speed limits. The 40km/h speed signs are not advisory – they are the law and if you speed, you will get caught," he stated.
These cameras at the intersections of Flinders and Williams Streets and Exhibition and Victoria Streets in the CBD have absolutely nothing to do with safety, but everything to do with revenue-raising. The Victorian government deliberately imposes unrealistic low speed limits in certain areas to annoy motorists, then installs speed cameras to book those frustrated motorists. The crazy thing is that there has never been a safety issue at these intersections.
Nobody ever had a problem at those spots when the speed limit was 60km/h, but it is obvious that the Victorian government hunted around for a few more places to place their taxation machines and found these two intersections were good candidates for some gouging, even though there were no safety problems in those areas. It's another despicable money grab by the government.
Victorians need to rally together at the next election to run candidates against any politician who will not give an ironclad binding guarantee in writing that he will remove all these disgusting machines from their roads. One of the best methods is to confront politicians at their public appearances and embarrass them by challenging them to name just one speed camera that has saved one life or prevented one accident. Of course they will never be able to do this.
Thanks to Adrian Clarke for this item.
21 January 2014 - The introduction of a pay-by-phone parking system in Melbourne is expected to cut the council's fine revenue by as much as $900,000 a year. The new Payzone system, imported from Ireland, will let motorists pay for on-street parking at the City of Melbourne's 12,000 parking bays via a smartphone app, under a proposal to go before the council. A trial of similar pay-by-phone technology has been running in Carlton since 2011.
Motorists who use the service register their details and are charged via credit card. They receive a text message reminder 15 minutes before their parking limit expires and do not have to display a ticket on their car. According to a council report, the new technology could lead to a reduction in fine revenue of about $900,000 a year. The rollout of the pay-by-phone parking system will cost the council $890,000 over three years, but this is expected to be offset by $460,000 saved in maintenance when hundreds of old parking meters are removed.
It is hard to see how any council would forgo this sort of revenue, even though the reduction in meter maintenance would offset it by a considerable amount. One can only imagine that parking fees will go up to cover any shortfall in revenue, as councils these days are so reliant on income from fines and parking fees to bolster their budgets.
But why would any motorist want to pay parking fees anyway, considering that by rights, the paying of car registration fees should confer the right to park one's car on any street that is funded and owned by the taxpayer? The whole paying for parking system is wrong and unfair, but the best way to protest against this is to use the power of the boycott and never park at metered parking places.
Boycotting metered street parking denies these rapacious councils revenue and completely eliminates any risk of being booked. One can always go shopping at places that do not charge for parking, such as shopping centres and some suburban commercial areas. It's easy to do and CARR always prefers to see motorists keep their money in their pockets instead of forking it out to governments. We already pay too much in tax.
14 January 2014 - NSW road safety officials claim that texting, surfing the internet or talking on the phone while driving is now one of the top five causes of fatalities on NSW roads, along with speeding, fatigue and drink driving. The use of phones while driving has overtaken people not wearing seatbelts as one of the major causes of fatal car accidents, said Marg Prendergast, general manager of the NSW Centre for Road Safety, but the difficulty of collecting conclusive data about the role of distractions meant such accidents were under-reported.
"The problem is that people are addicted to their phones," Prendergast said. "The key message that people need to understand is: no phone call, no message, no song is worth risking your life or somebody else's. I just don't think people get that yet. This is our mission for the next decade – to highlight the dangers and get people to adjust their behaviour." Prendergast said that speeding represented 42% of all road fatalities, the most prevalent of all causes.
The warning came after NSW Police issued nearly 1000 fines in one day in February for phone use while driving, with one woman getting caught twice. The 29-year-old driver was first fined at 11am for allegedly talking on the phone and was stopped again 25 minutes later by a different police car. She lost three demerit points on each infringement notice and was fined a total of $608.
NSW police stated that such examples showed that people were ignoring safety messages about the use of phones when behind the wheel. "You would think that by now, every driver in NSW would be aware of the dangers and laws relating to talking, texting, online chatting or web browsing on a phone while driving," said Assistant Commissioner John Hartley, the NSW Police Traffic and Highway Patrol Commander.
More than a third of the 1000 fines were issued to drivers in Sydney's Central Metropolitan Region, which stretches from the CBD through the eastern suburbs and down to Sutherland. This was followed by drivers in the North West Metro with 173 fines, South West Metro, 110, Northern NSW, 85, Southern, 58, and Western NSW, 39. From July 2013 to January 2014, more than 20,800 mobile phone infringements were issued.
Professor Mike Regan, applied experimental psychologist at the UNSW Transport and Road Safety Centre, said that the high number of fines indicated that drivers need more education about the dangers of using phones. While he believes that safety messages such as the "Get your hand off it" campaign were getting through to people, drivers were simply finding ways to get away with the offence.
Regan stated, "The laws, it seems, are reasonably effective in targeting the sources of visual manual distraction, but I think the problem is that, generally, there's not enough police enforcement. Even if they are out enforcing the laws, it's quite difficult to see people interacting with these devices. These bans are only effective if they are properly enforced and the fines are high enough." Professor Regan urged car manufacturers and phone designers to develop technology for the Australian market that prevents people from using their phones while driving.
Marge Prendergast believes that current law enforcement was adequate and that more education was needed. She said that the government was exploring new ways to catch offenders, including the use of roving police cameras.
One can understand that texting or trying to surf the Internet while driving is very dangerous and distracting, but comprehensive research from all over the world, including the collaborative study in August 2013 by a team at the US Carnegie Mellon University and the London School of Economics proved that talking on a hand-held mobile phone was not dangerous. They analysed more than eight million incidents of car crashes and all fatalities on roads in eight US states.
Professor Saurabh Bhargava from Carnegie and Dr Vikram Pathania from the LSE found that while there was an increase in callers using multiple phone masts after 9pm, there was no corresponding increase in the number of road accidents. Dr Pathania said that they were very surprised by the results. "At first we thought the numbers were wrong. We went back and checked everything, but there was nothing going on at all," he said. "We just know that we saw a big jump in cellphone use and there was no impact on the crash rate."
Of course the Australian authorities completely ignore such research, because booking people for driving while holding mobile phones is a very lucrative and easy way to generate revenue, using the false pretext that doing this is dangerous. Well while this was legal for a good 12 years, there did not seem to be any increase in accidents involving people who were just talking on their phones while driving and not texting.
Then you get the nonsense spouted by general manager of the NSW Centre for Road Safety Marge Prendergast, who said that speeding represented 42% of all road fatalities, the most prevalent of all causes. The problem is that speed doesn't kill. Speed is a measurement of velocity and does nothing. What kills motorists is not driving according to the prevailing road conditions, vehicles that cannot be driven in certain conditions because of defective tyres and mechanical problems and most of all, the lack of skill and common-sense of drivers. People have been killed driving at 40km/h or less, so Prendergast's claims are so much nonsense.
Psychologist Professor Regan came out with much the same rubbish as Prendergast and advocated that car manufacturers should develop technology to prevent people from using their mobile phones while driving. This is complete and utter lunacy and a damn good reason why academics who don't seem to live in the real workd should be completely ignored. What if a motorist is the victim of road rage? How will he call the police if his car jams his mobile phone? What about motorists who encounter a serious accident. How will they call for an ambulance if their mobile phones are being jammed by their cars? The utter stupidity of this suggestion is beyond belief.
Why is Regan singling out talking on mobile phones and ignoring everything else that drivers can do? Modern cars have touchscreen audio, Bluetooth and GPS systems and it's not illegal to fiddle with these while driving. Motorists can bring up screens with keypads and dial phone numbers, send messages, select music tracks, enter GPS destinations, look for Points Of Interest (POI) and do a million things on those car systems and it's all legal. It's not illegal to eat a piece of fruit while driving. It's not illegal to do lots of things while driving that are far more distracting than holding a phone, but these academics never seem to get this message.
These NSW road safety experts mentioned drink-driving as a major cause of road fatalities. Did we hear them call for a total ban on alcohol for drivers? Of course not. Pilots are not permitted to consume any alcohol 8 hours before flying. So what is wrong with applying the same standard to car drivers? In fact driving a car at 100km/h on an undivided road, with oncoming cars driving at that same speed and passing each other within one metre is a damn sight more dangerous than flying an aircraft with a mandated separation of 5 nautical miles in controlled airspace, which is a good 9km apart.
But these so-called road safety experts never seem to call on the government to totally ban the consumption of alcohol for drivers, simply because the revenue from booze sales is far more important than taking active measures to prevent road fatalities from drink-driving. The hypocrisy is astounding. But what is more astounding is the utter stupidity of motorists, who refuse to use cheap Bluetooth hands-free devices while driving.
The one thing that is very obvious is that the police can easily see motorists holding mobile phones while driving, so why give the tax-collecting cops these opportunities to raise revenue for their masters in government? These idiots, like that moronic woman who was booked twice in the one day for talking on her phone while driving, deserve to be hit with massive fines, not for the offence, but for their stupidity in not spending $30 for a Bluetooth hands-free kit and never risking being booked again.
13 January 2014 - Further doubts have emerged about the economic case for the east-west link, with the Napthine Liberal government's secret business case revealing the benefits to Victoria could be overshadowed by the cost of building and operating the road. The state government's own estimates show that Victoria could recoup a loss-making 80¢ for every $1 spent on the project if so-called "wider economic benefits" are excluded from the analysis.
Although the government has long said that the benefits of the $6 billion-to-$8 billion tunnel far outweigh the costs, it has refused to provide details, insisting the project will produce a return of $1.40 for every $1 spent. But this represents a best-case scenario, relying heavily on a controversial branch of analysis known as "agglomeration economics", which holds that increased urban density linked to transport projects adds to business productivity.
Infrastructure Australia head Michael Deegan told a Senate committee that the government's unpublished business case also provided an alternative estimate, showing a benefit-cost ratio of 0.8 when wider economic benefits are not included. Under this scenario, the project would return just 80¢ for every $1 spent, suggesting an economic loss if the stock-standard analysis preferred by Infrastructure Australia is used.
In his response, Victorian state Treasurer Michael O'Brien said that the project would create 3200 jobs and it was entirely appropriate to consider wider economic benefits when assessing it. "Tunnelling is an undoubtedly more expensive way of delivering this project but the alternative - creating a freeway at grade - would devastate Royal Park, the Melbourne General Cemetery as well as hundreds of additional properties including schools," O'Brien said.
"The lived experience of Victorians has been that major transport projects such as CityLink, EastLink and the Western Ring Road have led to significant wider economic benefits for business and the broader community that should be taken into account in assessing the value of these projects. It is no different for the east-west link," O'Brien stated. Opposition transport spokeswoman Jill Hennessy accused Premier Denis Napthine of inflating the benefits of the project, while failing to invest in public transport. "Instead of meaningful investment in public transport, Denis Napthine's only priority is spending $8 billion on a dud road tunnel that won't do much," she said.
The big problem with infrastructure programs such as the Melbourne East-West Link is that they are farmed out to private operators such as toll road operators, who impose massive costs on motorists to use roads that should be freeways. Because of the squandering of revenue by both federal and state governments on stupid and unjustified projects, often to fulfil pork-barrelling promises in order to get themselves elected, there is not enough money for governments to fund proper road-building.
The truth is that there is more than enough revenue available to fund road infrastructure such as the East-West Link and it's not a matter of governments recouping the costs. Providing roads is the full responsibility of governments and if all the revenue from fuel taxes, excise and levies were ploughed back into road infrastructure, Australia would have a network of freeways to envy Los Angeles. But only a fraction of revenue from motoring is used for road infrastructure and the rest is squandered on stupid and worthless vote-buying, such as the Pink Batts fiasco, the Building the Education Revolution scam that saw school halls being built for $900,000 each when the true cost of them was about $200,000 or less.
