December 2013 - Young drivers should be banned from using hands-free mobile phones because they are too easily distracted by conversations they have in their cars, leading academics have warned. Talking on hands-free phones increases the risk of crashing because the drivers' minds wander, their reaction times increase and driving skills drop. The NSW state government is now so concerned about the dangers of hands-free mobile phone use in cars that it is considering options to address the distraction risks for young drivers.
Australian National University associate professor of psychology Kristen Pammer, an expert in attention issues, wants a complete ban on using mobiles in cars. Leading road safety expert Ian Faulks, a honorary associate in psychology at Macquarie University and Julia Irwin, senior lecturer in psychology at Macquarie, who have reviewed Australian and international research, said the risk of crashing while using hands-free is equal to talking on a hand-held phone.
Each academic suggested young drivers "put the phone in the boot and forget about it" before they get in the car. There is already a ban on first year drivers - P1 licence holders - using any mobile phone in the car. And Transport for NSW has confirmed it is looking at the evidence and considering options to address the distraction risks for P2 licence holders, as well as young drivers and riders more generally.
Australian research found a person using a hand-held or hands-free mobile phone while driving is four times more likely to have a serious crash resulting in injury. A study by the University of Utah, released in June 2013, found that talking on a mobile behind the wheel causes inattentional blindness.
Dr Irwin said that using a mobile phone diverts attention from driving to the conversation the driver is having. "When emotions are aroused by a conversation, it just grabs our attention and distracts us from the attention that should be on the road," she said. "A tunnelling effect occurs where the driver just concentrates on what's on the road ahead and not what is happening on the periphery where a motorcyclist, cyclist or pedestrian might be."
Research shows that while talking on the phone, drivers check their speedometers and rearview mirrors less frequently and can drift into other lanes or road shoulders, she said. Dr Irwin said that even 10 minutes after the conversation, there was a greater risk of having a crash because the person was still thinking about the contents of the conversation.
Dr Pammer said that all mobile phones should be removed from cars because most drivers use them inappropriately. Her research shows that the attention of about 87% of people drops dramatically when they are responding to a conversation with a person not present in the room.
Here we go again with another bunch of academics trying to impose more restrictions on drivers. Their whole premise is completely illogical, simply because there is absolutely no difference between a driver chatting to the microphone on his hands-free phone kit or chatting to a passenger next to him or in the back seat. In either case, the driver can have both hands on the wheel, eyes on the road and the speedometer and be in perfect safety.
If those academics had advocated banning all conversations in cars, even those just between passengers and not the driver, on the grounds of safety and minimising distraction, one could understand their position. But when drivers talking to passengers, eating fruit or candy or doing many other things while driving are all legal, then their claims that talking on hands-free mobile phones is simply beyond any sort of sense.
What about those young drivers who have installed massive "doof-doof" subwoofer-based sound systems in their cars and drive along singing and rapping to the music tracks? Is that not more distracting than having a quiet chat on a hands-free phone whiile driving? What about dogs in the back seat cavorting around? There's no law against that. Then there is the research trotted out by these academics. What about the extensive research done in the USA and Britain by two universities which proved that there is no correlation between the use of hand-held mobile phones and accidents.
The NSW government also appears to be listening to these academics, obviously in order to increase its opportunity to raise revenue by fining young motorists for talking on their hands-free phones. Yet this government does virtually nothing about banning something that kills more than 5000 people in NSW alone - smoking. Of course it's about revenue and nothing else. Academics don't seem to live in the real world and if they had to get real jobs and do what real people do, they might have a different view on some of the nonsense they spout.
December 2013 - Because of weak revenue growth, the government will slug Crown Resorts for $184 million in additional tax and also massively increase the area where the congestion levy on off-street non-commercial carparking applies. The congestion charge zone will stretch from its current focus on the CBD to include large areas of in the inner-north, including Fitzroy, Parkville and Carlton, as well as much of the inner-south, including St Kilda and Port Melbourne.
CARR doesn't really care about the extra tax on poker machines because anybody who plays these devices and hopes to win more than they put in is a fool. Poker machines in Victoria will pay out 85% to punters, which means that in the long run, punters will always lose. But playing the pokies is a voluntary act and nobody puts a gun to somebody's head and forces them to squander their money playing the pokies. If people who choose to play them lose all their money, then they only have themselves to blame.
But the congestion levy on off-street parking spots in Victoria is an utter disgrace. To charge people who already pay rates on their properties for having the temerity to provide garages, carports or even a place on their lawns to park cars off the streets is beyond being a sick joke. This disgusting tax has absolutely nothing to do with congestion, because most people who own houses or apartments also own cars and have to park them somewhere.
Parking cars on streets is one thing, but to tax people for parking on their own properties is beyond belief and shows that that Victorian government will stoop to any depths to gouge money from motorists to prop up its dwindling revenue stream. If the government stopped squandering taxpayer and ratepayer funds on garbage and used this money responsibly, there would be no need to rip off motorists. But of course motorists are such an easy target to rip off and in most cases, they are passive victims who do not take action to stop this rape of their wallets.
The motorists of Victoria ought to send a very strong message to the Victorian government that they are fed up with being victims and targets of government ripoffs. Motorists need to let the government know that unless they stop gouging them with speed and red light cameras and this very unjust congestion levy, they will be voted out of office in a landslide. But CARR really wonders if the Victorians have the backbone to confront their government and stop this rapaciousness.
December 2013 - South Australian police are seeking public help to catch those responsible for a spree of vandal attacks on numerous speed cameras across Adelaide. The cameras are being vandalised by high velocity missiles fired at their glass lenses. The are concerned that the projectiles could hit other car windscreens and injure people or cause crashes.
Cameras in the western suburbs of Adelaide were targeted after attacks were made in the past few weeks on cameras in the eastern and southern suburbs. Police refused to release details of the number of cameras damaged or their location but said that they were being repaired and made operational as soon as possible. It is known that the new freeway cameras in the Adelaide Hills have also been attacked twice.
The hi-tech cameras, located near the Crafers and Mount Osmond interchanges are expected to generate more than $1.6 million in fines by the end of the 2013-2014 financial year. Police are examining CCTV footage in a bid to catch the vandals and have appealed for anyone with information to contact Crimestoppers on 1300 333 000.
The people who are attacking these cameras are not vandals. They are exercising civil disobedience by legitimately protesting against a rapacious government that inflicts the terrible rip-off that these devices are installed for, in order to gouge revenue from motorists. Nobody has ever shown that a speed camera has ever prevented an accident or saved a life and all the mealy-mouthed crap coming out of the mouths of politicians and police about these cameras contributing to safety are just outright lies to justify them inflicting these highway robbers onto motorists who already pay more than than they should in taxes and excise.
In every report about speed cameras, the one noticeable thing that is always stated is the amount of revenue the cameras are expected to raise. Nothing much about any safety aspect, just the money. And it is more than obvious that the revenue from cameras is now a major component of state government budgets and thus these cameras should be considered to be taxation machines and not there for safety. Therefore their reason for being used is false.
So if these devices are not there for safety, as has been proven time and time again all over the world, then state governments have deliberately lied to the people, using bogus pretexts to operate these machines, knowing that they are merely to raise revenue. Therefore these lies make the cameras legitimate targets for aggrieved motorists who understand what is going on and are taking positive action against them. All CARR can say to these people who are exercising resistance against this obscene and unjustified gouging is - more power to you, folks. Keep up the good work.
December 2013 - Brisbane City Council has come to the defence of a parking inspector after it was revealed that he issued two controversial tickets for residents blocking their own driveways on the southside. Brad Perry of Algester was fined $110 in November after the tip of his bumper was found to be partially blocking his Dalmeny Street driveway. The fine was withdrawn soon after receiving media attention.
But after seeing Perry's story, Shirley Chow of Parkinson came forward to say she was in the middle of fighting council against a $110 fine for parking in her own driveway, issued in June 2013. Both infringement notices had the same officer identification number. Perry said that the rapid response unit officer who fined him was rude and on a power trip.
A council spokesperson said that the officer had a demonstrated track record of responding to matters with a high level of customer focus and acted appropriately in both instances. "Officers are allocated complaints which are located in a similar geographical area," the spokesperson said. "The number of parking tickets issued per week fluctuates from officer to officer due to the varying circumstances of each matter.
"This financial year (01 July 2012 to 31October 2013), council has issued an average of 198 fines per month and an average of 40 warnings per month for stopping on or across a driveway. "Almost half of these fines and warnings were in direct response to complaints from residents."
Brisbane City Council was really clutching at straws when it tried to defend this rapacious parking inspector for fining people for parking across their own driveways. The council spokesman claimed that parking inspectors are allocated complaints, but Brad Perry and Shirley Chow didn't complain to Council about them parking across their own driveways. In fact nobody complained about this, yet this little Hitler parking ranger booked them anyway, when they were not impeding anybody or anything.
This is typical of many parking rangers, who rampage around their allotted areas looking for any excuse to book somebody to increase their quotas - and there is no doubt that they do work to quotas, as this was exposed by Sydney's Mosman Council personnel. Councils these days are so money-hungry that they consider revenue from parking fines to be major components of their annual budgets, not penalties that are imposed to deter parking transgressions.
The truth is that like the police who hope that motorists speed so that they can fine them, councils hope that motorists violate parking limits and they spend inordinate amounts of money employing more parking rangers and installing more parking meters. It is an utter disgrace that motorists are targeted in such a ridiculous way, where councils scrabble for any excuse to book people, even when they park across their own driveways and nobody has complained about it.
Many parking rangers have been assaulted by irate motorists who were victimised by them and all CARR can say is that these rangers probably deserved it. CARR does not support acts of violence, but completely sympathises with motorists who are constantly targeted by speed and red light cameras that don't prevent accidents and thus become outraged. Then these bastards calling themselves parking rangers are pushed by their councils to go out of their way to persecute them further and the motorists finally snap and lash out.
December 2013 - Victorian drivers are the most heavily fined on the east coast of Australia. Motorists south of the Murray pay almost twice as much as their NSW counterparts in speed, red light and mobile phone fines. They paid a total of $372 million in traffic fines in 2012, $107 million more than NSW drivers and $184 million more than Queenslanders. Victorians coughed up an average $106 in traffic fines compared to just $59 in NSW and $67 in the sunshine state. They paid $352 million for parking and another $56 million in parking fines.
The fact that Victorians are so heavily targeted for traffic fines merely proves that the Victorian government is now relying on this revenue as a major taxation component of its annual budget, rather than imposing these fines as a deterrent. It is obvious that the Victorian government really does want motorists to speed and commit other offences, because if they stopped doing so and avoided being ripped off in such a manner, the government could be in deep trouble financially.
What truly amazes CARR is that motorists can avoid being booked for traffic offences so easily, merely by deploying cheap and simple technology. GPS with speed and red light camera and school zone warnings will take care of being booked for these offences. Motorists using Bluetooth hands-free car kits will avoid getting booked for holding mobile phones while driving. Flashing lights at oncoming motorists will prevent them from falling into the clutches of police speed traps. Car black box recorders will provide hard evidence of any wrongful bookings for court.
It's all too easy to beat the government gouging of motorists by taking a few simple precautions and using cheap technology. But why so many motorists continue to be booked by cameras is truly astounding, when even a $15 GPS application for iPhone such as MetroView will save motorists from being booked by cameras and in school zones. As for holding mobile phones up to one's ear while driving, this is the easiest offence for police to spot, so CARR has absolutely no sympathy for fools who continue to do this and get booked. A Bluetooth car kit is very cheap.
Thanks to Steve Howton for this item.
December 2013 - In Adelaide, two new South Eastern Freeway speed cameras that were put out of action by vandals just days after they were switched on have been repaired. The hi-tech cameras, costing a total of $620,000, near the Crafers and Mt Osmond interchange have been back in action catching speeding motorists. The glass fronting on both cameras was smashed.
The cameras are expected to generate $8 million in their first three years of operation. Police are examining CCTV footage in a bid to catch those responsible. Superintendent Bob Fauser said that it was disgraceful that someone would vandalise equipment that is designed to save lives.
"The new cameras were introduced to reduce speed and the chance of serious road crashes and this particular stretch of road is a high risk location," he said. "I say to those responsible, or anyone thinking of taking similar action, there are plenty of cameras on the SE Freeway to witness your actions. For a moment of stupidity, you're risking up to 10 years in prison."
This is the second time speed cameras have been targeted in a fortnight after a mobile camera was stolen from Main North Road while its operator was sitting in a car nearby. Anyone with information is asked to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or online at www.sa.crimestoppers.com.au.
Firstly, CARR congratulates the people who smashed those speed cameras. They are not vandals in the slightest, but they are people who are rebelling against this blatant revenue-raising. Note that in every news report about speed and red light cameras, one of the first things stated is the amount of revenue that they will generate. Not safety, not accident prevention, just revenue. As for vandals, they are people who destroy for no purpose. The people who wrecked those speed cameras certainly had a purpose and a good one at that.
The statements of Superintendent Bob Fauser are so ludicrous that he should be ashamed of himself for spouting such garbage. He said that the new cameras were introduced to reduce speed. That's an outright lie. Those cameras are there to raise revenue, because every politician and policeman that CARR has asked has never been able to show that one single speed camera in the world has ever prevented an accident or fatality. They are just cameras. They cannot prevent anything. A fine arriving at the house of a person who sped by a camera one month previously and killed himself and others did not achieve the desired outcome.
As for Fouser's threat that anybody who is thinking of attacking these cameras will be caught, well they will be seen as heroes, not vandals. When people are oppressed by governments and their judiciary and law enforcement arms to pillage their hard-earned money by operating these automated road robbers, then the people have every right to rise up and fight against the government in any way possible. Wrecking those cameras is a good start.
CARR does not normally condone breaking the law, however in this case, attacking those cameras is recognised as the only way that the citizenry can oppose the sort of blatant gouging and oppression that governments have now inflicted upon them. So CARR can only say that no tears would be shed if every one of those cameras were destroyed by the people. As for the call for people with information to call Crime Stoppers, one can only hope that people ring this facility and tell the police how much they enjoyed reading about the wrecked cameras/
December 2013 - A new speed camera in Adelaide's northeast is making the South Australian state government a record $427,000 a month in fines and is expected to raise more than $5 million this year. The camera is making a significant contribution to the 44% increase in motorists booked by fixed traffic cameras in 2013.
The Montague Road camera at Ingle Farm is among 30 extra speed cameras introduced by the state government since 2012 to combat motorists' "unacceptably high'' rate of speeding. The camera is making three times as much revenue as the second top site for traffic offences and it is also earning much more than last year's top site - Glover Terrace opposite Adelaide High School - which averaged $140,000 a month in speeding fines.
Road Safety Minister Michael O'Brien said that "it is deeply concerning that so many motorists have been recorded speeding at this particular location. Research shows that the use of safety cameras can have an impact on driver behaviour, which is why we have increased the number of cameras on the road to act as a deterrent.''
The speed camera is located in bushes on the verge between Montague Road and a residential slip road and there is a "Camera Ahead'' warning sign. It was placed there after studies revealed 100 casualty crashes on this section of the road between 2007 and 2011. The RAA said it was "surprised'' at the amount of fines issued by the Montague Road camera. The cameras location in a 60km/h speed limit zone - 10km lower than the preceding limit on this road - may be a key factor, according to the RAA. "Any camera producing that level of fines means motorists are unclear what the prevailing speed limit should be,'' RAA road safety manager Charles Mountain said.
The main thing to see about this report is that this new money-making camera is located in bushes in a 60km/h speed zone, just after a 70km/h zone. This is typical of what governments do to place these cameras where there is a change of speed limit that may not be clearly noticeable to motorists, thus being part of the whole disgusting entrapment procedure.
There have been 100 casualty crashes on the section of road where this new camera is located, but what will the government do if the accident rate does not change or even increases? Will the government admit that the camera is not preventing accidents and remove it? Of course not. The truth is that Australian state governments now rely heavily on fleecing motorists for revenue and do everything in their power to entrap them, either with cameras or by using police as their tax collectors.
As usual, CARR has the perfect remedy for avoiding being booked by such cameras, which is a GPS receiver with speed camera warnings. It is all too simple for motorists to have a GPS running whenever they drive and the device will warn them of a speed camera before they get to it, giving them plenty of time to slow down to the speed limit. It is truly staggering to see motorists still being ripped off by speed cameras when there is such a cheap and effective preventative measure available.
November 2013 - Notice has gone out to South Australian trucking operators to keep their numberplates clean, ahead of a planned police focus on dirty and illegible plates. The South Australian Road Transport Association (SARTA) says that police have contacted it to urge drivers to keep their plates shiny. SARTA says officers will be targeting trucks over the coming months.
“SARTA has received a notice this week informing all truck operators and drivers to ensure that they have a clean number plate,” SARTA says.“Trucks are getting pinged entering Adelaide for having dusty and illegible number plates, which can attract up to a $400 fine.”
It is hard to fathom the depths to which government will stoop to rip money from motorists. So a person can be driving his truck in terrible weather and a splash from a puddle obscures his number plate. Then a cop can pull that person over and book him for having an obscured number plate, even though there is no way that the driver could have been aware that this had happened.
This is a completely insane money grab by the South Australian government and anybody who is booked for this offence should immediately fight it in court. This ridiculous offence is as bad as being booked for having a non-functioning tail or brake light. There are very few cars that will display a dashboard warning that a tail light globe has blown, but it is an offence to drive with a non-functioning tail or brake light. But how can a motorist know that a tail or brake light has blown while he is driving?
Motorists need to start taking these stupid and unjustifiable matters to court and beat them, then proceed to sue the government every time. One day the message may get through that motorists are not there just to be cash cows for governments that cannot raise revenue in normal and fair ways.
Thanks to Alex Brown for this item.
November 2013 - Police will flick the switch on the biggest revenue-raising speed cameras in the state on 02 December 2013. The two fixed cameras, the first in the state capable of operating in a variable speed environment, are located on the South Eastern Freeway and are expected to generate almost $3 million a year in fines. One camera is adjacent to the Crafers on-ramp at Crafers West and the second is at the Mount Osmond Overpass at Leawood Gardens.
Police have budgeted for more than $8 million in revenue to be raised by the two cameras in their first three full years of operation. They forecast more than $1.6 million will be raised before the end of the 2013-2014 financial year.
Road Safety Minister Michael O'Brien said the cameras would be able to respond to any changes in the variable speed limits on the South Eastern Freeway, capturing vehicles that exceed the posted speed limit in any lane at any given time. "This technology can also identify specific vehicle types and their relevant speed," he said.
"For example, on the freeway all trucks are required to select the appropriate gear to safely descend and all trucks with five or more axles must travel with a maximum speed of 60km/h, unless a lower limit of 40 or 25 applies in specific circumstances. These new safety cameras will distinguish a heavy vehicle from a normal car and catch any trucks with five or more axles travelling faster than 60km/h and putting other road users at risk," the minister said.
The two new freeway cameras, costing a total of $620,000, were originally installed in August 2011 to catch heavy vehicles breaking the 60km/h limit between Crafers and the city. The reduced speed limit was introduced after two fatalities involving heavy vehicles in 2010. In the past two years, the cameras have been reconfigured to detect semi-trailers exceeding 60km/h, vehicles exceeding 100km/h, and vehicles exceeding reduced speed limits for road work or weather conditions.
The first thing one can see from this news report is the gloating by police about them budgeting $8 million dollars over the next three years from these revenue-raising cameras. It is a disgrace that the police and the government consider these devices to be tax collection machines, rather than something that will actually stop accidents and deaths from occurring. After all, nobody has ever managed to show that a roadside camera has ever prevented accidents and fatalities.
The other interesting aspect is the pretext that the government has used to reduce the speed limit to 60km/h between Crafers and Adelaide. Why? Certainly not because it is safer, but the real reason is to annoy and frustrate motorists into exceeding the speed limit so that they can be entrapped by these revenue-raising cameras. The government stated that the speed limit was reduced because of two accidents. But serious accidents happen even at low speeds. Logically, this means that if the government wants to eliminate dangerous accidents, then the speed limit should be reduced to zero km/h.
As usual, CARR advises all motorists that they can easily beat these revenue-raisers, simply by using GPS receivers with speed camera warnings. They are cheap these days - a lot cheaper than the fine for getting pinged. Even cheaper are smartphone GPS applications such as MetroView for iPhone, a measly $15 that warns drivers of speed and red light cameras, plus school zones when they are active. There is absolutely no excuse for motorists to get entrapped by cameras.
Thanks to Santo Calabrese for this item.
November 2013 - Peter Richards left his phone at home so it wouldn't distract him while driving, but police booked him for using it at the wheel, forcing him to fight for a year to beat the false charge. In that time, he wrote to police and politicians and appeared in court four times, but the system denied him justice until he was at last acquitted, after police admitted they found no phone in his vehicle.
Richards said that he was bitter about the experience. "No-one wanted to listen to me. I made all sorts of approaches to people and they just virtually said 'go away', like you're on your own," he stated. Richards, of Seacombe Gardens in Adelaide, said that he made complaints to politicians and the police but no-one was interested. "They just passed it off," he said.
In court, the police officer who stopped Richards said that she was 100% certain that she had seen him driving while holding a black mobile phone to his ear. Senior Constable Diana Rautley pulled Richards over in Warradale in November 2012 after spotting him at an intersection, allegedly holding a phone. But Rautley told the court that she did not see a mobile phone in the car when she issued the traffic infringement notice.
Rautley said that Richards denied having a mobile phone on him and said he had asked her if she would like to search his car or go to his house and see that the phone was there. "I didn't believe it was necessary. I was 100% certain I had seen him on his mobile phone," Rautley said.
Richards told the court that he had left his phone on the kitchen table and did not usually drive with it, as it could be a distraction. "When I got home, I was absolutely shaking with rage," he said. "Obviously, I was extremely upset." He said that after receiving the fine, he completed a statutory declaration and wrote to two politicians. "If I had done it, it was a $300 fine, I would wear it on the chin," Richards said.
Magistrate Andrew Cannon said that both Richards and Rautley were adamant in their versions. Cannon said that there was the possibility that Richards had his hand on his ear and he was left with reasonable doubt. After being acquitted, Richards said felt he had been treated like rubbish, but said others in his position should challenge their fines. "You really have to stand up for your rights, and that's what I did and I would certainly encourage anybody to do it," he advised.
This is a mirror of the incident that occurred in Sydney when Marina Alexiou was booked for holding a mobile phone to her ear, but in fact she was holding a pack of Tic-Tac candy. Nevertheless, she was booked and had to drag the matter through court before she was acquitted. Peter Richards did not even have candy up to his ear and he was wrongly booked by this over-zealous policewoman for driving and using a mobile phone that he did not even have at the time.
This is the problem with our legal system, that wrongful bookings are extremely hard to beat. Anybody who sits in a courtroom watching various traffic cases being heard will see that in virtually every case, the testimony of police is taken over that of the defendants. The police know this, so they book motorists on bogus offences, knowing that either the motorists will just pay up because it is easier to do this, or if they elect to fight the bookings, they will mostly lose. The problem is that nothing happens to the cops who carry out these injustices.
CARR again advises motorists to fit car black boxes to their vehicles to prove what they were doing when they were driving. In the case of Peter Richards, if he had a car black box recorder, even if the camera did not record events inside his car, it would have recorded audio. He could have played the data file to the court, showing that the audio track did not have him talking as if he was on the phone at the time, completely destroying the police version of events.
Now is the time when Peter Richards should engage a very good lawyer and sue the police and especially Senior Constable Rautley for wrongful booking and harassment, among other claims. Why should Richards be put through the grinder on this wrongful booking accusation and the cop just gets on with her life? Every motorist who is wrongfully booked should take strong legal action against the police or the government.
Maybe a good campaign would be where motorists who have got car black box recorders that record the interior of their cars could hold something other than a mobile phone to their ears while driving, which is quite legal. If they get pulled over and booked, they then have the means to beat the infringements and then sue the police and the government, who really need to be taught a big lesson about wrongful bookings.
Thanks to Steve Howton for this item.
November 2013 - Tens of thousands more Victorians each year stand to lose their drivers' licences under a new law police are vowing to exercise in court. Sweeping legal changes which came into effect on 30 September 2013 allow courts to suspend or cancel the licence of any person convicted or found guilty of any offence - regardless of whether that offence has anything to do with driving.
Victoria Police has revealed that it will seek to use the new powers in up to 50,000 court cases each year. It has already briefed its prosecutors on the law. "If you're convicted or found guilty of any offence, a court may suspend or cancel and disqualify your licence," said Acting Senior Sergeant Richard Bowers, of the Victoria Police Prosecution Division.
"The legislation does not govern or put a limiting factor on which cases it applies to. It's any offence, and it's completely open to the magistrate as to whether or not they impose it. Unless a superior court gets hold of one of these cases and says 'Well, this is an inappropriate exercise of discretion,' it will remain open for use for a magistrate to use in any way they see fit," stated Bowers.
But the move has angered civil libertarians. "We are very disturbed at the lack of consultation, given this is such a sweeping and draconian measure," Jane Dixon, SC, the president of Liberty Victoria stated. "To deprive someone of their driving licence can often also deprive them of their livelihood. We believe, for well-being, there should be a strong foundation between driving and the offending."
First-time offenders, and those guilty of even the most minor offences, will not be exempt from the new law. There are no set suspension or disqualification limits, giving magistrates free rein to cancel a licence for as long as they see fit. Senior Sergeant Bowers also highlighted drug trafficking and family violence cases as likely ones for the exercise of the law. "You have to look at each case on its merits and determine where is the best use of this legislation. We have left prosecutors with a fair bit of discretion," he said.
Along with the 50% increase in fines for motorists who are caught using a hand-held mobile phone while driving, it seems that Victoria is hell-bent on becoming a repressive police state. One has to wonder whether a High Court challenge to this legislation is worth pursuing for somebody who has the means to do it. After all, why should somebody lose their licence if they are convicted of shoplifting or smoking in a non-smoking zone? There’s also the aspect of inequality and unfairness, as some people do not have licences, thus would not be penalised as much as somebody who does have a licence to lose.
When Labor got the boot in Victoria and Baillieu and his Liberals won government, that there would be some fairness and common-sense in government, especially after Baillieu promised for a decade to remove those revenue-raising speed cameras, as he kept describing them. But of course he did the opposite - he deployed more cameras on the basis of a rubbishy assessment from some government lackey.
Now the Victorian government is going to bump up the fines for using hand-held mobile phones by 50% - a nice little revenue earner, since this “offence” is one of the most easily spotted by cops. It is hard to believe that there are still morons out there getting caught for doing this, when Bluetooth hands-free units are available in some places for $20. Even Woolworths sell cheap units, so it’s not like people have to go out of their way to get them. And hard research from the USA and Britain has proven that there is no correlation between the use of hand-held mobile phones and accidents.
But people are idiots, especially in Australia. If the French government tried to introduce laws such as this Victorian licence law, the people would be marching onto the parliament with burning torches and taking to the barricades. But apathetic Australians just cop whatever governments dish out and worst of all, they won’t even take the cheapest of active measures, such as using $20 Bluetooth hands-free units in their cars.
CARR suggests that any person who is convicted of an offence unrelated to driving who loses their licence as a punishment should fight the matter as far as possible. After all, in normal western jurisprudence, the punishment should fit the crime and if the crime does not involve driving, then a person's driver's licence has nothing to do with the matter and should not be removed.
However, the people of Victoria should organise themselves and let their government know that unless these repressive laws are not rescinded, that the government risks losing the next election. What this nation needs is a Motorists Party that could gather the support and votes of the majority of motorists, which would make it a bigger force than the major political parties and then maybe the motorists of Australia would start to be treated as humans, rather than targets for revenue-raising.
Victorians caught using their mobile phones while driving face tougher penalties from 25 November 2013. Fines for distracted drivers have jumped from $289 to $433 and motorists will also lose four demerit points.
The new laws also include a clampdown on young drivers, the ban on learner and first year licence holders using handheld or hands free mobile phones now extending to include motorists in the second, third and fourth years of their probationary licence. There will also be tougher penalties across the board for using visual display units including MP3 players, tablets, DVDs and laptops, which will attract the same penalties as using a mobile phone.
The tougher penalties coincide with the launch of a new Victorian State Government campaign emphasising the 209 deaths on Victorian roads so far this year. Victoria Police Assistant Commissioner Robert Hill said that the road toll will drop if people get off their mobile phones. "We know distraction is a major cause or factor when it comes to road trauma in the state of Victoria. If people get off their mobile phones, concentrate on driving their motor cars, and doing it safely, we know it will save lives," he said.
What is interesting to note is that the Victorian Police will not give any statistics about how many people were killed on Victorian roads in accidents because they were using their hand-held mobile phones at the time. However, what is more interesting is that in August 2013, a team at the US Carnegie Mellon University and the London School of Economics analysed more than eight million incidents of car crashes and all fatalities on roads in eight US states. They examined data before and after 9pm local time over a three-year period. However they say their results do not include texting or internet browsing.
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."
What this really proves is that making the use of hand-held mobile phones illegal is an excellent revenue-raiser, because this offence is so easily spotted by police. People talking on hand-held mobile phones while driving can be seen from a long way and police find it very easy to pull them over and hit them with rather large fines. But those fines in Victoria are going up by a whopping 50%, presumably because the government needs more money, despite the fact that research has shown no correlation between accidents and hand-held mobile phone use.
CARR advises motorists not to become victims of government ripoffs. Bluetooth hands-free kits are very cheap, even the best ones on the market that have voice-controlled operation. Of course the best method is to have a car with integrated Bluetooth, so the car connects to your phone as soon as you turn the ignition key. Integrated Bluetooth should be standard equipment on all new cars these days, but if you are going to get a new car, insist on the Bluetooth option if it is not on the standard equipment list.
November 2013 - Sydney Trains is developing an application to allow its transit officers to issue fines to Opal card users via a mobile device. In conjunction with Transport for NSW, Sydney Trains is building an electronic penalty infringement notice (EPIN) application for Android and iOS mobile devices to enhance revenue protection capabilities, specifically for the state’s new Opal cards.
The Opal contactless smartcard is the face of NSW’s new electronic ticketing system, which was launched as a trial in December 2012 and is expected to be rolled out across ferries, bus and rail by 2015 across a number of regions. The Opal card, based on Mifare DESFire EV1 technology, allows users to tap on and tap off at transport locations with Opal card readers via NFC technology, which sends data back to NSW Transport’s back office systems.
Currently transport officers use NFC readers to check whether travellers are evading fares using their Opal cards, but the readers lack functionality and officers continue to issue paper fines. To accompany the new EPIN app, Sydney Trains is looking for the help of a third party provider to develop a separate 'Opal revenue protection' mobile application which will enable officers to read unencrypted and encrypted data from Opal cards via a mobile interface.
The mobile application will also pull customer profile data from the Opal back office. This application will only be used by authorised transport officers, and all access to data is subject to privacy and security regulations. Only the essential data required by transport officers to perform their duties is accessed and transport officers are trained in the correct use of any data that they may need to use to perform their duties. Once the Opal card data has been read, the application will communicate with the EPIN via a secure interface to issue a fine, once an infringement has been detected.
Although this issue has little to do with motoring, it is yet another example of the NSW government acting illegally in issuing infringements to train travellers before they have been convicted of any offence in a court of law. The issue is with the way that infringement notices for both motorists and fare evaders are imposed. Every citizen is entitled to the presumption of innocence and fines that are imposed before people are convicted of offences is clearly illegal, yet state governments routinely do this, because they know that most people do not have the expertise to challenge this travesty in court.
There are many rulings from the High Court and the Supreme Court that state that every person has to be afforded the presumption of innocence. Therefore police, the state government, state transport and other government entities are legally required to go through the correct procedure if they wish to impose penalties. There is only one proper way to do this and that is for the government to issue a summons against him and present the matter before a magistrate in court. Only after an alleged offender is convicted and the fine is upheld, should any penalty be imposed.
