19 November 2014 - In Cleveland Ohio, Jason Sonenshein merely hoped an anti-traffic camera ballot initiative for which he had campaigned would squeak out a win. He was nervous. In the days leading up to the election, traffic-camera proponents had increased their advertising, including a TV spot featuring an emotional appeal to voters from a popular former Cleveland mayor, whose nine-year-old daughter was killed by a red light runner. "I was really kind of worried," Sonenshein said. "Based on the performance of other anti-camera initiatives, I thought we'd win, but there was also a chance we'd lose. Whatever the outcome was going to be, it was going to be close."
It was a landslide. Cleveland voters rejected automated traffic enforcement by more than a 3-to-1 margin, with 77.5% of the ballots against keeping the cameras. Issue 35, the anti-traffic camera measure, carried every one of Cleveland's 332 precincts. Not to be outdone, voters in the nearby Ohio suburb of Maple Heights rejected traffic cameras in their own ballot initiative with 76.6% of the vote. The measure there, Issue 99, carried all 19 precincts in the town.
They weren't alone. In other parts of the country, results from two other referendums on automated traffic enforcement swung hard against keeping camera programs. Voters in Sierra Vista, Arizona and St Charles County, Missouri rejected the cameras by more than 70%. In Sierra Vista, the local newspaper surveyed voters at six local polling places and noted that across the city, red light cameras seemed to be the only thing that polled lower than President Obama. State lawmakers in both New Jersey and Ohio are considering legislation that would restrict and prohibit, respectively, the use of cameras in traffic enforcement.
"It shows a clear mandate from voters for getting rid of these traffic revenue cameras," Sonenshein said. "Traffic safety concerns me, but I think there are ways to improve traffic safety without the due process problems presented by traffic cameras and the potential for false convictions. Why not try those first?" Recent election results sharpen the focus on a clear trend of automated traffic cameras falling out of favour with municipalities that use them and the motorists ticketed by them. The number of traffic camera programs, particularly red light camera programs, is on the decline across the country.
Seven red-light camera programs were dropped over the past month, bringing the total to 495, according to records kept by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. That's down from a total of 540 two years ago. Speed-camera program numbers have trended upward over the same time period, though they, too, may have peaked. Over the last month, they have fallen by two programs to 138 total. The numbers don't include the end of a New Jersey red-light camera pilot program, which is set to expire in December 2014.
On Sunday, a group of approximately 70 to 100 protesters on Long Island gathered urging officials in their county to follow New Jersey's lead. They picketed in front of a county administration building in Mineola, NY, asking Nassau County to refund tickets doled out since a speed-camera program started earlier this year. "It took us by surprise when it started, when you're not a party to a conversation," said Gavin Cummings, an anti-traffic camera advocate who helped organise Sunday's rally. "We think the program has been poorly implemented and completely mismanaged. We'd like to see tickets issued to date refunded, then the program indefinitely suspended until a meaningful solution is worked out."
Both Sonenshein and Cummings echo the concerns shared across the country. Sonenshein says motorists are often denied their due-process, which he says is alarming with some cameras that have rates of error in excess of 10%. Cummings notes companies that make and manage traffic-camera equipment earn high percentages of the revenue generated, which creates an incentive for them to generate more tickets. American Traffic Solutions, the vendor in Nassau County, earns 38% of all revenues collected. A Long Island television station says the cameras are generating about $200,000 per day in revenue for the county.
"Our primary objection is that the stated purpose of the speed-camera program in our county is to improve school safety within school zones, and it's clear that's really not the objective," he said. "If you really want drivers to slow down, how about flashing lights? Or more lights? Instead, they hide cameras behind overgrown tree branches and send a ticket in the mail a month later. How does that protect children?"
The Americans are doing exactly what Australians should have done years ago. American motorists have finally become so sick and tired of being ripped off and scammed by those scameras that they are now literally forcing their politicians and administrators to remove those insidious devices. The Americans realise that those cameras have nothing to do with road safety or saving lives, but everything to do with raising revenue. Using such devices under such false pretexts is criminal, to say the very least.
The interesting piece of data from this report is that some speed and red light cameras in the USA have rates of errors in excess of 10%. Statistics revealed under a Freedom of Information application showed that such cameras in NSW had rates of defects of around 14%. What that means is that possibly one out of every seven motorists booked by those cameras may have been booked wrongfully. Yet the court system is rigged in such a way as to make it prohibitively expensive for motorists to contest wrongful infringements, therefore they are coerced into paying those fines, rather than spend time and money fighting them and in most cases, losing the matters and thus paying the wrongful fines as well.
Australian motorists should do what the Americans have done, by protesting loudly for these insidious revenue-raising cameras to be removed, because there's not a scrap of credible evidence to show that they prevent accidents or save lives. Australian motorists also need to take active measures to do the one thing of which state governments are absolutely petrified, that of denying them the revenue that they seek and it is so easy to do.