Building roads is not a matter of cost-benefit analysis. It's a matter of governments being responsible to provide adequate freeway networks, not rely on tolls to recoup funds or private toll road operators to gouge motorists. The motoring public are entitled to have the best roads as part of essential government infrastructure. The East-West Link should be built with funds taken from motorist-related revenue, instead of this money being ripped off to be blown by governments on wasteful and useless projects that have nothing to do with motoring.
As for the calls for the East-West Link money to be spent on public transport, that's another area where governments should provide this service in any case. However, those people who advocate public transport instead of essential road infrastructure do not seem to realise that most people use cars and commercial vehicles because using public transport is simply not viable for them. Tradesmen need to transport their equipment and cannot catch buses or trains and neither can many other people. Governments need to provide both road infrastructure and public transport as part of their role and it's not a matter of trying to turn a profit on them.
Thanks to Adrian Clarke for this item.
11 January 2014 - A South Australian Member of Parliament stated that a threat has been made to prosecute people who have lent their cars to family or friends for weddings. Family First MP Robert Brokenshire said that several of his constituents in Adelaide have received warning letters after their cars were photographed being used for weddings. He said that a letter from the Transport Department claimed anyone running transport passenger services without accreditation can face penalties of up to four years in jail or a $15,000 fine.
The owner of a vintage car said that he was shocked to get a letter threatening to prosecute him for lending it to a family friend for a wedding. Kevin May stated that he had been warned of the risk of jail or a fine for lending his 1969 XW GT Falcon to a bridal party. He demanded that the warning be withdrawn immediately, saying it is an infringement of his human rights.
"I was quite upset about it at first - I thought it was a joke - and then when I studied the letter properly, you could see it had numbers on there and it was definitely an official letter and I thought 'God, blimey charlie, I was only trying to help someone out'," he said. "I wasn't trying to get a fine - $15,000 is a lot of money."
Robert Brokenshire said that the SA Government had gone mad. "It's one thing to be out there catching rogues that are impersonating accredited hire car companies, but when a family friend lends the Subaru or the Ford Falcon to a friend for a wedding and they receive a demanding prosecution letter, it's absolutely outrageous," he said. "Are the Government so tight with financial management at the moment that they're hitting innocent people with significant fines? I mean this is absolutely wrong. A person should be able to lend their car legitimately to a friend for a wedding without intimidation or fear of a fine or prosecution," he stated.
Transport Department manager for passenger transport, Bill Gonis, said the letters were only to inform people what was legally allowed. "It's a letter of warning and advising them if they want to speak to someone at the office we are more than happy to help them with any inquiry they may have," he said. "If they're simply just providing that service for a friend of theirs that's fine, that's the end of that. Again I just have to make that clear that we're not prosecuting people who are simply driving their friends around. "This is just really about ensuring public safety if some of these vehicles are going out, ensuring that some of these vehicles are roadworthy."
Here is another piece of utter illogical insanity from a money-grubbing state government. However, they won't get away with this nonsense. Any person is legally allowed to lend a vehicle to friend, or even to total strangers, for any use whatsoever, providing that the vehicle is not used for hire or reward.
CARR can only say to people that if they lend their car to be used for weddings, funerals, parties or any other purpose on a private basis, then this is completely legal. Anybody who receives a warning or even a penalty for doing this should tell whoever sent it to stick it where the sun don't shine.
Thanks to John Vance for this item.
07 February 2014 - Victorian speed camera commissioner Gordon Lewis wants the State Government to install more point-to-point cameras.Lewis also called for:
Lewis stated, "In my view the most important word in the road safety camera system is transparency. I believe that only by increased transparency in Victoria will the motoring public's cynicism about the accuracy of speed and red light cameras ever be assuaged."
He said that installing new point-to-point cameras would stop the dangerous "camera surfing" tactic many motorists had adopted. "They slow down just before they reach a fixed or mobile camera, then plant the foot again when they have passed it and only stop speeding as they approach the next camera," Lewis said. "You can't do that with point-to-point cameras. Your average speed for the full distance between the cameras can't be above the speed limit, which makes for safer driving."
Lewis said that a recommendation from him in his first annual report prompted police to provide very brief details about the criteria used to choose the state's 2000 mobile speed camera sites. "But they should go further and provide much greater detail on the history of each site as far as crashes, hoon behaviour and other factors go," he said. "At present, motorists who become aware of a particular mobile speed camera site have almost no information as to why that site was chosen. That lack of transparency can easily lead to motorists deciding a particular camera is placed in a particular spot for revenue raising."
These comments and recommendations from Lewis are a crock of baloney and he is merely trying to justify his position and defend the indefensible. He said that motorists should be convinced that speed cameras are life-savers rather than just revenue raisers. CARR openly throws down the challenge to Lewis to point out one single speed camera anywhere in the world that has saved one life. Of course he can't do that, simply because he knows that these cameras cannot do anything except take happy snaps of people driving by on their way to their deaths, but do not stop them from killing themselves and others.
The truth, backed up by hard evidence proves that wherever speed cameras have been removed, the accident rate has either remained the same or has actually fallen, such as in Swindon in Britain. Of course Lewis will completely ignore hard facts about these revenue-raisers in order to try and justify their existence and the money they rake in for his government. As for red light cameras, hard statistics from all over the world have shown beyond doubt that the accident rate increased at intersections where red light cameras were installed, often by over 40%. Why does Lewis ignore these facts? Money, that's why. Revenue from fines is more important to the Victorian government than safety and accident prevention.
As for Lewis's recommendation that motorists be given free access to the photos taken by speed cameras in order to determine whether they should contest the fines or not, CARR advises every motorist booked by speed or red light cameras to always contest fines on the basis that those cameras are not certified under the National Measurement Act and thus cannot be regarded as accurate measurement devices under federal law. There are many other grounds that can be used to fight camera fines and every camera-generated fine should be challenged.
Lewis had the nerve to say, "I believe that only by increased transparency in Victoria will the motoring public's cynicism about the accuracy of speed and red light cameras ever be assuaged." What a load of garbage. If the speed and red light cameras in Victoria are anything like the cameras in NSW, at least 14% of them will be defective at any one time. These cameras are considered to be accurate scientific instruments fror the purpose of generating fines, but of course many of them can be proven to be inaccurate or defective, for instance one booking a parked bus allegedly doing 80km/h. All motorists booked by such cameras should subpoena their testing history and demand that the prosecution prove beyond reasonable doubt that they were dead accurate at the exact times that they generated the infringements.
Lewis is like all the other politicians and bureaucrats who falsely claim that speed kills. This is utter garbage and a mantra that they use to impose artificially low speed limits in order to create more opportunity to generate revenue from speeding tickets. Speed cannot kill - it's just a measure of velocity. Fatal accidents occur when motorists do not assess the conditions or have adequate driving skills for those conditions at any speed.
Motorists need to organise themselves and stand against these politicians at elections and get them thrown out on their collective ears because those politicians who claim that speed kills and that speed and red light cameras increase safety are just blatant liars. In the meantime, CARR openly challenges Gordon Lewis to an open debate about speed cameras to prove that what he says is true, when all the evidence from around the world shows the exact opposite. CARR challenges Lewis to go and stand on the side of the road with a camera and prove that this will stop somebody speeding or will prevent somebody having an accident.
Thanks to Adrian Clarke for this item.
01 February 2014 - Northern Territory police have hit out at drivers who exceeded 200km/h during the first hours of a trial of open speed limits. The territory removed speed limits on a stretch of the Stuart Highway north of Alice Springs as part of a 12-month study. The road was not subject to speed limits until 2007, when 130km/h maximums were introduced.
Northern Territory Transport Minister Peter Styles said he had not seen any irresponsible drivers on the highway but was disappointed when told people had driven at more than 250km/h on public roads. He stated, ''This is a long section of road with very low traffic volumes. This road is not an autobahn. If people want to do those speeds, then I suggest they go to Germany. Styles said the road was selected for a trial without speed limits because it had not had speed-related deaths on it for a 10-year period.
The most telling comment came from Northern Territory Transport Minister Peter Styles, who said that the particular stretch of road where speed limits had been removed did not have any speed-related deaths on it for 10 years. Obviously there were some deaths on this road when the limit was 130km/h, but not caused by speed. And the truth of the matter is that speed does not kill, in exactly the same way that speed cameras do not prevent accidents. Speed is a measurement of velocity and does+ nothing in itself. Motorists who drive faster than their skills and their vehicles allow them to proceed safely are the danger, not some stupid intangible that governments call "speed".
Motorists have a responsibility to drive safely by assessing the state of the road and the capabilities of themselves and their cars. Obviously a very experienced driver in a Ferrari or an Aston Martin could very safely drive on this stretch of road at 200km/h and even an experienced motorist in a recent model Holden or Ford with good tyres would be quite safe driving at that speed. A person driving a car with worn steering and bald tyres is a menace at any speed. It's not the speed that kills, it's the idiot who can't drive properly and has a crappy car who will cause accidents and fatalities.
Of course governments do have a responsibility to impose speed limits in order to cover the wide gamut of vehicles on the road, in order to protect most of the drivers. The problem is that governments do not use criteria that is scientific and well-researched, such as the famed "85 Percentile" to set realistic speed limits that have been proven to be safer than the current limits that are set artificially low. And why are they so low? The answer is to give the government and police more opportunity to book frustrated motorists in order to raise revenue from them in the form of infringements.
It will be interesting to see the accident statistics from that Northern Territory speed limit-free road after a year. If it remains idiot-free, it will prove for once and for all that speed does not kill and all those statements from governments and police that speed kills will be shown to be utter garbage.
Thanks to Alan Dray for this item.
31 January 2014 - In Western Australia, more than 1300 infringements have been issued for motorists using mobile phones after a one month trial of unmarked police motorcycles on Perth roads. Police Commissioner Karl O'Callaghan said he was disgusted but not surprised by the results. People were caught using their phones, drinking a beer on the freeway with children in the back seat and putting on makeup.
O'Callaghan said, "The introduction of the unmarked motorcycles has been a fantastic success for us. We've actually issued more than 1300 infringement notices for people using their mobile phones and more than 200 infringements notices for people not wearing their seatbelts during this campaign time."
O'Callaghan said that helmet cameras had captured motorists who did not realise they were being pulled over by police. "This is classic mobile phone behaviour - people are so engrossed in using their mobile phones and texting that they can neither see a police officer nor are they looking at the road and they are creating an enormous danger to themselves and other people," he said. "Bear in mind, over the last four years, we know that in 146 cases of fatal crashes it has occurred because of inattention. I think that mobile phone usage in cars is one of the most arrogant things any driver in Western Australia can do."
Motorcycle Traffic Patrol Sergeant Simon Baxter said the trial showed how endemic mobile phone usage had become. "We have one example on the Freeway where a person's looking at their mobile phone, they then put the phone down and they take a drink from a stubbie. Now, the horrendous thing about that is there's two children in the back seat," Sgt Baxter said. "The potential for that to turn into a really serious crash involving children is not worth thinking about."
It is ludicrous that a motorist can be booked for holding a mobile phone while driving, yet cannot be booked for drinking from a bottle of beer, as was quoted by that WA cop. There is no law against taking a drink while driving, even an alcoholic drink such as beer. It's not against the law to comb one's hair, hold and eat a sandwich while driving, or fiddle with a packet of candy, yet it's a mortal sin to hold a mobile phone while driving. Yet all of those other activities while driving could be deemed to be just as dangerous as holding a phone.