Anybody who receives an infringement notice should ignore it completely, as it imposes a penalty before a conviction is recorded. Possibly a better way is for the recipient to merely send the infringement notice back to the issuer and remind them that they are required to follow due legal process and afford the recipient the presumption of innocence. The issuer should be told in no uncertain terms that if he wants to proceed with the matter, he has to put it to a magistrate and obtain a conviction first.
November 2013 - Motorists who illegally pass Melbourne's newest trams will have their numberplates recorded and passed to police. The two new E-Class trams, which were put into service in November 2013 feature external cameras. Operator Yarra Trams says that it will use footage to help identify drivers doing the wrong thing in a move welcomed by police, the Public Transport Users Association and the tram drivers' union.
Tram drivers reported 267 incidents of vehicles passing stationary trams while passengers were alighting, a significant increase on the 151 reported in 2012. But the true number could be even higher, with a two-week trial in 2005 estimating 50,000 cars a month illegally passed trams.
Yarra Trams spokesman Simon Murphy said that passenger safety was its highest priority and urged commuters to look before getting off. He said that tram drivers were encouraged to report vehicles illegally passing and details forwarded to transit police. "The presence of external CCTV cameras on the next generation E-Class trams will be a very useful tool to ensure we can provide as much evidence as possible to assist any police investigation," Murphy said.
Transit and Public Safety Command Superintendent John Hendrickson said that passing a tram which had stopped was extremely dangerous. "Not only could you face a penalty of $361 and three demerit points, you could potentially face criminal charges if you seriously injure or kill someone," he said.
It is fair enough that these new trams will catch motorists who do the wrong thing by using cameras to provide evidence to police. But what about the tram drivers that do the wrong thing, such as entering intersections on red lights, or causing hazards to motorists? There have been plenty of incidents involving trams doing the wrong thing, but have any tram drivers been prosecuted for this?
If trams are going to be fitted with cameras to use to book motorists, then motorists should have car black box recorders or dashcams to record trams doing the wrong thing. If motorists are placed into dangerous situations by rogue tram drivers, then they can present the camera videos to police and demand that the tram drivers be prosecuted. The old saying applies - what is good for the goose is good for the gander and tram drivers are not exempt from the law.
Thanks to Steve Howton for this item.
November 2013 - More than 300,000 licences will be taken away from NSW motorists in 2013-14 because they cannot pay fines. Nearly 102,000 people had their right to drive revoked in the first four months of 2013-14 - not for running out of demerit points but rather for running out of money. Some had not even committed a road-related offence.
The rate of suspensions has increased by over 60% in three years, due to a jump in the number of fines issued and new technology at the Office of State Revenue (OSR), which is aiding its crackdown on debts. "We've gotten much better at imposing sanctions," said the OSR's executive services manager Melissa Gowen, adding that any fine issued by a state government agency could trigger a freeze.
This is an utter disgrace. Why should a non-road-related debt cause somebody's driver's licence to be suspended or removed? They are completely unrelated and anybody whose driver's licence is to be taken away because they owe money to the government should fight this in every court in the land.
If licence removals are connected to parking fines issued by local councils, motorists can fight this by showing that these councils are not recognised as arms of government, thus do not have the power to issue fines. With road-related fines, if infringement notices are ignored, motorists can claim that the fines are illegal because due process of law was not followed and motorists are entitled to the presumption of innocence BEFORE any penalty can be levied.
There are many ways to deal with this form of rip-off by the government, but no motorist should ever roll over and vop whatever the government decides to dish out in its ever-increasing pursuit of revenue. CARR does not support people breaking the law, however the system that the government has set up to raise revenue from motorists by convicting them of offences without trial and then ripping their licences from them is unjust and could even be shown to be illegal. Every motorist should demand justice, not this highway robbery.
November 2013 - The ACT Government will review the effectiveness of Canberra's road safety cameras to see if they are reducing road accidents and fatalities. The capital's fixed-speed cameras have come under fire since it was revealed there had been an increase in accidents at intersections where the cameras are installed. The location of point-to-point cameras has also been criticised.
ACT Attorney-General Simon Corbell announced that an independent road safety expert will assess whether the cameras are effective. "It is always important that we undertake detailed evaluation of the program. This will be the first large-scale evaluation of the program since mobile speed cameras were first introduced by the previous Liberal government," he stated.
The ACT has 33 safety cameras, made up of fixed-speed cameras, red light/speed cameras, mobile camera vans and the two point-to-point units on Athllon and Hindmarsh Drives. "We now have over a 10-year period, a good range of data about overall effectiveness of the program that will help inform this review," Corbell said. "The changes safety cameras can make do take time to be recorded in data and I think now we do have a sufficient body of data to look at the overall effectiveness of the program which has grown over this time."
The review will begin early next year and Corbell expects that recommendations will be made before the end of 2014. He says that it is too early to say if the Government will remove cameras from spots where they are not improving road safety. "This is an important step to take and it will assist the Government in oversighting the operation of the program and making sure we have the best possible governance arrangements in place," he said.
NRMA spokesman Allan Evans said that reviewing point-to-point speed cameras is particularly important. "I'm not a big fan of them in Canberra because they're not designed for urban roads, they're designed for open roads. What you've got to look at is them over a longer time frame, the kilometres driven, the number of crashes per kilometres driven, the number of deaths and road traumas in that time. We're yet to see that evidence," he stated.
Despite the fact that all independent studies worldwide have found that these misnamed "safety" cameras have been responsible for dramatic increases in accidents at intersections where they had been installed, governments have continually asserted that they have improved safety at those intersections. These of course are blatant lies, designed to give governments the pretext to maintain such cameras for nothing else but revenue-raising. In fact most Australian state and territitory governments factor revenue from fines as major components of their budgets.
Although the revelations about the increase in accidents where the ACT "safety" cameras at intersections were installed, plus the renowned 10-year study by Monash University's David Andreassen, who proved beyond a shadow of doubt that the rate of accidents where those cameras were installed increased up to a whopping 40%, the people of Canberra can be assured that the ACT government will again find some way of showing the exact opposite, that those cameras should remain.
This is exactly what happened in NSW and Victoria, where opposition parties waved independent reviews and screamed about these cameras being nothing but revenue-raisers and how they were going to remove them, yet as soon as they won office, they trotted out reports by their paid lackeys to justify not only the retention of existing cameras, but to install even more of these rip-off devices.
As usual, CARR advises all motorists to arm themselves with every tool available to beat these highway robbers. One of the best and cheapest ways to do this is to have a smartphone with software such as MetroView on it, with free lifetime map updates and more importantly, speed, red light and school zone warnings that are also updated for free. Metroview costs a minuscule $15 for iPhone and $20 for Android, which also includes the New Zealand map.
Using such software whenever driving will ensure that motorists slow down to the speed limit prior to reaching those cameras. Of course motorists should always flash their headlights at oncoming motorists if they spot mobile police speed traps and mobile speed camera vehicles. Motorists should also install good car black box recorders in their vehicles to provide hard evidence of wrongful bookings. We have a right to protect ourselves and motorists who do not take active measures such as the ones described here are merely making themselves into cash cows for rapacious governments.
Thanks to Avi Olshina for this item.
A new kind of traffic light designed by a University of Toronto graduate could turn the problem of traffic gridlock into a thing of the past. Samah El-Tantawy has dealt with gridlock in two of the worst cities for traffic in the world, Toronto and Cairo and she has come up with an innovative idea.
Rather than coordinating through one of the central control systems currently used to direct traffic, El-Tantawy's new traffic lights use artificial intelligence and decision-making strategies from game theory to simply 'talk' to one another. This lets the lights coordinate among themselves, based specifically on what they are all seeing in the traffic flow at any moment, how to best keep things moving.
El-Tantawy said, "In lay language, the traffic lights act as a team of players cooperating to win a game, much like players in a soccer match, where each player endeavours to score, but at the same time considers the ultimate goal of the entire team which is winning the match."
El-Tantawy's traffic lights were put to the test at 60 downtown Toronto intersections. Even in rush hour, they ended up cutting down traffic delays by up to 40% and they reduced travel times by up to 26%. This design earned El-Tantawy her PhD in Civil Engineering from the University of Toronto, as well as two awards - best PhD dissertation from the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers' Intelligent Transportation Systems Society and second place in the George B. Dantzig Dissertation Award from The Institute of Operations Research and Management Sciences.
This really is a terrific solution for the alleviation of severe traffic congestion. Central computers controlling traffic flow can only do so much, but the concept of using adaptable artificial intelligence in changing traffic lights instantaneously to adapt to current situations is very clever. Not only that, this concept proved itself in real life in Toronto by cutting traffic delays by up to 40%, no mean feat.
State governments in Australia should look at implementing this system in congested capital cities as soon as possible. Computers are very cheap these days and it is really no big deal to control traffic lights in CBD areas with artificial intelligence systems, rather than the current central computer systems that are rather inflexible.
Thanks to Santo Calabrese for this item.
November 2013 - A Facebook page that reveals speed camera locations around the state has the blessing of Tasmania Police. Tassie Speedcameraalerts involves Facebook users posting camera locations so other motorists can avoid detection. Its profile photo displays a billboard of a South Australian police campaign that asks motorists why they are speeding. The billboard has been defaced with the retort: "Helping you bastards pay for your donuts."
Despite its anti-speed enforcement stance and derogatory tone, Tasmania Police acting Assistant Commissioner Glenn Frame said the site was helpful as it raised awareness. "The aim of social media is to be social, to start discussions and conversations," he said. "This page, whether the creator likes it or not, is assisting us. The conversations that encourage a wider public audience to be conscious of their speed when driving and slow down are helping us achieve our goals."
Other police jurisdictions around Australia have taken the same approach. Victoria Police said that it was happy for drivers to warn each other about speed traps by flashing their headlights. Police in Western Australia have cut out the Facebook middleman by publishing fixed and mobile camera locations. Tassie Speedcameraalerts also posts up-to-date information about driving conditions, traffic incidents and accidents.
This action by Tassie Speedcameraalerts is terrific, but is easily superseded by a GPS application with current speed camera warnings, such as TomTom and MetroView. Motorists need to be warned as they approach speed cameras, rather than carry a printout of where they are. Anybody with an iPhone can install MetroView for $15 with lifetime updates and always be alerted to speed cameras they are approaching and take steps to check their speed.
The other interesting aspect of this report is that Victoria Police stated that it was all right for motorists to warn each other of speed traps by flashing their headlights. This completely destroys the arguments in other state jurisdictions that flashing headlights is dangerous. Anybody who is booked for this in NSW and other states should fight this in court and use the Victoria Police position as a defence, as obviously it is not dangerous to flash headlights.
Every motorist knows that the only reason that there are laws against flashing headlights to warn of speed traps is so that police can continue to entrap motorists and rake in revenue from them. No policeman would ever book a motorist for flashing his headlights at oncoming traffic to warn them of a dangerous situation on the road. If it is not a danger to do that in such a circumstance, obviously it cannot be a danger to flash headlights to warn of a speed trap.
Thanks to Alex Brown for this item.
November 2013 - Motorists in some parts of the country face fines more than five times the size elsewhere for the same offence. Infringements that carry three-figure penalties in Australia are not even against the law in other comparable parts of the world. Inconsistent and over-the-top penalties are propelling government traffic fine income towards $2 billion annually.
This has triggered calls for greater uniformity and an end to revenue-raising. "It's a hopeless joke," said Australian Automobile Association CEO Andrew McKellar. "Harmonisation makes sense," said Charles Sturt University vice-chancellor Professor Clive Hamilton, an advocate for fairer fines. "It just seems a little bit finicky and overreaching," said Stanley Hong, content editor of FindLaw, Australia's leading legal information website.
The AAA's McKellar said that some of the offences that are still on the books really are anachronistic. Leaving the engine on or keys in the ignition were two examples. Professor Hamilton said, "Penalties should reflect the seriousness of the offence and increase with the risk of harm to other people." McKellar said: "Are we just revenue-raising or is there a serious purpose to the level of penalty that is on the statute? It's a very rich vein of revenue that some state governments have tapped into."
Since 1998 the WA Government has not seen the need to put up the size of penalty units that underpin its system of fines. They remain $50. Yet Victoria has increased its penalty unit by more than 40% since 2004, from $102 to $144.
Sources in some state governments were alarmed to learn of the scale of fines being imposed elsewhere. Others expressed amazement at the very existence of some offences. State and territory governments expect to reap a combined $1843 million from road users this financial year, according to budget papers. That's equal to fining every Australian $80.
It represents an increase of $61 million on 2012-13. The Victorian Government reaped $326 million from fines in 2004-05 and it anticipates making nearly double that amount in 2013-14 - $643 million. Victoria will raise more revenue than any other state by far. A further increase of $25 million has been budgeted in for the next financial year.
NSW anticipates earning $488 million, up $6 million on last year, when revenue jumped 14%, due to an increase in motor vehicle infringements. The government goes on to lament that overall growth in motor vehicles fine revenue will be limited by improvements in driver behaviour. In 2014, the NSW Government expects to bring in $496 million.
SA is budgeting for a 25% increase in fine earnings from $100.6 million in 2012-13 to $125.8 million in 2013-14, courtesy of new speed cameras. Last financial year was poor from a government revenue standpoint, because of changes in driver behaviour. A further $9.1 million is expected to flow into the coffers in the next financial year.
Queensland is set to bring in $367 million this financial year, up $11 million on 2012-13. Tasmania is budgeting on a slight decline this financial year to $106.4 million before increasing $4.3 million in 2014-15.
South Australians face a hit of $239 for stopping in an emergency stopping lane and NSW drivers could be stung $236. But in Queensland the penalty is just $44 and $50 in WA. It's not even an offence in British Columbia, Canada. Fail to carry your licence in SA and you could be up for $175. Yet drivers in Queensland, Victoria and WA are given the chance to produce their licence later. In France the fine is just 11 euro ($16).
If you get out of your car but leave the key in the ignition in NSW, you may be liable for $101. But this is not even an offence in SA, New Zealand or British Columbia. Likewise, drivers in Auckland or Vancouver face no penalty for stopping in a mail zone or near a post box. Yet in Sydney, it's a $101 fine and punishable in every corner of Australia.
The most noticeable and probably most disgusting aspect of this report is that the NSW and SA governments are lamenting that the drop in revenue from fines is due to improvements in driver behaviour. But isn't that the whole idea behind imposing these Draconian penalties - to improve driver behaviour? Of course these governments do not want driver behaviour or rad safety to improve, because it reduces their opportunity to entrap and fleece motorists as a form of taxation.
The other aspect is the stupid offences that are on the books in this nation. How the hell can leaving one's keys in the ignition of a car be considered dangerous enough for governments to impose fines? And fining motorists for stopping in a mail zone or near a post box is simply revenue-raising, because if a mail van needs to pull up to clear a post box, a motorist stopped there will simply drive away.
In this era of electronic communications, the fine in SA for not carrying your licence while driving is ridiculous . If a motorist is pulled up and does not have his licence with him, he can be required to go to a police station and produce it, but of course SA would lose out on revenue, so the government seizes every opportunity to slug motorists who may have gone out and forgotten to take their wallets with them.
Australia needs a Motorists Party to stand for election in every state. The biggest single interest group in Australia is motorists - there are more motorists than any other sector. Imagine if most of those motorists were aggrieved enough by government ripoffs with fines and other revenue-raising to vote for such a Motorists Party instead of the usual hacks that run for office. It would be a landslide and such a party could scrap these very unfair ripoffs.
November 2013 - A National Road Rule allowing yellow lines to replace No Stopping signs was adopted in New South Wales in 2012 and since then, motorists have been getting fined for a road rule of which they probably weren’t even aware.
In November 2012, the Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) advised local councils that a continuous yellow line painted on the edge of a road can be used either instead of, or to reinforce No Stopping signs. So far, there has been little publicity from the RMS to advise motorists of the meaning of the new yellow lines, the rules about it and the subsequent fines that apply.
Violating the not-so-new No Stopping restrictions, whether it is the yellow lines, No Stopping signs or both, can result in a fine of $236 or $304 and two demerit points in a school zone. Warringah and Wollongong Councils have started using yellow lines without No Stopping signs and other Councils will soon follow suit.
Only motorists who have read the latest Road Users’ Handbook; page 107, read the technical-heavy information from the RMS in its Delineation Section 13 pamphlet, or were fined would be aware of this new changeIn the Road Users’ Handbook, this rule is described as:
This is typical of state and local governments that seize every single opportunity to fleece motorists for revenue. Why was this new double yellow line information not splashed across the media for a few months first? Surely the government does not expect motorists to obtain the latest copy of the Road Users Handbook every time it is published and read it from cover to cover, so as to be aware of every rule change or implementation?
When these double yellow lines are implemented without No Stopping signs and they eventually become obscured or faded, what then? Will councils and police fine motorists when these lines are hard to see? Of course they will, because nothing should get in the way of revenue-raising. So motorists should always keep their phones handy and snap a few photos of obscured lines to use in court as evidence.
The fact that these new rules were not publicised is patently unfair and any motorist who is fined for this new offence should fight it in court and state that he was never informed of the change via the public media, as is usually done with changes to the road rules, as was done with the changed roundabout rules recently. Of course doing this would deny the government to rip motorists off again, so it is par for the course to see these new rules be enforced without any prior publicity. The government again has proven that it is the enemy of the people.
Thanks to Avi Olshina for this item.
November 2013 - New speed cameras will be used on Adelaide's South Eastern Freeway within weeks, potentially reaping millions of dollars in fines from the 10% 0f drivers who are speeding on the motorway. The South Australian Transport Department has confirmed that infringement notices will be issued to speeding motorists and truckies heading down the freeway from Crafers into Adelaide from this month, more than two years after the cameras were installed.
The Transport Department will not confirm the exact location of the two new cameras. However, one camera is at Crafers and the second is near the Mt Osmond exit. A seven-day survey in October 2013 caught more than one in ten vehicles driving down the freeway at least 5km/h over the 100km/h limit. Of the 166,934 cars caught by the survey camera, which is on the city side of the Heysen Tunnels, more than 18,300 were breaking the law. This included 3339 who were travelling 10km/h in excess of the speed limit. If these drivers had been fined, they would have paid a combined $3.4 million.
While the number of drivers speeding is likely to drop once they realise the cameras are activated, they are still expected to make a significant contribution to police estimates of a $23 million boost to traffic fine revenue this financial year.
The new cameras are the first in the state to operate in a variable speed limit environment where the speed limit can change across the day dependent upon road conditions. "It is the first time this technology has been used in South Australia and it has been necessary to undertake a significant testing period to ensure fail safe operation of the system," a department spokeswoman said. They are among 30 extra speed cameras introduced on South Australian roads since 2012.
Even though traffic experts believe fewer people will speed once they know the cameras are operational, they still expect the annual revenue raised on this stretch of the freeway will easily outstrip last year's record $982,000 generated by the fixed camera at Glover Avenue, near Adelaide High School.
The SA Freight Council supports the new cameras, describing the rate of speeding detected by the survey as massive. "The amazing thing is there's a spot on SA roads where so many people are speeding," council chief executive officer Neil Murphy said. "Given the volume of traffic, you could expect these cameras will generate a record number of fines." RAA road safety manager Charles Mountain said there was the potential with three lanes of traffiic for this section of road to catch the highest number of speeding drivers in the state.
The first thing that is noticeable about this news report is the repeated expectation of massive revenue that will be raised by entrapping motorists with these new speed cameras. The interesting thing is that the government managed to release statistics showing that so many motorists were seen speeding on the section of the freeway while the cameras were being tested, but nothing was mentioned about accidents caused by speeding at the time.
However, the whole exercise is obviously about raising revenue, as the gloating about swelling government coffers continues, despite the lack of a shred of evidence that those motorists who exceeded the speed limit by 10km/h or more were any more dangerous than the motorists adhering to the artificially low 100km/h speed limit. And why is it artificially low? The reason is to entice frustrated motorists to drive faster than this limit and be entrapped for the purpose of revenue-raising.
It has been proven time and time again that speed does not kill anything except a motorist's bank balance when rapacious state governments utilise technology to rip off motorists. The propaganda and lies that gullible motorists swallow about sped cameras being there for safety is quite staggering. What motorists need to do is to form themselves into a voting bloc to unseat every government minister who refuses to pledge to remove these speed cameras. Motorists comprise the largest voting bloc in the community and doing this would scare the pants off state government politicians at any election.
October 2013 - The Victorian Premier Denis Napthine repeatedly dodged questions about whether more speed cameras are going onto Victorian roads to boost fine revenue. The state's budget has factored in a $38 million jump in speed camera fines next year. The budget has also revealed plans for a ten million dollar upgrade of mobile speed cameras.
Denis Napthine was quizzed by Neil Mitchell over whether that will include more cameras and night use. "We are concerned on making roads safer, there is a ten year plan to reduce the road toll even further," Napthine said, after Neil asked whether more speed cameras will be built. "The money put into road safety is money that is well-spent and is about saving lives," the Premier followed up, again dodging the actual question.
"Do you not know or do you just not want to answer the question?" a frustrated Neil asked, to no avail.
Denis Napthine has revealed that he and his Liberal Party are no different than the preceding despicable pack of liars, the Labor Party who used speed cameras and police as revenue-raisers, despite the fact that every report from all over the world has proven that speed cameras do not prevent accidents or increase road safety. In fact, hard evidence from the USA, Britain and Australia proves beyond a shadow of doubt that the installation of red light cameras at intersections have resulted in up to 40% to 50% increase in accidents at those intersections.
When Napthine stated that he was concerned with making roads safer by using speed cameras, CARR states unequivocally that he was lying. Napthine, just like all his predecessors who presided over the installation of speed cameras and the use of cops with speed guns as entrapment devices, knows damn well that the deployment of these devices has nothing to do with road safety and everything to do with revenue-raising and balancing the state budget.
Napthine is an utter disgrace and yet another lying politician who cannot be trusted. He knows that speed cameras don't stop motorists from speeding, because they merely snap photos of them driving by, possibly on the way to fatal accidents, but they don't pull those motorists over at the time. Thus they are revenue-raisers and nothing else. Deploying cops hiding in bushes with speed guns is the same thing, using cops as taxation collectors instead of using them to enforce the law.
What works to stop speeders - a highly visible police car on the road at high accident rate places, or cops hiding in the bushes pinging motorists? The highly visible police car immediately slows speeders down on sight, but of course does not raise a cent in revenue. It just does what it is supposed to do. Cops hiding in bushes with speed guns don't slow speeders down - they just hope that people will speed and then be entrapped into being booked.
CARR again advises all motorists to take active measures against this despicable entrapment by using GPS receivers with speed camera warnings. CARR suggests that motorists who spot cops hiding in bushes with mobile speed cameras warn oncoming motorists of those speed traps. CARR suggests that motorists video record cops operating mobile speed traps and post these embarrasing videos on Youtube. There is no law against video recording anything in public places, so police have no grounds to prevent this. And CARR suggests that irate motorists confront Napthine and put pressure on him to stop this despicable litany of state-sponsored highway robbery.
Victoria needs a Motorists Party to stand at the next election, one that will promise to eradicate all speed and red light cameras and prevent police from using any entrapment methods to book motorists. Even if one-quarter of voting motorists voted for such a Motorists Party, they would win any election in Victoria. CARR would love to see this happen, something to get rid of those lying bastards in both the Labor and Liberal parties who have exploited vulnerable motorists for far too long.
Thanks to John Vance for this item.
October 2013 - Victoria Police has rewritten its mobile speed camera rules specifically to allow cameras to be hidden and used on hills. The force policy used to say that under no circumstances were cameras to be concealed by any covert means. It also used to ban them on downhill stretches of road unless the site had a significant speed-related crash record.
The new rules, effective immediately, permit mobile speed cameras to be hidden behind trees, bushes, posts and road signs to lessen the risk of harm to camera operators from angry motorists. They also allow them to be used at the bottom of hills and on slopes if the "road safety objective" can't be achieved at an alternative location. "There is no restriction from a technical, legislative or enforcement perspective on a mobile road safety camera being operated on a slope, hill or gradient," the new rules say.
The force spent months creating its new policy after the Melbourne newspaper Herald Sun revealed some cameras were being hidden despite the ban and also that fines had to be scrapped because a camera was wrongly set up on a steep hill. Almost 510,000 motorists paid more than $103 million in mobile speed camera fines in the past year.
Victoria Police defended the changes to the mobile speed camera policy, saying they included recommendations made by speed camera commissioner Gordon Lewis. "The amendments were made to specifically focus on the occupational health and safety of mobile speed camera operators, which is paramount in ensuring they can work in a safe environment," force spokesman Leonie Johnson said.
Police rewrote the rules after the Herald Sun revealed speeding fines had to be scrapped because a mobile camera was wrongly set up over the brow of a hill to snap motorists going down a steep slope on Warrigal Road, Surrey Hills.
Over the years, CARR has heard some very pathetic and unfounded excuses for the use of police entrapment techniques to raise revenue, but this piece of utter crap from Victoria Police and speed camera commissioner Gordon Lewis really scrapes the bottom of the barrel. It is quite amazing that the police and Lewis can come up with such utter nonsense and keep a straight face, because CARR is very happy to accuse them of lying to the public on this issue.
Firstly, those mobile cameras do absolutely nothing to stop people speeding at the time. If a motorist is speeding and cops hiding in bushes snap his photo and do not pull him over at the time and prevent him speeding and he is allowed to continue to speed, possibly killing a few people in a few minutes, that means that the police are derelict in their duty by allowing a crime to be commissioned and not doing anything about it.
Sending a ticket to that motorist one month after the offence, presuming he is still alive at the time, is not proper police enforcement. If police saw an armed robber running out of a bank, would they snap a photo of him and then try and arrest him one month later? Of course not, but this is exactly what police are doing with their mobile speed camera entrapment system.
Police are now able to hide those cameras and their operators in places where motorists cannot help driving slightly faster, such as down steep hills. Either motorists have to ride their brakes and have their eyes focused on their speedometers, which is highly dangerous, or drive at a reasonable and safe speed and be booked. The reason for this rule change is one of the most despicable acts that CARR has seen in the time it has been operating.
When police were exposed in 2012 entrapping motorists by hiding speed cameras in contravention of a ban that prevented them from doing this and having to refund fines, the right thing to do would have been to enforce that ban. But instead, police removed the ban to allow them to use these despicable methods to wring more revenue from motorists and came up with the most lame and pathetic excuse to try and justify it. This merely proves that police are now the Victorian government's chief taxation department.
CARR considers that motorists have every right to do whatever they can to warn other motorists of these disgraceful police traps. Any motorist who spots a hidden camera should warn oncoming motorists of this by flashing their lights. Police claim that flashing headlights is an offence, but CARR considers that warning motorists of a hazard ahead is a legitimate use of flashing headlights.
What would really be good is to get people who have the time to go to the sites of hidden mobile speed cameras and stand a couple of hundred metres ahead of them with large signs instructing motorists to slow down because of a speed trap ahead. Asking motorists to slow down and ensure that they are driving at the speed limit cannot possibly be an offence. Who could object to somebody telling a motorist to obey the speed limit? If police claim that this action is interfering with a police operation, well it will prove beyond a shadow of doubt that police want motorists to speed, in order to entrap them into paying fines and CARR considers that any charges arising from such action by citizens could easily be beaten in court.
Every motorist should do what he can to fight and beat this disgusting form of entrapment and taxation by warning other motorists of mobile speed traps. Motorists also should fight such bookings by contesting them in court and demanding to know why police merely snapped their photos and failed to stop them speeding at the time, thus abrogating their duty to prevent an offence from continuing. The police need to be embarrassed in public and motorists need to pressure the Victorian government to stop this rip-off.
Thanks to Steve Houghton for this item.
October 2013 - The Northern Territory could soon return to having open speed limits on remote sections of highway after its road toll failed to drop at the same pace as the rest of Australia. Northern Territory chief minister Adam Giles is reviewing speed limits on the Stuart, Victoria and Barkly Highways as part of a pre-election promise. Giles has already flagged likely increases to the speed limit on selected sections of highway, and is expected to announce his decision shortly.
Open speed limits were abolished by the former NT Labor Government in 2006 and replaced by a maximum limit of 130km/h. In the six years since, more people have died on NT roads (307) than in the six years before the change (292).
Fatalities on the Stuart, Victoria and Barkly Highways have almost halved since speed limits were introduced, from 62 to 32, but the statistics show that the drop is more to do with fewer drink-drivers and the increased use of seatbelts by Territory drivers. The number of speed-related deaths dropped from six to four, while the number of alcohol-related deaths dropped from 22 to eight and the seatbelt-related deaths dropped from 19 to nine.
While the Territory road toll has increased in the six years since the introduction of speed limits, the Australian road toll for the corresponding period has reduced by 14.3 per cent (or 1414 people). Giles said that the government was assessing the findings of three separate investigation reports before it made a decision.
"I have consistently stated that any review of speed limits will be evidence based," he said. "The priority goal is to balance having effective and efficient speed limits in place with road safety for all road users. The current investigation is based on crash data, road features (width and rutting) and operating characteristics dependant on engineering design of road sections."
Scrapping the speed restrictions would see the NT return to having discretionary limits, similar to high-speed sections of German autobahns. The road fatality rate per 10,000 vehicles is lower in Germany than Australia (0.8 versus 1.0 per 10,000, according to 2009 figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics), despite vast sections of 130km/h and open speed highways.
Despite the NT case study and some overseas examples where speed limit increases have had little or no effect on fatalities, there is still overwhelming opposition to raising the speed limit in other Australian states or the ACT. NSW Minister for Roads and Ports, Duncan Gay said that there would be no review of NSW speed limits. "We have no plans to have unlimited speed-limits on our roads," he said.
In NSW, authorities say speed is the biggest contributor to the state’s road toll. However, as with the rest of Australia, their definition of speeding does not relate to the speed limit but inappropriate speed for the conditions, among other factors.
The real reason for artificially low speed limits and the bleating from various state government that "Speed Kills" is simply to make it easier to raise revenue by booking motorists who are frustrated by the ridiculously low speed limits on our roads. It has been proven time and time again that speed itself does not kill, as seen by the statistics from German and Italian freeways that have no speed limit, yet have a lower accident rate than in Australia, as well as from the USA.
For instance, after multi-year studies found that higher speed limits would be safer than lower speeds, the US state of Utah raised a number of its highway speed limits to 80mph (130km.h). The Utah Department of Transportation cited the same reasons of safety as the now-famous "Speed Kills Your Pocketbook" documentary.
One of the main reasons for the reduction in the road toll is that cars are much safer in all respects - better handling, more safety devices and better roads. Some of the proven factors in accidents and fatalities are inattention and drivers under the influence of alcohol and narcotics. However, governments only pay lip service to these issues because the sale of alcohol provides more opportunities for police to levy fines and raise much revenue.
If state governments wanted to really reduce road tolls further, they should firstly increase speed limits on highways to realistic limits. For instance, the Hume Freeway from the outskirts of Sydney to Canberra or Goulburn is a much better road than most German autobahns that have no speed limits, yet motorists are forced to amble along that highway at a ridiculous 110km/h, giving those cops hiding behind bushes with their speed guns some great revenue-raising opportunities.
Secondly, because it is a hard fact that alcohol and drugs play such a huge part in accidents, state governments should legislate to eliminate this risk. If it is good enough for commercial pilots to be alcohol and drug-free for 8 hours before they take charge of aircraft, then it should be the same for motorists who take charge of two-tonne killing machines that are far more dangerous than aircraft, according to hard statistics.
Speed does not kill and that is proven. This is the same situation as red light cameras that have been proven beyond doubt to increase accidents wherever they have been installed. But of course governments put revenue-raising way above the lives of motorists. This is why artificially low speed limits are mostly in place to give police more opportunities to book motorists and raise revenue for governments. It is time that governments were forced by motorists to take note of these facts about speed limits and change the laws.