State governments want motorists to keep being booked by cameras and cops, so if we took those active measures, we would bring those governments to their knees. If we all used GPS receivers with camera warnings, we would reduce the rake-off from those cameras to zero, making them more expensive to maintain than the money received from them. If we all used Bluetooth hands-free devices for our mobile phones, that would remove another lucrative source of revenue from state governments.
If we all flashed our lights at oncoming motorists to warn them of mobile speed cameras and police speed traps, they would not be able to operate as government tax collectors. If we all had car black box recorders and we all video recorded all encounters with cops, we would have evidence to fight literally every wrongful infringement, as well as forcing cops to treat us with deference instead of belligerence. But the bottom line is the revenue. As long as state governments know that motorists will not take such active measures and being willing victims, they will keep ripping those motorists off.
Thanks to Santo Calabrese for this item.
04 November 2014 - In the USA, Lawrence Armstrong's legal nightmare began when someone he had never met was photographed running a red light. Armstrong has a similar name as the Mitsubishi-driving man who was caught by a red light camera in San Bernardino California, in March 2012 and an unexplained error led to a conviction for Armstrong, who was hit with points on his licence and a hike on his insurance rates.
While the conviction was eventually overturned, justice for Armstrong did not come without legal fees, elevated insurance rates and endless headaches, according to his attorney, Bob Conaway. "There is an old law school action that there's a legal remedy for every wrong. Well, not for red light cameras," Conaway stated. "The only remedy you have is to spend money to undo their screw-up."
Armstrong, who lives in San Bernardino County, noticed that his insurance rates increased in March 2013, but did not know who was responsible for raising them. The traffic citation was filed on 22 March 2012, but he never received it. Armstrong sued his insurance company, Amco Insurance, along with American Traffic Solutions, or ATS, which owns and operates the cameras, for violating the federal Driver's Privacy Protection Act (DPPA) by misusing his personal information.
Conaway believes that everyone involved, except his client, benefited from sticking Armstrong with a ticket he didn't earn. Red light camera operators get a cut of every ticket they issue and insurance companies benefit when they have an excuse to raise rates, Conaway said. And while he suspects an error by the state department of motor vehicles started the chain of events, Conaway said that Armstrong could not get answers from the government agency.
US District Court Judge Jesus G Bernal, who dismissed the case against Amco and ATS, said that state law precluded Armstrong from finding out from the state who made the mistake because, in an ironic twist, that could violate the rights of the violator. "The DPPA does not protect against improper rating of his insurance policy; it protects against improper use of plaintiff's personal information," Bernal ruled. In this case, the only person whose information was wrongly passed on was the Mitsubishi driver's, the judge ruled.
"Who's responsible for putting in the wrong data? Apparently the court doesn't feel anyone's responsible for that," noted Conaway, who was eventually able to get his client's DMV record scrubbed and his prior insurance premium restored. "There should be some compensation. Armstrong is a veteran and a law-abiding citizen who was minding his own business. This really stressed him out."
In many US states, a red light camera violation results in a ticket issued to the car's owner, but not a moving violation assigned to the individual. In Armstrong's case, the ticket would have still been improperly issued to him, but it may not have resulted in higher insurance rates. Conaway, who is running for the US Congress, is proposing a federal legislation ban on automated red light cameras without legal protections put into place.
"It can be reliable but no one is spending the money to make it reliable," Conaway said of the system. "If a law enforcement officer or an IT person worked 24/7 monitoring the system, I say there's a good argument that you can have them. "Legislation I would propose would require Redflex and American Traffic Solutions to make available experts who can verify the system and its software was working for each and every violation on the day the images were allegedly taken and be available for cross examination before any conviction can be entered and that each and every violation only be issued by a peace officer that observed the violation on the monitor when it happens and that officer is available to be cross examined at trial before any conviction can be entered," Conaway stated.
CARR is not exactly sure how the US law works with traffic violations, however this report should immediately alert all Australian motorists to protect themselves against such wrongful bookings, when they result from speed and red light cameras. The thing to understand is that the so-called "deeming" laws that state that the owner of the car is guilty of a camera offence if he does not nominate another driver are ridiculous and fly completely in the face of the principle of our legal system that asserts that a person is innocent until proven guilty beyond reasonable doubt.
If the evidence from the speed or red light camera cannot identify the driver of the car, then the prosecution has absolutely no evidence, providing that the car owner is not stupid enough to provide it. This is why motorists who receive a camera infringement notice should NEVER fill in and sign the affidavit or statement that accompanies the ticket, simply because no person is ever required to provide anything that will tend to incriminate them. The golden rules are to never talk to police, never admit to anything and never give the prosecution anything whatsoever that they can hang on you.