For many years since the introduction of the cellphone, people have driven and held their phones with no problems. Sure, texting while driving is dangerous because it requires the driver to look at the phone screen, but holding a phone while talking on it is no different than holding anything else and talking at the same time. Of course state governments have realised that motorists holding phones can be easily seen by cops and make excellent targets for raising revenue, so they made it an offence to hold a phone and are now boosting their budgets at the expense of motorists who are not doing anything dangerous at all.
Many cars these days come with touch screens for integrated entertainment and navigation systems. Motorists are quite entitled to look at these screens, poke away at them with their fingers and do all sorts of things with them while driving. All of these systems have Bluetooth to connect to mobile phones and motorists can bring up keyboards on those screens and enter phone numbers and operate their GPS and other functions while driving at high speed and this is legal.
This merely proves that activities that are far more distracting than holding mobile phones are quite legal, because the cops can't do much about them, but it's easy to entrap people holding mobile phones, even if they are not talking on them. So again, motorists are used as cash cows and the cops have deployed unmarked motorcycles to make it easier to entrap them. This can all be avoided by using an inexpensive Bluetooth hands-free car kit.
Thanks to John Vance for this item.
30 January 2014 - It has been reported that a single speed camera in Sydney is taking more than $12,000 a day. The camera on Sydney's Eastern Distributor is at the top of a list of Sydney's 20 most lucrative, when combined, put $17.6 million in the government's coffers in just six months. The Eastern Distributor camera snapped 10,047 speeding drivers, an average of 54 a day and collected $2,275,724 in fines in the six months to 31 December 2013. The camera has topped the Office of State Revenue's speeding notices' list since the 2011-12 financial year.
A camera in the southbound lanes on Botany Road at Rosebery came in second, again, with 7,266 fines in the six-month period, followed by Cleveland Street eastbound at Moore Park with 5,515 notices. The top 20 fixed speed cameras caught a total of 80,479 drivers.
Opposition roads spokesman Walt Secord said that under the O'Farrell Government, speed cameras have been turned into cash registers. "Before the March 2011 election, Barry O'Farrell said he would remove them, but in government he has been rolling them out across the State," Mr Secord said. "Speed cameras for safety purposes are necessary, especially in school zones, but Barry O'Farrell has turned them into cash registers for his Government."
A spokesman for Roads Minister Duncan Gay said that speeding was a factor in 148 road deaths last year. "In NSW, we use a high visibility approach to address speeding, with cameras supporting enforcement conducted by NSW Police," he said. In NSW there are fixed speed cameras at 108 locations, red light speed cameras at 126 intersections, 13 mobile speed camera vehicles and 22 point-to-point enforcement lengths for heavy vehicles.
The hypocrisy of Labor roads spokesman Walt Secord is staggering. His Labor government was in power for 16 solid years in NSW and is responsible for installing virtually all the speed and red light cameras in the state. Now he's bleating about the O'Farrell government's continued use of these revenue-raisers. Where the hell was he when Labor was in power for all those years? Why didn't he have these cameras removed? These politicians are so grubby and corrupt that it's beyond belief.
The revenue figures show that speed cameras are raking in the dollars in huge amounts, however not one of these devices has ever been shown to have saved one life or prevented one single accident. Well, how can a camera by the roadside save a life? It doesn't throw out a net when it detects a speeding car and stop it immediately. No, it allows the speeding car to hurtle past and takes a photo of it and that's all. However, that speeding car could cause a catastrophic accident one minute after it was photographed by the speed camera, but the camera could not prevent this.
Every time a report like this is released, CARR keep singing the same old song, that no motorist needs to ever be booked by a speed or red light camera if he deploys simple and very cheap technology. An inexpensive GPS receiver for under $100 with camera warnings will safeguard a motorist from every being booked by a camera. One has to wonder about the 54 idiots who get booked every day in the Eastern Distributor tunnel and don't take the simple precaution of using some sort of warning device. Of course there is always the possibility that the camera is defective and the bookings should be challenged.
The report stated that the top 20 fixed speed cameras caught a total of 80,479 drivers. What the hell is wrong with these people? Are they so thick that they can't take the simplest measures to avoid being ripped off like that? When reports like this are seen, it's obvious that nothing CARR says or does is going to educate these fools into taking active measures, so all we can say is that if they get pinged by speed cameras, then they deserve to pay the fine.
27 January 2014 - A Gold Coast woman was slugged $3000 in parking fees while visiting her dying partner in the new $1.76 billion Gold Coast University Hospital. As if caring for her cancer-stricken partner of 35 years was not tough enough, disability worker Michelle Sullivan was forced to pay $990 a month to park at this hospital.
Hefty parking fees at the new hospital have angered patients, visitors and staff and caused chaos in neighbouring Parkwood as they and Griffith University students resort to parking in residential streets and businesses. Sullivan was too grief-stricken to speak after her partner and lifelong friend Kaye Ireland's funeral, but her family told of their anger at the fee impost. Her siblings James Sullivan and Darylyn Robb said that the hospital parking fees were an added cruel blow for their sister and other people visiting seriously ill relatives and friends in hospital.
Sullivan said, "This additional cost is absolutely sickening for families dealing with a loved one's terminal illness. It's even more sickening for families whose main bread-winner is hospitalised. They're already struggling to pay the mortgage, household bills and medical costs without having to stump up a fortune for parking at the hospital. It is absolutely un-Australian that a Government, through its health department, makes money out of a family's misery.'' Sullivan said he intended lodging a formal complaint with Health Minister Lawrence Springborg.
State governments have discovered a new source of revenue-raising that is as disgusting as their speed camera highway robbers. Hospital carparks are now used to gouge vulnerable people who can least afford the outrageously unfair parking fees at these places. However, there is a solution and it is more or less what CARR advises people to do against all rip-offs and that is to use the power of the boycott.
The report stated that "disability worker Michelle Sullivan was forced to pay $990 a month to park at this hospital." Now CARR is very sympathetic to this woman and anybody else who is being gouged, but the report is wrong. Sullivan was NOT forced to pay one cent, because parking at any hospital is not compulsory. Sure, it's convenient, but nobody is forced to park in these places and be ripped off. There is always a way to avoid this disgraceful situation and that is to use the power of the boycott and make other arrangements.
Nobody ever needs to be booked by speed cameras if they take active measures. Nobody ever will be booked for overstaying in a metered parking spot if they don't park in them, but do their shopping and other business in places with free parking. The same goes for hospital carparks. If you don't park in them in the first place, you won't pay a cent. CARR's method to beat the rip-off is quite easy.
Just about every hospital has some form of public transport going to it. So the way to get around the parking problem is to drive to a suburb very close to the hospital that is on a bus route that goes directly to that hospital. Park in a side street that has no parking restrictions and catch the bus that may only take a few minutes to get to that hospital. Instead of paying a fortune to park in the hospital carpark, you will only pay for the return bus fare, which is quite affordable.
In that way you will achieve two important things. You will save a lot of money in parking fees, especially if you have to go to the hospital every day and you will deny the government the parking fees. If everybody did this and nobody parked in those hospital carparks, then governments would have to make parking very affordable or lose a lot of money running carparks that have no cars parking in them. But as much as CARR sympathises with people like Michelle Sullivan, she was not forced to park at the hospital and pay outrageous parking fees, but could have parked a couple of kilometres away in a side street and caught a bus to and from the hospital.
Thanks to Steve Howton for this item.
26 January 2014 - Liberal Democratic Party Senator David Leyonhjelm proposed that Australian states should change the existing speed limits with those set, not by anonymous unelected bureaucrats, but by motorists. The method he supports is that of the 85th percentile. It is based on the assumption that no reasonable driver wants to crash, therefore speed limits should be reset based on the monitored speeds of 85% of drivers in designated ares where there is no speed limit. Along with this plan, he also proposed to remove some of the 40km/h zones.
Leyonhjelm stated that motorists shouldn't be treated like "sinful children and a source of revenue", as the majority of people would certainly travel at 140km/h on freeways if speed limits were removed and that the only way not to have people injured in car crashes would be to reduce speeds to about 20km/h. Of course something like this would definitely not be acceptable.
However, the proposal wasn't too well received, with a spokesperson from the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development saying that their National Road Safety Strategy actually worked and road deaths have decreased by 16%.
It is wonderful to see a politician finally propose a sensible scheme for speed limits. The principle of the 85th percentile has been shown to be the most sensible way to determine safe speed limits, but of course no politician in either the Liberal or Labor Party would consider doing this, simply because it would eradicate most of the revenue-raising from speed cameras and cops with speed guns. Motorists would have speed limits that are commensurate with their expectations and only idiots would drive much faster than those sensible limits.
For instance, the Hume Freeway between Sydney and Canberra is a three lane per side divided road that is better than most German and Italian super freeways that have no speed limits. However, the speed limit on this road is a ludicrously low 110km/h, which frustrates anybody who drives on it. Media owner John Singleton was booked for driving on this road at 160km/h and he beat the infringement by quite rightly claiming that it was perfectly safe to drive his Bentley at that speed. But most modern cars are completely safe to drive on roads like this at 160km/h.
The reaction to this proposal by the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development was completely predictable and the statement that their strategy worked by reducing road deaths by 16% is nonsensical. If the 85th percentile-based speed limits were introduced, chances are that the paltry 16% reduction in road deaths would be much better. But it's typical of any government department to make claims about road matters, especially those bogus claims that speed and red light cameras save lives, which is utter garbage and an outright lie.
CARR applauds David Leyonhjelm for this proposal because it is based on hard research over many years that has proven that this method reduces accidents and road deaths. The other thing it reduces is the opportunity for governments to raise revenue by entrapping motorists, but as Leyonhjelm stated, it is high time that motorists ceased to be treated as sinful children and a source of revenue.
Thanks to John Vance for this item.
24 January 2014 - In the USA, the debate over automatic cameras for speed and red light enforcement is already fairly intense, but a secret audit from 2012 of the traffic cameras in Baltimore, Maryland showed that 13 camereas had a double digit error rate, which helped to account for a system-wide error rate of 10%. Of course the secret part of this secret audit was that the findings were never released to the public.
Baltimore City officials originally said that the cameras had an error rate of less than a quarter of a percent, but the audit found that most were not only off, they were way off. Three specific locations in the city had error rates that varied from 35% to 58%. A total of 700,000 tickets were issued in fiscal year 2012 averaging $40, and a 10% error rate would mean that close to $2.8 million in fines were collected erroneously.
Baltimore first started using speed cameras in 2009 and fired the initial monitoring company, Xerox State and Local Solutions, due to accuracy issues. The subsequent company, Brekford Corporation was fired in December 2013 after the city's cameras were shut down. It's not clear if Baltimore plans to reimburse those wrongly charged with automated speeding tickets.
This sort of disgusting rip-off is occurring all the time with speed and red light cameras wrongfully booking motorists. These devices are notoriously inaccurate, according to audits and investigations from many nations, but state governments in Australia continue to lie to the motoring public that these cameras are not only accurate, but have been certified as scientific instruments that cannot be challenged.
There have been many instances of wrongful bookings by speed and red light cameras. In recent times, in the USA, the Baltimore Sun's website featured a video clip of a Mazda vehicle stopped at traffic lights in December 2012, with its brake lights clearly lit. The vehicle was booked for allegedly driving at 38mph in a 25mph zone, however the car was not moving at all. In 2013, a bus in Adelaide was booked by a camera for driving at 80km/h when it was actually parked.
So how do motorists fight such wrongful bookings if they don't have any corroborating evidence to back up their version of events? Very simply, unless they somehow get hold of a video clip or a photo to prove that they were not committing any offence, then most courts will convict them. The unfairness of the system is legendary, because courts are obliged by legislation to treat these cameras as accurate scientific instruments whose readings are beyond dispute. In fact the opposite is the truth, where these cameras are notoriously inaccurate and defective.