Thanks to John Vance for this item.
October 2013 - Britain currently offers interpreters or foreign voice-overs on its driving tests, a service that over 77,000 people took advantage of in 2012. But concerns over cheating and the ability of foreign-speaking drivers to actually read and recognise English road signs without the aid of an interpreter have Britain's coalition government taking steps towards eliminating aid for foreign languages in driver's training.
According to surveys, the move is supported by 70% of the British public, with Transport Minister Patrick McLoughlin explaining, "We want to make sure that all drivers have the right skills to use our roads safely and responsibly and one way we can do this is by requiring all test candidates to take the test in English or Welsh."
Part of the push for change comes from the arrest of Allyson Ng, a Chinese translator who was jailed for a year for providing test answers to Chinese-speaking applicants. Foreign speakers can currently take the test in 19 different languages. Stephen Hammond, Britain's Road Safety Minister, has been at the forefront of the campaign, which is slated to kick off in February 2014.
This move is long overdue. It is a disgrace how some nations, such as Britain and Australia, pander to people who shirk their responsibility to learn the official language of their host nations and expect to be provided with facilities in their native languages. China does not allow English speakers to take driving tests in English. Neither does Russia and a myriad of other nations. People who come to live in those nations are expected to learn the official language of those nations as quickly as possible.
In Australia, both federal and state governments literally discourage immigrants from learning English by providing them with many facilities in their native languages and interpreters on demand. This is all funded by taxpayers, yet in reality people who need interpreters because of their failure to learn the official language of Australia should be paying for them out of their own pockets.
In NSW, the Driver Knowledge Test and Road Users Handbook is available in English, Arabic, Chinese, Croatian, Greek, Korean, Serbian, Spanish, Turkish and Vietnamese. The Road Users' Handbook, but not the test, is also available in Japanese. A free interpreter service is also provided to applicants who are unable to undertake the test in English or one of the above languages.Why the hell does the taxpayer fund this nonsense?
The benighted government of NSW has seen fit to allow people who do not speak one word of English to sit and pass the Driver Knowledge Test and then drive on the roads without being able to read or understand any sign in English. If people cannot speak English or cannot read signs in English, then they have no business driving on roads where traffic signs are in English. This is utter insanity and literally institutionalises a danger to the motorists of NSW and needs to be stopped immediately.
Thanks to Santo Calabrese for this item.
October 2013 - In the USA, it was found that accidents increased at the intersections where red light cameras were installed in Newport News, Virginia. An analysis of six years' worth of collision data by the National Motorists Association (NMA) confirmed that the use of photo enforcement failed to deliver on the promise of improved safety in the town of 180,000.
Newport News was one of the first jurisdictions to re-adopt red light cameras after a statewide pause in 2005 when the Virginia Department of Transportation determined that accidents increased wherever the devices were used. Heavy lobbying by municipalities and red light camera companies convinced the legislature to give automated ticketing another chance.
Redflex Traffic Systems of Australia has been mailing tickets to vehicle owners at three intersections along Jefferson Avenue in Newport News since May 2010. At Mercury Avenue, there were 41 injury accidents from 27 October 2007 to 14 May 2010, before the cameras were installed. After the devices were active, injury accidents jumped to 64 between 16 May 2010 to 16 September 2013. On an annualised basis, the before period had 15.7 injury crashes per year, which increased 22.8% to 19.2 in the after period.
At Denbigh Boulevard, there were 69 injury collisions in the before period, for a rate of 10.7 injury crashes per year. In the after period, there were 40, for a rate of 12.4 injury collisions per year, an increase of 17.4%. At Oyster Point Road, there were 38 injury accidents in the before period, or 12.3 per year. In the after period, there were 54 injury accidents, or 15.6 per year, a jump of 50.5%.
NMA engineer JJ Bahen Jr blames the city for exploiting yellow times in the turn lanes that are illegally short. Under state law, signal timing at photo enforced intersections must be established according to the methodology set by the Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE). Bahen, an ITE member, points out that the city is using a "speed limit minus 5mph" methodology for turn lanes that results in overly short yellows. At Oyster Point Road, for example, speed limit is set at 35mph, so the yellow is set for traffic approaching the intersection at 30mph. In reality, 85% of traffic approaches at 45mph, a difference of 15mph.
Hard statistics from all over the world prove beyond a shadow of doubt that red light cameras are responsible for increased accident rates at intersections where they are deployed. Yet governments that have installed these devices constantly claim that they are safety devices. How the hell can any device that increases accidents at intersections be described as a safety measure?
The evidence has been around for decades, especially the 10-year research on red-light cameras conducted by Monash University's David Andreassen, who found that the accident rates at intersections that were fitted with red light cameras increased up to 40%. The statistics from the Oyster Point Road intersection at Newport News show that the accident rate there jumped by an astounding 50.5% after red light cameras were installed.
But governments, in their insane money grabs, refuse to acknowledge these hard facts and keep lying to the people that these red light cameras are a safety measure when they are actually devices that increase accidents. We all know that governments deliberately lie to the people, but when the lives of people are put at increased risk because of revenue-raising scams, then these governments need to be stopped from putting money ahead of lives.
CARR considers that there is more than enough evidence about this issue for any motorist who has an accident at a red light camera intersection to take legal action against the government for contributory negligence. If the government installs a device that is known to increase accident rates, then obviously the government is legally liable if such accidents occur. This report from the USA, plus the mountain of research from all over the world that proves that accident rates increase wherever red light cameras are installed are an excellent basis for civil lawsuits against governments or even class actions.
Thanks to John Vance for this item
October 2013 - Police who deliberately baited motorcyclists to break the law then fined them have been exposed in a recent court case, leading to a magistrate describing the police as "reckless". The finding could pave the way for scores of other riders caught using similar tactics to reclaim demerit points and fines.
The police operation took place on 16 and 23 September 2013 in a section of the Old Pacific Highway between Mount White and Brooklyn. The Ku-ring-gai highway patrol issued 68 tickets, all to motorbike riders.
Brothers Rod and James Ward were booked for crossing the road's double dividing lines. They were each fined $298 and lost three points. James said they had been on a casual ride when in a flurry of dust and gravel, a grey SUV pulled out in front of them, then sped up and slowed down several times. "People were moving around inside the vehicle and there was a commotion going on in there and we didn't really know what was going on," he said. "I thought initially it was some tourists who had been lost."
He said that the vehicle moved to the left "as if to beckon us past" so they overtook the SUV - an unmarked police car - by crossing to the wrong side of the road. From inside the SUV, officers filmed the riders then radioed a patrol car down the road with their licence plate details. The brothers described the incident as a case of police entrapment and challenged the fines in court, along with three other riders booked for the same offence.
While the defence of "entrapment" does not exist in Australia, their barrister argued that the police acted improperly and that any evidence against the riders was inadmissible. The riders told the court that they felt safer overtaking the undercover vehicle than following it as it veered across the lane. The officers involved denied the undercover vehicle was driven unsafely.
Magistrate Eve Wynhausen disagreed, describing their driving as erratic and said that it had caused each of the riders to break the law. "I am satisfied on the evidence that the driving had some influence on the actions of the defendants and that they would not have committed the offences were it not for the way the covert vehicle was being driven on both those days."
The case against the riders was dismissed. Magistrate Wynhausen criticised senior officers involved, saying their behaviour fell far short of the NSW Police Code of Conduct and Ethics. A police statement said a standard review would be conducted into the failed court case and police would continue to target dangerous driver behaviour. The brothers said they had been contacted by dozens of riders who had also been booked.
Here is yet another blatant case of police using entrapment to generate revenue for the government with dangerous and unsavoury baiting. Just like cops hiding in bushes with speed cameras, these disgraceful tactics need to be completely outlawed and the best way to achieve this is to beat such police scams in court and then proceed to sue the government and the police for their collective back teeth.
Unfortunately, even if the plaintiffs win such lawsuits, they will only receive compensation from taxpayer funds. However, the individual police should be personally sued to hit them in the hip pocket and teach them not to try scamming motorists with such repugnant behaviour.
The statement from police that they would continue to target dangerous driver behaviour is ludicrous, considering the facts of this case, where police were deliberately driving dangerously in order to entrap those motorbike riders. Police are not immune from the law and motorists who witness police committing driving offences should take their details and lay charges, of course with hard evidence to back them up.
This case is the perfect example of why all motorists and motorbike riders should have a car black box recorder fitted to their vehicles. This device would have proven beyond a shadow of doubt what the police were doing and how they were driving dangerously in order to entrap those motorbike riders. Sure, Magistrate Wynhausen dismissed the infringements against these motorbike riders only because of overwhelming amounts of accurate testimony from the defendants.
But imagine if an individual motorist was booked by this entrapment technique. What would he have to defend himself? Just his verbal testimony against the testimony of a carful of cops? He would stand no chance in the world of beating the fine. But if he walked into court with a GPS located time and date-stamped video clip of those cops and their disgraceful antics, not only would he annihilate the infringement, but he could have those cops charged with dangerous driving and maybe even sue them.
Again CARR advises all motorists and motorbike riders to fit car black box recorders to their vehicles, because we have to take active measures against these cops who are now tasked with entrapping us in order to raise revenue for the rapacious government. We have to beat them at their own game and also sue them for damages until the police realise that we are not going to just be their victims.
September 2013 - More than two years after it was placed in receivership, Brisbane's Clem7 tunnel has been sold to Queensland Motorways for $618 million, a fraction of the $3 billion it cost to build. The sale is seen as a barometer for likely interest in Sydney's Cross City Tunnel, which was placed in receivership two weeks ago for the second time in eight years.
Bringing to a close a long process, receiver KordaMentha selected Queensland Motorways ahead of three other consortiums, including one led by UBS Infrastructure Fund to buy the Clem7. Queensland Motorways, which is owned by the state-owned Queensland Investment Corporation, controls most of Brisbane's toll roads, including Legacy Way, which makes the Clem7 tunnel a good fit with the rest of its network.
RiverCity Motorway, the previous owner of the tunnel under the Brisbane River, was placed in receivership in February 2011 owing $1.34 million to lenders, less than a year after the tunnel opened. In striking parallels with other failed public-private projects such as Sydney's Cross City and Lane Cove tunnels, the Brisbane tunnel failed to attract anywhere near the number of motorists that were forecast. That was despite RiverCity using almost every means possible, including slashing tolls, to entice motorists to use the tunnel.
Brisbane's $4.8 billion Airport Link toll road is also likely to be put on the auction block over the next year after its operator, Brisconnections, was placed in receivership in February 2013. It was also a casualty of a model based on overly ambitious traffic forecasts.
This is wonderful news and hopefully will discourage more toll road building. It is an utter disgrace that state governments that are reaping billions of dollars revenue each year from motorists by way of charges, taxes and worst of all, rapacious and deceitful entrapment using speed cameras and cops as tax collectors, cannot put that money back into building freeways for the people whom they are ripping off.
But the financial collapse of the Clem7 Tunnel in Brisbane and the Cross City Tunnel shows that the power of the boycott really does work. If every motorist just avoided using all toll roads, the toll road operators would all be sent bankrupt and those toll roads would either close down entirely, or more likely, be resumed by state governments and made into freeways - as they should have been in the first place.
CARR encourages all motorists to use inexpensive technology such as GPS to completely boycott all toll roads. It is easy to do - virtually every GPS receiver has a "No Toll Road" option, so once this is enabled, entering a route will automatically find the best way and completely bypass all toll roads, saving motorists a lot of money and still getting them to their destinations on free roads within a few minutes of the time that they would have taken using those expensive toll roads.
A "super camera" capable of catching up to 50 times as many drivers as conventional traffic cameras is causing uproar from motorists and road associations in Britain. Unveiled as the latest weapon against driving offenders, the ZenGrab Lane Watch system is reportedly being snapped up by councils across the country.
Britain’s Daily Mail is reporting the cameras, which cost about $29,000 each, feature two lenses and a night vision function and detect a wider range of offences on the road, including drivers who make illegal U-turns or illegally wander into bus lanes.
In a recent trial, one new camera detected more than 1000 offences on a stretch of road over two weeks, compared with 271 offenders caught using the older style of camera over a similar stretch during a 12-month period. The new cameras coincide with expected changes to British traffic laws. British MP Norman Baker has suggested that all councils should have the power to fine drivers for passing no-entry signs or making illegal U-turns or right turns. He has called for a wider enforcement of sanctions which already exist accross London councils.
Motoring organisations have expressed their concerns. Paul Watters from the Automobile Association stated, “Sticking up cameras to enforce every minor contravention is bordering on the immoral".
There seems to be no end to the rapaciousness and greed of governments trying to wring every last cent in every which way from motorists and this new super camera is just another extortion device. Every motorist makes small errors in the traffic, such as changing lanes at the wrong time, or inadvertently straying into bus zones or creeping over a white line at traffic lights, but these new cameras will have the capability of booking motorists for every minor infraction that has nothing to do with roads safety.
The worst thing is that not one speed camera has ever been shown to have saved one life or prevented one accident. In fact in some jurisdictions where speed cameras were removed, such as in Swindon in Britain, the accident rate fell, simply because motorists did not have to drive with their heads buried in their speedometers instead of watching the road.
There will come the day where outrage over the proliferation of these revenue-raising devices will lead to groups of vigilantes roaming the roads and destroying them. This already happened in Victoria, with a number of speed cameras torched. CARR does not approve of vandalism in any way, however CARR considers the destruction of these immoral tax collection devices by their victims to be a legitimate protest and certainly does not condemn anybody for taking action against them when it is so widely known and proven that they do not act as safety devices, but just as tax machines.
Even at the risk of condemnation, CARR holds this position simply because when state political parties such as the Liberals in NSW and VIctoria were in opposition, they screamed and ranted how speed cameras were nothing more than revenue-raisers and that if they were elected to govern, they promised to remove them. Of course the opposite happened and the NSW and Victorian Liberal governments did the opposite and installed even more speed cameras.
The problem for citizens is what to do about this disgusting reneging of promises. If those Liberal governments lost power and Labor returned, nothing would change, because Labor governments oversaw the proliferation of these cameras and it is part of Labor DNA to fleece motorists. So if governments break promises and inflict more of their rip-off machines onto the motoring public without recourse, then it is difficult to condemn people who take the law into their own hands and set fire to these disgraceful cameras.
For those people who sanctimoniously state that if motorists did not speed, they would not be booked, this is utter nonsense and shows their complete ignorance of the problems with speed cameras. In NSW, the government's own statistics show that at least 14% of speed cameras are defective. Some of these cameras have booked stationary vehicles as going at 80km/h. So how do people contest wrongful bookings by defective speed cameras, when the legal process is so costly and so biased against them? Without hard evidence to support their claims, motorists who are wrongfully booked stand almost no chance of obtaining proper justice.
Thanks to David Milton for this item.
September 2013 - Tens of thousands of speeding fines issued by the latest police enforcement device have been placed under a cloud by two court rulings calling into question their legality. TruCams allow police officers to take video of vehicles at the same time as clocking their speed in areas not suitable for mobile speed camera vans to operate.
Since being rolled out statewide in mid-2012, the devices have caught an average of 13.83 vehicles an hour - more than three times that of mobile speed vans (4.03), and almost twice as many as covert speed cameras (7.89).
Sunshine Coast-based speed camera consultant Scott Cooper said that the images issued by police from the TruCams did not comply with their own legislation because they were not imprinted with any data. Twice now he has tested this in court and on both occasions the magistrate found in favour of the motorist. The Queensland Police Service has now requested an appeal of the decision in the Brisbane District Court.
In the first case, Bob Ebert was snapped allegedly doing 71km/h in a 60km/h zone on Mt Mee Road at Ocean View in December 2012. Ebert said when the infringement notice arrived, it looked different to previous fines that he and his wife had received and he decided to seek legal advice.
"When you receive the photo, there is no block in the corner with information like the date and time, the site number and the speed," he said. "The only information is the red and white circle over the registration number. There's also a close up of your rego plate but that could be taken anywhere."
He appeared in Pine Rivers Magistrates Court on 20 August 2013 and was found not guilty of the speeding offence, which carried a $145 fine. Another motorist who challenged his TruCam fine but did not want to be identified was also cleared of doing 124km/h in a 100km/h zone on the Gateway Motorway after the magistrate found the details of the offence were added to the photograph at a later time.
"For the Prosecution to rely on the contents of the data block to prove the speed of the vehicle, then the data block must be made by the photographic detection device," said the ruling by Magistrate Sheryl Cornack. "Clearly, the photographic detection device did not make any writing on that image, as it is not shown in the notice. Clearly, the writing has been added at a later time."
Cooper said that he was being inundated with queries from motorists about the TruCam fines, which he believed were unenforceable. "Not only did we win these cases, we annihilated them," Mr Cooper said. "Here is a magistrate pointing out all the deficiencies - enhanced photographs and a photographic device that cannot and does not imprint the correct information."
Police Commissioner Ian Stewart said that he had asked for a report on all the circumstances surrounding the TruCam devices. "It is my understanding the legislation is sound, but it's going to be tested," Stewart said. "We now have two matters that have been knocked back by magistrates so we should be looking at appealing this latest ruling so we can get an indication of the legislation that sits behind the use of our TruCam technology."
It is obvious that these TruCam devices are being used wrongly to book motorists and it's an excellent result to have two speeding fines thrown out. Now all motorists who have been booked by police using TruCams should demand that their fines be cancelled or they will sue the Queensland government for damages and win.
But there is another issue with all speed measuring devices, especially those used to punish motorists. As far as CARR is aware, all of them are not being legally used because not one of them has "pattern approval", as required by the only legislation that actually covers all measuring instruments for trade and other legal purposes. That legislation is the federal National Measurement Act 1960 and Regulations 1999.
So all motorists who are booked by any sort of speed measuring devices should challenge the booking and when in court, cross-examine the prosecution witness and demand to see the compliance certificates for those devices under that federal Act. Motorists should also demand to see the testing and installation data for any speed cameras and demand that the prosecution prove beyond a shadow of doubt that those cameras were accurately calibrated on the days of the alleged offences.
There are many things that motorists can do to beat these infernal revenue-raising devices and they should also be prepared to sue the government for damages on top of beating the fines. Motorists should not just let governments get away scot-free with wrongly fining them - those governments should be forced to pay thousands of dollars in damages for all the time, lost wages. aggravation and anxiety they cause to motorists with their rapacious money grabs.
Thanks to John Vance for this item.
September 2013 - The NSW O'Farrell government is considering buying the troubled Cross City Tunnel to cut the hefty toll in an effort to reduce traffic congestion in the central business district. The planned light rail line along George Street, which will require big traffic changes in the CBD, has prompted bureaucrats and MPs to search for ways to lure more cars off crowded city streets and to the under-used Cross City Tunnel. Another option being considered is offering its owners a concession to lower the toll.
Receivers had been appointed to the Cross City Tunnel for the second time in its eight-year history. The financial fragility of the tunnel, combined with the impending traffic changes in the CBD, have prompted discussion within the government of a possible intervention. The tunnel attracts about 40,000 cars a day. If the $4.91 one-way toll was abolished, it could help remove another 30,000 cars a day from city streets.
KordaMentha partners Martin Madden and Cassandra Mathews were appointed receivers after a disputed tax bill prompted its debt-laden owners to put it into administration. In 2007. One complication is that the government's Office of State Revenue contends that it is owed $64 million by the tunnel's owner in an unpaid stamp duty bill.
This is exactly what CARR had been hoping for, that enough motorists would boycott a toll road to the point where a government would buy it and turn it into the freeway that it should have been in the first place. If every motorist had the discipline to avoid using toll roads completely and just drive on free roads, not only would they save many thousands of dollars every year, but they would send those toll roads broke and force them to eventually become freeways that they could use at no cost.
The power of the boycott can be considerable and unfortunately it is the only power that individual motorists have. Governments do not listen to the people who elect them, except when politicians are scrabbling for votes. Even then, the promises that politicians make at those times are usually completely hollow. But motorists do have that power to deny governments revenue from speed and red light cameras and cops with speed guns by simply using modern technology such as GPS with camera warnings.
The same GPS technology will plot driving routes that completely avoid toll roads and in many cases, the journeys will either take the same amount of time or be a few minutes longer. However, the savings from avoiding toll roads are immense, with some CARR members reporting that since they started boycotting toll roads, they saved over $5000 per year. That sort of money can buy a very luxurious holiday every year, so one has to wonder why any motorist would put it into the pockets of toll road operators and governments that receive tax from them.
CARR again adevises all motorists to completely boycott all toll roads, including the new WestConnex in Sydney when it is completed. Motorists need to send a huge message to toll road operators and governments that they will not be fleeced by these rapacious tolls, such as the proposed $7.70 per trip on the WestConnex, amounting to $3750 per year for a motorist using it to go to work every day, when it can all be easily avoided.
After multi-year studies, the US state of Utah has raised a number of its highway speed limits to 80 miles an hour (130km/h). They cited the same reasons of safety as the now-famous "Speed Kills Your Pocketbook" documentary.
THe Utah Department Of Transport's recently-concluded study found that vehicle crashes decreased slightly in existing 80mph zones. They attributed the new safety to more vehicles travelling at the same speed. The "Speed Kills Your Pocketbook" video stated pretty much the exact same thing.
The "Speed Kills Your Pocketbook" documentary (on the CARR website in the Legal Issues section on the Fight Unfair Fines page) proves beyond a shadow of doubt that politicians around the world have discovered how to use stupidly low speed limits on excellent roads in order to entice and then entrap motorists to rip money from them in penalties. It is an utter disgrace that the people whom we elect to look after our interests act as highway robbers because they have discovered that motorists are easy targets to be fleeced.
Many roads in Australia are better than the German autobahns that have no speed limits in most areas, yet motorists are forced to adhere to a really low speed limit of 110km/h. For instance the Hume Freeway from the outskirts of Sydney to the Canberra turnoff is a divided three-lane per side superhighway that would be completely safe to drive on at 200km/h in a modern car, yet the speed limit is a ludicrous 110km/h. No wonder drivers become frustrated and thus make themselves cannon-fodder for government revenue-raising.
Motorists should remember that they make up a very large voting bloc in any electorate and it would be very beneficial for them if a Motorists Party were to be formed to contest state elections. If most motorists who were grossly annoyed at the ridiculous speed limits and stupid and repressive driving laws voted for a Motorists Party candidate in each electorate, the incumbent governments would be panic-stricken and hopefully might consider doing the right thing by motorists by giving them speed limits that are appropriate to the roads and also stop fleecing them with speed cameras and entrapment methods.
Thanks to Santo Calabrese for this item.
September 2013 - The green light has effectively been given for Sydney's long-talked about $11.5 billion road network, the WestConnex. Prime Minister Tony Abbott and New South Wales Premier Barry O'Farrell released details on the start of the motorway. The NSW Government has described the WestConnex as Australia's biggest infrastructure project.
The 33-kilometre WestConnex will link Sydney's west and south-west with the city, airport and Port Botany. Construction is expected to take eight years and be completed in 2023. Work will begin in early 2015 with the M4 motorway widened from three lanes to four. At the same time, construction will start on a 5 kilometre tunnel from Homebush Bay Drive to the City West Link.
Most of the money for the project will be raised through tolls, with $3.3 billion being committed by the State and Federal Governments. NSW Roads Minister Duncan Gay stated that the WestConnex toll will be distance-based, similar to the M7. "If you did the full distance it would be capped somewhere around about $7.60 for 33 kilometres," Gay said. "We can only firm it up once we've got the full costs in place but on today's costs it would be equal with the cheapest tolls in the city."
What has not been publicised nearly as much is that the M4 freeway, which was originally a toll road and was paid off completely by motorists, will have a toll reimposed on it between Parramatta and Homebush.
This is yet another disgrace, where governments rip motorists off unmercifully in every which way, but are incapable of funding vital road infrastructure with that revenue. The worst aspect of this is that the M4 freeway, which originally had a toll imposed and was completely paid off, will have a toll placed on it. This is sheer government-imposed daylight robbery, making people pay again for something they have already paid for and something they own.
Imagine a motorist who drives to work from western Sydney to Botany who pays nothing at this time, having to fork out over $15 per day to use the WestConnex, costing him $75 per week and around $3750 per year. That motorist could have a fantastic luxury overseas holiday every year for the money he saves by boycotting the WestConnex. But of course the government and toll road operators use electronic tolling to lull motorists into forgetting exactly how much they squander every time they use those toll roads.
As usual, CARR recommends that all motorists completely boycott the WestConnex and the part of the M4 with the toll and send these roads broke. The cost of using toll roads is ludicrously expensive and completely avoidable. Anybody who pays many thousands of dollars every year to toll road operators is a fool.
September 2013 - Police have slammed as reckless a magazine stunt that commissioned a foreign journalist to drive from Melbourne to Sydney above the speed limit at 130km/h - slashing more than an hour off the journey and completing it in less than 6½ hours. In a campaign to increase the limit between the two capital cities, the latest issue of Wheels magazine stated, "we drove from Melbourne to Sydney at 130km/h, didn't die and didn't get booked".
Defending the stunt, Wheels editor Stephen Corby said: "We've been told for years drowsy drivers die, but increasing the speed limit would reduce fatigue. You're less likely to have a microsleep, less likely to wander off the road. We see it as a positive for road safety." The magazine was prepared to pay for three speeding tickets before calling off the attempt, done on a Saturday, but was amazed to find it didn't once get stopped by police in Victoria or NSW.
Travelling 20km/h above the posted limit cut more than 70 minutes from the 800km journey between the northern outskirts of Melbourne and the south-western outskirts of Sydney on the Hume Highway, to just six hours and 23 minutes. British journalist behind the wheel Ben Oliver slowed for more than a dozen speed cameras and stuck to the limit in all other speed zones except 110km/h sections.
"I've never arrived in a city with the sole intention of breaking the law before, but any sense of roguish glamour soon fades as I head out of Melbourne on the Hume Highway, flagrantly breaching Australian law by doing something that is considered perfectly safe and legal in other countries," wrote Oliver, even though he later admitted "I wouldn't advocate making the Hume 130km/h all the way". Aside from speed-unlimited sections of German autobahn, most European countries have maximum speed limits of between 130km/h and 150km/h.
But Australian police are not impressed. "This stunt has potentially endangered other people's lives. Speed is still one of the biggest killers on our roads," said NSW Police Assistant Commissioner, Commander of Traffic and Highway Patrol, John Hartley. "It's a deliberately reckless action. We take a dim view of what is clearly a stunt. It sends a bad message to other drivers and could have had tragic consequences."
Victoria Police Superintendent of road policing, Neville Taylor, added: "This has been a ridiculous high-risk stunt and is most certainly not an appropriate method of doing research into road safety initiatives. Speed is a significant contributor to one in three road traumas."
The lead-footed journalist said Victoria's near-zero tolerance to speeding "causes cars and trucks to bunch together as one overtakes another achingly slowly, terrified of getting pinged". The author also "marvelled at the staggering wrongheadedness of the constant roadside signs warning drivers of the dangers of fatigue when an unnecessarily low limit forces them to remain behind the wheel for longer".
NSW Roads Minister Duncan Gay gave qualified support to the 130km/h campaign: "I think in certain conditions, 130km/h would be a speed that could be contemplated, but it is not a speed that the community would accept," he said.
Firstly, CARR will unequivocally say that the constant mantra about "Speed Kills" emanating from the mouths of NSW Police Assistant Commissioner John Hartley and Victoria Police Superintendent of road policing, Neville Taylor is complete and utter bullshit. Countless studies from all over the world have found that it is not speed that kills motorists, it is a range of other factors, including driver inexperience, fatigue, cars that have faulty tyres and many other reasons.
Of course the real reason that the police trot out the "Speed Kills" nonsense is that it is part of their role as government tax collectors to inflict artificially low speeds on motorists on perfectly safe divided freeways in order to entice them into speeding and thus booking them and raising revenue for their employers, the state governments. In literally every case around the world where speed limits have been raised to realistic levels to reflect true road conditions, accident rates and fatalities have fallen. But do Hartley and Taylor admit this? Of course not - that's the last thing that they want motorists to hear - the truth.
It's the same with speed and red light cameras. All over the world, it has been shown that speed cameras have not saved one single life. Why? Because they can't - all they do is take photos, but they don't jump out and stop motorists from continuing to drive recklessly or speed to dangerous levels. The same goes for red light cameras, where many studies, including a 10-year comprehensive research project by David Andreassen of Monash University proved beyond a shadow of doubt that accidents at intersections increased up to a whopping 40% after red light cameras were installed. But do the cops and governments admit to these facts? Well not as long as those cameras keep raking in the loot for them.
The Hume Highway is now completely divided from Sydney to Melbourne and it is a better road than most German autobahns. The 110km/h speed limit is ludicrously low and makes Australia a laughing stock among foreign motorists. It can safely be driven at up to 200km/h by competent drivers with modern safe cars, but of course that would make those cops hiding behind bushes with speed guns completely redundant and no revenue from speeding fines would be flowing to the NSW and Victorian governments.
It's all about money, not safety. It's all about enticement and entrapment of motorists for the purpose of extorting money out of them, even though driving at 150km/h on the Hume Highway is perfectly safe. It's a complete disgrace how our political representatives stoop to any depths in order to raise revenue by punishment by telling blatant lies about "Speed Kills" and that so-called safety cameras improve safety when it is proven that they do the opposite.
Thanks to Santo Calabrese for this item.
September 2013 - Sydney’s Cross City Tunnel is on the brink of receivership for the second time in seven years, with the road’s owners unlikely to meet a 30 September 2013 deadline to refinance the troubled infrastructure project. Cross City Tunnel had hoped to refinance a $79 million chunk of debt by the end of the month, but is understood to have run into difficulties caused by an unpaid $60 million stamp duty bill.
The road’s shareholders, Leighton Holdings, Royal Bank of Scotland and EISER Infrastructure Partners, recently defeated the NSW Office of State Revenue and do not have to pay the bill. But the potential for an appeal is understood to have ended any chance of a refinancing, given the project remains incapable of generating enough traffic to support its total borrowings of $600 million.
The tunnel’s fate rested in the hands of RBS, which also holds the debt. Sources said that a decision from RBS was imminent and receivership was the most likely option. RBS has called in insolvency firm KordaMentha to advise on its options.
The financial problems experienced by the project are another reminder of the private sector’s inability to measure the critical traffic forecasts associated with funding toll roads. Prime minister-elect Tony Abbott said during the election campaign that he wanted to be known as an infrastructure prime minister, while confirming a range of projects worth more than $17 billion.
Roads are the centrepiece of the incoming prime minister’s promises, with the federal government giving firm commitments to at least seven projects, including Queensland’s Bruce Highway and WestConnex in Sydney.
This is a terrific piece of good news for those who detest the rip-off that toll roads are. It is obvious that the Cross City Tunnel was recognised by Sydney's motorists as a waste of time, when it was fairly easy to go across the Sydney CBD and avoid paying to use this tunnel.
The problem for motorists is that the proposed WestConnex in Sydney will also be a toll road, but hopefully motorists will boycott it and send it broke too. Motorists are gouged in every conceivable way, whether it be in fuel taxes and excise, registration fees and licence charges, as well as being entrapped by revenue-raising speed cameras and cops hiding behind bushes with speed guns trying to rip them off.
With the vast sums of money flowing in from these areas, governments should be easily able to fund a comprehensive freeway system without involving private companies or imposing tolls. However, at the end of the day, governments don't care, as long as they are reaping revenue, so they do cosy deals with toll road operators and motorists are inflicted with these monstrosities.
However, as CARR advises, motorists are not forced to spend one single cent on toll roads. They can drive anywhere without going onto one toll road and in many cases, driving on toll roads is slower than driving on free roads. Hopefully when the WestConnex comes into service, motorists will avoid it in droves and send it broke too.