CARR may be sounding rather monotonous and boring by now, but again it has to be said that without hard evidence in the form of a GPS-logged time and date-stamped video clip from a car black box recorder to prove a wrongful booking, whether it came from a camera or a cop with a speed gun, a motorist has little or no chance to beat it and that is the tragedy of the situation. Without such evidence, most motorists find it too costly and time-consuming to go to court and challenge such wrongful bookings, so they grit their teeth and fork out this money and this is blatant extortion by the state.
However, if a motorist is armed with hard evidence from a car black box recorder to show that he was wrongfully booked, not only can he beat the infringement in court, but he would be most justified in suing the state for his costs, loss of earnings and even claim exemplary damages for aggravation and suffering and this is exactly what all motorists should do. If every driver had a car black box operating and challenged every wrongful booking and sued the government, the current unfair system would soon disintegrate.
Thanks to Santo Calabrese for this item.
24 January 2014 - Brisbane City Council officers are using covert tactics, including photographing numberplates, to nab increasing numbers of parking offenders at Westfield Carindale. The fines dished out for "stopping on a road with a yellow edge line" in Millennium Drive at Carindale more than doubled in a year. That iss despite regular complaints by motorists about a lack of pick-up and drop-off spots surrounding the centre.
Cleveland resident Greg Bahr stopped for three seconds on Millennium Drive while dropping a relative at work. Bahr said that he didn't see a council officer, but received a $110 fine in the mail. He stated, "There's two lanes there and an island. Where I stopped, there's no way you're creating a hazard and everybody was doing it. I was there for three seconds, put my blinkers on, and they hopped out - a $110 fine for stopping for three seconds. They need some drop-off zones because there's nowhere to drop anyone off."
Carina resident Michelle Evans was also slugged with a fine after her husband Paul dropped her at work at Carindale at 8.46am the same day. "I didn't see anyone that day. They must have been hiding somewhere," she said. Evans said that a drop-off zone was much needed, particularly for young people who relied on their parents to drive them to work. "There are so many cars that stop there, it's not funny," she said.
The issue has prompted council to approve construction of new two-minute pick-up and drop-off zones at Carindale at a cost of $40,000, although works are yet to be officially scheduled. A council spokeswoman said that the council had increased parking patrols around Carindale due to "intensified" vehicle traffic and safety concerns for pedestrians and motorists. The spokeswoman confirmed that officers could take photographs to collect evidence of an offence. "For these type of offences, officers often do not have the opportunity to approach the vehicle to speak to the driver and issue the infringement before the vehicle drives off," she said.
Deputy Infrastructure chair Councillor Ian McKenzie said that Carindale had a high volume of traffic so it wasn't safe for motorists to be stopping unexpectedly in areas marked with yellow lines. "Council does recognise the need for more passenger loading facilities around the shopping centre and we are working to provide that, but until then motorists have the option of dropping off passengers at signed loading zones in the area, for example on Carindale Street," McKenzie said.
The first thing to note is the nonsense emanating from Brisbane City Councillor McKenzie, who said that because of the high volume of traffic, it wasn't safe for motorists to be stopping unexpectedly in areas marked with yellow lines. This road has two lanes and an island and the only problem with it is that some fool has painted yellow lines there. How can this piece of road be dangerous, when most suburban two-lane roads on the planet are safe for motorists to pull up briefly and drop people off. As for his rubbish about stopping unexpectedly, motorists don't suddenly hit the brakes to pull up - they slow down and cars behind them can either wait the three seconds that it takes to drop people off, or move to the other lane to pass the briefly stopped car.
The real issue here is that like most capital city councils, Brisbane City Council is scrabbling for more and more revenue and has discovered that motorists are a fabulous source of this money. They deploy more rangers and find every little pretext to book more motorists, such as the recent reports of rangers booking residents for parking across their own driveways. Most motorists are apathetic and just meekly pay these fines instead of fighting them. But people who are sick of their own councils ripping them off need to take action against the councillors who are responsible for this gouging.
Citizens need to organise themselves into groups and stand against those councillors in local elections and have them thrown out on their ears and replaced by motorist-friendly people. Citizens need to fight back and use video and still cameras against sitting councillors and their employees to record their travesties and have them prosecuted in the same way that they prosecute citizens. We the people have the power to deal with this unfair revenue-raising, but we can only really do it in numbers. The people residing in the Brisbane municipality need to deal with the council to force it to stop this gouging.
Thanks to Susan Heilbronn for this item.
24 January 2014 - Speed cameras did nothing to improve safety on the roads of Pima County in Arizona USA, so county supervisors decided earlier in January 2014 to cut ties with American Traffic Solutions (ATS), the for profit company in charge of the program. The automated ticketing contract expired on 06 January 2014. The crash rate throughout the entire Pima County road system declined 19% since 2008. However, isolating just the eleven camera sites indicated that the three-year crash rate across the camera locations decreased only 13%, which was lower than expected. At some sites, accidents increased and at others they decreased, suggesting the photo ticketing had no effect on safety. The county analysis found that accident severity also stayed the same.
Meanwhile in California, Walnut city council decided to keep red light cameras clicking beyond the automated ticketing contract's 27 February 2014 expiration date. In the face of renewed questions over the program's effectiveness, the council renewed the contract with scandal-plagued Redflex Traffic Systems for just three months as councilmen weigh the evidence. The Australian firm has been mailing tickets, now $500 each, since 2007.
"Photo enforcement programs will typically cause an increase in rear-end type collisions and cause a decrease in broadside type collisions," city management analyst Rosalea Layman admitted in a memo to the city council. According to the city's analysis, rear-end collisions increased 53% from 5.7 to 8.7 accidents per year and broadsides dropped 21% from 1.4 to 1.1. By the city's own figures, one non-injury broadside collision was traded for 21 rear end collisions, several of which involved injuries. After the cameras were activated, the city installed dedicated right and left turn lanes to improve traffic flow. The city blamed the rear end collision increase on the traffic improvements, but credited the cameras alone with the broadside collision result.
Not so fast, said Jay Beeber, Executive Director of Safer Streets LA. Beeber decided to double-check the city's analysis against ten years of data from the California Highway Patrol's Statewide Integrated Traffic Records System database of traffic collisions (five years before and five years after). The numbers show broadside collisions did not decrease, they doubled. Beeber stated, "No argument can be made that photo enforcement has improved safety at this intersection or within the city of Walnut. In fact, the use of red light cameras appears to have decreased safety and put roadway users at increased risk."
In the USA, residents in 25 cities have taken action to ban red light cameras and speed cameras. The same fervour has spread across the border to Canada where residents in Morinville succeeded in gathering 900 signatures on a citizen initiative to ban automated ticketing machines. The council on Tuesday gave a first reading to the proposal, potentially setting up the first-ever direct vote on photo enforcement in Canada. "We demand a new bylaw to have all traffic enforcement done by either Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) or the community peace officers, thus eliminating the use of photo radar or red light camera enforcement," stated the petition submitted by resident Cliff Haryett.
Citizens in other nations are also rising against speed and red light cameras. Vigilantes in Manchester, England set fire to a speed camera in January 2014. The automated ticketing machine on Pine Road in Tameside was completely destroyed with burning tires. Another camera was destroyed on Huddersfield Road. In Portsmouth, officials announced they had just replaced the speed camera that had been destroyed on the A3 on 30 December 2013.
In Morbihan, France, three speed cameras were destroyed within a few days in January 2014, A camera in Moustoir on the RD767 and one in Plouay on the RD769 were set on fire. A third camera was also burned. Since September 2013, one-third of the cameras in the region have been attacked and 33 have been completely destroyed. In Ardeche, officials were forced to remove a brand new average speed camera after vigilantes removed the camera pole and cut the cables to the device in Saint-Jean-le-Centenier.
In Crespina, Italy, vigilantes knocked over a speed camera sign, defaced the camera lens, pried open the camera box and set the inside of the device on fire. In Imola, a speed camera on the Viale Amendola failed to prevent a crash on 15 January 2014. A Toyota Corolla rammed the automated ticketing machine. The Toyota continued forward and hit a police car at the intersection. Meanwhile in Paderborn, Germany, a vigilante swiped a speed camera from the B64 motorway.
What do these reports tell motorists? Very simply, they prove what CARR has been saying for many years, that not only are speed and red light cameras deployed to raise revenue, but they cause accidents. It is a proven fact that wherever red light cameras are deployed, the accident rate at intersections increases. The 10-year study by David Andreassen from Monash University proved without a shadow of doubt that wherever these cameras were installed, accident rates increased dramatically, up to 40%. In other nations, the accident rate at such intersections increased over 50% after red light cameras were installed.
The same goes for speed cameras. Road safety has not improved because of their deployment and people are starting to realise it. Simple logic would tell a person that a speed camera cannot stop a speeder driving past it and then causing a major accident with multiple fatalities. It's just a camera that takes snapshots, but does not do a single thing to prevent accidents from occurring. Therefore the use of fixed and mobile speed cameras has only one purpose, that of raising revenue for the governments that have them installed and for the benefit of the private companies, such as Redflex and ATS to make huge profits from the misery of motorists.
In many nations, motorists are getting fed up with this deliberate gouging and ripping-off and some of them have taken direct action by destroying speed and red light cameras and others have pushed their legislators into having them removed and that is wonderful to see. CARR does not condone vandalism in the normal course of events, but when one's own government acts against the people by deploying machines that are proven to not increase road safety, but are installed to raise revenue, then the people have a right to act against such travesties.
In Australia, various state governments have continued to trot out reports that allegedly prove that these cameras increase safety, however these reports, generally from people who are employed by governments, fly completely in the face of hard evidence from all over the world that show the exact opposite. For instance, in NSW and Victoria, politicians who screamed for years that those cameras were just revenue-raisers, managed to have their lackeys, such as Auditor-Generals, produce reports that justified them to roll out more of these devices.
CARR's position has not changed. All fixed and mobile speed cameras and red light cameras must be removed completely. Motorists need to organise themselves into lobby and political groups and put pressure on politicians and councilmen to act against these devices. Every motorist who is booked by a camera needs to fight the infringement in court and show that not one of these cameras has been officially certified under the Federal Weights and Measurements Act, therefore cannot be used to accurately measure speed. There are many ways to successfully fight such camera infringements, but the best way is to make it untenable for politicians to remain in power unless they have those cameras removed.
Thanks to John Vance for this item.
23 January 2014 - Queensland Police have been accused of committing the same offence as one that they booked a civilian motorcycle rider for committing. A cop was video recorded stretching his leg while riding his motorcycle, two weeks after a civilian rider was fined $146 for doing the same. Sean White captured the image with his dashboard-mounted video camera while driving his van on the Ipswich Motorway on 22 January 2014 around 7.45am.
White compared the incident to the 06 January 2014 booking of Jake Sloman who was pulled over by police on the Logan Motorway and fined, for "taking his foot off the footrest" while riding. Sloman's fine sparked a wave of criticism and complaints on social media, resulting in Police Commissioner Ian Stewart conceding that he also sometimes stretched his legs while riding. Sloman was riding along the Logan Motorway when he stretched his leg. Police pulled him over and fined him $146 for the offence of "Fail to keep both feet on footrest".
Sloman said that he tried to explain he was just stretching his leg but was still hit with the fine. "I've never heard of anyone else being done for taking their leg off for a second. I could understand it if I was riding along with my hands off the handlebars and something ridiculous, but having stretch is a bit far." He said that even though he knew other bike riders did the same thing, he did not intend to contest the fine. "I don't have the time or money - it would probably cost me more if I do lose," Sloman said.
It is interesting to note that Jake Sloman stated that he did not intend to contest the fine, which is very disappointing. Police know that most motorists don't have the expertise or experience in court to successfully fight such preposterous infringements, so they hand out tickets and know that they won't be challenged. The other problem is exactly what Sloman intimated, that they system is rigged to make it as hard and as expensive for motorists to take these matters to court.
The usual procedure for a motorist who wants to contest an infringement is that he has to attend court to set a date for the hearing, then attend the court on another day for the actual hearing. This involves the loss of two days work and pay and of course it does not guarantee that the motorist will win the matter. So the motorist will be out of pocket for two day's pay and will probably be fined anyway, plus pay court costs. This is why the entire infringement system needs to be completely eradicated, because it is rigged against the motorist.
There is probably not one motorbike rider who has not stretched his leg while riding, including that cop that was filmed by Sloman. It is a ridiculously stupid offence that should never be on the statutes and anybody who is booked for this should fight the infringement in court. Motorists should fight any infringement that does not make sense or logic, even if they are listed as offences, in order to get these offences removed from the law.
Thanks to Susan Heilbronn for this item.
23 January 2014 - Victorian Road Policing Command Assistant Commissioner Robert Hill has told police to start fining more motorists for low-level speeding offences. He said that it was time to make travelling only a couple of kilometres above the speed limit as socially unacceptable as drink driving. He said that more traffic operations were planned for 2014 than in 2013 and speed was the main focus.
Hill stated, "I expect there to be an increase number of low-level speeding infringements issued by our members in the future until the attitude is changed on our roads. What we have said to our members is to focus on speed enforcement. The speed limits that are set at the maximum speed you can travel at, having regard to the road conditions. If we can reduce our mean speeds across the road network we will save lives, and this is all about saving lives. Whether you're 5km/h or 15km/h over, if you speed, you can expect to be stopped by police."
Hill said that the strong stance on low-level speeding was being taken because 15 deaths and 300 serious injuries could be prevented each year if drivers cut their average speed by just 1km/h. He warned motorists to stop setting their own "de-facto" speed limits, especially when setting cruise control.
"The evidence is very clear; speed is the absolute killer on our roads.The culture has shifted in respect of drink driving, it's now socially unacceptable for people to get behind the wheel of a motor car and drive while affected by alcohol, but the same cannot be said for speeding. Across our community, people don't appreciate that low-level speeds can be just as dangerous as high-level speeding," Hill stated. Drivers who exceed speed limit by less than 10km/h are fined $180 and receive one demerit point, while speeding over the limit between 10-15km/h will cost $289 and three demerit points.
Firstly, as we all know, speed does not kill. Idiot drivers in unsafe cars cause accidents, regardless of the speed they were driving at. So Hill's comments are just so much utter bullshit. His statement in regard to make travelling only a couple of kilometres above the speed limit as socially unacceptable as drink driving is equally preposterous. He would know that the speedometers on most cars are wildly inaccurate and can vary greatly merely by the difference in tyre pressure.
For instance, the speedometers in CARR Webmaster Ziggy's Mazda 6 Luxury Sports Hatch and his lady friend's Mazda 3 SP23 vehicles were found to be inaccurate by around 4 to 5km/h when extensively tested by GPS speed measuring devices. CARR has received many emails from people saying the same thing. So how on earth can the top cop in Victoria insist that people will get booked for speeding, when the instrument that gives them their speed is inaccurate? And what about the documented measuring errors in police speed guns?
In any case, how much more unsafe is it to drive at 63km/h in a 60km/h zone? The difference is not even noticeable to a driver with a speedometer that will in literally every case be wildly inaccurate? Or is it so much more dangerous to drive at 103km/h in a 100km/h zone? To be booked for this is beyond belief, but of course we all know why Hill has ordered police to do this. It's all about raising revenue and nothing else.
CARR advises that any motorist who is booked for going a few km/h over a speed limit should refuse to pay the fine and take the matter to court. Even the police's own speed measuring equipment has documented tolerance errors listed in their operations manuals. It can be shown to a court that if a motorist is booked at 63km/h in a 60km/h zone, the tolerance range of police speed measurement equipment can be proven to be inaccurate enough to not be reliable and thus the infringement should be dismissed.
Don't let the cops get away with this preposterous nonsense that speed kills and especially don't let them get away with booking you for driving at a couple of km/h over a limit when your speedometer and their speed guns have greater errors than this. Hill's directive is nothing more than trying to rip off motorists and you should never let yourself be the victim of this scam.
Thanks to Steve Howton for this item.
Opportunist "parking thieves" who grab parking spots in unit blocks while they shop or commute could face fines of $550 when local council parking officers are allowed to patrol strata parking under changes to the state's strata laws. But once parking wardens are in a building, residents could also be ticketed for such offences as parking in disabled spots or on common property driveways and even for parking over the boundaries of their parking spaces.
The detailed proposals for the update of strata laws - now being examined by members of the NSW cabinet - include provisions for local council parking wardens to be invited into apartment blocks and townhouse developments, mainly to help keep non-residents from stealing parking spots. The details of who can be fined for what will be part of matching changes to the Local Government Act.
While bodies corporate can deal with owners and tenants who park illegally, they have no legal sanction against outsiders who gain access to their buildings and park for free. The law specifically forbids cars from being clamped or towed without the owners' permission. This is a huge problem for unit blocks near business centres or railway stations, where rogue parkers - or parking thieves, as they are increasingly known - will park for free in visitors' parking, on driveways or even in owners' spaces, knowing they are safe from any legal sanctions.
Under the new laws, owners corporations will be able to make arrangements with local councils to ticket illegally parked cars. The maximum fine of $550 is part of efforts across the board to beef up all the sanctions for bad behavior in strata schemes and is a massive rise from the $220 previous maximum fine for many minor infringements. "I assume the devil will be in the detail of negotiations between strata schemes and local councils, which will set the actual fines," said Gerry Chia, secretary of strata advocacy group the Owners Corporation Network. "But this is a huge issue in many buildings and the proposed law change is something for which we pushed very hard in our discussions with Fair Trading."
While the problem of rogue parkers in apartment complexes is very real and annoying to residents, giving jurisdiction to local council rangers to come onto any private property and give them the power to book people is sheer insanity. There are many ways to deal with rogue parking without putting residents at risk of being fined a whopping $550 just because they might have parked for a few minutes on common property to run into their units because they left something behind.
If apartment blocks are having problems with rogue parking, they can install electric gates with access control, limiting car entry to parking areas to residents and their guests. Signs warning trespassers that they will be prosecuted if they illegally park on private property will give residents the right to sue those rogue parkers or reporting them to police, as trespassing on private property is an offence. In NSW, if a person has not been invited onto private property, they have no legal right to be there and can be prosecuted. A simple time and date-stamped photo would be more than enough evidence to get a rogue parker convicted.
The one refuge that motorists have from rapacious state and local governments are those private properties on which their houses or apartments are situated. Giving governments the legal right to book anybody for anything on those properties is fraught with danger and should never be allowed. CARR recommends that if corporate bodies wish to stop rogue parking, just install access control and if somebody happens to bypass it and park on common property or a resident's parking spot, that rogue can be charged for trespass by police.
Thanks to John Vance for this item.
18 January 2014 - The Northern Territory Government announced that speeding fines will double for high range speeders to up to $1000 from 01 February 2014. Fines for speeding between 0 and 15km/h will increase from $100 to $150, 15km/h-30km/h from $200 to $300, 30km/h-45km/h from $300 to $600, and 45km/h and over will rise from $500 to $1000. The changes come into force on the same day an open speed limit trial will start on a 200km stretch of road on the Stuart Highway.
NT Chief Minister Adam Giles stated, "All motorists want to be able to drive on a safer road network and these new safety measures will help achieve this. If you continue to obey the speed limit and the law, then these new infringement increases will not have any effect on you. Reckless and dangerous driving is not condoned by our community and these increases will bring the Territory's speeding fines closer to those that apply across the country."
Medical professionals from The Royal Australasian College of Physicians, The Australian Medical Association Northern Territory, The Royal Australasian College of Surgeons and The Australasian College for Emergency Medicine have joined forces and will tomorrow call for the scrapping of the planned open speed limit trial on the Stuart Highway. The medical organisations believe any open speed limit is irresponsible and dangerous. Speed limits will be abolished on a 200km section of the highway between Alice Springs and Barrow Creek for 12 months from 01 February 2014.
It appears that the Northern Territory government is making another grab for cash by gouging motorists., just like most of the Australian states. Revenue from fines has now become such an important component of budgets, that all governments are using every means to maximise their income in this way, because motorists are easy targets and most of them will not take active measures to prevent themselves from being ripped off.
The comments by NT Chief Minister Adam Giles that if motorists obey the speed limit and the law, then they have nothing to fear from infringements is ludicrous. There are a litany of court cases proving that motorists have been wrongly booked by defective speed cameras, defective radar and laser speed guns used by police and even "verballed" by police who thought that they could get away with wrongfully booking motorists who argued with them. This is typical of politicians, who ignore hard facts about wrongful bookings and make stupid pronouncements.
Then there is this ridiculously unjustified notion from a bunch of medical organisation that believe that any open speed limit is irresponsible and dangerous. Let's see these people telling this to the Germans and Italians who have open speed limits on their autobahns and autostradas and they will tell them that they are stupid and ignorant. Speed doesn't kill. Bad driving in badly maintained cars kills. It's that simple.
CARR again advises all motorists to take active measures against being booked by using GPS receivers with speed camera warnings and car black box recorders to prove that they were not speeding, if wrongfully booked. All motorists should video record every encounter with police at the roadside, as this is perfectly legal. Motorists need to protect themselves from greedy governments, defective speed cameras, defective radar and laser speed guns and corrupt cops and they should challenge every infringement in court, as they are innocent until proven guilty by a court of law.
Thanks to Mark Eisen for this item.
17 January 2014 - A Californian woman who was issued with a traffic ticket for driving while wearing Google Glass appeared in a San Diego court to fight the infringement. Cecilia Abadie was pulled over and given a ticket for speeding and wearing the smart spectacles while driving on 30 October 2013. She pleaded not guilty to breaking a California law barring motorists from watching TV while driving. The case may influence future laws regarding wearable technology.
"It's a big responsibility for me and also for the judge who is going to interpret a very old law compared with how fast technology is changing," Abadie stated. She was one of an estimated 30,000 people initially selected to try the device before it becomes widely available in 2014.
Abadie was pulled over by a California Highway Patrol officer for driving 80mph in a 65mph zone on Interstate 15 in San Diego. The officer observed Abadie wearing Google Glass and cited her for using a visible "monitor", a charge typically issued to people driving while watching a television screen. The device includes eyeglass frames equipped with a camera and small display controlled by voice command. In court, Abadie argued that the device was not turned on when she was pulled over.
San Diego Court Commissioner John Blair dismissed the citation against Abadie on the grounds that there was no proof her Google Glass was operating when she was pulled over and booked. Abadie is apparently the first person booked for wearing Google Glass while driving. The device, which projects a small screen in the corner of a wearer's eye, is expected to become a major catalyst for what many believe to be the next big trend in mobile, wearable computing devices.
The issue of wearable technology is going become an ever-increasing problem for governments, however the authorities who pass stupid laws against them will find that in most cases, fines against motorists using these devices will easily be challenged and beaten. There are already laws in Australia prohibiting drivers from accessing visual displays such as screens playing TV or DVDs while driving, but the first obstacle for a prosecutor would be to prove that a motorist was actually doing so.
For instance, how would a cop be able to prove that a motorist wearing Google Glass was watching a movie and not just driving along with the device on his head? Unless the motorist made an admission that he was doing so, which would be stupidity beyond belief, the cop could not see what the motorist was viewing. Thus he would have no way of proving to a court of law that the motorist was watching a movie while driving and not using the Google Glass to view a GPS navigation display, which would be perfectly legal.