August 2013 - Young Sydney model Sarah Durazza was talking to her boyfriend on her mobile phone as she was driving when he heard a crashing sound followed by silence. He knew something was wrong and raced to the Wakehurst Parkway on Sydney's northern beaches and found her car twisted around a tree and the young woman dead. Soon after, he was joined by her father, Paul Durazza, who watched on as rescue workers cut his daughter from the wreckage.
Durazza, a former Miss Freshwater model winner from Mona Vale lost control of her car and crashed into a tree. "We believe she was talking to her boyfriend at the time," said the head of the NSW Highway Patrol, Assistant Commissioner John Hartley. "He told police officers at the scene that he heard the crash over the phone and attended the scene straight away."
Nobody should ever make light of the loss of a loved one in an accident, but Sarah Durazza's death could have easily been prevented for a few dollars, if she had the sense to purchase and use a Bluetooth hands-free device while driving. The cost of these Bluetooth devices has fallen to ridiculously low levels, with CARR seeing some for sale as low as $17. The best voice-operated Bluetooth device on the market can be purchased for no more than $79.
So there is no excuse whatsoever for any driver to be talking on a mobile phone by holding it, when literally every mobile phone on the market has Bluetooth capability and Bluetooth hands-free devices are so cheap - and they are really a one-off purchase. Considering that the fine for using a hand-held mobile phone while driving is more than $300 in NSW, one would have to be a complete idiot to risk getting booked for this, when there is a very cheap way to avoid it permanently, let alone risk having an accident by holding that phone to one's ear.
CARR may be sounding like a nag, but please, if you don't have a Bluetooth hands-free car kit or a Bluetooth earphone, go out and get one now and always use it. They are very cheap. You will never be at risk of being booked and by using this hands-free technology, the life you save may be your own.
August 2013 - In the state of Iowa in the USA in the city of Clive, the number of accidents at red light monitored intersections in 2012 was twice the figure from four years earlier. However, during the same period, the number of accidents citywide dropped 22%.
Clive’s red light cameras, which had been turned off in July 2013, were slated to be turned back on. Council members agreed to resume the program after concerns were raised that city services and programs would be cut to make up for the estimated $700,000 in lost revenue from the cameras.
Evaluating the effectiveness of the red light camera program based on the number of accidents at camera intersections would be misguided, Police Chief Michael Venema said. "What I caution people is that you’re talking about a very small sample size," he said.
City Councilman Michael McCoy disagreed, saying the data show the enforcement program has been ineffective. "The underlying problem, safety, isn’t being taken care of by just red lights," McCoy said. "So, what that does show me, if it’s increased in the red light camera intersections and decreased citywide, that tells me that it’s actually done the opposite of what it was intended to do, and that is brought accidents, or increased accidents in those intersections," he said.
James Walker, a member of the Wisconsin-based driver advocacy group National Motorists Association, which opposes red light cameras, said that it’s not unusual for there to be an increase in accidents at monitored intersections once a program is implemented. "It doesn’t happen every time, but it happens often enough to be a known potential consequence," said Walker, who has frequently spoken against automatic traffic enforcement programs in Clive and other cities.
However, he said cameras are used more as a revenue tool, and not an enforcement mechanism. Cities like Clive have gotten hooked on revenue from the cameras, Walker said.
This report merely confirms what has been found all over the world, that red light cameras at intersections cause more accidents. The 10-year study by David Andreassen at Melbourne's Monash University proved conclusively that there was an increase in accidents of up to 40% for 5 years at intersections where red light cameras were installed, compared to the 5 years prior to their installation.
Therefore, it also proves that red light cameras are being used merely to raise revenue and nothing else, at the cost of increased accidents and fatalities. The Clive Council even affirmed this by reinstating the red light camera program in the face of hard evidence showing that those devices increase accident rates. Why? Because they were concerned that services and programs would be cut to make up for the estimated $700,000 in lost revenue from the cameras.
This is exactly the situation in Australia, where governments are so hooked onto reaping revenue from motorists, that they are increasingly installing red light cameras and combined red light and speed cameras as their automated tax collectors, no matter that they know from studies around the world that these devices cause accidents and fatalities. They don't care that people die because of these cameras, as long as they get the money.
CARR would like to see a legal class action being taken against governments for this terrible scam, but in the meantime, motorists can avoid being booked by these dreadful highway robbers by using their GPS receivers with speed and red light camera warnings enabled, to warn them whenever they are approaching any of these devices.
The most effective way to stop being ripped off is to take active measures and GPS receivers are ridiculously cheap, even really good ones selling for $60. Of course even better are the GPS applications for smartphones, such as MetroView that only costs $15 for iPhone. No motorist these days has any excuse to be booked by speed or red light cameras with this sort of cheap technology available.
Thanks to John Vance for this item
August 2013 - In Sydney, a four-kilometre tunnel from Strathfield to Ashfield and a widened M4 motorway will be the first segment built of the O'Farrell government's WestConnex motorway. This part of the motorway will cost between $3 billion and $4 billion. Motorists will pay a toll to use it but the amount has not yet been specified.
The tunnel will run under Parramatta Road from the start of the existing M4 at Strathfield to near Wattle Street at Ashfield, where it will have to connect to the City West Link and the eastern section of Parramatta Road to the city.
The business case recommends that the first segment should include both the widened M4 from Parramatta to Strathfield, which will have tolls re-introduced on it and the tunnel from Strathfield to Ashfield.
The re-imposition of tolls on a freeway is a thorough disgrace and must be opposed. We motorists own the M4 Freeway and have completely paid for it and that is why the tolls were removed some years ago. For a government to now plan to charge a toll to motorists who own that road is patently unfair.
However, this merely demonstrates that no matter the political persuasion of a government, the results will always be the same - the gouging of motorists, who are considered to be convenient cash cows for rapacious politicians of all parties. The voters of NSW were hoping that when the Liberals won government, things would change and the promises to remove revenue-raising speed cameras and not impose any more tolls would be kept. How wrong they were.
As usual, CARR advises all motorists to completely boycott toll roads and use their GPS receivers to route themselves around them and avoid forking out large sums of money to save a few minutes travelling time. Send all toll roads broke and hopefully they will revert to freeways.
August 2013 - A man in England has been charged for "headlight flashing" oncoming motorists to warn them of an upcoming police speed detection radar. The man was charged £175 for flashing his headlights seven times and £265 in court costs (around $691 all up).
The actual offence was recorded as "willfully obstructing a police officer". In court, the man accused of the offence, Michael Thompson, pleaded that he was simply warning motorists of the speed detection vehicle ahead so motorists wouldn’t suddenly hit the brakes, causing an accident.
In court, the police officer revealed he had warned Thompson at the time of the offence that he was perverting the course of justice. Thompson replied with, "I don’t believe that is the case". The police officer then said he was only going to give him a caution but after that reply, he said he was going to fine him.
A representative responded to justify whether the right action was taken, and whether the fine was necessary, saying, "When a file is provided to the Crown Prosecution Service from the police, it is our duty to decide whether it presents a realistic prospect of conviction and whether a prosecution is in the public interest. In accordance with the Code for Crown Prosecutors a prosecution was deemed appropriate."
In Australia, there are various laws and infringements against this offence depending on the state or territory. In Queensland, for example, it’s $30 fine and one demerit point if convicted on the spot. If the matter is taken to court however, and the accused is found guilty, it’s a $1500 fine.
This has to be one of the most ludicrous miscarriages of justice. If this British driver flashed his headlights to warn oncoming motorists of an accident blocking the road, he would have been praised. However, because he flashed his lights to warn motorists that a cop was raising revenue, he was booked. The charge itself - Wilfully obstucting a police officer - is insane. What did this motorist obstruct the cop from doing? Raising revenue? There was no safety issue whatsoever.
If there is such an offence as warning motorists of speed traps, they should be abolished forthwith. The police have absolutely no business operating as tax collectors for the government and if motorists flash their lights at oncoming motorists to tell them to slow down if they are speeding, then they are doing everybody a service and should never be penalised for this.
Police who booked a motorist for flashing headlights should have to prove beyond a shadow of doubt to a court that this activity posed a danger and they should be forced to produce at least one motorist from the time that it happened who would testify under oath that he was distracted by the flashing headlights. CARR cannot imagine one single motorist anywhere who would complain about being warned of a speed trap ahead, so the cops would have no success there. Motorists who are booked for this stupid offence should demand that the police produce a complainant who was driving at the time.
CARR considers that it is the duty of all motorists to warn other drivers of speed traps. If the police want to enforce the law, they should be driving up and down our roads and maintaining a visible presence, not lurking behind bushes and billboards trying to entrap people for the purpose of revenue-raising. Nothing slows down speeding motorists than the sight of police cars. Any motorist who is booked for this idiotic offence should fight it tooth and claw.
Thanks to Alex Brown for this item.
August 2013 - Traffic estimates used to justify the Napthine government's east-west link toll road artificially inflate the benefits that can be expected from the project, according to leaked emails sent by a senior VicRoads manager. And a separate leaked memo from VicRoads senior transport economist questions traffic figures put forward to support the road, saying the projection smacks of a desire to enhance the quantum of benefits.
In April 2013, as the government prepared Dr Napthine's May budget announcement of the road, VicRoads manager of network modelling and analysis, Douglas Harley, emailed the road authority's strategy and planning head, David Shelton. Harley warned traffic figures being used to justify the road could not be trusted. The figures were compiled by consultant Veitch Lister for the Linking Melbourne Authority, rather than using a traffic program created by the government.
Harley wrote, "We MUST NOT trust the information provided to us by the Linking Melbourne Authority." He warned that the traffic modelling used was not transparent, even to senior transport bureaucrats. He stated, "From the little that we can find out about it, it appears to be using an inflated value of time to artificially inflate the benefits that can be expected from the project."
Harley, who refused to comment when contacted about the leaked emails, has taken a redundancy package. Shelton hosed down the significance of the emails, saying they did not represent the authority's position. "As with any large organisation, individuals often express differing views. 'VicRoads endorses the traffic modelling for east-west link, which has undergone extensive and rigorous assessment," he stated.
CARR has seen the leaked email that was published in a Victorian newspaper, which noted that inflated figures were used to fudge the proposal to make the project more attractive. The problem is that when this new toll road is constructed, at an enormous cost to taxpayers, it will under-perform and possibly go broke, like many existing toll roads.
It is an utter disgrace that a government misleads the citizens by deliberately using inflated benefits to justify spending $6 billion on this project, especially when so many similar projects have failed financially. CARR had hoped that when the Liberal government was elected in 2012, that it would keep its promises about removing those revenue-raising speed cameras and would act in a responsible and honest manner. CARR was wrong - the Victorian Liberal government is just as dishonest and corrupt as the previous Labor regime.
One big question is - why did Douglas Harley take that redundancy package and clam up about this scandal? Was he coerced or bribed into leaving VicRoads with a fat payoff in order to shut him up and get him out of the road before he spilled the beans on the Napthine government's machinations, with even the possibility of corruption being exposed? There should be an independent investigation into this matter, because it stinks to high heaven.
The only advice that CARR can offer motorists is to completely avoid all toll roads, including this new road if it actually is constructed. The other advice is for Victorians to let this bunch of clowns led by Denis Napthine know that they are very displeased at the fact that their government has tried to scam them with inflated figures for this toll road and they will not stand for it.
Thanks to Avi Olshina for this item.
August 2013 - The Federal Government is pushing for the option of the planned $1.1 billion Northern Connector to become South Australia's first toll road. It puts the State Government, which is vehemently against the idea of toll roads, on a collision course with Federal Labor, which should it win the election would need to fund the bulk of the project.
The National Infrastructure Plan June 2013, which lists planned major projects across Australia, has asked the State Government to investigate a toll option for the Northern Connector. A spokesman for State Transport Minister Tom Koutsantonis and the State Government was committed to the project but did not want toll roads. Former Premier Mike Rann made a pledge after the 2006 state election to ban toll roads under Labor, mainly because traffic volumes were deemed insufficient at the time.
Salisbury deputy mayor Chad Buchanan said the Northern Connector was vital to securing the area's future and would help bring forward plans to build houses on the Cheetham salt pans west of Port Wakefield Road. "It's crucial for economic development - linking the north with the south," Buchanan said. However, Cr Buchanan said that the Northern Connector should not be a toll road, as it would put a financial burden on northern drivers.
CARR heartily concurs with deputy mayor Buchanan that this proposed road should not be a toll road, simply because governments get more than enough revenue from fuel taxes and excise and the myriad of fees and charges to pay for the best roads without imposing tolls. As well, all state governments have now discovered the sport of entrapping and fining motorists to fill their coffers, so there is plenty of money for roads, if governments stopped squandering funds on garbage.
In any case, if the Northern Connector is built, motorists ought to show their displeasure by boycotting it in the usual CARR manner, by using their GPS to route themselves around it and by doing this, sending the toll road broke. This has already happened on some toll roads in Sydney and Brisbane and if motorists simply kept their money in their pockets instead of wasting it on tolls, then this would discourage governments to impose tolls on new infrastructure projects.
August 2013 - Researchers have found no link between the number of US drivers making phone calls while on the road and the number of accidents recorded. A team at Carnegie Mellon University and the London School of Economics analysed more than eight million incidents of car crashes and all fatalities on roads in eight US states. They examined data before and after 9pm local time over a three-year period. However they say their results do not include texting or internet browsing.
The timeslot was chosen because during the period studied (2002-2005), many American mobile phone operators offered free calls after 9pm during the week. 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."
With the exception of calls to the emergency services, using a mobile phone while driving was officially banned in Britain in 2003. The Highway Code states that while hands-free sets are legal, drivers can still face penalties, starting with three licence points and a £60 fine "if the police think you're distracted".
"Using a phone at the wheel increases the risk of a crash by four times," said Kevin Clinton, head of road safety at the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA).
It is obvious that Kevin Clinton of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents does not pay attention to solid research, such as the study conducted by Bhargava and Panathial, which shows no link between hand-held mobile phone use and driving. This is typical of many spokesmen, such as many in Australia, who prefer to invent reasons to ban something, rather than base their decisions on the truth and the research.
So far, CARR has not seen one shred of hard evidence in Australia to show that using a hand-held mobile phone has resulted in increased accidents. Various authorities have quoted that distractions are a major cause of accidents, but have not shown that hand-held mobile phone use is one of those distractions. It's all theory so far, but the only really authoritative study on this subject is the one that cannot find a link between hand-held mobile phone use and accidents.
One could also suspect that one of the real reasons for the ban on hand-held mobile phone use when driving is to give the government more opportunities to raise revenue from fines. A driver holding a mobile phone to his ear is easily seen by police and the fine is substantial. NSW Police figures show that 11,211 infringements for illegal mobile phone use were issued since the current laws came into effect, amounting to $3.34 million in government revenue, or $25,166 a day. Each offence costs three demerit points and $298 or four demerit points and $398 if caught in a school zone.
The craziest thing about this is that apart from the lack of justification for these laws, based on the findings of Bhargava and Panathial, is that being booked for this offence is so easily avoided. Literally every phone on the market these days has Bluetooth and hands-free car kits are ludicrously cheap. CARR has seen one of these devices in a discount store for $17 and a quick Internet search reveals universal hands-free car kits for $24 or so.
Only complete idiots would put themselves at risk of fines of around $300 or more, plus loss of demerit points because they refused to make a one-off purchase of $17 to $24 for a Bluetooth hands-free car kit. Of all the infringements on the statutes, the use of hand-held mobile phones while driving is the easiest one to avoid for the cheapest price. Nearly all new cars offer Bluetooth connectivity either as standard equipment or an option and buyers would have to be very silly not to ensure that their next vehicles are equipped in such fashion.
August 2013 - On the same day that Patricia Hona was diagnosed with breast cancer, a tollway operator hit her with a $15,250 bill, including nearly $12,000 in administration fees. The giant claim came after three years and four months in which Hona's electronic tag failed to worked properly, only on Sydney's M7. Hona knew that there was a problem. She would spend her days off completing batches of toll notices from Roam Tolling, supplying account details plus her mobile phone number. She believed Roam was deducting payment each time she returned completed notices. But it wasn't.
On August 27, 2010, having just been told by her doctor that she had breast cancer, she returned to her western Sydney home and opened a letter that said attempts to charge her account had been rejected. "I must advise you that you have 611 toll notices and the full amount of $15,249.67 is due and payable to Roam Tolling on behalf of Westlink M7." The letter did not say that the toll component was just $3332.72.
Hona immediately rang Toll and spoke to the author of the letter. It was then that she discovered most of the charge was an "administration fee". Because of Hona's circumstances, Toll's credit officer agreed to waive the entire admininstration fee. The credit officer also advised she could take as much time as she needed to pay the tolls. However, she was told that she would now have to pay the full amount. Later this was reduced to $9292.72.
A letter from Roam in May 2013 said that if she was not satisfied, she could contact the Tolling Customer Ombudsman. So she filed a complaint with the operator-funded ombudsman in June 2013. In her complaint, she said that she and her husband travelled on many toll roads and they did not have this problem.
Hona stated, "I am happy to pay for the trips travelled. I do not want to pay the administration fees, as I followed their procedures and sent toll notices back within time and fully complete." She heard nothing back from the ombudsman. However, the "Tolling Customer Ombudsman", Michael Arnold, stated that he had no record of Hona's complaint. The ombudsman has been in place since 2004. The ombudsman covers Sydney's M2, M5 and M7, Melbourne's CityLink and EastLink, as well as all Queensland toll roads.
Firstly, if Hona had any sense, she would have avoided using the M7 toll road and all other toll roads. However, if she is happy to contribute to the massive profits of toll road operators such as Transurban and the whopping salary of its CEO, who takes home around $79,000 PER WEEK, then she deserves what she gets. CARR has to ask the question - if Hona knew that her electronic tag had a problem, why on earth did she not have it exchanged?
But there seems to be more to this than meets the eye, because Hona's tag apparently worked just fine on other toll roads, but did not work just on the M7. This logically means that the M7's roadside tolling equipment or Transurban's tolling software was at fault. Therefore Hona cannot be held responsible for any failure of equipment over which she has no control. From the details in the news report, it seems that fault rests with both parties. Hona knew that her tag was not registering trips on just the M7 but worked fine everywhere else, but she did not do anything to exchange her tag for one that worked on the M7. And Transurban is at fault for having defective roadside tolling equipment and yet did not investigate the problem with Hona's account.
The one thing that every motorist should understand is that if they are victims of equipment that they do not own or control, such as toll tags or toll road metering equipment, then they are not liable to pay for faults to that equipment. If motorists receive letters of demand from toll road operators because of the failure of the tolling equipment, they should refuse to pay one cent for this and if they are billed in such a fashion, they should demand an immediate cancellation of the amount and compensation for wrongful deduction of funds.
However, if motorists become aware that their toll tags are not working properly, then obviously it is incumbent on them to have those tags replaced. Of course all this sort of nonsense can be avoided by doing the smart thing by boycotting toll roads and keeping your money in your own pockets instead of enriching companies like Transurban and seeing its CEO taking home such an obscenely high salary paid for by foolish people who drive on his toll roads.
Thanks to John Vance for this item.
August 2013 - In Vermont in the USA, motorist Rod MacIver wanted justice after being wronged by his local police department. He was pulled over and booked for running a red light, despite the officer's dashboard camera video clearly shown that he had not. When the matter went to court, after viewing the footage, the judge threw the case out and dressed down the officer, Jason Lawton.
MacIver isn't through, though, taking the matter to small claims court over the time and effort involved in beating his original ticket. Looking for $2,000 in damages, the 56-year-old resident argues that the department's default attitude was dishonesty in every encounter.
With his day in court scheduled and Judge Samuel Hoar stating that he was looking forward to the proceedings, neither the officer, his sergeant nor a department administrator were to be found. Only the Shelburne Police Department's lawyer, Colin McNeil, showed up in court. Arguing that the burden of proof was on MacIver, the lawyer argued that the officers didn't need to attend the proceedings (they were across the street at a coffee shop), meaning the matter was set aside for a future date. While the matter still isn't resolved, Judge Hoar informed McNeil that it would be a mistake for the officers to miss the next hearing.
This is a perfect example as to why every motorist should have a car black box recorder. Rod MacIver was lucky that he had access to the footage of the police officer's dashboard camera, but if that video had not been available, it would have been his word against that of the police officer who booked him. We all know that in these cases, when it comes to verbal testimony only, virtually every motorist who fights bookings in court loses. Judges tend to believe cops, because they understand that motorists are always trying to avoid paying fines, so they consider them to be guilty before they even open their mouths in court.
This is why every motorist needs to take active measures to gather hard evidence when pulled over by a cop, going through speed and red light cameras and school zones and indeed at any time while driving. Insurance companies love video evidence exonerating their clients from causing accidents. Of course it is very hard for any judge to dismiss hard evidence from a car black box recorder presented by an enraged motorist who has been wrongly booked, therefore this is literally the only sure-fire way for motorists who are wrongly booked to successfully beat those bookings in court.
This case also reinforces what CARR has been advocating for years. It is not enough for motorists who are wrongly booked to just walk away with a court win under their belts. They need to be compensated for the massive waste of time and money that fighting wrongful bookings entails, as well as the anguish and pain that they suffer. This is why every motorist who wins a wrongful booking case should immediately sue the government, not just to recover their costs, but to demand exemplary damages for their suffering. Why the hell should motorists be put through hell by cops and governments trying to revenue-raise and let those people get away with it scot-free?
So again, CARR advises all motorists to install a car black box recorder - not just a dashboard camera, but a recorder with GPS logging that can show on a moving map exactly where and when the motorist was located when he was wrongly booked. Without such evidence from a car black box recorder, motorists literally stand no chance of winning wrongful booking cases in court. And remember - there is nothing illegal about recording in public places. If you record your encounter with a cop and he tries to stop you and quotes various laws, just challenge him to arrest you and take it to court. Believe me, he will back off, because recording your encounter is perfectly legal and you can find this information on the CARR website.
Quite a few people, including a couple of CARR members, contacted CARR after they were allegedly wrongfully booked. However, none of them had one shred of hard evidence with which to fight the bookings in court. The lesson to be learned from this is that if you are booked and you don't have a car black box recorder and you don't record the cops on your smartphone, it's no good complaining to anybody about it, because you stand almost no chance of beating the booking.
Thanks to John Vance for this item.
August 2013 - Transurban, Australia's biggest toll road operator, has increased the toll on the M2 Motorway in Sydney from $4.95 to $6.05 for cars. At the same time, Transurban announced that its new managing director, Scott Charlton, received $4.1 million in his first year in the job.
Despite the fact that for the past two years, the M2 toll road has literally been a mobile parking lot, punishing the fools who were paying $4.95 per trip on this snail's-pace road, Transurban has had the temerity to hit users with a massive toll increase. This is one very good reason why every motorist should completely boycott not just the MW toll road, but every toll road, because the savings are immense.
For instance, a person travelling to and from work on the M2 five days per week will pay $60.50 per week in tolls. For a 50 week working year, that amounts to $3025. Think about it. It's a proven fact that driving on free roads only adds a few minutes at the most to travel time, so for that extra few minutes every day sitting in one's air-conditioned car listening to nice music, a motorist can save $3025. What can a person buy for $3025 if he avoids using the M2 and sticks to free roads? One hell of a nice holiday in the USA for a couple of weeks. A fantastic Bose home theatre sound system. A whopping Sharp 70" Full HD Quattron LED LCD TV. Any amount of fabulous appliances, trips, computer equipment, smartphones and tablets - $3025 will buy a lot of great stuff each year, simply by boycotting toll roads.
But those motorists who are crazy enough to squander this sort of money should also think about the salary package of Transurban's managing director. Scott Charlton took home $4.1 million last year. That's nearly $79,000 - PER WEEK. That's right, Charlton earned nearly $79,000 PER WEEK last year while suckers using his toll roads forked out massive amounts of money sitting on his mobile carparks.
Again, CARR reminds all motorists to save their money and boycott all toll roads. It is very easy to do. If you are not sure of your route, just program your GPS receiver to avoid all toll roads and follow the route suggested and think that you will be saving a hell of a lot of money every time you do this. But if you choose to use these off toll roads such as the M2, then you deserve to be ripped off.
July 2013 - Bondi resident Marina Alexiou walked smiling from Waverley Court after a magistrate declared she deserved the benefit of the doubt over a mobile phone fine. The primary school teacher faced a $298 fine after police pulled her over and accused her of handling a mobile phone while driving with her children along Old South Head Road Edgecliff in December.
Alexiou claimed that she was holding a packet of Tic-Tacs which her daughter had just handed her. She told the court that she was holding the box of sweets while she was stopped at lights waiting to turn into Edgecliff Road, to drop her two children off at school. "I was looking at the box and reading 'freshness in two calories', which amused me," she said.
Highway patrol officers stopped her and accused her of using her phone while driving. Alexiou said that she produced her iPhone from her handbag where it had been stored and explained the offending item was a box of Tic-Tacs. She was booked anyway.
Leading Senior Constable Stuart Bailey told the court that he spotted Alexiou behind the wheel watching the screen of the phone she was holding while waiting at traffic lights and that the suggestion he had confused a silver-covered mobile phone for an orange Tic-Tac box from a distance of less than 2m was ridiculous.
Alexiou admitted that the orange Tic-Tac box had a quite distinctive colour that was very different from her black phone in its silver case, but maintained the lollies were the only thing she had been holding that morning. "As far as I know it's not illegal to have a Tic-Tac packet in my hand," she said.
Magistrate Clare Farnan noted that under road laws which began in November 2012, police didn't have to prove that the driver was using her phone. But she said the prosecution hadn't been able to prove Ms Alexiou was holding the device rather than some Tic Tacs and threw out the penalty.
This case should have never even come before the court. Furthermore, the action of the cop who booked Alexiou was extremely pig-headed, as any reasonable person could conclude that he was trying to add to his booking quota by accusing Alexiou of committing an offence and expecting her to roll over and not fight such a wrongful booking.
The problem for motorists is that the law about handling mobile phones has gone too far. Police don't have to show that the phone was being used at the time, but can book motorists for holding a mobile phone, even when the motorists are holding something else in their hands. But how do motorists fight such wrongful bookings when in most cases, they have absolutely no evidence to present to a court in their defence?
This is where CARR quite rightly harps on about all motorists having car black box recorders installed and running whenever they are driving. If Alexiou had even an audio recording of her showing the cop the Tic-Tac box in her hand as he stuck his head in the window, this case would have never made it to court. She could have merely written to the Infringement Bureau stating: "I have been wrongfully booked by Constable Stuart Bailey and I have hard evidence to prove it. If you do not cancel this infringement notice forthwith, I will take the matter to court, beat it comprehensively and then sue the policeman and the state for comprehensive damages".
That is exactly what Alexiou should do now - launch a civil lawsuit against that cop who booked her and also the NSW government for wrongful prosecution. It is high time that every motorist who is wrongfully booked should not just walk out of court smiling and leave it at that. Motorists who have wasted time and money fighting wrongful bookings should take legal action to recover their costs, plus generous compensation for their anguish, time wasted, lost wages and other expenses.
Governments and cops should not be let off the hook when they commit crimes, such as wrongfully booking motorists - and believe it, accusing somebody of an offence they didn't commit is a crime. CARR encourages all motorists to have the means to gather hard evidence whenever they are pulled over and wrongfully booked and use it in court and then sue the perpetrators to the hilt. These money-grabbing quota-filling revenue-raising scams have to be dealt with in the harshest way possible.
July 2013 - Banyule Council in Melbourne has bowed to public outrage and reduced parking fees at a Greensborough carpark. Less than a month after a local newspaper raised the issue of the underused car park at the corner of Para Road and Flintoff Street, councillors voted to cut the fee by 60%.
In February 2013, meters charging up to $10 a day were installed at the carpark. At the time, Mayor Wayne Phillips said that the fees would deter commuters who lived outside Banyule leaving their vehicles in the carpark all day. He said that the situation was unfair for ratepayers. However, it was observed that the daily parking rates in the 100 space lot had dropped to an average of 1-5 cars.
When questioned about the situation and the future of parking fees at the site, Cr Phillips responded with one line: "Council will review arrangements in November." But the review was brought forward after the local newspaper's article, with council officers presenting a report at Banyule Council's meeting on 15 July 2013 calling for fees to be capped at $4 a day.
"The initial fee that was set appears to have been too high and has resulted in very low usage," the report said. "To encourage patrons back to the car park, it is recommended that the fees be lowered to a more reasonable level." The first three hours will now be free, then a charge of $1 per hour will be applied up to a maximum of $4 per day.
Many residents described the council's move as revenue raising. While some commuters said they were forced to drive to Watsonia railway station, others said that they were parking in nearby residential streets. Many also felt unsafe at having to walk further in dark streets.
This proves exactly what CARR has been saying for years, that boycotting expensive ripoffs does work, providing that the boycotts are extensive. The people have won a major victory over Banyule Council by literally turning its carpark into a wasteland until the council came to its senses and stopped trying to rip people off.
The same has happened to a number of toll roads in Sydney, with the Lane Cove Tunnel and Cross-City Tunnel going into receivership because of lack of patronage. Who would be stupid enough to pay $3 to drive through the Lane Cove Tunnel and then pay $5 to drive through the Cross City Tunnel to go to the Eastern Suburbs? For somebody driving to work from Epping to Woollahra five days per week, this would cost him $16 per day, around $80 per week and for a 50 week working year, a whopping $4000.
This sort of money would buy an annual two-week holiday for two to the USA, visiting Disneyland and all the other sights, plus staying at the best 5-star hotel and having plenty of spending money left over. Knowing this, why would anybody be so stupid as to pay money use these toll roads? Why would anybody want to put money into the hands of people such as recently retired Transurban CEO Chris Lynch, who was raking in $141,000 - PER WEEK, coming from fools who were using his toll roads instead of paying nothing to use free roads?
CARR always advises motorists to use the power of the boycott to show greedy governments, local councils and toll road operators that they will not be suckered into parting with their hard-earned money and at the same time, rendering revenue-raising speed and red light cameras useless by using GPS camera warnings, using GPS to avoid toll roads and avoiding parking anywhere that parking fees are outrageous ande expensive fines are a risk. This is all too easy when inexpensive GPS technology is available and motorists have the will to stand up and refuse to be victims of rapacious money grabs.
Thanks to Steve Houghton for this item.
July 2013 - Every speeding fine ever issued in NSW could be overturned if a little-known group of legal advocates succeed with a High Court challenge against the validity of the state's speed cameras. The Association Against Speed Measuring Devices is raising funds to launch the case, claiming speed cameras do not have "pattern approval" as required by federal legislation and so are null and void. All biological, chemical, legal, physical and trade measurement devices such as weighing scales and hospital equipment must be "pattern approved" by the National Measurement Institute.
The group preparing the legal challenge, which includes solicitors Dr Robert Spence and Warwick Cottee, insurance investigator and OH and S expert Alan Crothers, IT consultant Steve Stocks, private detective John Bracey and one of Australia's two legal metrologists, Harold Thurgood, says speed cameras in NSW do not have pattern approval and therefore do not conform to federal law and an international treaty on measuring devices.
Bracey said that motorists often fought speeding fines in a court using arguments based on the unreliability of cameras and photographs, but the missing clause on "pattern approval" had gone unnoticed for almost three decades. He stated, "We are not against the use of speed cameras but if we have to abide by the law then the government should have to as well."
Both the National Measurement Institute (NMA) and NSW Attorney-General's Department confirmed that speed cameras were not pattern approved because it was not mandatory for them to be under federal law, despite an international treaty saying the opposite. A Victorian Supreme Court judge made a similar ruling in a case in 2013 and rejected a motorist's attempt to use the legal argument. "The relevant regulations are therefore largely permissive in character. A person may apply for approval or certification of a pattern or of an individual measuring instrument, but it is not mandatory," the judge said.