Not only that, in the future, this technology will be built into normal spectacle frames that will make it impossible for cops to even ascertain that a motorist was even wearing such a device, let alone prove that he was watching a video. Of course any motorist who reveals to a cop that he was watching a movie with Google Glass while driving is just asking to be booked. This is why CARR advises all motorists to never ever talk to police. Never make any sort of admission whatsoever. Give the cop your name, show him your driver's licence and submit to a breath test if required. From that point, don't say anything except NO COMMENT to anything the cop asks. And NEVER let the cop inspect your mobile phone under any circumstances.
But why would a cop pick on somebody wearing Google Glass, when so many people have smartphones in cradles fitted to their cars, which are capable of playing video clips, movies and all sorts of other applications not related to driver aids? Even if a cop saw something that looked like a movie on a motorist's mobile phone screen and booked him, the cop would have to prove beyond reasonable doubt to a court that what he saw was indeed a video being played and not a reflection of the surrounds on the screen of the mobile phone.
Then there are other forms of wearable technology such as smart watches. Samsung Galaxy Gear, a smart watch that links to a Samsung smartphone can display video content on a driver's wrist. It would be beyond belief for a cop to try and testify to a court that he could see a video clip being played on a driver's wristwatch from his vehicle. A good lawyer would put the cop to the test and destroy his testimony in a heartbeat.
So unless the authorities banned all devices that were capable of displaying a video to a driver, such as smartphones, smart glasses, smart watches and any other such devices that may emerge in the future, cops would have very little chance of making a booking for using such devices stick. Governments are always looking to implement laws and regulations to give them more opportunity to fine motorists in order to raise revenue and motorists should fight such bookings all the way.
As for Abadie, she easily beat the infringement when the prosecution could not prove that her Google Glass was projecting a video or was even switched on. That is why all motorists should challenge every booking in court and make the prosecution always try to prove their case beyond reasonable doubt. If every motorist did this, instead of rolling over and accepting fines that are often wrongful, then the court system would collapse completely. For far too long, governments have used the pretext of safety as an opportunity to raise revenue and victimise motorists and this has to be eradicated.
15 January 2014 - Melbourne's Knox Council has been given a roasting by ratepayers and readers after it racked up thousands of dollars in legal fees chasing a father of two over a $141 parking fine - and lost. Knox Ratepayers Association (KRA) has called for better staff training, while the Municipal Association of Victoria said it was up to individual councils to decide when to bring in lawyers.
Upwey resident John Ferguson represented himself at the Ringwood Magistrates' Court on 27 November and 02 December 2013 in sessions that lasted a total of about 13 hours. He faced off against a lawyer from Maddocks and risked a criminal conviction after he refused to pay a fine for allegedly stopping in a no-standing zone outside his son's Ferntree Gully school. Magistrate Marc Anthony Sargent dismissed the ticket and ordered the council to pay $503.30 in costs.
Knox Council would not reveal the size of its legal bill, saying that it would include the fees in its next annual report. A suburban solicitor said that clients could expect to pay at least $300 per hour for representation from an inner-city law firm, which amounts to about $4000 for one laywer's court appearances alone.
KRA spokesman Alem Mirvich said that he regularly heard from frustrated ratepayers who had been fined outside schools without being approached by local laws officers. He stated, "It's a pet hate when the fine arrives and residents knew nothing about it. It's like they're (the council) on stealth mode. At the end of the day, if the council didn't enforce tickets nobody would pay them. Anything that improves public safety is money well spent. But they've made the wrong judgment call in this case."
Ferguson said that the combined court sessions lasted at least 13 hours estimated to have costg about $4000 for one lawyer to appear in court, excluding pre-trial preparation fees. Council records show that two local laws officers recorded 23 infringements, including Ferguson's fine, within 30 minutes outside St Joseph's College in Brenock Park Drive on 04 September 2012.
Ferguson said that he always drove into the school grounds before dropping off his son, but remembered having to wait behind another car that day, which had stopped illegally. He asked for the ticket to be reviewed and requested copies of the officers' notes and photographs, but the council stood firm. "They sent me a letter to say they did a review, but when we got to court neither local laws officer had been questioned as part of the review," he said.
Council records show that the officers recorded the driver was female, not male, the colour of the car was incorrect, while there was confusion over which side of the street the officers were on, Ferguson said. "That should have come out in the review. They should have said, 'We don't have our facts right here, why don't we just dismiss this infringement'. I feel Knox were less interested in justice and more interested in maintaining their prosecutorial power. I call it the Knox nonsense," Ferguson said. In an email, a Maddocks senior associate advised Ferguson: "My client (Knox Council) has already incurred considerable expense complying with these requests of yours for documents."
Knox Council director of city development Angelo Kourambas said that the council respected the court's decision, was successful in most cases and had no reason not to take the matter to court. "There is no requirement that every offence be photographed. In this case, images were taken but were unable to be produced," he said. Municipal Association of Victoria president Bill McArthur said that Victorian councils issued more than 1.6 million parking fines annually. "The Auditor General's annual report confirms that fewer than 1% of people elect to go to court. It would be a matter for each local council to decide when to seek legal representation." McArthur said.
McArthur said that councils and other enforcement agencies had to follow prescribed decision-making processes in line with the Infringements Act. Knox Council spent $1.065 million on finance and legal costs during the 2012-13 financial year, an increase of 19%. It issued 5288 parking fines, received 754 requests for a review and withdrew 365 notices, about 7%.
Councils now consider revenue from fines against motorists to be a very important and major component of their budgets and this is why they send teams of tax collectors to vulnerable points in order to gouge motorists at every opportunity. In many cases, such as the Ferguson matter, the council rangers get it wrong. Ferguson forced Knox Council to embarrassingly reveal that their enforcers made a complete hash of it, recording that the driver of Ferguson's car was female, the colour of the car was wrong and even where they were standing when they tried to fit Ferguson up for this infringement.
Every motorist should take action against every infringement that they receive by questioning every single detail that council inspectors claim occurred to have that infringement imposed. Motorists should snow councils down with constant demands for hard evidence on which councils rely to prove their cases and in every case, should actually demand that councils prove that they even have the legal right to levy fines.
Local councils are not recognised as arms of government under the Australian Constitution, thus do not have the power to levy fines. Various states have passed Local Government Acts to give councils this power, however it seems that none of these Acts have ever received Royal Assent, thus rendering them unenforceable. If this can be shown, then any fines that councils levy are illegal. Therefore every motorist who is booked for anything by council should insist that council prove that it even has the power to issue any infringement against him.
What is worrying is that the Auditor-General has found that less than 1% of booked motorists fight their bookings in court. No wonder councils find that booking motorists an easy way to gouge them, when they don't bother to fight back. If every motorist challenged local councils to prove their case and even to prove that they had the legal right to levy those fines, the court system would collapse and that is exactly what motorists should do. Never allow council to book you without challenge.
Thanks to John Vance for this item.
12 January 2014 - Queensland Police Commissioner Ian Stewart has apologised to a recreational motorcycle rider who claimed he was harassed by police when he was pulled over by officers. Wynnum man Jamie Evans posted a video of his encounter with police on YouTube, which has been viewed more than 256,000 times since it was uploaded. The video shows several police questioning Evans for 10 minutes at a service station south of Brisbane. Evans claimed that he was detained for close on an hour and released without any infringement notices or charges being laid.
Commissioner Stewart said he was sorry if the police crackdown on criminal motorcycle gangs impacted on law-abiding citizens. "Some good people in the community, including recreational motorcyclists, are going to be inconvenienced and I'm sorry if that's happened to Jamie," he stated. While Evans claimed that police had pulled him over 21 times in the past and that he was being harassed, Commissioner Stewart said the video showed a good level of respect on both sides and a very professional intercept. He stated that to his knowledge, Evans was not being targeted by police.
The police chief said the new anti-bikie reforms were working and 505 criminal gang participants had been charged since the end of September 2013. In the video, the officers ask Evans basic questions about his identity, whether he belongs to an outlaw motorcycle club, and whether his motorcycle is roadworthy. At one point, Evans tells the surrounding police that he has no respect for cops.
Evans, who is a member of the recreational motorcycle club The Misfits and was wearing a leather vest with the group's logo, said on Facebook that the case was proof that the Newman government's anti-bikie laws were affecting regular citizens. A Queensland Police spokeswoman confirmed that Evans had not been charged.
The one important aspect of the video posted on Facebook by Evans is that he was very foolish for answering any questions posed to him by police. The only obligation that Evans had was to state his name, produce his driver's licence and submit to a breath test if required. Apart from that, he should not have spoken any further to the police, nor answered one single question that they asked. He was foolish because at one time, he stated that he didn't have to answer the questions that police put to him, yet he continued to do so.
CARR advises all motorists to never talk to the police, never answer any questions that they ask and simply do so in order not to incriminate themselves. The time to deal with any issues and questions is in a court of law and in any case, a defendant has the right to silence and it is the prosecution that has to prove its case beyond reasonable doubt. There is absolutely nothing to gain by talking to police, answering their questions or cooperating with them. It will get you nowhere. But make sure that if you are pulled over by police, that you video record the encounter and don't let the cops intimidate you into stopping, as you have the legal right to record anything you like in a public place.
Police are trained to ask questions of motorists to elicit responses that can be used against them or even to show a magistrate that a motorist was aggressive, not that this in itself is illegal. However, the best policy is to say NO COMMENT to any question or statement put to you by police and it gives them no ammunition to use against you.
Under common law, police do not have the right to detain anybody if they are not under arrest. A motorist who is stopped by police should show his licence, then ask the police if he is under arrest. If the police say "no", then the motorist should state that police have no right to detain him further and he is leaving. If they try and prevent him from leaving, he should quote the court judgements of Supreme Court Justice Stephen Kaye and Country Court Judge Duncan Reynolds (on the CARR website) and state that if the police prevent him from leaving when he is not under arrest, he will have them charged under the Crimes Act, report them to the Police Integrity Commission and also sue them for damages in a civil court.
As for the Queensland government's anti-bikie laws, which they call "reforms", that's absolute nonsense and it's only a matter of time before they are overturned by the High Court. Every person in Australia has freedom of association and even outlaw bikies are afforded this right. No government has the right to prevent any person from associating with anybody else and it is rather surprising that the Queensland government has been getting away with these unconscionable laws. The quicker that they are overturned, the better.
The main thing to understand is that police do not have unfettered powers and they do not have the right to harass motorists. It's bad enough that police are now operating as the government's tax collectors by entrapping motorists and gouging revenue from them with fines, many of them for ridiculously unjustified offences, such as in the recent case of the motorist who was fined for parking his car with the window slightly open. When police commit such stupidities, it is no wonder that so many people have nothing but contempt for them.
Thanks to Mark Thompson for this item.
12 January 2014 - In Melbourne, a Victoria Police officer is being investigated after being caught on video performing an illegal u-turn on a dual carriageway and almost colliding into oncoming traffic. The video shows a marked police car pulling up at Reservoir train station to drop off a colleague before swinging round and driving the wrong way. It then crosses an intersection, narrowly missing turning traffic who have right of way.
Footage was captured by a dashboard camera on one of the cars at traffic lights on Spring Street, as it waited to turn right into Edwardes Street. The 32-second video, uploaded onto Facebook last month under the title "One rule for them…" has been liked by almost 1500 people, shared to more than 600 other users and 215 people have made comments. The officer driving was not responding to any police matter or emergency. The video also shows that the police car did not use its flashing lights or siren.
Victoria Police confirmed that the incident was being investigated by Professional Standards Command. "Professional Standards Command has been made aware of the incident and is investigating," Leading Senior Constable Adam West said. "Officers are expected to comply with the Road rules unless operational needs apply."
Literally for decades, police have routinely broken road rules and committed illegalities and got away with it because in the past, witnesses who reported them had little or no evidence to back up their claims. However, with the increasing use of mobile phones with video capabilities, dashcams and car black boxes, police have been filmed committing all sorts of illegal acts, from bashing suspects to committing all sorts of traffic offences.
CARR has no objections to police carrying out their duties and driving contrary to the road rules if they are required to chase after offenders or deal with emergencies. But CARR considers that police have an obligation to obey the road rules like all other motorists. It is the height of hypocrisy for cops to book motorists for speeding and committing other offences, then those cops go and commit the same offences with impunity and they should not get away with it.
Every motorist should install a car black box to gather evidence in the case of wrongful bookings, but those devices are also useful for catching rogue police committing offences. Motorists who obtain videos of police doing the wrong thing should lodge complaints and have those police charged and fined, exactly the same as if they had been charged and fined for the same offences. In theory, the law should apply to everybody, but in the past, police got away with breaking it. Now police can be dealt with in the same way as other motorists.
Thanks to Steve Howton for this item.
10 January 2014 - Concerns have been raised about the downsides of advances in car technology after a Queensland woman faced the terrifying situation of being locked and trapped inside her own Audi car. The woman's keyless-entry car malfunctioned in some way, leaving her trapped and struggling to breathe on a 40ºC day. Audi is monitoring the incident, which happened in Noosa on the state's Sunshine Coast.
Sometimes advances in technology can misfire very badly. A number of people have reported that they were trapped inside their vehicles that had keyless-entry and in the case of the Queensland woman who was trapped inside her Audi in 40ºC heat could have caused her to have a heart attack and die. Keyless entry is terrific if vehicles have some sort of mechanical internal override mechanism that allow people to unlock their doors and exit their vehicles in cases where they are locked in by keyless-entry deadlock systems.
Another area of grave concern is the increasing prevalence of keyless access and starting of vehicles. There have been many reports of people who have mislaid or inadvertently dropped their car keys or the transmitter fobs that were close enough to open the car doors and allow cars to be started by pushbutton and driven away. But once the drivers stopped the vehicle, possibly many kilometres away from where they lost their keys or fobs, they were not able to start their cars again without them.
This is where such technology can really backfire on users. Keyless entry using buttons on the key or a keyring fob is good because drivers need to have their keys or fobs in their possession. But keyless entry by proximity without having to physically have the door unlock transmitter in one's possession is fraught with danger. The same goes for vehicles with pushbutton start and motorists with vehicles equipped with this technology have to be extremely conscientions to ensure that they are always in possession of their keys or transmitting fobs.
Thanks to John Vance for this item.
08 January 2014 - There are a number of virtually unknown road rules that have been exposed since Julian Harris was fined for leaving his car windows slightly open when parked, in order to ventilate his vehicle on a very hot day. Queensland police have been fining drivers and motorcycle riders for offences that no normal motorist would even imagine existed.
Jake Sloman was riding along the Logan Highway when he stretched his leg. The cops pulled him over and fined him a whopping $146. The offence? "Fail to keep both feet on footrest". The fine caused outrage on social media, with people saying taking that this particular road rule to the letter would mean almost every motorcycle rider would be liable to be fined.Road rules in all Australian states are a minefield, full of pitfalls that can cost drivers money for falling foul of the numerous obscure regulations. The list of rules is so long and convoluted with references to things such as "dragon's teeth" and "pelican crossings", it is almost impossible for any person to know every one. But state governments are not averse to filling treasury coffers by way of stringently enforcing their rules of the road. Here are some of these rules.
Although some of these mostly unknown road rules involve drivers exercising commonsense, many of them are ridiculously stupid and illogical. A motorcycle rider may have to lift a foot from the footrest to relieve cramp or to stretch to relieve fatigue, but in Queensland, Jake Sloman was booked for merely doing this and found out the hard way that the cops are scrabbling around to find any pretext to fine motorists. No wonder people have lost respect for police when they are now acting as the government's tax collectors instead of spending their time preventing serious crimes from being perpetrated.
The matter of Julian Hill being fined for leaving his car windows ajar because it was a hot day in Brisbane is the most ludicrous and illogical, simply because this rule cannot be applied to all vehicles and thus is discriminatory. The reason given for this idiocy is to allegedly prevent thieves from gaining access to cars, so it is an offence in Queensland to leave car windows open 5cm or more. Yet a person with an open top convertible with the entire interior open to the world can park such a car and walk away, leaving any passer-by free to unlock the doors from the inside or steal anything inside the vehicle. Whoever promulgated this lunacy is an imbecile and the Queensland cop who fined Hill is an utter disgrace to the police force.
Being fined for a non-functioning number plate light is also very unfair, because it may have been working when the driver commenced his journey and failed on the way. CARR does not know of any vehicle on the market that has an indicator on the dashboard that shows when a number plate light fails. So how would a motorist know that his number plate light blew out during his trip? Do the cops expect him to pull over every 5 minutes and jump out of his car to inspect his number plate light? The same goes for tail lights that blow during a drive. This law needs to be challenged in court every time somebody is booked for it.
As for flashing lights at oncoming motorists, this rule is merely there so that police can raise revenue by operating speed traps and preventing motorists from warning others about them. However, if it is not an offence to flash one's lights to warn of hazards or blockages on the road, why is it dangerous to flash lights to warn of speed traps? It's the same activity. Victorian police recently stated that it was all right for motorists to flash their lights to warn of speed traps, therefore the pretext in other states for making it illegal to flash lights because it is allegedly dangerous of has no basis in fact and should be scrapped. How can something that is not dangerous in Victoria be dangerous in other states? Of course other state governments would want to retain this law, purely for the facilitation of revenue-raising speed traps. Anybody booked for doing this should fight it in court.
The rule regarding animals is crazy too. A motorist must slow down or stop to avoid crashing into animals and no driver would want to do this and damage his car anyway. But what if an animal such as a kangaroo jumps onto the road and collides with a car? Is the motorist still liable to be fined when it's not his fault? Under this idiotic rule, he probably could be fined, although only a magistrate with a death wish would uphold such a stupid penalty.
There are many really stupid and illogical road rules and they need to be rescinded. However, state governments are finding that these obscure rules are giving them unprecedented opportunities to raise revenue by fining motorists and motorcycle riders on every conceivable pretext. This is why motorists who are being used and abused as cash cows to fill government coffers should organise themselves into a political party and stand against rapacious politicians in elections and get them thrown out of office. In the meantime, motorists should refuse to pay any penalties if they are booked under these ludicrous rules and they should drag the government and police to court and fight every one of them.
06 January 2013 - Victorian drivers are being warned to watch their speed as police prepare to turn on two new fixed-speed cameras on the Monash Freeway. The cameras have been installed to the south of High Street in Glen Iris and will clock speeding cars travelling north and south-bound.
The switch-on follows a 10-day-trial that clocked more than 1450 drivers speeding on the freeway, with cameras snapping six people zooming at 145km/h or more. Meanwhile, nearly 300 drivers were nabbed driving at speeds of up to 115km/h, and more than 100 drivers were caught travelling between 15 to 25 km/h over the speed limit.
Victoria Police spokeswoman Belle Nolan said that drivers exceeding 125km/h would usually lose their license and those speeding at more than 45km/h would have had their cars impounded in normal circumstances. However, because these drivers were snapped speeding during a trial run, they would not be penalised.
Road Policing Command Assistant Commissioner Robert Hill said that drivers had been given every opportunity to do the right thing, as signs warning drivers about the cameras were put up on the freeway several weeks ago. "The signs have been in place for some time, reminding people that the cameras are about to be switched on. In addition to this, the signs will tomorrow be telling drivers that the cameras are enforcing." he said.
Assistant Commissioner Hill said that research had shown that speed cameras "save lives and are an important tool for police to help reduce road trauma". He stated, "With the cameras switched on, it's a timely reminder to slow down, pay attention, and ensure you're keeping to the posted speed limit at all times."
Here is yet another example of the blatant lying of the Victorian Liberal government that screamed for a solid decade about speed cameras being nothing but revenue-raisers. Of course as soon as the Liberals took power, all those protestations were quickly forgotten as the smell of money ripped from motorists became too tempting to ignore. So here are two speed cameras that will book motorists travelling on a freeway that is better and safer than most unlimited speed autobahns in Germany, yet are restricted to a ridiculously low speed of 100km/h that drops to 80km/h.
As for Victorian Assistant Commissioner Hill's statement that research had shown that speed cameras save lives, CARR states unequivocally that this is a blatant lie. CARR throws down the challenge to Hill to produce one single speed camera that has saved one life or prevented one accident. The truth is that a speed camera is completely incapable of doing anything except take photos and send them to the Victorian Department Of Ripoffs And Revenue-Raising so that infringement notices can be generated.
The so-called "research" to which Hill refers is utter crap. Independent research from all over the world has proven beyond a shadow of doubt that speed cameras do absolutely nothing to reduce accidents and fatalities and in fact in a myriad of places where they have been removed, such as in Swindon in Britain, accident rates have fallen. The same goes for red light cameras that have been proven by independent research and studies to cause up to 40% or more accidents at intersections where they have been installed and a commensurate reduction in accidents when they have been removed.
The simple truth is that all this "research" by Australian state governments that is trotted out to justify the deployment of speed and red light cameras is complete and utter nonsense. However, motorists do have the weapon to totally negate the revenue-raising by those cameras, merely by using GPS receivers with camera warnings. Any motorists who are too stupid or negligent to avail themselves of this cheap and extremely effective technology deserve to be ripped off by these highway robbers.
05 January 2013 - Police expect that charges will be laid against scores of West Australian drivers as part of a crackdown on scamming of the demerit point system. An audit of traffic infringements in the 12 months to November 2013 uncovered hundreds of potential cases of drivers falsely declaring that another person was driving their vehicle at the time of an infringement. The review was ordered after a driver was accused of advertising on the classified website Gumtree for strangers to be paid to take his demerit points for speeding.
Commander Alf Fordham from the traffic enforcement command said that drivers who falsely nominate others to avoid demerit points can expect to be caught. Drivers who accrue 12 demerit points are banned from driving for three months. Registered vehicle owners can nominate another person as being the driver at the time of an infringement, with demerit points transferred to that nominated person.
The audit identified 360 potential false renominations, from which police expect to lay charges in 60 cases where there is clear photographic evidence. Further review could identify more cases for prosecution. Commander Fordham warned drivers that police will continue cracking down on the demerit points scam. "We now have processes in place to ensure we catch people engaging in this practice - and we will get you; both as the driver and the person incorrectly accepting the points. The Infringement Management Office has now developed a set of criteria that will trigger an investigation into a renomination," he said.
Falsely nominating another driver is a serious criminal offence and offenders can be charged with wilfully misleading police or false statutory declarations that can incur potential penalties ranging from $1600 to two years imprisonment and up to a $24,000 fine.
This is a very interesting matter, because the way the infringement system works in most states requires owners of vehicles who have been booked to nominate either themselves as the drivers or declare the names of people who were actually the drivers at the time of the infringements by way of statutory declarations. There is an important principle at law here, the right of a person to refuse to incriminate himself. As the infringement form that is required to be returned is a statutory declaration, under common law, a vehicle owner does not have to incriminate himself, as traffic infringements are criminal offences.
The infringement system states that unless the vehicle owner truthfully nominates another driver, he is deemed to be the driver of the vehicle at the time of the infringement and is therefore liable to pay the fine. However, as this sort of offence is a criminal matter, it requires the prosecution to prove beyond a shadow of doubt to a court that the accused person was actually the driver of the vehicle at the time of the infringement.