However, Dr Thurgood, who wrote the federal National Measurement Act, said if pattern approval was not mandatory, this applied to every measuring device in the country, rendering them all invalid and not subject to standardisation. "Speed cameras are only the tip of the iceberg," he said. If they escaped scrutiny then supermarkets would not have to check their weigh scales, petrol stations their bowsers and hospitals the equipment they use to dispense medicine.
This entire issue comes down to legality and whether Australia must or must not conform to international treaties to which this nation is a signatory. If speed cameras are not pattern approved because it is not mandatory and a Victorian judge dismissed a motorist's attempt to use this as an argument, it means that the judiciary can ignore whatever treaty this nation has signed.
If this is the case, then any person operating any sort of measuring device, such as weighing scales in shops or petrol bowsers at service stations, can literally boot out any inspectors coming to test and certify them as being accurate, because the NMA and NSW Attorney-General's Department have stated that this sort of testing is not mandatory. Of course if a state tried to legislate to make this mandatory, it could be overturned on the basis that federal laws always supersede state laws.
It will be most interesting to see if such a legal challenge succeeds, however past efforts have failed because the judiciary is so entrenched with state governments that employ them. The only real way to resolve this issue is by legal test, such as a petrol station operator refusing to allow his bowsers to be tested by government inspectors and being fined. That operator could then front the court and state that testing his bowsers was not mandatory under federal legislation, as pattern approval for any measuring device was not mandatory and this had been confirmed by the NSW Attorney-General.
The magistrate would have no choice but to dismiss the prosecution, but if he upheld it, then there would be a case for declaring speed cameras unlawful because they were measuring devices that had not been pattern approved. This can only go one way - either all measuring devices must be pattern approved or not - and there are no exceptions. So we will wait and see if anything comes from this.
Thanks to John Vance for this item.
July 2013 - Private carpark operator Australian National Car Parks (ANCP), owned by Paul Gyles and Victor Nudler, is to face court hearings over charges of harassment over parking fines From its office in Annandale, ANCP sends a mountain of letters to people that they allege have breached the conditions of the car parks it manages for stores such as for Woolworths and Aldi and until recently, McDonald's in locations from Cabramatta to Nelson Bay. NSW authorities have received almost 4000 enquiries and complaints about ANCP over the past three years.
A number of these complaints were from Julie Fehon, who lives in Warriewood on the northern beaches of Sydney. She was rushing when she pulled into the Peninsula-Bungan Plaza car park in Mona Vale in December 2009. Fehon was suffering a severe medical condition and needed to see a specialist. The car park required a displayed ticket, so she bought one and put it on her dashboard before she entered the surgery. When she came out she found she had a $66 "ticket" for parking in a disabled bay.
She did not know it was a disabled bay, as there was no sign and no wheelchair symbol on the surface. Later, she returned to the spot to photograph it as evidence. She assumed that if she wrote to the company that gave her the "ticket", it would waive the penalty. But her first letter to ANCP, the operator of the car park that had given her the "ticket" was met with a form response, insisting that if she did not pay within 14 days, it had the right to commence legal action. A second letter brought a similar form response. A third triggered a reply from a solicitor, Michael Roper, requesting a total payment of $173 on behalf of his client, ANCP.
More correspondence followed. Fehon would write specific appeals and she would receive form letters in response. These form letters included two on official-looking letterhead from a debt company known as Australian Recoveries and Collections (ARC). The letters did not say that ARC's major shareholders were Paul Gyles and Victor Nudler. By this stage, Fehon's husband was encouraging her to pay the fine and forgo the stress. But the intransigence of the company had got under her skin. Eventually, offered a $66 settlement by ARC, Fehon caved in and paid up.
Fiona Allan, another woman who believed she was wrongly ticketed and ended up in a frustrating back-and-forth with ANCP put it this way. "I have a strong sense of justice and I didn't feel that what had happened was just or fair."
According to the Department of Fair Trading, the department received 1011 complaints and 2328 enquiries about ANCP in 2012 and has received 410 complaints and 292 enquiries about the company so far in 2013. The complaints peaked after ANCP won a court case in May 2012, allowing it access to the names and addresses of car owners it alleged had breached its terms. In November 2012, the O'Farrell government passed laws preventing Roads and Maritime Services from handing out personal information to private parking operators.
A few of these private carpark operators have found themselves on the wrong side of the law because of their intimidatory and very misleading way of trying to extract payments from motorists. For years, these carpark operators had sent out letters that looked like official government infringement notice, obviously in order to fool motorists into thinking that they had to pay these bogus "fines" or find themselves in court.
Nobody can dispute that the carparks operated by ANCP and other carpark operators are private and motorists need to play by their rules. However, the problem lies with the way that they deal with people who fail to collect and display parking tickets on their dashboards or park in spots that are allegedly disabled bays, yet are not marked clearly as such. This can easily be solved by the carpark operators spending the money to install boom gates and automatic ticket issuing machines, so that every motorist has to collect a ticket to enter and has to have that ticket to exit via a boom gate.
Of course carpark companies such as ANCP don't seem willing to invest in this equipment and rely on motorists noticing that they have to collect tickets from a central machine that might be a long way from where they parked, go back to their cars to put those tickets on their dashboards, then go and collect a hamburger, such as at McDonalds and then get back to their cars and drive out. The act of collecting those tickets and displaying them may take far longer than the time it takes to collect that hamburger and that is why so many motorists ignore this requirement and are then nailed by the operators, who then proceed to try and extract "fines" from them.
The bottom line is that motorists do have an obligation to follow the parking rules set by the owners of the private carparks, but on the other hand, motorists have to remember that no company has the legal power to issue fines. The only thing that those carpark operators such as ANCP can do is to sue motorists by Statement of Liquidated Claim in the local courts and they have to prove that the person to whom they issued the claim was actually the person who parked the car in their carpark.
So the simplest way to beat these bogus "fines" is to immediately contact the carpark operator - but don't do it by phone, because you need to lay the "paper trail" as evidence if it goes to court - and state that the carpark operator has no legal right to issue such "penalties" and the onus is entirely on the carpark company to prove who was driving the vehicle in question. Never admit to driving the car into the carpark. So without hard evidence to prove that a motorist was the one parking the car, the carpark operator stands no chance in winning a court case against him. Also, always take photos on your smartphone if possible to use as evidence to show that you were parked properly in accordance to the carpark operator's rules.
Of course if you don't like what these carpark operators such as ANCP are doing, the best way to deal with them is to never ever enter any carpark that they administer and let the companies or stores who have contracted them know that you will not do business with them until they either get them to change their misleading and intimidatory methods or get rid of them entirely. Most businesses such as McDonalds hate to lose customers and they really hate to acquire a bad name for hiring carpark companies that get dragged to court for their misleading tactics, so this does work. But always remember that whenver you drive onto private property, you are bound by the rules of the owner.
July 2013 - A speed camera company that has been banned from operating in Chicago Illinois USA after a corruption scandal has been contracted by the NSW government. The spread of mobile speed camera coverage in NSW will increase seven-fold by the start of next year, following the award of a $33 million contract to two firms in July 2013.
The contract is a boost to the fortunes of Redflex, one of the two speed camera operators, which has been embroiled in a corruption inquiry in the USA. Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel has barred Redflex from any new work in the city after it admitted bribing officials by paying for hotel bills and Super Bowl tickets for a public employee responsible for speed camera contracts.
Mobile speed cameras, mounted in six cars now carry out about 1000 hours of surveillance a month in NSW. From January, 45 cars operated by Redflex and another firm, Jenoptik Australia will run 7000 hours of surveillance a month. Road safety experts credit mobile speed cameras with sharp reductions in crashes and deaths.
"Last year's annual review of speed cameras found that in the 12 months after the reintroduction of mobile speed cameras, there was a 19 per cent reduction in fatalities," said Marg Prendergast, the general manager of Roads and Maritime Services Centre for Road Safety.
The expansion of the speed camera program has already been announced but the awarding of the contract has been delayed for months. "Roads and Maritime Services has spent the past few months assessing and reviewing tenders for the expanded program to ensure NSW taxpayers get the best value for money with the least risk," RMS director of customer and compliance Peter Wells stated.
Is there no depths to which goverments will stoop to raise revenue from motorists? It doesn't matter which political party attains power, they are all too willing to do whatever they can to rip motorists off, because they consider them to be very easy cash cows - and they are. Motorists seem to be all too willing to allow themselves to be victimised by governments operating automated tax collection devices and now a massive rollout of mobile tax collection devices by Redflex and Jenoptik.
The mealy-mouthed nonsense emanating from the mouths of Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) stooges about reductions in fatalites is to be expected, because RMS is an arm of the NSW government and obviously has a financial interest in deploying techniques that will rip even more money from motorists. Marge Prendergast can produce any statistics she likes about a reduction in fatalities, but trying to correlate mobile speed cameras to less deaths is nonsense. She has obviously ignored hard statistics from all over the world that show that road accidents and fatalities were reduced when speed cameras were removed, such as in Swindon in Britain.
CARR again advises that motorists do not have to be victims of revenue-raising. We can use GPS receivers with camera and school zone warnings to completely avoid being booked by these devices. We can use car black box recorders to collect hard evidence and beat wrongful bookings. We can warn each other by flashing our headlights at oncoming drivers every time we spot a mobile speed camera or cops hiding behind billboards entrapping motorists with speed guns. We can use Bluetooth hands-free to avoid being booked using our phones in the car. We can beat these bastards at every turn, but we have to take active measures.
It's not hard to do and it pays off. For example, CARR webmaster Ziggy Zapata has Metroview GPS on his iPhone 5 that warns him of speed cameras and school zones when they are active - $15. Ziggy has an Itronics 100HD car black box recorder that records hard evidence against wrongful bookings - $167. Ziggy has Bluetooth hands-free for telephone calls built into his car, but kits are available from $16 to $79 for the best Blueant unit. Ziggy records every encounter with police on his iPhone and that pulls up rogue cops in their tracks. Apart from the cost of a smartphone which most people have anyway, equipping oneself with these tools is a one-off expenditure of under $250 - but just one speeding ticket is over $300.
If you take such active measures, you will not be a victim of revenue-raising. You will not pay one cent in tolls either by using the GPS to avoid toll roads that are frequently slower than public roads. You will never be booked for using your phone in the car if you use an inexpensive Bluetooth car kit. It is all too easy to beat the government's revenue-raising ripoff - but you have to take active measures. If you don't do this and you get pinged by these cameras, then you only have yourself to blame. CARR cannot help you if you will not help yourself.
Traffic cameras have been a part of the urban scenery for years now, but in Elmwood Place, a suburb of Cincinnati Ohio in the USA, they are history. In a court hearing, Judge Robert Ruehlman ordered them not only to be shut off but to be impounded - taken off the streets for good.
The ruling came as a result of a contentious legal battle over the speed cameras. Both sides of the case were back before Ruehlman during a contempt hearing on 27 June 2013, where the judge ruled that Elmwood Place and the speed camera contractor Optotraffic were in contempt of court. Ruehlman found in March 2013 that the speed cameras were unconstitutional, essentially then ordering them shut down, along with the speed ticket program. He also ruled that outstanding tickets issued as a result of the system did not have to be paid.
During the June hearing, Ruehlman found that his order had been violated in a number of ways. First off, the cameras had been turned back on, though Elmwood Place Police Chief Bill Peskin said during the hearing that they were only used to collect traffic and speed data, not to collect licence plate information or to issue new traffic tickets. He also testified that people who had come to the station to pay tickets they had been issued were told that they didn't have to.
The traffic camera company collected the citations and apparently continued to collect money sent in after the judge's March order." There was testimony in court that some $48,000 was collected, with a percentage of that money passed on to the village per the speed camera contract.
In order to ensure no further violations of his order occurred, the judge ordered the Hamilton County sheriff to impound the traffic cameras and all of the equipment that is part of the traffic program, and store it at the expense of Elmwood Place. The equipment is to be released when the $48,000 in improperly collected ticket fees is returned.
Another victory in court for the lawyers fighting the cameras came when the topic moved to a class action lawsuit. The judge allowed the lawyers to move forward with a class action suit that would involve anyone who was given a ticket by the speed cameras back to the first day of operations in Elmwood Place.
The report said that the class-action suit may take some time to get through the courts. Hearings for it have already been set up, but they won't happen for months. However, the Ohio House approved a ban on speed cameras, meaning the end is near for all speed cameras in the state.
Judge Ruehlman found that speed cameras were unconstitutional and ordered that they be removed. Even the Ohio State Legislature approved a ban on speed cameras, most probably for the same reason, meaning that speed cameras will cease to exist in that state.
This action obviously proves that speed cameras are not necessary for reducing accidents or fatalities. Anybody with a modicum of intelligence will understand that a speed camera cannot stop somebody speeding or causing an accident, simply because a speed camera does nothing except snap a photo of the speeder tearing down the road on his way to a fatal smash
All over the USA and parts of Britain and Europe, it has been found that speed and red light cameras do not save lives, do not prevent accidents and do not do anything except act as tax collectors for the governments that install them and that is what they are really for - ripping off motorists. If Australia had a constitution and a bill of rights similar to that of the USA, the speed cameras that are so prevalent could be forced to be removed.
Unfortunately, the state governments are the enemy of the people, because they know that those cameras are there for no other reason than to act as tax collectors, so it is immoral for these cameras to exist merely for that purpose, when governments masquerade them as safety devices. Political parties of all persuasions seem to immediately become infected with total dishonesty and corruption as soon as they achieve government.
The best recent example of this was the admission of NSW Roads Minister Duncan Gay, who stated that although the Sydney Harbour Bridge time-of-day tolling that was meant to reduce congestion during peak periods was a miserable failure and did not work, the time-of-day tolling would remain because it raised an extra $5 million in revenue. So we have a public admission from the Roads Minister that the time-of-day tolling is merely a rip-off, but he would not consider removing this immoral and iniquitous toll.
Again, CARR advises that all motorists have the tools available to them to completely avoid being ripped off. For motorists who still have not armed themselves with a GPS receiver, Aldi are selling one in July 2013 for under $60 and it has camera warnings and an option to always avoid toll roads. So there is no excuse for any motorist to become a victim of road ripoffs. For those motorists with iPhones, the Metroview GPS application costs $14.99 and has literally every feature of a very expensive GPS receiver.
Using these GPS devices will completely stymie the government road rip-off and in fact motorists who consciously avoid being the victim of speeding fines and expensive toll roads are amazed at the massive savings that they can make every year. Avoiding being booked by speed cameras by using GPS techniques becomes quite an amusing game for most drivers, as well as saving a lot of money and avoiding demerit points that can increase their insurance policies.
Thanks to John Vance for this item.
July 2013 - A Melbourne magistrate has ruled that police cannot pull over vehicles without a reason in a case that has reignited questions of racial profiling by law enforcement. Police have long relied on Section 59 of the Road Safety Act to stop motorists at random to check licences, registration and for outstanding warrants.
Section 59 states that a driver is required to stop their car, produce their licence for inspection and state their name and address if requested or signalled to do so by a member of the police force. But Magistrate Duncan Reynolds ruled that the law did not give police an unfettered right to stop or detain a person and seek identification details.
Magnus Kaba, 21, from the Ivory Coast, was a passenger in a car stopped by police in Ascot Vale in April 2012 as part of a random routine intercept. Kaba has been charged with a number of offences including assault after an altercation, when one of the police officers asked to search the car.
Magistrate Reynolds ruled that the evidence of the police officers was inadmissible because it had been unlawful to stop the car without cause. "Their conduct, in my opinion, unjustifiably breached the right to freedom of movement for Kaba and the driver,"" he said. Police had also arbitrarily detained the men contrary to the Victorian Charter of Human Rights, he stated.
Liberty Victoria president Jane Dixon, SC, said that the magistrate had interpreted section 59 "in a new light within the framework of the Charter of Human Rights. It will be interesting to see whether the prosecution appeal this decision."
If police appeal the ruling in the Supreme Court, the case may set a precedent under Victorian law. The ruling does not affect the ability of police to conduct random breath tests, which has its own statutory power.
CARR does not have a problem with police doing their jobs, which is preventing crime and apprehending suspects. However, CARR does have a problem with police who think they have the unfettered power to harass and detain people arbitrarily with no reasonable cause. As Justice Stephen Kaye of the Victorian Supreme Court ruled in 2011, under an ancient principle of common law, a person not under arrest has no obligation to stop for police or answer their questions and there is no statute or law that removes that right.
In this particular case, the police had no right to pull over the car containing Kaba and this police action was nothing more than a piece of bullying. This sort of activity by police has to be stopped, or this nation will wind up being a Gestapo state, where police can just harass citizens without cause.
CARR webmaster Ziggy Zapata experienced this very recently when he video recorded a highway patrol cop pinging motorists with a speed gun and the cop threatened Ziggy with prosecution under a law that did not have anything to do with what Ziggy was doing. Of course when Ziggy challenged the cop to arrest him, the cop slunk away, which only proves that if citizens stand up for their rights, they can prevent rogue cops from taking the law into their own hands.
CARR advises that all motorists should print the Supreme Court ruling of Justice Stephen Kaye, which is on the CARR website on the Important Information page and keep it in their car. If a motorist gets pulled over by a cop and decides to stop (which he does not have to do, according to this ruling), the motorist should read the ruling to the cop, then ask him if he is under arrest and if he says no, then the motorists should tell him that he is leaving and if the cop arrests him, it had better be for a very valid reason under the law or the motorist will sue his pants off. Then the motorist should just drive off.
Every motorist who has such an encounter with police should video and audio record the whole thing and should not be intimidated into stopping recording, no matter what the cop says. It is perfectly legal to record anything one likes in a public place and obviously a cop will pull a motorist over on a public road. So always keep that smartphone ready to record every encounter with police and don't ever be scared to stand up for your rights.
Thanks to John Vance for this item.
July 2013 - A study in Britain by the RAC Foundation has suggested that speed cameras are increasing the risk of a fatal or serious accident in some areas. It highlights a number of sites where collision rates have risen ‘markedly’ since cameras were put in place. The study raises new doubts about the usefulness of speed cameras.
Supporters of speed cameras have given them the more politically-correct title of "safety cameras" to emphasise the point that they are supposed to save lives and reduce crashes, not increase the risk. But the RAC Foundation, which carried out the study, believes some of the cameras appear to be causing accidents rather than preventing them.
They have now written to seven local authorities warning them of the 21 suspect cameras their areas. And they say that because only a third of speed-camera partnerships overall supplied data in a usable form, the true extent of the problem could be much worse.
Well we all know that speed cameras cannot prevent accidents, simply because they are just cameras. These devices do not stop drivers from speeding by jumping out into the road and slowing drivers down - they merely snap photos. So there are only two other reasons left for their existence. They can be touted as a deterrent to speeding, which means that only socially responsible people who don't speed anyway will take heed of them. The other reason is that they are simply there to raise revenue for the government.
Of course one of the big problems is that of avoidance, when a driver suddenly sees a speed camera and slams his foot on the brake to slow down and the car behind his smashes into him. In fact it has been conclusively proven that the accident rate at intersections with red light cameras are responsible for an increase in accidents for that reason alone.
The other problem is the prevalence of speed cameras that force drivers to look at their speedometers more than they look at the road, making it more likely that they will have accidents. Motorists have more than enough distractions and tasks to perform when driving, so constantly monitoring roads for speed cameras and cops hiding behind bushes with speed guns is far too big a workload. And driving at or below the speed limit can be a major task in itself, with cars speeding up when driving down hills.
Hard evidence from all over the world has proven that speed cameras do not stop people speeding, as they are just cameras. Therefore the only real reason for their existence is to raise revenue and that was conclusively proven in NSW, when Premer Barry O'Farrell called revenue from those cameras a tax. That is exactly what those cameras are - tax generators and they should be all abolished forthwith because the reason for them being there is not for road safety.
CARR again reminds motorists that they can completely avoid being booked by speed cameras by using GPS receivers or smartphones with GPS applications with camera warnings. There is absolutely no excuse for any motorist to be booked by a speed or red light camera, when a cheap GPS receiver can be purchased for around $100 or so and GPS software such as Metroview with all those camera alerts only costs $14.99 for iPhone.
Thanks to Michael Franco for this item.
June 2013 - In the USA, the Ohio House of Representatives has voted 61-32 to ban using red light and speed cameras throughout Ohio. House Bill 69 now goes to the Ohio Senate, which won’t consider it until after its summer recess.
As a consolation to law enforcement officials who said the cameras help reduce crashes, legislators carved out an exception allowing communities to operate speed cameras in school zones during school hours as long as a police officer is present to monitor the machine.
Bill sponsors Representatives Ron Maag and Dale Mallory said that the cameras have been used as a cash grab and bypass due process. They were inspired by the case of Elmwood Place, a Hamilton County village of roughly 2,200 people that issued $1.5 million in tickets during the first six months its speeding cameras were on. A judge ordered the cameras shut down in March 2013.
Police and local governments that operate the cameras oppose the ban, saying they have helped reduce crashes and free up police resources to fight more serious crime. Removing the cameras, which bring in anywhere from thousands to millions in fines to the 14 communities who currently have them, would leave a hole in their budgets that would require them to lay off employees or ask voters to increase taxes, opponents argue.
Firstly, it is apparent that these speed and red light cameras are a cash grab, because the local communities used the argument for their retention by stating that removing them would leave a hole in their budgets. But are not these cameras there to allegely reduce accidents? What do monetary considerations and budgets have to do with retaining these cameras? Well, they have a lot to do with these cameras, because they are nothing but revenue-raisers and the statements of those local councils prove it.
Of course due process of law has been bypassed in Ohio, just as it is in Australia with camera infringements. Motorists who are pinged by these cameras are automatically fined before they are proven to be guilty of any offence. This is why all motorists in Australia who are sent infringement notices should immediately return those notices to the senders and state that under common law under the Australian Constitution, they are entitled to the presumption of innocence and they should demand that the government follow due process of law and stop demanding money by menaces before any conviction for an offence is recorded.
Imagine the chaos if every motorist who was pinged by speed and red light cameras did this. The court system would disintegrate, with thousands of motorists every week demanding court hearings and demanding that governments produce accurate camera testing data and prove that those cameras were indeed accurately operating on the day of the alleged infringements.
Motorists in Australia need to do what was done in Ohio, that is, force their government representatives to make moves to ban those speed and red light cameras. In the meantime, motorists should use every means to avoid getting booked, thus robbing the government of revenue. As long as motorists are willing to contribute to government coffers by way of fines, the government will be encouraged to maintain those cameras, because they are an easy source of revenue. If we motorists avoid being booked, that will turn those cameras into useless appendages on our roads.
Thanks to John Vance for this item.
June 2013 - Innocent motorists are getting tickets in Holland from average speed cameras that are miscalculating the speed of some vehicles by as much as 18mph. National Ombudsman Alex Brenninkmeijer announced that his office had opened an official investigation into the matter. "The public prosecutor is aware of the problem, but drivers of campers still need to sound the alarm if they get wrongly fined," Brenninkmeijer's office said in a statement.
The National Ombudsman is an independent agency that helps individuals deal with problems with the government. The office set up a webpage for drivers to report incorrect tickets to help provide evidence of the scope of the problem. An investigation by RTL News revealed that as many as 300 complaints are received each year from the drivers of RVs, vans and cars with bicycles or trailers on the back who received bogus citations in the mail.
Instead of using sensors, lasers or radar, average speed cameras photograph vehicles as they pass between two separate camera stations that can be anything from a hundred yards to several miles apart. The device bases its estimate of vehicle speed on the amount of time it takes for photographed vehicles to pass between both locations. In this case, the problem is being reported from the cameras on the A2, A12 and A58.
Several members of parliament called for the system to be shut down until the problem is resolved, arguing there are many who just pay the fines of around 220 euros (US$290) without knowing whether they are legitimate. Fredrik Teeven, State Secretary for Security and Justice, rejected that proposal outright, saying that a software update would take care of the problem.
Average speed camera technology has proved to be prone to error. In Derbyshire, England an average speed camera created inaccurate readings because there was a shortcut available to drivers that would reduce the distance of the journey, producing an incorrect higher speed reading. In Australia, the devices produced incorrect readings. Optical character recognition software confused the licence plates of buses that used the road, leading to false speeding allegations.
Yet again we see motorists fined because of faulty speed camera equipment. Fortunately the Dutch are at least investigating the problems, but as usual, a Dutch government official has refused to switch these faulty average speed cameras off and claims that a software update will fix the problem. But what about the infringement notices issued by those faulty cameras before the software update allegedly fixes them up? Obviously revenue is uppermost in the government's mind, not truth and justice.
In Australia, some defective average speed cameras have already wrongly booked the drivers of trucks and buses who were driving within speed limits. One would imagine that some trucks would be equipped with tachygraphs that recorded their speed and this could be used to refute wrongful bookings. But what about those vehicles without any sort of speed recording devices? How do the drivers of those vehicles prove that they were not speeding, when they have no evidence to show this?
Of course there is only one solution for this - the car black box recorder that will provide hard evidence that a driver was within legal speed limits and thus can not only beat the wrongful infringement, but also have a good case for damages against the state. CARR constantly advises all motorists to invest in a car black box recorder, because they are relatively cheap and not only will they provide crucial evidence against wrongful speeding tickets, they will provide hard evidence in accidents. Insurance companies love motorists who can prove that they were not at fault in accidents with hard evidence.
Average speed cameras are being rolled out all over Australia and they are very prone to error. Knowing this, every motorist needs to take active measures against being wrongfully booked. This report from Holland merely reinforces the fact that governments are ripping motorists off with wrongful bookings and so motorists need to use every means to protect themselves against this injustice.
Thanks to John Vance for this item.
June 2013 - Motorists are being fined in record numbers, with more than 1000 drivers being booked by police every week. In a 12-month period to March 2013, 550,000 drivers were hit with $124 million worth of speeding fines, a jump of 20%.
While the jump in fines has hurt the hip pockets of motorists, it has also meant an unexpected windfall for the NSW government coffers. The latest budget papers revealed that revenue from fines is expected to outstrip forecasts by $58 million in the current financial year, driven by an increase in motor vehicle infringements, which account for about 80% of all government fines.
The huge windfall comes on top of the extra revenue forecast after the state government raised speeding fines by 12.5% in July 2012 in a bid to plug a budget shortfall caused by falling GST revenue. The government predicted the increase would raise an extra $100 million over four years, a figure which now looks to have been extremely conservative.
Roads Minister Duncan Gay said a decision to switch 45 red light speed cameras off warning mode and start issuing fines had been behind the sharp increase. Gay stated, "When speed cameras first become active there is a spike in infringements followed by a reduction as drivers change their behaviour. This outcome is a good indication that a camera is successfully reducing driver speeds."
Shadow roads spokesman Ryan Park said that most drivers were caught speeding by 10km or less and the extra money should be used to boost the number of police. "This government promised they wouldn't use speed cameras as cash cows yet the bulk of the revenue is for motorists doing just a few kilometres over the speed limit," Park said.
"While no one is condoning speeding, it is about time this government focused on returning this record income back into frontline police, which all of the research shows has a bigger impact when it comes to improving road safety," said Park.
Firstly, it has to be said that the government are a pack of unmitigated liars. They say that speed and red light cameras are not for revenue-raising, yet the government raised speeding fines by 12.5% in a bid to plug a budget shortfall. That simply means that the government considers these cameras simply as revenue-raisers.
Duncan Gay's comments about speed cameras reducing driver speeding is nonsensical. The fact that 70% of drivers who are booked by these speed cameras are driving at less than 10km/h shows that most of these cameras are booking drivers going at speeds just slightly over the limit, such as going down hills where cars do speed up naturally. What the hell does Gay expect motorists to do? Drive down hills with their heads buried in their speedometers and their feet riding the brakes? How dumb is this man?
The hypocrisy of the shadow roads spokesman Ryan Park is typical of a politician. Where was he when the NSW Labor government was in power? Why did he not arrange for the diversion of money to boost the number of police? Why did he not do something about removing those cameras, if he considers them to be cash cows for government?
It does not matter which political party assumes power, they are all the same - greedy, money-grubbing, hypocritical scum. When in opposition, they bitch about those cameras being revenue-raisers and pledge to remove them, yet as soon as they get into power, they not only keep the cameras, but add more. Then they invent new offences so that they can book motorists on more and more infringements and raise even more revenue.
These governments are despicable - all of them - but we motorists can fight back and we have the tools to do so and deny those scavengers our hard-earned cash. It's very easy, but every motorist should take active measures, as follows:
Taking these simple active measures will mean that you will not be booked for any offences. But if you are wrongly booked by a defective camera or police speed gun, the car black box recorder will soon destroy the government's infringement against you. But if you know that the government is out to rip you off by using cameras, cops with speed guns and other means and you do not take active measures to prevent this, then you deserve to lose your money.
June 2013 - Victorian police have been caught ignoring their own rules by hiding mobile speed cameras behind bushes and road signs. Victoria Police is now rewriting those rules so they can officially continue to conceal some cameras. Police told speed camera commissioner Gordon Lewis that the use of concealed or partly hidden mobile speed cameras is necessary to protect camera operators from injury.
Changes being planned to the force's speed camera guidelines will also make it clear to mobile speed camera operators they can put cameras at the bottom of hills and on downhill slopes if they believe doing so will achieve the desired "road safety objective". Lewis endorsed the planned rule changes relating to hidden cameras and cameras on hills. He said that both were justified to protect mobile camera operators and road users.
Lewis asked motorists in October 2012 to dob in any mobile speed cameras that they believed were being used in breach of force guidelines. He did so after it was revealed that speeding fines had to be scrapped because a mobile camera was wrongly set up over the brow of a hill to snap motorists going down a steep slope on Warrigal Road, Surrey Hills.
Lewis's plea resulted in motorists dobbing in 116 mobile camera sites that they believed were used in breach of Victoria Police guidelines. Only 40 of those complaints contained enough information for Lewis to identify exactly where the cameras had been placed and that there was a potential issue that needed investigating. His nine month probe found in each case that the cameras had been set up fairly and according to the guidelines.
While he did identify three camera sites that were placed on unsuitable downhill stretches of road, he agreed with the decisions of regional police inspectors to override the rules and allow the use of cameras on those hills for safety reasons. Lewis said it was motorists who discovered the controversial hidden camera tactic. He asked Victoria Police for a "please explain" and was told that the two hidden cameras identified were put behind a large shrub and a road sign to protect the camera operators.
Victorian Police guidelines currently state that under no circumstances are mobile speed cameras to be concealed by any covert means, such as signs, tree branches, rubbish bins or lamp posts. But the new rules are expected to allow operators to conceal or partially conceal cameras if a senior officer believes their safety is at risk.
Mr Lewis stated that he was satisfied the 40 mobile speed camera sites he checked were set up in accordance with the guidelines, but the hilly Warrigal Road site showed mistakes were sometimes made. He said he would continue to monitor where police placed mobile cameras to ensure they were sited correctly.
The amended guidelines will say there is no restriction from a technical, legislative or enforcement perspective on a mobile road safety camera being operated on a slope, hill or gradient. "All motorists have to comply with the relevant speed limit," the new guideline will say.
Is there no depths to which the government will sink to claw as much money in fines from hapless motorists? The lame excuse of hiding mobile speed cameras behind bushes and billboards for safety reasons is simply not credible and is the sort of excuse trotted out to justify the unjustifiable.
But the reason given for putting speed cameras at the bottom of hills is just ridiculous. Every motorist knows that if he is driving on a flat piece of road at the speed limit and then starts going down a hill, his car will accelerate. So he has the options of either riding the brakes down the hill, or placing the car into a lower gear and retarding its speed. This means that not only does the driver have to force his car to operate abnormally, but has to have his head buried in his speedometer to ensure that he is not exceeding the speed limit. This is very dangerous, but it gives those mobile speed cameras more chances of booking motorists who might ease off the brakes to save them from abnormal wear.
But do those concealed mobile speed cameras actually stop motorists from speeding? How can they, if all they do is snap pictures and send infringement notices one month later to the offenders? Of course in that month between being pinged and receiving the infringements, motorists will be oblivious to their offence and will continue to speed. In other words, speed cameras do not stop people speeding, therefore they are nothing more than a scam - a disgusting legalised government scam.