What the infringement system is doing is akin to demanding that a person accused of a bank robbery either nominate another person who committed the robbery, or be deemed to be the actual robber - without the police actually proving this. But the person accused of the robbery is quite within his rights to refuse to either incriminate himself or to even talk to police and give them any assistance whatsoever. The right to silence is enshrined in our legal system and CARR has always stated that people should never talk to police, simply because anything people say can be used AGAINST them. Police are not known to produce evidence FOR a defendant.
So if a vehicle owner refuses to sign that statutory declaration because it may incriminate him and he refuses to nominate another driver, then under normal common law, the onus would be on police to prove beyond a shadow of doubt that the car owner was the driver at the time of the infringement and this would be most difficult to do in most circumstances, especially in offences made by speed or red light cameras.
A few years ago, CARR webmaster Ziggy was sent an infringement notice from South Australian police, because a car registered in his name was being used by his daughter when she was living in South Australia. The police demanded that Ziggy sign a statutory declaration either admitting to driving the car or nominating the driver. Ziggy immediately wrote back, telling the cops in no uncertain terms that he refused to sign the statutory declaration under any circumstances because he was not the driver, having not been in South Australia for at least 30 years at the time and that he could not truthfully nominate anybody else as the driver because he simply did not know who was driving the car at the time of the infringement.
The cops threatened Ziggy with court action and Ziggy just told them to try it, reminding them that he didn't have to incriminate himself by signing a statutory declaration, especially when he could not have been the driver, nor could he truthfully identify who was driving the car at the time of the infringement. Ziggy reminded the cops that the onus of proof was theirs and that Ziggy was innocent until he was proven guilty beyond a shadow of doubt by a court that had hard evidence of his guilt. The cops then gave up and sent Ziggy a letter stating that they were cancelling the infringement notice.
So that was a good example of how to deal with a system that tries to force somebody to incriminate themselves. Refusal to sign a statutory declaration, especially one that incriminates oneself, is not a crime - in fact anybody who does this is very foolish. A system that deems that a person is guilty of an offence without that person facing a court of law has to be fought on every front and nobody should ever accept an accusation of guilt for anything without being first convicted of an offence in a trial.
CARR does not have anything against the police. We need them to protect the community against crime and keep us safe. But CARR strongly objects to police being used as the government's tax collectors and enforcers, especially when governments enact laws that infringe upon the civil liberties and legal right under common law of citizens. The traffic infringement systems in all states are designed to remove our legal rights, especially the presumption of innocence and the right to refuse to incriminate ourselves and this has to be resisted in any way possible.
Thanks to John Vance for this item.
03 January 2014 - The Queensland Council for Civil Liberties (QCCL) stated that police will be pressured into breaking the law to keep their figures up on scorecards. As the Queensland Police Service aims to reduce state-wide crime by 10%, officers will be assessed according to their number of traffic fines, random breath tests (RBTs) and street checks.
Terry O'Gorman from QCCL said that it was a return to the so-called "kill sheet" quotas of the 1970s and 1980s. He stated that police will be under pressure to break the law. "Police under pressure to complete scorecards will cut corners, will bully and bluster people into letting police search their cars when the police have no right to," he said. "If police are going to be put on scorecards and you've got say 10 police in a squad and four are doing fewer RBTs, fewer street stops than the rest of them, then those four are going to be asked by their superior for a please explain. That is a return to the kill sheet."
O'Gorman claimed that complaints have already been received about the abuse of search powers since the new bikie laws came into effect late in 2013. But Queensland Police Commissioner Ian Stewart defended the scorecard system, saying it is not a repeat of the controversial 1970s and 1980s quota system. "I expect our people to do their job. Their job is to stop crime in the community, make the community safer and build relationships with our community on a constant and continuous basis." There needs to be ways we can measure how that's occuring." he said.
O'Gorman stated that he believes that no other Australian state currently adopts scorecards or quotas on police activity, as they are deemed too controversial. "What better example do we need than the stories we are seeing at the moment about people fined for driving one kilometre per hour over the speed limit, or for leaving a car window down in the hot weather?" he said.
Terry O'Gorman has hit the nail on the head. No matter what protestations emanate from the mouths of Queensland Police Commissioner Stewart and other government apologists, the fact is that Queensland has become a police state, with cops looking for every excuse to book motorists, even on the most flimsy and unjustifiable pretexts. The bikie laws are one thing, although they fly in the face of Australia's obligation as a signatory to honour the UN Charter of Human Rights that guarantee freedom of association. But this blatant attack on motorists to rip them off is something else.
For instance, the case of Julian Harris being fined for leaving his car windows slightly open in order to try and cool his car in 34ºC heat is so preposterously unfair, that it would be surprising to find any magistrate that would uphold this idiotic infringement. How a government can pass such a stupid and discriminatory law is mondboggling, especially when convertibles can be legally parked with the interiors completely open is truly amazing. It just proves that the law is a gigantic ass. But that cop who booked Harris was just doing what his bosses and political masters dictated, trying to find any pretext to issue infringements to raise revenue.
It is high time that motorists in all states organised themselves into political groups and stood against these rapacious bastards who inflicted these ripoffs against them. There are around 13 million passenger cars in Australia, so one can assume that there are at least 13 million licensed drivers. Imagine even if 20% - 260,000 voted for a Motorists Party that fielded candidates to stand against incumbent politicians. That Motorists Party would annihilate both the Labor and Liberal Party in every seat.
Short of mobs marching on state parliament houses with burning torches and pitchforks, scaring the living crap out of political parties in power is the only legal way to achieve some justice for the benighted motorists who are being treated as bottomless wells of revenue for goverments of every persuasion. Both Liberal and Labor governments have shown their true colours in their broken promises to remove those speed cameras that they all claimed were revenue-raisers when they were in opposition, but retained and increased their numbers when they assumed power.
The worst thing is that all the established motoring organisations such as NRMA, RACV, RACQ and others seem to be in the pockets of governments, because they do absolutely nothing to fight those injustices and ripoffs. We need to have an independent voice for the protection of motorists by fighting those governments who attack us in the way that the Queensland government is doing right now.
Thanks to Avi Olshina for this item.
03 January 2014 - Julian Harris was visiting family in Brisbane when he decided to leave two windows down three to four centimetres to let some of the hot air escape from the parked car on the 34ºC day. It was a decision that left Harris with a $44 fine and a rap across the knuckles from police.
Harris stated, "It was 34 degrees so I left the windows down slightly, so it wouldn't be boiling hot for my 3-year-old son when we got back in. I was trying to do the right thing - it's just what you do with it being so hot in Queensland."
Harris returned to the car, which was parked on Windsor Place at Deception Bay, about two hours later to discover the fine for an offence he had never heard of. Under Queensland law, if a driver is more than 3 metres from their car, the vehicle must be secured with the engine off, hand brake applied, ignition key removed, if no one over 16 remains in the vehicle and windows up with a gap no more than 5 centimetres.
Perplexed by his fine, Harris went to the police station and spoke to the officer who issued the ticket. "I asked him if he had any measurements and he said no - he just told me he had an accurate eye. The officer said he had the window on video but told me that he didn't have time to show me," stated Harris. He said that the policeman suggested in future he leave where he is half an hour early to unlock the car and let it cool in the future.
Harris said that a friend of a friend was booked for the same offence within hours in Nundah, in Brisbane's inner north. "It would have been better to leave a first and final warning," he said. Police refused to say whether there was a current blitz on the peculiar offence. "Vehicle security remains part of ongoing Community Safety and Crime Prevention strategies designed to help reduce property crime," a spokeswoman said.
The so-called offence of leaving a car "unsecured" should never have been put on the statutes in the first place. It is simply nobody's business to dictate whether somebody leaves their property secured or unsecured. It is not an offence to leave one's house, caravan, trailer or anything else unlocked, so why the hell should it be an offence to leave a motor vehicle unlocked or even just with the window open?
Motorist Brian Last observed that this law was beyond idiocy. He said, "So what's the rule if one own a roadster, convertible or Tee roof? Or if one has a sunroof? Worth going to court over that one." And Brian is quite correct. It is not illegal to park a convertible with the top down, leaving its interior "unsecured", as the cops put it on Harris's infringement. In other words, the law is an ass. Harris ought to drag the cops and the government to court, demanding that they testify as to how many roofless convertibles they have booked for leaving them "unsecured" and why he was booked for merely leaving his car windows open a few centimetres.
If a person chooses to leave his car unlocked or have his windows open, this should not be the business of police and it should not be an offence. Of course if the car is stolen, then the owner who left it unsecured would risk having his insurance company refuse to pay out, but that would be his problem and his loss. In any event, most cars can be quickly opened by experienced car thieves using nothing more than a "Slim Jim" piece of metal.
However, this case merely demonstrates how state governments and their police tax collectors are scrabbling for revenue by fining motorists for every conceivable offence, even really stupid ones that should never be on the books in the first place. Motorists really need to go through the various offences and force state governments to repeal such ridiculous offences such as leaving a vehicle unsecured, because it really is entirely up to the owners whether they choose to leave their houses, trailers, caravans and cars locked or unlocked.
02 January 2014 - Melbourne's Stonnington Council, which managed to rake in more than $25,000 in parking fines at the expense of bargain-hungry shoppers. Council parking officers issued 282 fines in streets surrounding Chadstone Shopping Centre on Boxing Day, as shoppers parked anywhere they could on the biggest sales day of the year.
Doors to the shopping centre opened at 7:00am and council officers were on the beat soon after. Most offenders overstayed their limit or parked illegally in the streets around the centre. Stonnington Council acting chief executive Geoff Cockram said that there were six parking inspectors on duty during the day and two at night, the normal for a public holiday roster. The average number of fines issued near Chadstone was three per day, but the council collected $25,161 on Boxing Day alone.
Detective Senior Sergeant Mick Martin said that Stonnington police took part in Operation Opportunity from 22 to 26 December 2013 to coincide with the sales period. Martin said there were no arrests during the operation. The only problem on Boxing Day was motorists not obeying road signs that told drivers to enter the shopping centre via Dandenong Road instead of Warrigal Road.
How appropriate that the police ran a blitz called Operation Opportunity over the Christmas break. It was a golden opportunity all right - to entrap and fine motorists on every conceivable pretext to raise revenue for their political master, the Victorian government. Detective Senior Sergeant Mick Martin stated that there were no arrests made, but apparently plenty of infringements were handed out to motorists. And while these cops were lurking around and fining people for minor traffic offences that did not injure or kill anybody, serious crimes were being committed around Melbourne with impunity.
Of course Stonnington Council grasped the opportunity to fine motorists for having the temerity to overstay parking limits or for parking in places not permitted, so that they could try and grab bargains at Chadstone Shopping Centre. Not much Christmas goodwill from this council when it came to raising revenue for its coffers. However, there is a huge question mark over the alleged power of councils to levy fines, as they are not recognised as arms of government in the Australian Constitution and only arms of government can do this.
on 08 July 2010, former Attorney-General Robert McClelland responded to a query from a Queensland man regarding the status of local councils. He stated, "The Constitution does not currently recognise local government." Recognition of local government has to be passed by referendum and so far, every referendum regarding this has failed. Therefore, the only way that local governments are able to levy fines is by receiving the power to do so by state governments and this was done by the passing of various Local Government Acts.
The problem is that these Acts have never received Royal Assent as required under the Constitution, therefore motorists who are fined for any alleged offence by councils should look at challenging their power to levy fines on Constitutional grounds. There is much material on the Internet regarding this issue and the letter from McClelland is available on the CARR wsebsite on the Downloads page.
Thanks to Steve Howton for this item.