Motorists should do everything in their power to warn other motorists if they see them driving towards any mobile speed camera, concealed or otherwise. There is no law in prompting motorists to drive at the legal speed limit and police cannot claim that a motorist flashing his lights briefly creates a hazard - and CARR believes that all speed cameras, mobile or fixed, are a hazard to a motorist's wealth, because they operate on a basis of entrapment, not enforcement of speed limits.
Thanks to Steve Houghton for this item.
June 2013 - A staggering 40% of drivers who appeal against parking tickets in Melbourne's CBD and inner suburbs are succeeding, clawing back an estimated $4.2 million in fines destined for council coffers. Drivers are using excuses like faulty meters, illness, officer error, incorrect registration details, no offence and stolen number plates to beat grey ghosts. Even when motorists admit fault, the ticket in some cases is torn up based on exceptional circumstances, which include medical emergency and mechanical breakdown.
Parking fine appeals involving Melbourne City, Stonnington, Darebin, Yarra and Port Phillip councils revealed that, overall, 40% of drivers who challenged a fine got off. In the past year, 89,021 drivers appealed their fines to the five councils and 34,521 were let off. In the City of Yarra, Brunswick St topped the list with 13,045 fines. Chapel Street is Stonnington Council's fines hot spot, with 7751 tickets issued in South Yarra and a further 5448 slapped on windscreens in the Prahran end.
The councils are owed about $65 million in fines from those trying to evade the law and many have now been taken to court in a bid to recoup the costs. In Stonnington there were 6212 successful appeals from 18,875 challenges while Melbourne City Council upheld 9708 appeals from 29,810 challenges. But in Port Phillip and Darebin, almost 50 per cent of those challenging fines are winning, while in Yarra City, of the 12,779 fines appealed, 5089 were successful.
These statistics show that many parking tickets are issued wrongly and this is why motorists have to fight them. It is interesting to see that many parking tickets are issued against motorists when there is actually no parking offence and councils are reaping vast amounts of revenue because many motorists have no idea how to challenge these wrongfully issued tickets.
But the greatest scam about the whole parking ticket regime is that under the Australian Constitution, local councils are not recognised as an arm of government and thus do not have the legal power to levy fines. A referendum was held in 1988 to try and have local governments recognised under the Constitution and it failed miserably. In September 2013, the Federal Labor government will be holding a similar referendum, however it is expected to fail as well.
Local governments claim that they have the power to levy fines because state governments give them that authority under the various Local Government Acts. However, when those Acts are examined, an argument can be made that they are invalid because they were never given Royal assent as required. In other words if a Local Government Act is invalid, therefore the power granting councils the right to levy fines must be invalid as well.
There are a number of people who are examining this issue, but motorists who receive any sort of parking ticket should not only challenge it if it was wrongly issued, but should demand that the issuing council prove conclusively that it actually has the legal right to levy such a fine.
Thanks to Steve Houghton and John Vance for this item.
June 2013 - Speed camera data is being kept too hidden, according to a report released in May 2013 by the the New South Wales Legislative Assembly. The findings came as the Public Accounts Committee reviewed a number of 2011 performance audits, including the examination of speed cameras to verify whether the auditor's recommendations have been implemented.
In NSW, the state Road and Traffic Authority (RTA) contracts with Redflex Traffic Systems to run the fixed and mobile speed cameras that generate 370,000 tickets a year worth $58 million in net profit. The auditor general asked the public to provide an opinion on the use of automated ticketing, and 69% agreed the cameras were only meant to be revenue-raisers. Only 15% supported their use. The widespread skepticism is bolstered by belief that the cameras are not positioned in locations known to be the most dangerous.
"The Auditor-General found that there was no overall criteria to determine the most appropriate camera type for roads classed as high risk," the committee report explained. "The audit found that camera type dictates site selection decisions, rather than the nature of the black spots." The committee follow-up determined that officials at RTA responded to the audit by creating a public relations campaign meant to convince motorists of the benefits of speed cameras.
"This strategy aims to outline the current speeding problem, community attitudes to speeding and speed enforcement and clearly articulate the benefits of a comprehensive speed camera strategy for speed cameras in NSW," the RTA response stated. "The strategy reassures the community that speed enforcement together with comprehensive public education campaigns and engineering treatments can save lives on our roads."
In April 2013, Roads Minister Duncan Gay moved two speed cameras that had been placed in an inappropriate location. Transport for NSW officials also confirmed that the camera manufacturer had tested all of its cameras and self-certified their accuracy. The state agency denied it needed independent certification from Australia's National Measurement Institute (NMI) to properly measure speed and it stood by the statistical techniques used to justify photo enforcement.
"NSW figures currently state that 42% of all fatal crashes are caused by speed," the committee report stated. "This is used as a key rationale for the use and placement of speed cameras in NSW." This figure is generated by listing as speed-related any collision that involves driving too fast for the conditions, even when that speed is below the posted speed limit. It also includes drunk drivers, thieves attempting to outrun police and other cases where speed is one of many contributing factors.
"The committee believes that TfNSW should be more specific in its reporting on the statistics regarding fatal crashes," the parliamentary report explained. "If speed is not the only reason for the crash then this should be captured. For example, if a drunk driver has a crash involving speed then both speed and alcohol should be reported as a cause of the crash. The committee is concerned that incidents where speed is involved, but is not the main cause, are not reflected adequately in the statistics reported by TfNSW."
Again we see the government trying to fool the motoring public with a whole raft of conniving measures aimed at maintaining the massive revenue flow from speed cameras. Most people understand the very basic premise of speed cameras, that they do not prevent accidents or fatalities, simply because they cannot. They merely snap photos. They do not stop speeding drivers from continuing to speed until those speeders receive infringement notices around one month after they have been pinged by those cameras.
For years, CARR has challenged the RTA, NRMA, police and various politicians to show just one example of a speed camera preventing an accident or saving a life. So far, not one single person or organisation has risen to the challenge, which merely shows that nobody can show that these speed cameras do any more than snap photos of speeders driving by, but cannot do a solitary thing to stop them doing so at the time.
The RTA public relations campaign pushing the alleged benefits of speed cameras is a sick joke. The RTA calls the method that speed cameras are used for "enforcement" of speed limits. This is utter garbage, simply because a speed camera does not enforce the speed limit on a road, it merely snaps a photo of a speeder. Enforcement is the prevention - AT THE TIME OF THE OFFENCE - of speeding, such as police immediately pulling over a driver they see speeding and preventing him from continuing. Does a speed camera do this? Of course not - and this shoots the whole RTA and government propaganda about speed enforcement down in flames.
As to the accuracy of these speed cameras, the government's own figures show that at least 14% of them are defective at any one time. Yet Transport for NSW allows camera manufacturer to test all of its cameras and self-certify their accuracy. This is like putting an alcoholic in charge of a liquor store. Why does the Transport for NSW deny that it needs independent certification from Australia's National Measurement Institute (NMI) to properly test those cameras? What have they got to be scared of?
Well, what they are most probably scared of is the fact that independent testing of these devices will reveal that many of them are indeed defective and cannot be classed as accurate scientific instruments, which is how the government gets away with not getting their accuracy questioned in courts. The government has deemed by legislation that speed cameras are accurate scientific instruments and cannot be disputed, despite the fact that even the data from the manufacturers of these devices shows that they are not accurate at all.
CARR advises that any person booked by any speed camera challenge the booking on the grounds of lack of due process of law for starters. If you get an infringement notice, you have been found guilty and penalised without trial, so don't tolerate that. Send it back and demand that you be afforded the presumption of innocence and that the infringement either be cancelled or the matter be taken to court.
If the matter does proceed to court, the motorist should subpoena all records of the actual speed camera that was used to book him and challenge the accuracy of that device. But of course the best piece of evidence to rebut a defective speed camera is for every motorist to use a car black box recorder to log every journey. Then the motorist will have his own unimpeachable witness in court. If every motorist did this, every defective camera would be revealed and with enough people challenging these revenue-raising devices, motorists would have enough evidence to demand their removal.
Thanks to John Vance for this item.
May 2013 - Members of the public are having success holding speed camera companies and their customers accountable. This week, governmental agencies in England and Maryland upheld citizen complaints against the proponents of automated ticketing. The UK Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) announced that speed camera firm Vysionics had agreed to drop from all future advertising material its claim that photo enforcement caused a 70% reduction in accidents.
ASA investigations executive Simon Lane wrote, "In a formal investigation, if the ASA Council decides that an ad is in breach of the code, the advertisers are told to withdraw or amend it. Because Vysionics have already assured us that the advertising you complained about will be amended in the future, we consider there is little to be gained from continuing with a formal investigation, which would achieve that same outcome."
British motorist rights group Alliance of British Drivers (ABD) was pleased that the watchdog agency has once again objected to the statistics used to market photo enforcement. In 2006, the agency ruled against a speed camera pamphlet issued by Greater Manchester. In 2005, it agreed that West Yorkshire speed camera operator used bogus statistics in a poster.
"This is long overdue recognition that the claims of the whole speed enforcement industry are exaggerated and self-serving," ABD deputy chairman Brian Gregory said in a statement. "The huge increase in speeding penalties in recent years has contributed nothing to the downward trend in casualties which, since 2008, has been largely due to the economic downturn."
This report shows that speed camera and automated ticketing equipment companies have a vested interest in trying to convince the motoring public that speed cameras improve road safety and reduce accidents and fatalities, when this is obviously false. All over the world, it has been shown without doubt that speed cameras do not reduce accidents and are merely installed to raise revenue from motorists. Even worse is the fact that many of those cameras and associated equipment are defective and wrongly book motorists.
Governments are guilty of collusion with these speed camera companies, because it is in their interest to push the false notion that these devices improve safety, in complete contradiction to all independent studies. When in opposition, politicians rant and scream about speed cameras being nothing but revenue-raisers, yet as soon as they achieve power, they do backflips and maintain the speed camera ripoff.
This has been seen in recent times Victoria with the former Baillieu Liberal government and in NSW with the current O'Farrell Liberal government. These politicians complained bitterly about speed cameras and how they were going to abolish them, but as soon as they were elected to power and smelled the revenue, they not only failed to remove those cameras, but installed more of them. They tried to justify this with alleged studies that flew in the face of all known facts about speed cameras.
This dreadful scam by governments has to be resisted at every step by motorists, who should use every tool available to negate the revenue-raising. GPS receivers with camera warnings mean that motorists will always be alerted to the presence of fixed cameras and slow to the speed limit and never be booked. Car black box recorders will prove hard evidence of faulty cameras in court. Motorists who spot mobile speed traps should warn oncoming motorists by flashing their lights or by other signals and thus save their fellow drivers from being booked.
When armed with technology that will beat these cameras and speed traps, smart motorists can drive anywhere with no problems and never pay one cent in fines. Of course any motorist who does not avail himself of this inexpensive technology and is booked really only has himself to blame and thus becomes a cash cow for the government.
Thanks to John Vance for this item.
May 2013 - The credibility of both the Office of the Road Safety Camera Commissioner and the Department of Justice (DOJ) is in doubt after their call for motorcycle front number plates (FNP) was found to be based on a non-existent “police study”. The Victorian Motorcycle Council (VMC) has confirmed that neither agency can produce the critical police study, leading the VMC to conclude that it does not exist.
VMC Chairman Peter Baulch said, "The Camera Commissioner has widely referenced the police study as the basis for FNP’s, quoting statistics which implied that excessive speeds were involved in the majority of rider deaths. The confidence of the public and the Parliament should be shaken if the Police study is shown to not exist.” VMC Secretary Jeremy Walton said, "It’s fair to say that the Police Study doesn’t exist. Four FOI’s, three which were to the DOJ and internal enquiries by a senior Victoria Police officer all failed to locate the study.”
Along with the call for FNP’s are claims that FNP's are easy to fit and will improve motorcycle safety. In fact, VicRoads research confirmed that it was virtually impossible to safely retrofit FNP’s to modern motorcycles - FNP’s were globally abolished 30 years ago to improve motorcycle safety. If it was possible, retrofitting Victoria’s motorcycle fleet would cost the community at least $29 million dollars for no provable road safety benefits.
Rob Salvatore, Deputy Chairman said, "The quoted statistics were always doubtful, as they are at odds with the VicRoads crash statistics database. Also, three years of recent speeding data showed no overall increase in detected speeding motorcycles, despite a 10% increase in registrations - that represents a real terms reduction. There’s no credible safety argument for FNP's."
Data presented to a recent parliamentary inquiry showed that the camera system failed to identify as many motorcycles from the rear, where a bike carries identification, as were failing to be identified from the front. Rob Salvatore said, "0.4% of all speeding vehicle detections related to a lack of identification on the front of motorcycles. 0.4% is not a big problem, but it highlights a design flaw in the camera system, for which riders and the community hip pocket will be made the scapegoat.”
What can one say? Again, a government and its representatives have been caught lying through their teeth. It is more than apparent that the Victorian Road Safety Commissioner invented this alleged police study to push his government's agenda for the retrofitting of front number plates to motorcycles, even when globally they have been abolished.
Remember that the Road Safety Camera Commissioner is the person who the former Victorian Premier Ted Baillieu trotted out to justify breaking his promise to remove speed and red light cameras. We all know that those cameras are nothing more than revenue-raisers and do absolutely nothing to prevent accidents. In fact, statistics from around the world show that red light cameras actually cause accidents, not prevent them. But the stench of revenue seems to corrupt governments of all political persuasions.
Baillieu resigned and now it seems that the Napthine regime in Victoria is up to the same tricks, trotting out the Road Safety Camera Commissioner to push for these completely unneeded front number plates for motorcycles. The rapacious Victorian Labor government might have been kicked out of office, but if the citizens of Victoria thought that things would be different under a new Liberal government, they were sadly mistaken. The only thing that is apparent is the greed, conniving and lies of both Labor and Liberal politicians and their minions.
Thanks to Bob Spence for this item.
May 2013 - Investigative reporter Noah Pransky of Tampa Bay TV station WTSP filed an explosive report about the intentional shortening of yellow-light intervals at red light camera intersections for the purpose of raising ticket revenue. Pransky noted that of the more than $120 million of photo ticket revenue collected across Florida in 2012, $50 million was directly attributable to red light camera program operators setting yellow lights too short.
That is a startling number, particularly for those who aren’t familiar with the multitude of documented accounts of short yellow lights that the US National Motorists Association has gathered over the years. More alarming still is that the combination of red light cameras and improper yellow-light timing creates the dubious double penalty of inflating ticket revenue while simultaneously making intersections less safe.
A common counter claim against lengthening yellow-light cycles is that drivers will eventually adjust to the conditions and go back to their supposed natural instincts of playing "let's beat the light.” Both Florida State Senator Jeff Clemens and Charles Territo, chief propagandist of camera vendor American Traffic Solutions, voice this in Pransky’s report.
That is not an uncommon position for pro-camera legislators and camera company employees to make. Some of the public jump on that bandwagon because it makes intuitive sense to them that motorists can’t help but push the margins, whether it be ignoring the speed limit or following an urge to zip through intersections at the first sign of a yellow light, safety be damned.
This view of kamikaze drivers is not only intuitively incorrect, it is factually wrong. Several studies have shown this:
Several communities, from Gwinnett County, Georgia, to Loma Linda, California and places in-between have put this to the test by analysing intersection safety statistics in the months and years after lengthening their yellow lights by 0.5 to 1.0 seconds. Violation rates typically plummet 50% to 90% almost immediately, and have been shown to remain at those low levels years after the fact.
This report merely shows how despicable these revenue-hungry local authorities are, when they engage in this nasty, unconscionable and downright dishonest practices by rigging red light cameras to unfairly book more motorists. And this is not just an American phenomenon. In Italy, there was a report of computer personnel working for the government being arrested for deliberately shortening the amber light phase in order to generate more revenue from fines.
The same has happened in Australia, where a number of red light camera bookings were thrown out of court when motorists proved that the amber light phase at the intersections in question were shorter than the mandated interval. There are countless reports on the Internet about this practice from all over the world, so it is very common.
CARR advises all motorists to always use GPS receivers with camera warnings, so that being booked by these devices will never be an issue. However, sometimes there is a good reason for driving through amber lights to avoid accidents, but most motorists lack hard evidence to show why they had to do this and thus get booked. The solution is to always have a car black box recorder operating to show magistrates in court that running an amber and then a red light was justified to prevent a serious accident.
Most importantly, if motorists are booked by red light cameras, they should immediately go to the camera location in question and time the amber light phase with a stopwatch, even video recording it on a time and date-stamped video. Then motorists should raise this matter in their court defences, stating that unless the state can prove beyond a shadow of doubt that the amber phase of the traffic light was the right length of time on the day of the alleged infringement, then the fine should be dismissed.
The grounds for this are the time between being booked and getting the infringement, which can be more than a month. At the time of the alleged offence, there might have been a technical problem with the traffic lights on the day, or any other reason, but because the opportunity for the motorist to obtain hard evidence was denied, this should be grounds for a dismissal of the fine.
Thanks to John Vance for this item.
May 2013 - Citing potential engine and environmental damages, US eastern state Maine's legislature has taken another step to potential rid itself of ethanol blends into its petrol inventory. Legislators have approved a bill by more than a 3-to-1 margin that would ban ethanol blends in Maine, as long as two other nearby states do the same. State leaders also supported a resolution urging the government to totally ban petrol with a 15% ethanol blend, known as E15. Most petrol in the USA contains up to 10% ethanol blend.
In June 2012, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) officially allowed for public sales of E15 as part of an effort to cut foreign-oil dependency. Groups such as AAA have since been critical of the EPA's decision, saying that E15 would cause engine damage as well as food shortages. E15 has been sold in some states since the middle of 2012, starting in Kansas, and there have not been any widespread reports of problems with the biofuel.
There has been much controversy about ethanol-based biofuels since they were introduced. Not only citing engine problems and higher fuel consumption when compared to the same octane regular petrol, albeit being a little cheaper, ethanol biofuel has been blamed for creating food shortages because many farmers are now growing crops for fuel manufacture, rather than for food.
So far, CARR has not seen any really adverse reports about using E10 biofuel in modern cars. In fact, one CARR member stated that he drove a 1998 Holden Berlina station wagon for 13 years and 300,000km on nothing but E10 and his car had no engine issues whatsoever, not even a trace of oil burning. But of course other motorists have had problems and this is why the US state of Maine is moving against biofuel.
The one piece of reality that we all have to face is that eventually oil will run out, to the extent that there will simply not be enough to make into petrol for cars. Hybrid vehicles are merely stopgap measures and the reduction in fuel consumption is not that significant. What is really needed are cars that completely avoid using petrol or diesel fuel. Scientists and engineers are frantically working to develop propulsion systems that will achieve this, but so far, nothing really significant has emerged.
All-electric cars do not have a good enough range to make them practical for all motorists. Hydrogen fuelled cars have been touted as the way of the future, as hydrogen is the most abundant element in the universe, but hydrogen is also hard to handle and store safely. So the quest goes on to find a solution for the future, but for the short term, petrol and diesel appear to be the only practical fuels that are feasible to use.
Thanks to Santo Calabrese for this item.
May 2013 - Queensland motorist Bill Longford is refusing to pay 20 parking fines and he is doing so on constitutional grounds. The fines, totalling $1000, were issued by Ipswich City Council over last two years in the Ipswich CBD. But Longford is adamant that because local government is not recognised by the Australian constitution, the council has no right to issue the fines.
Longford stated, "They are breaking my constitutional and democratic rights. They don't have the right to issue a parking ticket. Julia Gillard said there will be a referendum to recognise local government in the constitution. So what does that mean? It means they are not in there. They are not a tier of government.
There was a referendum in 1988 to recognise local government in the constitution, but it failed. "I voted in 1988 and I thought, Yoohoo, no more council. But nothing changed, Longford stated. "They got voted out. But the worst part is... they were never in."
Ipswich Councillor Paul Tully warned that people should be very wary of listening to people who are challenging the constitutional structure of Australia's legal system. He stated that in Gatton Magistrates Court some years ago people claimed they didn't have to pay their rates, but they lost their cases.
Tully said, "Local government is established and recognised under the Queensland Constitution. The High Court has consistently upheld the lawful existence of local government. It doesn't exist under the Australian Constitution, but neither do state agencies or various corporations. The danger here is that other people might believe these spurious legal claims and could end up being the losers. Eventually, if they dont' pay their fines they are referred to SPER. They can lose their driver's licence and be suspended from driving and the debt is still pursued.
Longford is adamant that he will not pay the fines. "I objected to their (council's) claim and asked them to prove it, and they are unwilling to prove it," he said. "If they can prove their claim, we'll talk about it."
Longford is fighting his case using information provided by Aussie Speeding Fines that he says helps people to fight illegal and unlawful fines. "You read the information, get to understand it and fight them on their own terms," he said. "I provided the documentation to Ipswich City Council for free and they have engaged SPER. SPER have ignored it and requested more information off me but I have never been asked again. I told them I will charge them for providing any more information and they should check what I already sent through."
Longford said that he was winning the battle. "If they don't action it in 12 months it is void. I have documentation from SPER saying some of the fines are no longer valid."
CARR applauds Bill Longford for his stance and wishes him all the success fighting those fines. Longford has a very valid point that if councils are not recognised as an arm of government under the Australian Constitution, then they do not have the power to levy fines. Apart from the fact that the previous referendum to recognise local government failed in 1988, Longford's position is bolstered by the announcement by Prime Minister Gillard that a referendum to recognise local government will be held in September.
The very fact that the government is doing this proves that local government is not recognised. The other important matter that Longford has not mentioned is that the various Local Government Acts that the states enacted in the 1970s may be highly illegal, because they did not receive royal assent, as required by the Australian Constitution. If so, that act empowering and recognising local governments may be illegal.
For instance, the NSW Local Government Act 1989, Schedule 8, Section 123 states that a local law must not impose any tax or fee or any fine, imprisonment or other penalty. In fact the Taxation Commissioner wrote to the NSW parliament and stated that only Federal government can collect taxes and that local governments are illegal. So if this is true, as it appears, Longford can win his case without any problems, especially if he can subpoena the letter from the Taxation Commissioner and tender it as evidence.
So all those comments from Councillor Tully are probably meaningless. Tully referred to people who lost a case regarding paying rates. This is completely different, because rates are not fines - they are fees that councils impose for essential services. In fact if rates are not paid, councils do not have the power to fine defaulters and all they can do is to put a caveat on the properties in question and try to recover unpaid rates when those properties are sold.
One word of caution is necessary. CARR has examined the Aussie Speeding Fines book that this organisation touts on its website and we consider that the methods suggested in that book could be regarded as misleading. CARR has tried to find people who have used the Aussie Speeding Fines techniques and won their cases, but so far we can't find anybody.
Finally CARR hopes that everybody votes against the referendum for recognition of local government. If this referendum is passed, it will legally empower all councils to start fining people for a hell of a lot more than just parking. However, if the referendum fails and Longford sets a precedent in court, hopefully all council parking fines could be declared invalid and illegal and all the motorists who have paid such fines would have grounds to demand refunds and compensation from councils.
Thanks to Alex Brown for this item.
May 2013 - Protesters armed with explosives have been blowing up parking meters in a dangerous campaign of vandalism in an historic British market town. Fourteen machines have been attacked in Lewes, East Sussex, since September 2012, causing more than £20,000 of damage. Police chiefs and councillors say they are amazed that no-one has been injured and warned whoever was responsible that they could face jail.
As soon as parking meters were introduced in 2004 the spate of vandalism began. In the two years that followed, the culprits caused £300,000 damage by destroying more than 200 meters. The dangerous and costly campaign has intensified again, with one machine - in Southover High Street - being completely destroyed. Others will be repaired or have been fixed already. No money has been stolen from the machines, which are valued at about £3,000 each.
Lewes District Council leader Tony Nicholson said: "We fully support the police in their call for information. This vandalism is dangerous and we do not want to see anyone hurt as a result of thoughtless action."
This is what happens when citizens find that their own political representatives conspire to rip them off, with devices like parking meters, parking fines, speed cameras and the like. No politician has ever been elected on a platform that includes a promise to introduce devices to rip money from their constituencies. It is only when they win office and smell the revenue, that they install these gouging machines, with predictable results.
People in other nations do have the backbone to take action against being ripped off, albeit illegal action, but this obviously is because know that councils do not install meters to relieve congestion, but merely to reap revenue. They know that governments do not install speed cameras to save lives and prevent accidents, because all governments know that a camera does nothing more than snap a picture and cannot prevent anything. So the citizens have no recourse than to either tolerate the gouging and the scam of these devices, or try to destroy them in protest.
In Australia, the gouging is rampant. Councils now make no secret of the fact that they rely on revenue from parking meters and fines as a major component of their budgets. Melbourne City Council has just announced an increase in parking meter rates to $5 per hour, with commensurate increases in parking fines. It is worse in Sydney, where Sydney City Council rips off the motorist with $7 per hour parking fees.
But to get an idea of the real rip-off factor, consider this. A parking space is approximately 6 metres by 3 metres. Parking for one hour for $5 is equivalent to paying around $5000 for one week's rent for an average two bedroom apartment. And what do you get for your money? Unlike renting an apartment, you don't get two bedrooms, kitchen, bathroom, parking space and other amenities. All you get in a space to park on a public street that you have already paid for and should be entitled to park on for free, considering that you already forked out fuel excise, motor vehicle tax, registration fee and other imposts to be on those public roads anyway.
CARR does not support illegal activities, but we say that the protesters who have destroyed those parking meters in Britain probably have just cause to take matters into their own hands after their own political representatives have conspired to rip them off. Sometimes the citizenry have no other recourse. A good example is the stealing of the Australian federal election by Labor, when the leader, Julia Gillard, made a firm promise - "There will be no carbon tax under a government I lead" - and almost immediately introduced a carbon tax when she stole the election. Labor would have never won power if Gillard had a carbon tax on the agenda. But the people of Australia have been powerless to kick Gillard out since then. Sometimes the people have to take action against corrupt lying politicians when the law refuses to do so.
Thanks to John Vance for this item.
May 2013 - The $3 billion F3 to M2 link will be built under a federal-NSW deal to be announced in the 2013 federal budget. The federal and NSW governments will contribute up to $400 million each. Work will start as early as 2014 and the 8km tunnel, which would stretch from the end of the F3 near Hornsby under Pennant Hills Rd to the M2, will take three to four years to build.
State and federal government officials have been in talks for weeks about a deal on the motorway, after the state government realised tolls alone would not be enough to pay for the project and approached the federal government for money. The road would operate with differentiated tolls similar to those on the M7, which has a $7.60 cap.
The road has long been mooted. It would alleviate traffic congestion along Pennant Hills Road and avoid 22 sets of traffic lights. Work has been ongoing since Federal Labor Minister Albanese announced $25 million in the last federal budget for a mechanism to allow private funding of roads. "Without private sector involvement, we wouldn't be able to do it for years," one source said.
With the billions of dollars ripped out of the NSW motorist every year in fuel excise, motor vehicle tax, registration fees and other charges and the massive revenue from fines, one would think that NSW would have the best freeway network in the world, without one toll road. But no, both federal and state governments misappropriate the revenue and squander it on garbage and thus cannot build vital roads without tolls.
The federal Labor government spends billions of dollars every year on illegal immigrants who are not asylum seekers or refugees by any means. If they stopped those boatloads of schemers coming here just for one year, there would be more than enough funds to build this F3 to M2 link. The federal Labor government has announced that it will spend $50 million on advertising and propaganda disguised as information dissemination. This is totally unnecessary and this money would kickstart any major freeway project. But propaganda is more important to the government than infrastructure.
As usual, CARR recommends that when this toll road is completed, motorists should boycott it completely and send it broke. Eventually governments will get the message that motorists already pay far too much in taxes and charges and at least they expect decent freeways in return. Governments will continue to be in the pockets of toll road operators until they get the message that these arrangements are detrimental to motorists and the best way to convince them is to hit them in the pocket by denying them the revenue from tolls.
May 2013 - A lobby group has called for motorists to be slugged with higher tolls during peak periods in a bid to end the gridlock. A submission from Infrastructure Partnerships Australia (IPA) to the NSW government's Road Access Pricing Inquiry called for a network-wide congestion charge that would see prices rise during peak hours.
Variable tariffs or time-of-day tolling, such as the increase from $3 to $4 between 6:30am and 9:30am on the Sydney Harbour Bridge, were introduced by former Labor premier Nathan Rees in January 2009 to encourage more drivers to travel outside peak periods.
But despite NSW Roads Minister Duncan Gay describing them as unfair and conceding they did nothing to reduce congestion, he said he would not abolish them because they made more than $5 million in revenue per year.
Well there it is, the blatant admission from NSW Roads Minister Duncan Gay describing the time-of-day toll increase on the Sydney Harbour Bridge as unfair and conceding that they did nothing to reduce congestion. So why are these unfair toll increases not rescinded if they are unfair and do not achieve the desired outcome? The reason given by the Minister is that they make lots of revenue for the government.
In 2012, NSW Liberal Premier Barry O'Farrell despicably described speed camera fines as a tax, when these fines were imposed to deter motorists from speeding, however everybody realises that those speed cameras and cops hiding behind bushes with speed guns are not there for any other reason than to raise revenue. O'Farrell stated that these fines were a tax, therefore the only conclusion that anybody could make is that speed cameras and police were nothing more than tax collectors.
But now it is obvious that this NSW Liberal government does not care that an impost such as time-of-day tolling is unfair or ineffective, but is only concerned that it continue to be imposed to keep raising revenue. This is very corrupt and deceitful and nothing more than a scam perpetrated on the motorist by a government that should have the responsibility to at least be honest.
Most people in NSW thought that once the inept Labor regime was booted out of office, that the Liberals would come in and sweep away the corruption, the lies, the deceit and the unfair imposts that Labor had imposed. But everybody was in for a rude shock when the Liberals turned out to be just as bad and inept and dare we say it, just as corrupt and deceitful as the hopeless Labor regime.
This latest admission from Duncan Gay that the toll increases on the Sydney Harbour Bridge would stay, despite him declaring them to be unfair and useless, shows how corrupt this government really is. The fact that motorists hoped that a change from Labor to Liberal would improve their lot merely proved that nothing had changed at all. Both Labor and Liberal regimes are a pack of money-grubbing lying deceitful bastards and that's about the best that CARR can say about them.
May 2013 - Queensland is staring at another great tunnel project failure in terms of how much it cost to build and how much it will be sold for. Potential buyers of the tolling rights to the 4.6km Legacy Way connecting Brisbane's Western Freeway with the Inner City Bypass, due to open in 2015, are already doubting official forecasts. The city's two other tunnel projects, RiverCity Motorway's Clem7 and the BrisConnections Airport Link, have both been spectacular failures for investors.
The Legacy Way tunnel cost $1.5 billion to build, with the Federal Government throwing in $500 million and the Brisbane City Council funding the balance. The additional infrastructure, such as the Go Between Bridge, added another $500 million to the deal.
The tolling rights to Legacy Way for 50 years is now for sale, with the frontrunner being the State Government-owned QIC, although price and traffic projections remain a major issue. At the centre of the deal is how many cars are likely to use the tollway. The traffic forecasters for Clem7 famously projected the tunnel would handle 100,000 trips a day within 18 months. The most recent figures, from December 2012, show only 23,200 vehicles a day use it.
Overly optimistic merchant banking forecasts coupled with glowing traffic projections and subsequent capital raisings have resulted in investors in listed projects losing their investments. Sydney's Lane Cove tunnel, Sydney Harbour tunnel along with Melbourne's ring roads have all experienced their own financial problems.
Although it is sad to see investors losing money, those people should have observed the disasters of Sydney's bankrupt toll roads before ploughing their funds into the Legacy Way project, because like Brisbane's Clem7 toll road, Legacy Way was always doomed to failure.
All of these toll roads should have been built as freeways by governments, as they reap billions of dollars each year from motorists from registration charges and vehicle taxes, fuel excise and fines. If governments actually used all of that money for our roads instead of squandering it on utter garbage, then Australians would have the best roads in the world. Instead, we have appalling roads with potholes, stupid rules, insane speed restrictions and governments incapable of fixing the roads infrastructure.
CARR always advocates boycotting all toll roads and sending them broke. At least the infrastructure for those roads will remain and hopefully governments that would like to be on the side of motorists instead of ripping them off, might do the right thing and convert them into freeways, what they should have been in the first place.
May 2013 - If we in Australia thought that we were the only nation of motorists being ripped off by speed cameras, CARR can say that the rest of the world has discovered that motorists are lucrative cash cows. Here are some overseas reports from just the past week.
Motorists in France are arming themselves against what they consider predatory speed traps. The pro-driving group Forty Million Motorists on Monday released a 32-page report detailing the country’s most underhanded speed camera locations. The group compiled the list by sorting through the 67,000 results they received after asking the public to, “Tell me about your radar.”
The French are not as passive as Australians when it comes to dealing with government gouging. They may take to the barricades over this sneaky form of revenue-raising, but they are more likely to just go and physically tear out those speed cameras.
In states like Arizona and California where photo enforcement tickets carry license points, insurance rates rise when a red light camera or speed camera ticket is sent to a vehicle owner. It is less well known that the same can be true in states where points are not assessed on photo tickets. On Monday, the office of the Louisiana Department of Insurance clarified that nothing prevents insurers from raising rates on vehicle owners who receive a photo ticket in the mail.
Well the same happens in Australia. When motorists renew their CTP and comprehensive insurance, one of the questions is whether the motorists have been booked in the past couple of years and if the answer is yes, the premiums are increased. Of course this is grossly unfair, because those bookings may have been wrongfully made by defective equipment or they may have been received for some trivial offence such as leaning an elbow out of a car window.
Use of breath mints can be considered evidence a driver is intoxicated, according to a divided Texas Court of Appeals ruling delivered earlier this month. The three-judge panel made the decision in the case of limousine service driver Robert Richardson who was stopped in Lewisville, Texas on August 25, 2010 while transporting customers from the airport.
Only in America, the saying goes. Whoever presides over this court in Texas must be insane, stupid or both and if they want to try and sue CARR for calling them that, they are welcome to try. The use of breath mints is evidence of only one thing - that a driver was sucking on breath mints. It has nothing to do with being intoxicated. If every motorist that uses breath freshener, chews gum (nearly everybody in the USA chews gum) or sucks on a breath mint is deemed to be intoxicated, nearly every driver in Texas would be before this court. There is only one sure way to determine that a driver is intoxicated and that is in the form of a breath or blood test. Breath mints have nothing to do with it.
In Europe and the United States, speed camera attacks generally happen at night or in the early morning hours. This was not the case in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia when a group of vigilantes set fire to a “Saher” speed camera in broad daylight in the middle of a busy street with the event captured on video. According to Bab, the Grand Mufti has condemned such attacks.
At the risk of being accused of promoting lawlessness, CARR congratulates those Saudi vigilantes for setting fire to that speed camera in Riyadh. We think that under certain circumstances, when the citizenry sees that a law is bad and they are being very adversely affected and the lawmakers refuse to do something about it, then the citizenry have a right to do something about the problem themselves. We all know that speed cameras don’t save lives or prevent accidents - that’s proven. Therefore the only reason that they exist is to raise revenue. The fact that they are promoted as safety devices is blatantly false, therefore the people have a right to remedy this falsehood if the government will not.
State lawmakers upset at the corruption of the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission are looking to hand control of the toll road over to the state Department of Transportation (PennDOT). Pennsylvania created the turnpike commission in 1940 to run what began as a 160-mile toll road. The route now stretches 546 miles, charging drivers $780 million per year. Despite the heavy cost, the toll road is rapidly losing money.
Now that is good news, that another toll road is losing money and hopefully will go broke and revert to becoming a freeway. The USA probably has the best roads in the world and the size of the population means that all the roads in that nation can easily be funded by revenue. There is absolutely no reason why toll roads should exist in the USA, but it is terrific to see the Pennsylvania Turnpike is obviously being boycotted by American drivers who will send it bankrupt.
Red light camera opponents often charge that municipalities exploit intersections that have dangerously short yellow times for the purpose of issuing tickets. An outside audit of the Sacramento, California red light camera program confirmed that tickets were issued at an intersection where the yellow warning period on occasion flashed by faster than the eye could see.
The charge that red light cameras are rigged for the purpose of issuing tickets is absolutely true. In Italy, a number of government operatives were charged for illegally rigging red light cameras to wrongly book motorists and here we see that the Americans are doing exactly the same thing. Motorists who are booked in this disgraceful manner should not only refuse to pay the fine, but should sue the municipality, council or the state for fraud, because that is exactly what it is - a fraudulent scam to rip off motorists. This is exactly why CARR advocates that motorists arm themselves with car black box recorders, simply because it is a fact that motorists are being made the target for fraudulent scams such as these red light camera riggings, defective speed cameras and even corrupt cops trying to fill their booking quotas.
Thanks to John Vance for this item.
April 2013 - A report from the Road Safety Camera Commissioner to the Victorian Minister for Police has revealed that more than 3000 refunds had to be made to motorists who were wrongly booked by red light cameras at certain intersections in Melbourne.
On 21 September 2012, Gordon Bishop spoke on the 3AW breakfast show about a traffic infringement notice he received for travelling through a red light at the intersection of Terminal Drive and Centre Road, Melbourne Airport, which was dismissed in the Magistrates Court of Victoria. Bishop argued that the length of the yellow light phase did not comply with the VicRoads guidelines for a 50 km/h speed zone.
On 16 November 2010, VicRoads increased the speed limit on Terminal Drive, Melbourne Airport at the intersection of Centre Road from 40 km/h to 50 km/h, but it did not increase the corresponding length of the yellow light phase at that intersection from 3 seconds to 3.5 seconds. The length of the yellow cycle remained at 3 seconds until 24 January 2012, when it was increased to 3.5 seconds.
This report again reinforces the fact that motorists are routinely wrongly booked for camera offences when those cameras and their infrastructure are defective. But if it was not for people such as Gordon Bishop confronting the regime about it, many thousands of motorists would just pay the fine and help the government in their revenue-raising efforts.
The interesting thing about this report is that the yellow light phase of the traffic light in question was far too short and a study of the VicRoads guidelines for this shows that for speed limits under 60 km/h, the yellow light phase can be as short as 3 seconds. This is well under the recognised world standard for red light cameras of 4 seconds and is obviously set in Victoria to generate even more bookings.
The big problem with camera bookings is that infringements are not received by motorists for some weeks - and even up to a couple of months - after the alleged infringement has been committed, so motorists cannot even gather their own evidence at the sites if things like yellow light phase timing has been altered in the interim. Without hard evidence, motorists stand very little chance in fighting these wrongful bookings.
There is only one sure way to beat wrongful bookings and that is to have hard evidence in the form of recorded footage that can be played to a court. The only way to have such evidence is to install a car black box recorder that records every single journey in a car and keep the recordings from it for a couple of months. If an infringement notice arrives, the motorist can merely find the video recording and GPS record of that particular moment and ascertain if the booking was wrongful. If so, the motorist has every chance of beating it and also possibly sue the government for damages.
CARR can only say this to you. If you drive, knowing that your government routinely books people wrongly and you do not take active measures to protect yourself, such as always using a car black box recorder, then you really have no choice but to be ripped off. Without hard evidence on your side, you can't fight wrongful bookings.
Thanks to John Vance for this item.
March 2013 - Dennis Cliche, managing director of toll road operator ConnectEast wants to buy the Eastern Freeway for more than $1 billion and slap a toll on motorists as part of a bid to raise cash to fund the east-west tunnel. Cliche warned that it will be hard to build without tolls on existing roads, or a massive subsidy from taxpayers.
Cliche said, "Selling the Eastern Freeway would be a good way for the Government to raise the money it needs to get the project going. The choice has to be made between incurring debt and raising taxes, or charging those who will benefit from needed infrastructure such as east-west. Those who are stuck in the parking lot at the end of the Eastern Freeway will benefit when the tunnel is built and will see their travel times improved.
The airport road link in Brisbane, the Clem7 river tunnel in Brisbane and Sydney's Cross City and Lane Cove tunnels had all gone bankrupt in recent years, costing investors billions of dollars.
The proposal by Dennis Cliche for ConnectEast to purchase Melbourne's Eastern Freeway from the Victorian government and turn it into a toll road is nothing short of disgraceful, but not unexpected, considering that Cliche has a vested interest in making a lot of money from such a scheme. Firstly, the Victorian government does not own this road or any other public road - the people own all the public roads and have paid for them. These roads, including the Eastern Freeway, are not the government's to sell.
However, the great scam of privatisation has seen federal and state governments sell property and infrastructure that belongs to the citizenry, forcing people to pay again for something that they actually own outright. By rights, if a government decides that it wants to privatise an asset owned by the people, it should issue shares to the people and those shares can be bought and sold. This is how the NRMA demutualised. The NRMA was owned by its members, so it offered shares to its members according to the length of membership time and those shares could be traded on the stock market.
The NRMA showed how an asset owned by the people could be privatised, not by stealing it and selling it back to its owners as governments do, but by issuing shares of that asset to the people who own it and then they are free to sell them if they so wish. But governments literally steal assets belonging to the people and sell them back to the people - not everybody, just investors who have the money to buy them and then who charge the citizenry to use those assets that were ripped off them.
CARR is against all toll roads, because governments have a responsibility to build road infrastructure with the massive revenue they reap from taxes, excise, fines and other imposts. The problem has always been that governments rake in this revenue from motorists and squander it on schemes that have nothing to do with motoring. Every motorist should completely resist any move by any government to sell any public road to a private company.
March 2013 - NSW Police have booked more than 11,000 motorists for illegal mobile phone use since new laws came into force in late 2012. Police figures show that 11,211 infringements for illegal mobile phone use have been issued since the laws came into effect, amounting to $3.34 million in government revenue, or $25,166 a day. Each offence attracts three demerit points and $298 or four demerit points and $398 if caught in a school zone.
The general manager of the NSW Centre for Road Safety, Margaret Prendergast, said that the figures showed more education was needed on the dangers of mobile phone use in cars. She stated that the mobile phone laws were changed in late 2012 to send a message to motorists that the rule was about the gravity of the risk and the increasingly reckless behaviour seen from people using phones while driving.
Under the laws, functions including texting, video messaging and emailing are prohibited. To use GPS on phones, the handset must be placed in a fixed mounting located in a spot that does not distract the driver from the road. Learner and P1 drivers and riders are not permitted to use a mobile phone at all while driving. Similar laws are also in force in Queensland, Victoria and the ACT.
It is quite staggering that motorists are still being caught illegally using mobile phones, when this offence is the most easily seen by police. Motorists holding phones to their ears can be seen 100 metres or more away, making them easy targets for some revenue-raising by the state and that is exactly what is happening.
The fact is that talking on a mobile phone held to the ear is no more dangerous than eating an apple or a banana, quite legal activities while driving. However, the states have seen fit to target mobile phone use and rake in the money and motorists are just being slugged with fines for doing nothing more dangerous than eating fruit while driving. Of course texting and emailing while driving is really stupid, but talking on the phone is not a problem, however the authorities have made it a problem and are reaping the financial rewards because motorists talking on hand-held phones are so easy to spot.
There are many ways to prevent being booked for using a mobile phone while driving and they are all cost-effective, much cheaper than just one fine. The most sophisticated voice-operated Bluetooth headset, the BlueAnt Q3 can be purchased around Sydney and on-line for $79. There are far cheaper Bluetooth headsets available. Hands-free Bluetooth car devices are also rather inexpensive and even the best voice-operated BlueAnt Commute device is only $85. This device, as well as the BlueAnt Q3 earpiece will even read text messages to the driver while his phone is in his pocket, all very legal.
So CARR again advises all motorists that it is the easiest thing in the world to avoid being booked for illegal mobile phone use, simply by using an inexpensive Bluetooth device and it's a one-off purchase anyway. Paying $79 once for a Bluetooth earpiece is far better than being booked multiple times at $298 a time and losing points as well. Don't be a victim of government greed and ripoffs, because it's so easy to avoid.
March 2013 - South Australia's car registration system is being investigated amid concerns it may be operating illegally. If this is found to be the case, thousands of car owners could claim compensation for being charged fees for periods during which their vehicle was not officially registered.
At the moment, if a motorist renews a registration up to 90 days after it has expired, the new registration applies from the original expiry date, not the date on which it was paid, unless a $15 fee is applied. The South Australian Attorney-General has asked the Crown Solicitor's Office to determine whether this was within the law.
The investigation was sparked by motorist John Staszynski, after he was fined $375 in late 2012 for driving his vehicle two weeks after the registration had expired. When Staszynski renewed his registration for three months, he was told the registered period applied from the expiry of his old registration, which included the time he was driving unregistered.
"I was effectively receiving a registration period of two weeks less than I had paid," Staszynski said. "It seemed they wanted it both ways - to fine me for being unregistered, then retrospectively charge registration for that same period."
Staszynski said that he first challenged the matter in the Magistrates Court where he was fined only $100 because the magistrate couldn't determine if the Transport Department was within its rights to apply a renewal retrospectively. Staszynski then wrote to his local MP, Attorney-General John Rau, who referred the legality of the actions to the Crown Solicitor's Office and said that he was awaiting its advice.
Law Society of SA president John White said that if the advice went against the department, the potential is that there might be some money that was paid by motorists that should be repaid.
It appears that the South Australian government may have been operating illegally, which is certainly not the first time a state government has done this. In fact governments are renowned for making gross errors that adversely affect the citizenry and this can be seen in so many High Court rulings that have struck down illegal legislation or other travesties inflicted upon the people by politicians and bureaucrats.
There is an interesting aspect to this matter and that is the way that John Staszynski was dealt with. Firstly, Staszynski was fined $375, which violated his right to the presumption of innocence. In other words, he was penalised without first having been convicted of any offence and this was wrong. Every motorist who is booked should send the fine back to the state, demanding that due process of law be applied and that they do not owe any penalty to the state until they have actually been found guilty of an offence in a court of law.
Secondly, CARR believes that Staszynski was wrongly dealt with by the court, because the magistrate who applied a penalty of $100 against him simply did not know whether any fine was valid. The magistrate should have either held the matter over, either until he determined whether the Transport Department had actually registered Staszynski's car or not, or even better, just dismissed the matter.
This case shows that motorists need to stand up for their rights and even more so, take legal action against governments and even courts for wrongful penalties. CARR believes that motorists should allow themselves to be victims of illegalities, violations of due process of law, wrongful bookings or any other violations of their legal rights. We are all citizens of Australia, not cannon-fodder for greedy governments who want to keep pillaging our hard-earned money by operating a legal system that is designed to fleece us, not deliver proper justice.
US judge Robert Ruehlman recently described the speed camera rip-off in the Ohio suburb of Elmwood Place as a high-tech game of Three-card Monte, in other words, a scam. The same goes for the way state governments operate, often quite illegally and every motorist should be aware of this and ready to take these governments to task and beat them. And when motorists do beat wrongful bookings, they should always take legal action and demand compensation, not just have those matters dismissed. Fighting wrongful bookings takes time and effort and costs money that should be repaid with interest.
Thanks to John Vance for this item.
March 2013 - In a scathing ruling, a judge in Hamilton County Ohio USA ruled that an ordinance allowing this village of 2,000 inhabitants to install speed cameras was invalid and unenforceable. Critics have stated that those cameras, which already have generated about $1.5 million in fines, have more to do with revenue enhancement than safety in this Cincinnati suburb nearly surrounded by the city.
"Elmwood Place is engaged in nothing more than a high-tech game of Three-card Monte," Common Pleas Court Judge Robert Ruehlman wrote in his decision. "It is a scam the motorist cannot win."
Thirteen US states and the District of Columbia have speed cameras operating in at least one location. Ohio has 13 other jurisdictions that use them. A dozen states have laws prohibiting them.
The village put the cameras in place in July to slow speeders, not to rake in revenue, officials have said. About half of the fines go to the village as new revenue. When motorists began receiving the $105 speeding tickets in the mail, they exploded in anger. Many have said they now go out of their way to avoid driving here and many business owners say the cameras and the fallout are hurting business. Many hired lawyer Mike Allen to fight the cameras.
"It is obvious that the village of Elmwood is motivated by financial considerations and not public safety," Allen said. "This is a victory for the common man and woman who does not have $105 to give to the village of Elmwood." Allen added that Ruehlman's ruling could be the nation's first to address the specific constitutional challenge of whether a driver's due-process rights were violated. "I think the preliminary injunction is pretty much the whole case," Allen said.
The judge was particularly biting in writing his decision, blasting the village for taking from its residents instead of providing services to those who pay for them. "The entire case against the motorist is stacked because the speed monitoring device is calibrated and controlled by Optotraffic," the judge wrote. If motorists receiving tickets wanted to contest them, they had to request an administrative hearing that came with a $25 fee. The judge wrote that the hearing was nothing more than a sham.
This American judge merely expressed what we all have known for years, that speed cameras and the way they are deployed are nothing more than a three-card-monte scam. For those who don't know what this is, three-card-monte is like the infamous shell game, otherwise known as the pea and thimble scam. Like those rigged games, the speed camera scam is designed so that motorists have virtually no hope of preventing themselves from being fleeced by the state.
Sure, people can say that if you don't speed, you won't get booked. But they don't understand that for instance, in NSW at least 14% of those cameras are defective and wrongly book motorists. There is a myriad of cases where speed cameras have clocked stationary objects allegedly travelling at high speed, as in that infamous case in Adelaide where a camera booked a stationary bus allegedly going at 70km/h. And motorists cannot drive with their heads constantly buried in their speedometers to ensure that they are within the speed limits and most cars do not have heads-up speedometer displays.
It is interesting that the American lawyer stated that this case could possibly address the issue of a driver's rights to due process. In Australian jurisdictions, the system is geared in such a way as to deny motorists the presumption of innocence by hitting them with a fine, then forcing them to contest it as if they were guilty and had to prove their innocence. In fact the opposite is true, that it is entirely up to the prosecution to provide evidence beyond a shadow of doubt that a motorist was indeed speeding. The motorist does not have to prove anything.
The problem for motorists is that speed cameras and speed guns, even defective ones, have been declared by legislation to be accurate scientific instruments and motorists don't stand a chance in hell of disproving their wrong readings unless they have some form of hard evidence to present to a court. Motorists swearing in court that they were driving at the speed limit will get nowhere.
This is why CARR is always advising that all motorists carry their own independent and reliable witness to allow them to blow those wrongful bookings right into orbit and that witness is called a car black box recorder. But just as important, motorists have to make a stand against the way they are dealt with by the state. The whole concept of sending fines to motorists is wrong, because it completely violates their presumption of innocence and that is a principle of enshrined law under our Constitution.
CARR advocates that all motorists who receive speeding or any other fines write back to the issuing authority and refuse to accept them, stating that those fines are illegal, as the motorists have not yet been convicted of any offences and the presumption of innocence is paramount. We have to fight this entrenched system of automatic convictions and the use of revenue-raising speed cameras to rip us off.
Thanks to Dennis Zeitz for this item.
March 2013 - Malcolm Heymer, a retired civil engineer with thirty years of experience who advises the Alliance of British Drivers (ABD) filed a complaint with the UK Advertising Standards Authority. Heymer complained about advertisements that appeared in Local Transport Today, paid for by Vysionics Intelligent Traffic Solutions, a vendor of automated ticketing machines. The advertisements claimed that the point-to-point, average speed camera system, known as SPECS, was responsible for a reduction in the worst sort of traffic collisions of over 70%.
"The clear implication of this wording is that it is the SPECS installations alone that are responsible for what appears to be, at face value, an impressive reduction in KSI (killed and seriously injured) casualties. The claim deliberately ignores other universally recognised factors that make significant contributions to casualty reductions at speed camera sites," Heymer wrote. "It is clear that Vysionics' claim is intended to convince potential clients that buying one of its systems will reduce road casualties substantially, and in my view this amounts to fraudulent misrepresentation."
A Vysionics press release from 2011 listed fifteen photo enforced locations where the claimed casualty reduction was a combined 73%. Department for Transport statistics show that exceeding the speed limit was a factor in only 7% of fatal and serious injury accidents. Therefore, the maximum possible KSI accident reduction from full compliance with the posted speed limit would be 7%. Heymer insisted that the camera company had inflated its claim by relying on tricks, including a statistical phenomenon known as regression to the mean."In almost all cases, speed cameras (of whatever type) are installed following a period during which accident numbers at a location or along a length of road have been higher than usual," Heymer wrote. "So there is a high probability that the numbers would fall again anyway, without intervention. That accident numbers dropped after the camera was installed very often has nothing to do with the camera being there, but the camera gets the credit for the fall in casualties."
The Advertising Standards Authority has acknowledged the complaint and is looking into it. The agency has ruled against misleading speed camera statistics in the past. In 2006, the agency chastised Greater Manchester police for producing a booklet that relied on misleading camera statistics. In 2005, the agency ruled against the West Yorkshire speed camera partnership. A related agency, the UK Statistics Commission, condemned the national government's speed camera claims in 2006 based on the findings of the British Medical Journal.
It is not a coincidence that all alleged data attempting to show that speed cameras reduce accidents emanate from either the manufacturers of the cameras, the operators of mobile speed traps, police and governments who all have a vested interest in making a profit or reaping revenue from these devices. Literally every other study by independent bodies or researches has concluded beyond a shadow of doubt that speed cameras cannot and do not reduce accidents.
Not one of these organisations or governments touting the safety benefits of speed cameras has ever been able to show that they prevent or reduce accidents. The simple fact that they are just cameras that snap photos and do not immediately deal with speeders proves their ineffectiveness, apart from being automated revenue-raisers. A policeman pulling up a speeder at the time of the offence prevents him from continuing on a dangerous course. A speed camera merely snaps a photo and allows the speeder to proceed and possibly cause a severe accident or fatality.
We all understand that governments need revenue with which to function and this is what taxes are for. However, taxes are properly imposed on goods and services, which is fair enough. But installing devices that lay in wait for unsuspecting motorists to rip money from them in the false guise of road safety is nothing but a blatant scam by governments that are aided and abetted by the manufacturers of those devices. Speed and red light cameras have never prevented an accident and they should be abolished forthwith. In the meantime, motorists can use GPS receivers with camera warnings to beat these highway robbers.
Thanks to John Vance for this item.
February 2013 - Victoria's top road safety and accident research body and sentencing advisory group were not consulted before the Victorian government's legislative blitz on dangerous driving. The government has made daily announcements on new road rules and maximum penalties in late February 2013. Police Minister Peter Ryan insisted that the new policies were ''heavily researched''. He denied they were the result of poor opinion polls.
The state government said drivers caught high on cocktails of booze and drugs would be fined a minimum $2800. Other measures included tough new rules on the use of mobile phones by drivers, the wider use of interlock devices for drink-drivers and new laws to reduce tailgating.
Ryan said that the government had consulted with police, VicRoads and the Transport Accident Commission on the measures. As well, a public survey of about 16,000 people on crime issues had been conducted last year. Ryan said that the new rules had been discussed via a ministerial council and by various committees, taking advice from Australia and abroad.
But the internationally renowned Monash University Accident Research Centre said it had not been consulted on drug-driving or the interlock devices. Dr Mark King, a senior researcher at the Centre for Accident Research and Road Safety at the Queensland University of Technology, another respected body, said that fines used as a deterrent could work but only when they were considered appropriate for the offence. "Fines must be considered appropriate for the severity of the offence, based on community opinion," he said.
To understand why the Victorian government has acted in this way, it must be stated from the beginning that both Premier Ted Baillieu and Police Minister Ted Baillieu are unmitigated hypocrites. For a solid decade, these two clowns railed against speed cameras, declaring them to be nothing but revenue-raisers, but as soon as they were voted into office, both of them did complete backflips and claimed that speed cameras really did save lives and prevented accidents, which we all know is absolute garbage.
It is obvious that Baillieu and Ryan declined to consult with the top road safety and accident research experts because this might have revealed that their plans to slug motorists with these new fines would not be effective. So Baillieu and Ryan did what most governments do when they want to prove their case - they enrolled tame government bodies that they could control and influence to back them up, just as they enrolled the Auditor-General to come out with that preposterous report that speed cameras actually prevented accidents.
Even a complete imbecile would deduce that a speed camera can't stop an accident from happening, because it is a passive device that is nothing more than a camera attached to a speed sensor. But the Victorian Auditor-General flew in the face of global research and statistics and issued his report that bolstered the Victorian government's aim to install even more of these revenue-raisers. The hypocrisy and deceit of Baillieu and Ryan is sickening to the extreme.
So now in Victoria, motorists will be fined $400 for using mobile phones while driving and there will be a maximum $2800 fine for drug and alcohol-affected drivers. CARR heartily endorses heavy penalties for idiots who drive while affected by alcohol or drugs, but being fined for talking on mobile phones while driving is ridiculous. To demonstrate how absolutely stupid this is, a motorist can drive and hold a business card or a pack of cigarettes to his hear and talk to it and this is perfectly legal. But if he does the same with a mobile phone, he will be fined $400.
If all motorists drove around holding something to their ears and talking into it, the police would find themselves facing a mountain of lawsuits for wrongful booking and harassment. if they tried to book those motorists who were not using mobile phones while driving. Maybe this is what needs to be done, to prove how ludicrous these mobile phone laws really are.
Thanks to John Vance for this item.
February 2013 - A council insider who used to manage a team of parking rangers has confirmed that parking fine quotas do exist and are enforced. Former council chief Nick Seremetis has turned whistleblower, accusing his council of pressuring rangers to fill a quote of parking tickets every day - ten per ranger.
"It is a money grab - an outright money grab. The statistics will show it," Seremetis said. "I'm talking about an endemic issue within council using rangers as a form of revenue raising."
Seremetis started as ranger services manager for Sydney's Mosman council in May 2012. The North Shore suburb is one of the smallest council areas in the country, yet Seremetis supervised thirteen rangers whose performance and pay reviews were linked to the number of tickets they wrote.
Seremetis was told that he had to have a quota of parking tickets. "What I was told was I had to counsel staff who were low-end users, being staff who were not issuing enough penalty notices," he said.
Is it not amazing how councils have always insisted that their rangers do not operate to quotas, yet every once in a while, whistleblowers pop up and expose their lies. The police do exactly the same. Of course the police infringement quotas are generally not written in stone, but police are informed that if they do not issue a certain amount of tickets, their seniority, promotion and performance records will be in jeopardy.
This is why CARR advises all motorists to take positive action to prevent themselves being victimised for the purpose of revenue-raising by councils and police, because there is absolutely no doubt that government, local and state, are increasingly viewing motorists as their cash cows, vulnerable to every ripoff that governments can inflict on them.
However, it is ludicrously easy for motorists to avoid all these government scams. For many years, CARR has advocated using technology and common-sense to completely stymie these government robbers. If you never ever want to be fined for parking, don't ever park on metered or restricted parking spots. There is literally nothing that you cannot get in places where there is free parking, such as in shopping centres, so just boycott these council parking spots where you are at risk of being fined and you can't go wrong.
As for the cops, speed cameras and other entrapment scams, a little bit of fairly inexpensive technology works wonders. Almost every GPS receiver has speed and red light camera warnings in them. With GPS receivers being so cheap these days, there is no excuse for any motorist to be stung by speed cameras when they can be warned prior to getting near them so that they can check that they are not speeding.
Now that most people have smartphones, there are GPS programs that are either free or very cheap that will perform all the functions of the most expensive standalone GPS receivers. For instance, there is a GPS application called MetroView for most smartphones that has the whole Australia Map on board, so there are no data downloads as with Google or Apple Maps. MetroView includes speed and red light camera warnings, school zone warnings that are triggered only when those zones are active and speeding warnings to alert drivers that they are exceeding the speed limit on a particular road. How on earth could any driver be booked when he has such technology for the measly sum of $14.99?
And best of all, a relatively inexpensive car black box recorder will be your witness wherever you drive and park, so that if you get wrongfully booked by a defective speed camera, cop or a council ranger, you will have hard evidence in the form of a time and date-stamped video showing your exact speed, location and position on a Google Map. That will blow any prosecution case off the planet if you can show a court that you were within the law. Without such a device, you have almost no hope of beating a wrongful booking.
There is no excuse for any motorist to fall victim to government revenue-raising scams. We can't legally destroy those speed cameras or beat up council rangers who book people just to fill their quotas, but we can certainly prevent ourselves falling victims to them, simply by using cheap technology and some discipline and beat them hands-down.
Thanks to Peter Janc for this item.
February 2013 - The sneaky tactics employed by operators of mobile speed cameras in Wagga Wagga in February 2013 have convinced motorists that these cameras are not about road safety but raising revenue.
On at least two occasions, signs warning motorists of the presence of the mobile speed camera were obscured by parked vehicles. Under the NSW Speed Camera Strategy released in June 2012, mobile speed camera signs and vehicle markings were enhanced and the number of warning signs doubled to make enforcement more visible to motorists.
However, inspection and documentation by a number of Wagga motorists highlighted the fact the warning signs were placed in locations not readily visible by approaching motorists.
In these instances, the perennial question is always raised about whether speed cameras are really about road safety or just blatant revenue-raising. That speed cameras are just about revenue-raising is easy to prove. Improving road safety relies on stopping people from speeding dangerously at the time they are doing it, not just taking photos of them and allowing them to proceed without being pulled over and booked on the spot to instantly modify their behaviour.
For instance, if a motorist drives recklessly and dangerously at double the speed limit past a Redflex mobile speed camera, does that camera slow him down? Of course it does not. That motorist would most probably not even see that mobile speed camera, especially if the Redflex operator deliberately hid the warning signs, as was seen in Wagga Wagga.
But all that the speed camera does is to merely snap a photo and in a month's time, the owner of the car will receive an infringement notice. However, in the month between being photographed by that Redflex speed camera and receiving the fine, that motorist will probably continue to drive recklessly and dangerously and possibly kill himself and others before that ticket arrives to dissuade him from this behaviour.
Redflex claims that it only gets a fixed contract rate per hour of speed enforcement and that statement alone is a sick joke. Enforcement means stopping an offence at the time it is occurring. Does a speed camera do that? Of course not. The speed camera does nothing except record the speed of cars and take photos of those that exceed the speed limit and allows them to proceed. At least police who clock motorists exceeding the speed limit will pull them over on the spot and that is true enforcement, but the speed camera system is nothing more than entrapment and a dirty scam to reap revenue.
Speed and red light cameras must be completely abolished because they do not prevent accidents and enhance road safety. Literally every study in the world has proven this, apart from the transparently bogus nonsense studies trotted out by Australian state governments that try and show that these cameras reduce accidents by being nothing more than automatic photographers. The motorists of Australia are being scammed and they need to take action against governments to stop this ripoff.
Thanks to John Vance for this item.
February 2013 - Motorists using the Harbour Bridge or Harbour tunnel are set to be stung with a new charge each time they don't hear the beep from their e-tag. From 01 June 2013, motorists will be charged an extra 55 cents vehicle matching fee on top of the regular toll when they cross the Harbour if they don't travel with a tag or it fails to register. Previously, a photograph was taken of the car's number plate and the toll was automatically added to the account linked to that car at no extra cost.
A Roads and Maritime Services spokeswoman said that the new fee would cover the cost of matching up the driver's number plate with their tolling account. "Most customers do the right thing and have a toll tag in their vehicle or a valid video pass like eMU when travelling and avoid additional charges," the spokeswoman stated.
The spokeswoman did not say how much the new fee would reap for the RMS, but if just 1% of the 240,000 drivers who use the bridge and tunnel every day don't have their tags or the equipment is inoperable, the new charge will bring in nearly half a million dollars a year. The matching fee brings the bridge and tunnel into line with Sydney's privately run toll roads, which have been collecting similar fees for at least the past year.
This is an utter disgrace, trying to make motorists responsible for failures of equipment that does not belong to them. The tolling sensors on the Harbour Bridge, Harbour Tunnel and any other toll roads are the complete responsibility of the operators of those roads and if they malfunction, then that is not the fault of motorists and they should not have to pay for this.
As for e-tags, they do not belong to motorists - they belong to the issuing party, the RTA or other tolling tag supplier. Malfunctioning tags cannot be repaired by users. Motorists cannot determine that tags are malfunctioning before they are used. Usually the first indication that a motorist has that his e-tag is malfunctioning is when it does not beep when passing a tolling point or when he receives a bill stating that his car was not tolled for whatever reason.
Therefore any malfunctions of this equipment cannot be made the responsibility of the users who do not own them and cannot repair them. Therefore, any charges or penalties that accrue from this faulty equipment should be cancelled. Anybody who is slugged with this preposterous fee should completely reject it and take it to court if necessary, suing the government or private toll road operator for extortion and demanding money with menaces.
Of course there is the other side of the coin, that of motorists wrongly billed by toll road operators because of misreading of number plates and many other reasons. There are many cases of people who were billed by toll roads who were not even in the same state at the time. So do those people have a legal claim for compensation for toll road operators wrongfully demanding money from them and threatening them with legal action? They certainly do and any motorist who is wrongfully billed in this way should take firm action against toll road operators, because that is exactly what they do to motorists.
February 2013 - The meteor that exploded over Russia and injured nearly 1000 people in February 2013 was astonishingly well-documented by amateur videographers and many of the videos seem to have been captured from the dashboards of cars. All of the available footage raises the question, why do so many Russians have dashboard video cameras? Answer: to prove who was at fault in car accidents.
Basically, Russia's motorists are a different breed. Russia has one of the highest car-accident rates in the world. Hit-and-run crashes are incredibly common, as are crafty, car-related hustles. Drivers of already dented cars will back purposefully into other cars in an attempt to extort money from their owners. Pedestrians will throw themselves on car hoods at crossings and then lie on the asphalt, pretending to be injured.
Cutting off or otherwise offending a fellow motorist occasionally leads to full-on brawls in the middle of the road. And in court, dash-cam footage is the most reliable way to prove what really happened.
According to Jalopnik, a weblog covering cars and car culture, titled Why Russians Are Obsessed With Dash-Cams: ''Dash-cam footage is the only real way to substantiate your claims in the court of law. Forget witnesses. Two-way insurance coverage is very expensive and almost completely unavailable for vehicles over 10 years old - the drivers can only get basic liability. Get into a minor or major accident and expect the other party to lie to the police or better yet, flee after rear-ending you. Since your insurance won't pay unless the offender is found and sued, you'll see dash-cam videos of post hit and run pursuits for plate numbers.'' Dash-cam footage also aims to guard against bribery, brutality and intimidation by traffic police, which 32% of Russians called the most corrupt institution in the country.
But while less common than in Russia, dash-cams are not unheard of in Australia. Sydney-based designer Simon Seeber has a camera attached to his motorbike, which came in handy when he was nearly run off the road by a bus one morning on Warringah Road. The bus had been two lanes away from him but suddenly moved across into Seeber's lane, forcing him to brake suddenly. "It was pretty reckless and I think also illegal," he said. "I reported the incident to Sydney Buses as soon as I got to work since I had all the details on video. I was given a case number and told that they would look into it."
Sydney journalist Campbell Simpson installed a dash-cam in his Volkswagen Polo after an accident when a car swerved in front of him and stopped suddenly. He said the dash-cam would have shown the accident was not his fault. Australian cyclists have for some time been using small cameras mounted to helmets or handlebars to film accidents or near misses with motorists.
It is obvious from this report that Russians have discovered the value of dash-cams in proving who was at fault in accidents and also in proving wrongful bookings and corruption of police. The Russian weblog Jalopnik says it all: ''Dash-cam footage is the only real way to substantiate your claims in the court of law. Forget witnesses."
The problem with witnesses to an accident is that even if they have the best intentions, they can forget what really happened and under pressure from intimidating lawyers in court, they can easily be made to recant their testimony. But hard evidence in the form of video footage of an incident cannot be dismissed or changed and this will make all the difference as to whether a person is convicted or acquitted of a driving offence or whether a person wins or loses an insurance claim.
Think about it. If you were driving at 60km/h in a 60km/h zone and a cop pulled you up and gave you a ticket for allegedly doing 85km/h, how on earth could you fight it? If you took the matter to court, it's your word against the cop's and courts almost invariably take the cop's word and treat defective speed guns as if they were precise scientific instruments. You have absolutely no way of proving that you were not speeding - all you have is your unsubstantiated statement, which is essentially worthless because every motorist fighting a speeding ticket will claim that he was not speeding - that is why he is in court fighting the ticket.
However, if you trot into court with the files from your car black box recorder, showing a time and date-stamped video with your speed at the time of the alleged infringement, your exact position displayed on a Google Map and audio and other parameters all faithfully recorded and you will beat the infringement hands-down and probably even have cause to take legal action against the cops and the government.
This is why CARR is always harping on about motorists having the means to protect themselves against being ripped off, either by speeding tickets or false insurance claims. The only way to do this successfully is to have a GPS-equipped car black box recorder (not just a dash-cam) operating whenever you drive. Such devices are not expensive, slightly more than half the cost of a NSW speeding ticket.
February 2013 - Australians look set to pay at least $10,000 more for the Holden VF Commodore SS than Americans. The VF Commodore is produced in Australia and shipped to the USA, where it will be sold as the Chevrolet SS from late 2013. Chevrolet chief engineer David Leone has suggested it will start as low as the mid-$40,000 range.
The new VF Commodore SS-V is similar in specification to the upcoming US-specification Chevrolet SS, but it gets the bigger, more powerful 6.2 litre engine from the HSV ClubSport that sells for $66,990 drive-away price. In Australia a current Commodore SS-V costs $55,290 plus on-road costs. Despite the apparent price gouging Holden says that it will still make a profit on the 5000-odd cars it plans to sell there each year.
Australians already pay significantly more for cars than many developed countries, especially high performance and luxury models. Yet in 2012, Holden secured $275 million in government funding in return for a commitment to at least $1 billion in investment in local manufacturing until at least 2022.
It’s not the first time American buyers have paid significantly less than Australians for imported Australian cars. The original Pontiac G8 was up to $10,000 cheaper than the equivalent Commodore when it went on sale in 2008.
How on earth can a car made here in Australia cost significantly less in the USA, especially when international shipping and US distribution costs are factored into the price? US and Australian living standards and wages are approximately the same, so the reason for the huge difference in car prices can only be explained by the Australian government's iniquitous taxes and levies on cars, plus the gouging perpetrated by local car dealers.
When a Mercedes C250-CDI costs $75,750 in Australia, but only US$35,770 in the USA, even when the Australia dollar is higher than the US dollar, then it is obvious that Australians are being royally ripped off. Motorists already pay massive amounts of taxes, levies and fines that are not used for their benefit, but as usual, the greedy federal and state governments continue to gouge Australians unmercifully.
Something needs to be done about this, starting off with obtaining written pledges prior to elections from politicians that they will remove these massive imposts on new cars, so that Australian motorists can enjoy the same prices as their US compatriots. It is understandable that governments need revenue, but when one examines the incredible and disgraceful squandering of taxpayer money on idiotic failed projects over the past few years, one can see that if the government refrained from this wasteful nonsense, it would not have to gouge the motorist in this way.
February 2013 - Graffitists exposed the location of one of Victoria Police's secret speed traps after it was revealed that camouflaged police were hiding in thick bush to book speeding motorists in the Yarra Ranges and elsewhere. A person spray painted a pig's head next to the word "cops" and an arrow pointing to the exact spot where police hide with their radar guns on the Black Spur section of the Maroondah Highway.
Pig heads and large dollar signs had also been sprayed as warning signs on both sides of the road just before the concealed speed trap. Almost 1000 motorists had already been booked at the site and that police had vowed to continue using the undercover tactic.
Victoria Police Acting Superintendent Michael West said that the criminal damage at the Yarra Ranges site was disappointing as the camouflaged cop tactic was being used to help save lives. "Since the operation was introduced in the Yarra Ranges, injury collisions involving motorcycles have dropped by 38%," he said. "Victoria Police makes no apologies for using innovative tactics to try and change road user behaviour and reduce road trauma."
Recently retired detective Senior Sergeant Neil Beeson said that he and many other serving and retired officers were disappointed police had stooped to using such sneaky tactics. The 38-year police veteran said the force had to have the public onside if it was to work effectively.
Nobody could condemn the people who painted those signs warning motorists of this disgusting revenue-raising tactic by Victorian police. The pathetic attempt by Superintendent Michael West to justify this gouging of motorists does not make any sense. Cops hiding in bushes and allowing motorists to speed before booking them is obviously a tactic to entrap them into being booked.
If police really wanted to stop speeding at a dangerous spot, all they would have to do would be to put a very visible police car just before that section of road and every motorist approaching that location would see it and automatically slow down. Only a lunatic would speed past a very visible police car. This is called enforcement, where police prevented speeding in the first place, but of course this method does not raise revenue.
The comment by Superintendent West stating that accidents involving motorcycles dropped by 38% because of these sneaky police operations is ridiculous. How can the police take credit for this when they allow motorcycle riders to speed in order to book them, instead of preventing them from speeding in the first place by having a visible police presence on the roads?
A little logical reasoning proves that police are employing these sneaky tactics merely to raise revenue. What is better? Allowing a crime to proceed and then catching the offenders, or preventing the crime from happening? In this instance, police are allowing motorists to speed in order to book them, instead of preventing them from speeding in the first place. It could even be concluded that police are aiding and abetting motorists to speed in order to create the opportunity to book them.
The police are labelling the people who painted those pig signs graffiti vandals. CARR does not condone vandalism in any form, however sometimes the Gestapo-like tactics of government need to be countered by citizen power and this is one of those occasions. Every one of these sneaky police traps should be exposed and motorists warned that they are approaching government tax collection points, because that is exactly what these speed traps are, merely entrapment of motorists and not enforcement. The Victorian police are a disgrace for doing this in the first place.
Thanks to Steve Houghton for this item.
February 2013 - In Victoria, heavily camouflaged police armed with radar guns are hiding in bushes and have proven highly successful in trapping speedsters, particularly motorcyclists. So successful has the trial been in the Yarra Ranges, police plan to extend the tactics through other parts of Victoria.
The tactics used in Operation Surreptitious were revealed when a motorist fined by the "sneak" police mounted his own counter-surveillance. He returned to where he had been fined and then took his own photos of the cops in action. "They were disguised and hiding in thick bush to nab people as they came down a hill on the only overtaking spot for miles around," the motorist said. The officers were dressed in combat-style military uniforms.
Victorian police justified the tactic, saying it saved lives and would continue and even be extended to other parts of the state. They defended their use of camouflaged police, saying the tactic has reduced road trauma in the Yarra Ranges by almost 47%. Acting Superintendent Michael West said the outfits were purely practical because police officers would stand out too much if they wore the traditional navy blue uniforms.
Can there be a worse and more disgracefully blatant ripoff by the government and police than this? Superintendent West gave the game away when he stated that the camouflage outfits worn by these police were practical because the cops would stand out too much if they wore their usual uniforms. But isn't that the idea of maintaining a police presence, making the cops stand out so that it deters people from speeding?
The motorist who observed this entrapment operation stated that the cops had stationed themselves on a hill that was the only overtaking spot for miles around. So if the police wanted to prevent speeding, would not it be logical for them to station a police car at the top of the hill, even with a marquee stating that it was dangerous to speed down that hill, instead of hiding in the bushes and allowing those motorists to speed and then booking them?
This is exactly like the tactics that police use in school zones, parking themselves at the departure end and booking motorists who exceed the speed limit in those zones, instead of parking before the start of the school zone so that motorists could see them and use that as a warning to adhere to the speed limit. The current tactic lets motorists speed through those school zones and risk the life of kids, merely to allow the cops an opportunity to book people and rake in revenue for the government.
The same scenario is occurring with this disgusting tactic by Victorian Police. Hiding in the bushes and entrapping motorists after they have been exceeding the speed limit did not stop them before they did this. Placing a highly visible police car at the start of that hill would have stopped all those motorists and motorbike riders speeding in the first place, but of course there would be no revenue generated by the fines.
This so-called initiative by Victoria Police completely ignores logic and fairness and has made police de-facto tax collectors who are more concerned with raking in revenue than preventing accidents and speeding. CARR condemns the Victoria Police and would hope that the people in that state put pressure on the government to make the police act as police with a visible presence, instead of them skulking in bushes in camouflage outfits entrapping motorists for revenue.
February 2013 - Redflex, which operates mobile speed cameras in NSW and is in a prime position to snare a piece of the O'Farrell government's huge speed camera expansion, has been embroiled in a scandal in the USA over payments made to Chicago city officials. Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel said he would not allow the company to bid for a new red light camera program after fresh allegations emerged that it had misled his city.
Redflex has supplied most of the fixed red light and speed cameras in NSW. It also runs the $2.1 million trial program of mobile speed cameras in NSW, set to be expanded this year, and operates point-to-point speed cameras that monitor speeding trucks on long-haul routes.
For five months, the firm, which is listed on the Australian Securities Exchange, has been battling allegations of impropriety after the Chicago Tribune revealed it paid a $US910 ($884) hotel bill for the city official in charge of granting red light camera contracts. A friend of the official had received more than $US570,000 in lobbying commissions since Chicago's red light camera program began.
Redflex had been conducting its own investigation into the allegations which discovered other improprieties, including thousands of dollars spent so a city official could attend the Super Bowl and other sporting events free. Redflex had not previously disclosed the improprieties to Emanuel and the City of Chicago. Emanuel said that Redflex would not be allowed to bid on a new contract for the city's red light camera program, the largest in the USA.
Redflex's chairman Max Findlay and another board member Ian Davis quit last week. The company runs six mobile speed cameras in NSW. In 2012, the O'Farrell government said that it would increase the number of mobile cameras in the state to 45. It is expected to award tenders in February 2013.
With these scandal emerging from the USA, one can only ask what Redflex may have done to secure the lucrative contracts from the NSW Labor government to supply those revenue-raising cameras and to operate the mobile speed camera system. The Labor Party, both federal and state, has a long and disgraceful record of corruption and criminality, as seen in the current Independent Commission Against Corruption investigation involving former Labor minister Ian Macdonald and Labor powerbroker Eddie Obeid and the various arrests and dismissals of previous Labor politicians over the years.
It is an utter disgrace that Barry O'Farrell, who campaigned for years that he would remove speed cameras because he knew that they were revenue-raisers, has not only reneged on his position, but is going to increase the number of these entrapment systems and most probably engage Redflex to provide the service. The smell of revenue seems to corrupt every politician, regardless of political party.
The same happened in Victoria, when for a solid decade in opposition, Ted Baillieu and his cronies screamed and ranted about speed cameras being revenue-raisers and doing nothing to prevent speeding or accidents, yet when Baillieu and his Liberals won power, not only did Baillieu completely change his position on removing all speed cameras, he increased their numbers. This merely proves that it does not matter what politicians promise to do, you can count on the fact that they are usually lying.
Thanks to Santo Calabrese for this item.
February 2013 - Queensland Premier Campbell Newman has ruled out a move by the State to take over the troubled Airport Link, as new figures reveal the tunnel is costing $1 million a day to operate. Brisbane's Airport Link is costing $1 million a day to operate, about 10 times the daily average being raised by the tolls levied on users.
These figures are contained in a December quarter financial statement released by tunnel operators BrisConnections, which also reveals an average of just 47,102 vehicles used the tollway each day in December. That figure is about a third of the traffic forecast to be using the tunnel after the end of the toll-free period, which was projected to rise from 35,000 shortly after opening to 160,000 within the first 12 months.
A discounted toll was introduced on October 19 and will remain in place until April 2013. Under the discounted toll regime, motorists pay $2 for travel between Toombul and Kedron and from Kedron to Bowen Hills and $2.50 for the full Toombul to Bowen Hills journey. The tolls are due to rise to $2.90 and $3.75 from 18 April, ahead of the full tolls of $3.65 and $4.90 from 17 October.
This is indeed good news that another toll road is going broke. CARR started out as a platform to send toll roads broke and a number of them have done exactly that. The Brisbane Airport Link will hopefully go so badly down the drain that it will either be closed down or be handed to the government to operate as a freeway, as it should have been in the first place. CARR comments Queensland motorists who are boycotting this toll road and hopes that they will do the same to all other toll roads.
The federal government rips 38 cents from every litre of petrol, yet only returns 9 cents for roads, less than a quarter. There are many other taxes, fees, fines and charges that state governments rip off motorists, yet very little of that is returned to infrastructure. The roads are a disgrace when the revenue taken from motorists that should be used for roads is squandered on stupid and mostly failed projects.
February 2013 - Sydney's parking meters are raking in almost three times the average Australian household income with four machines in Dawes Point earning a total of $610,017 last financial year. City of Sydney's highest-earning machines are in Hickson Road in The Rocks, where office workers can buy a 10P ticket for $25 a day or a spot by the hour for $4.40. Hickson Rd is such a money-maker that the council employs one parking ranger just to patrol it all day long and that does not include the tens of thousands of dollars in parking fines.
In Pyrmont, meters on Pirrama Road rake in up to $132,000 a year, while all metered parking across the CBD made the council $35.4 million in 2012. While the most lucrative meters are in the CBD, Sydney's beachgoers also pay some of the highest parking charges found anywhere in the country. In Manly, the meter near the Surf Life Saving Club on South Steyne took $138,880, while the machines near Bondi Beach helped contribute to Waverley Council's annual $6.7 million in parking meter revenue.
While most western Sydney councils offer free on-street parking, Liverpool Council said it had been forced to begin charging for on-street parking to cope with increasing demand. "Since its introduction, parking pressures have been noticeably reduced," a council spokeswoman said. But it seemed residents were avoiding the charges and parking elsewhere. "The five meters, which have an hourly parking rate of $1.50 and service more than 200 car spaces, on average each gross approximately $109 per month, excluding running costs. "This is less than council's expected revenue."
This report merely highlights the fact that in the Sydney metropolitan area, councils are increasingly relying on revenue from parking fees and fines and view motorists as cash cows, there to be fleeced. Motorists already pay massive amounts in fees, excises, taxes and levies to drive on the roads and this implies that motorists should have the right to park on those roads without paying additional fees. Of course this is not the case.
As usual, CARR advises all motorists to use the one power that they have to avoid being stung by parking fees and fines. The solution is to completely boycott any area that has expensive parking meters and completely deny those councils the revenues that they try and rip off motorists. The admission from Liverpool Council that the money from its parking meters is less than the expected revenue merely shows that those parking meters are not there to control parking, but are used to raise revenue. But it is good to see that motorists are boycotting those metered parking spots.
Avoiding expensive parking fees and fines is just too easy for most motorists. There is literally nothing that motorists cannot get from areas with free parking and if people need to go into CBD areas that have ridiculously expensive parking, the way to do it is to park in a side street in a suburb near a train or bus route and use public transport into the CBD, completely avoiding parking fees and the risk of fines.
February 2013 - Melbourne Council seized the opportunity to fine people who travelled into the CBD for an indigenous cultural festival on Australia Day. The council said it issued 130 parking tickets around Treasury Gardens where the Share the Spirit Festival was held and 698 across the municipality on 26 January.
Melbourne Council spokesman Sam Bishop said that parking restrictions were necessary to ensure a regular turnover of on-street parking spaces for everyone who needs to park in the city. Bishop stated that Australia Day was a busy day in Melbourne with a large number of visitors attending a number of different events throughout the day. He said that the Australia Day public holiday was on January 28, not January 26, so standard Saturday parking restrictions applied.
Councils can make all the flimsy excuses they like about ensuring a regular turnover of parking spaces, but their very own documents prove that they are far more concerned with reaping revenue in parking fines than any other reason. However, there are so many ways that motorists can avoid falling victim to rapacious councils.
As usual, CARR recommends that people who really need to go to any CBD where there is a risk of being booked for parking simply don't drive and park in those places. It is easy to park on a street near the CBD and catch a train or bus into the city, thus avoiding any risk of being fined. It is not expensive to do and it saves all the trauma of parking in the city and then trying to rush back to one's car before the Parking Gestapo hit you with a fine.
CARR would like to see event organisers also assist in this by staging their events in places where there is copious free parking. Why hold events in the city, when they can be held in suburban parks and other arenas, where attendees can just go to them and not worry about getting booked. Imagine Melbourne City Council finding itself without any events or attractions throughout the year because event organisers boycotted the city.
The boycott is the most effective way of fighting any form of rip-off. We don't have to park in the city. We don't have to use toll roads. We don't have to get pinged by speed cameras when we have devices that warn us where they are. We don't have to be wrongfully booked when we have car black box recorders that prove that we were driving legally. We don't have to be victims to anybody, merely by taking simple active measures to deny these rip-off merchants any opportunity to fleece us.
Thanks to Steve Houghton for this item.
January 2013 - The federal government is lifting penalties at Melbourne Airport by 55% as more than 100 motorists per week are being fined for illegal parking. Under changes to federal legislation in late 2012, the penalty for common offences such as parking in a no-stopping zone at the airport jumped from $110 to $170. Motorists ignoring no-parking zones are now slugged $102, up from $66.
From March 2013, a new lane will be added to the busy pick-up zone to reduce the number of drivers doing laps as they wait for passengers. Parking offences at eight airports around the country pumped almost $2 million into federal coffers in the past two financial years. Airport parking penalties rose on 28 December 2012, due to the first changes in penalty unit values for a swag of Commonwealth offences since 1997.
Melbourne Airport issued 12,100 parking infringement notices for various breaches in the past two years. But drivers could park free for up to 20 minutes at the "Ring and Ride" area, while the cost to wait an hour was $4. Instead, motorists regularly queued at off-limit areas such as the side of Terminal Drive off the Tullamarine Freeway, then dangerously pulled into traffic as they left.
There is a very simple solution that motorists can use at any airport to completely avoid getting penalised in any way. It's called a mobile phone. Virtually everybody has one of these devices, so motorists who are waiting to pick up passengers can merely wait outside the airport perimeter until passengers phone them and then they can just drive straight to the pickup point and collect them.
Of course this works perfectly for domestic passengers, however it is a problem for international arrivals, where passengers may not have operational mobile phones when they land in Australia. However, there are many free applications for smartphones that will advise motorists when flights have landed, so a fairly good estimate can be made as to how long to wait outside the airport before driving in to pick up those passengers. Of course prior to departure, savvy passengers coming from overseas should purchase cheap SIM cards that give them access to Australian phone providers so that they could use their mobile phones upon arrival.
CARR would like to see a facility at every international airport that gives arriving passengers without operational mobile phones a means to contact their friends who are to pick them up. But there is a sneaky way to do this anyway. Most airports have free wi-fi hotspots and literally every McDonalds at airports have free wi-fi too, so arriving passengers with smartphones can merely access the Internet and use any kind of free messaging application such as Skype to let their friends know exactly when they can be picked up.
We motorists have amazing technology at our disposal these days and we should use it to avoid being cash cows for greedy governments. We can avoid using expensive toll roads, we can avoid being booked by speed and red light cameras and we can avoid getting booked at airports or in fact anywhere. There is really no excuse any more for anybody being ripped off when technology that will help us avoid this is at our fingertips.
January 2013 - A case from the USA has highlighted the unfairness of motorists being booked for offences where signs have been wrongly placed, defaced or turned around so that they were not visible.
In Los Angeles California, a local worker discovered that a NO RIGHT TURN sign on the corner of 7th Street and Broadway, one of the busiest intersections of this enormous city, was a very lucrative ticket trap. He watched motorists being booked by zealous police for 15 years, so he took it upon himself to start warning motorists not to be caught.
So every day between 3:00pm and 6:00pm when the NO RIGHT TURN sign was active, DJ Prator warned motorists not to turn right. He incurred the wrath of the Los Angeles Police Department, with officers repeatedly trying to intimidate him, but he stood his ground and continued to warn motorists, literally costing the City of Los Angeles around $13 million dollars in revenue.
But this was still not good enough for Prator, so he filed public record requests and discovered that nobody could find who authorised the placement of this sign. He even built a website to alert people to this anomaly and his one-man protest worked. A month later, an engineer from the Los Angeles Transportation Department contacted Prator and told him that the sign was going to be removed and the next day, it was gone.
The world needs more people like DJ Prator, who is a hero for righting a wrong that was costing thousands of motorists a $234 penalty for no good reason. He had the guts to stand up to police who tried to intimidate him into stopping warning motorists about the sign and he went to the trouble of discovering that the sign should not have been there in the first place.
But this case applies to Australia, where many traffic signs are either defaced, wrongly placed, covered up by bushes and trees and might even be missing. If motorists are booked for contravening a traffic sign, they should always check to see if the sign is valid or can be easily seen.
Of course some traffic signs are just plain stupid. For instance, on the Sydney-Newcastle Freeway on the northern side of the Brooklyn Bridge, there is a speed sign that states - 100K or 90K when raining. So any motorist who is booked for driving at 100km/h when there is any kind of water from the sky, could go to court and offer the defence that neither the cop who booked him or he himself is a qualified meteorologist who can define the type of downpour as rain, showers, drizzle, low-flying precipitation or whatever.
CARR believes that all motorists should be very aware of ticket traps and do everything in their power to avoid being stung by them, whether they be traffic signs that have something wrong with them, or signs that cannot be interpreted properly. Always fight injustice, because the case you win will assist all motorists as a precedent.
Thanks to John Vance for this item.
January 2013 - Washington DC Police Department Sergeant Mark Robinson tried for months to persuade DC traffic officials to rescind more than 100,000 defective citations he said were a result of unreliable speed cameras, but when he got caught by one of them himself in the Third Street Tunnel, he took a different course.
The result was a decision in his favour by a hearing examiner that if upheld, could force DC officials to return $1.8 million in penalties associated with more than 14,000 tickets that misidentified the posted speed limit. A hearing examiner for the DC Department of Motor Vehicles agreed with the sergeant turned whistleblower that the tunnel speed limit was improperly enforced and was referring the matter to the DMV’s chief hearing examiner for further review of potential defects that could affect thousands of tickets issued from cameras in the tunnel.
Robinson, one of the principal radar instructors since the inception of police department’s automated speed-enforcement program, was transferred out of the automated traffic enforcement unit after he accused civilian program manager Lisa Sutter of various improprieties, including failing to rescind more than 100,000 defective citations from portable speed cameras. He was cited last month for driving 11 to 15 miles per hour over the posted speed limit in the tunnel.
The Third Street Tunnel case is not the first time the Metropolitan Police Department’s automated ticket unit has issued invalid speeding tickets and fines to unsuspecting motorists. Robinson pointed to a speed-camera citation he received in November that was dismissed by a DMV hearing examiner because of the District’s failure to meet its burden of proof.
John B Townsend II, manager of public and government affairs for AAA Mid-Atlantic, said the District brought in more than $55 million in automated enforcement fines last year, bolstered by an increase of fines such as the ones levied from the Third Street Tunnel of 150%.
The admission by John B Townsend that Washington DC reaped more than $55 million in fines from automatic cameras says it all, that as in Australia, these devices are just in place as taxation collectors. As we all know, speed cameras do not prevent accidents because they don't stop speeding drivers, but merely snap photos of their cars as they drive blithely on the way to their deaths or severe injuries. Not only that, many of them are severely defective and wrongfully book many innocent motorists.
The most important aspect of this report is that it took an insider, Sergeant Mark Robinson, to challenge his wrongful booking and most probably get it overturned. Robinson is a police radar instructor and knows exactly how inaccurate and defective speed cameras are, so he is in a good position to produce enough insider technical data to beat his speeding ticket and hopefully force a refund of fines to all those other drivers who were wrongfully booked.
However, the average motorist has almost no hope of achieving such a result, simply because he would not be privy to the sort of insider knowledge that Sergeant Robinson has, so all those motorists would stand very little chance of having those wrongful fines rescinded - unless they had some sort of hard evidence to show that they were not speeding, apart from subpoenaing police speed camera records that may not show defects in those cameras.
This is where the only real way to beat such wrongful bookings is to always have a car black box recorder running and copy at least two months of data to a computer. So when that infringement notice comes in the mail, you can go to the data and display exactly what happened at the time. If it turns out that you were within the speed limit and the camera was defective, then you can easily beat the infringement and even have grounds to sue the government.
Thanks to John Vance for this item.
January 2013 - Government tender documents show that from January 2013, new so-called safety cameras will be deployed, including 39 extra mobile speed cameras, with 2358 new mobile speed camera locations and 6070 extra hours of enforcement per month.
By the end of 2014, there will also be 109 extra red light-speed cameras at intersections and 45 existing red light cameras will now also be capable of catching speeding motorists. There has been a 12.5% increase in the number speeding fines issued during the O'Farrell Liberal government time in office.
"Barry O'Farrell, who once labelled speed cameras cash cows is now increasing the number of speed cameras to a level never seen before in NSW," opposition roads spokesman Ryan Park said. "The figures are staggering. More than 2000 new mobile speed camera locations and a doubling of red light cameras, on top of a massive 12.5% increase in fines.
In its first 12 months, the O'Farrell government doubled the revenue it received from mobile speed cameras, but cut staff from the Centre for Road Safety and slashed funding to the road toll response unit.
Roads Minister Duncan Gay defended the rollout yesterday. He said the government had already introduced six mobile speed camera vehicles which had been operating for more than 940 enforcement hours and the program would be progressively expanded to about 45 vehicles to deliver 7000 enforcement hours by July 2013. "When speed comes down, fatalities come down," he said.
Again, the utter hypocrisy and lies of politicians are exposed. O'Farrell and his Liberal cohorts screamed blue murder about speed cameras and how they were going to be ripped out when the Liberals gained power. Well, they did gain power and the first thing that O'Farrell and his parliamentary friends did was to perform a monstrous backflip and actually increase the number of these highway robbers.
It doesn't matter whether Liberals or Labor are in power, the result is always the same - lies, hypocrisy and money-grabbing ripoffs. Look at the hypocrisy of the Labor opposition now. When they were in office for 15 years or so, they planted speed and red light cameras all over the place, despite every study in the world proving them to be nothing more than revenue raisers. But now in opposition, those Labor stooges are complaining about O'Farrell doing much the same as they did for over a decade.
The most asinine comment came from NSW Roads Minister Duncan Gay, who said, "When speed comes down, fatalities come down" No shit, Sherlock. Taking Gay's premise to its logical conclusion, if speed comes down to zero and cars are not driven at all, road fatalities will also come down to zero. And to think that the NSW taxpayer is funding this clown.
Then Duncan Gay has the temerity to claim that his revenue-raising scheme against motorists is enforcement. It's nothing of the sort - it is purely and simply entrapment. Enforcement is stopping wrongful behaviour immediately, such as a cop pulling over a speeding driver before he can cause an accident. Entrapment is pinging a driver and allowing him to proceed with his speeding for a month before he gets the infringement notice and possibly killing people in that time. A speeding motorist whizzing by a camera and being photographed on his way to causing a multiple fatality is not enforcement - it's a sick joke.
As CARR keeps saying and Barry O'Farrell stated, this is a form of taxation that is completely avoidable. The simple expedient of using GPS with camera warnings will completely negate speed and red light camera bookings. The only other thing that motorists need to do is to warn oncoming drivers when they spot a mobile speed camera trap or police using speed guns. Those who don't take these proactive steps deserve to get booked because it's so easily avoidable.