A defendant has the legal right to silence and even a magistrate cannot infer from this that a defendant is guilty of an offence if the prosecution cannot prove that the defendant actually committed the offence and the defendant does not admit that he did. The onus of proof is entirely on the prosecution to prove every single element of its case and deeming that the owner of a car that was pinged by a camera in the absence of a declaration that it was somebody else does not constitute proof of a defendant's guilt.
So if you get a camera infringement notice, make a copy for your records, then send the whole thing back to the infringement bureau with a letter stating that as the owner of the vehicle in question you refuse to accept the infringement. State that the prosecution must prove beyond reasonable doubt that you were the driver. State that you are not required to sign any statements or affidavits, as you are not required by law to provide anything that may incriminate you and that you are not required to co-operate with the prosecution in any way. There is a form letter on the CARR Downloads page that you can modify. But always remember that the prosecution has to prove its case against you beyond reasonable doubt, so never give them one shred of evidence that they can use against you and fight them all the way to an acquittal and the possibility of suing the government for wrongful booking.
Thanks to Joe Allen for this item.
30 October 2014 - In the Florida USA town of New Port Richey, city council members are rethinking their red light camera program after suggesting their red light camera provider, American Traffic Solutions (ATS), may be in breach of its contract. Their concern is that the cameras were not producing the kind of revenue that the city was promised when it launched its red light camera program in 2011.
New Port Richey's yellow lights along US Highway 19 were too short for some drivers to make safe decisions, prompting the Florida Department of Transport to mandate longer yellows across the state. However, the longer yellows reduced the number of tickets so drastically - 90% at some New Port Richey intersections - that the local profits have dried up. The state gets $83 of every $158 citation, with the remainder now needed to pay ATS' monthly bill.
Even in 2012-2013, New Port Richey's 13 cameras only pulled in $1.8 million of the expected $3.2 million in fines. Of that sum, almost $1 million went to the state, while ATS collected almost a half-million itself. New Port Richey was left with just $350,000 of profit. Now, the ticket revenue is negligible.
New Port Richey's city manager, Debbie Manns, acknowledged the longer yellow lights were "a variable" in the reduced number of tickets, but also blamed construction on US-19 impacting ticket-writing. She was non-committal about the future of the program. "I feel comfortable going forward with research and with having discussions with the vendor but I can't predict where it will end at this point," she said. "I will be reviewing the contract and verify whether it is in the best interest of the city to continue the program."
American Traffic Solutions spokesperson Charles Territo stated, "New Port Richey's red-light safety cameras program was implemented with the goal of changing driver behavior at the community's most dangerous intersection; so far that is exactly what has occurred. Less than 1 in 5 violations are issued to New Port Richey drivers. And while New Port Richey's red-light safety camera program is and has always been 100% funded by drivers who run red-lights, we are always looking to work with our customers to ensure that their program meets and hopefully exceeds their public safety objectives."
Meanwhile, Greenville North Carolina's attempt to generate revenue with a red light camera ticketing system ended with the city itself paying a $36,000 penalty. The city council voted unanimously and without debate to pull the plug on the program it had started in March 2004 without having issued a single ticket to a motorist.
Greenville had cameras installed at two intersections by December 2004, but before any citations could be issued, a lower court judge ruled that the city of High Point had to pay 90% of revenue collected from its red light camera programs to the public schools. In Greenville's case, this would have meant paying $47 to Redflex and $45 to the city schools out of each $50 ticket issued. "This created a problem for the continuance of our program because it made it economically infeasible to continue," stated City Attorney Dave Holec.
Greenville decided to suspend all plans to issue citations until the issue had played out in the courts. Now that the state supreme court has upheld all of the previous rulings, the city had no alternative but to officially cancel the program "for convenience." The city rejected the idea that what was originally described as a public safety program had benefits that were worth $42 per citation. So far, Charlotte, Fayetteville, Greensboro, High Point and Raleigh have followed suit and shut down their red light camera programs. Many of the remaining cities that have camera programs have yet to comply with the court's order.
These reports from the USA prove beyond a shadow of doubt that red light cameras are all about money and nothing to do with road safety and the prevention of crashes and fatalities. If indeed those cameras were there to save lives and prevent accidents, the issue of money would not even arise. The statement from the New Port Richey council that their concern was that the cameras were not producing the kind of revenue that the city was promised merely proves again that those cameras were installed purely for raising revenue.
What is really disgraceful is that these jurisdictions deliberately shortened the amber phase of those camera-monitored traffic lights in order to make it as difficult as possible for motorists to avoid being fined, even when the amber phase was illegally too short. But as soon as those jurisdictions were forced to change the amber phase to a legal length, their revenue dried up, so they are removing those red light cameras. But if it was about saving lives, they would not do this.
The same situation exists in Australia, where it has been found that the amber phase of camera-equipped has been reduced from the recognised minimum of 4 seconds, obviously in order to entrap more motorists. Some motorists have timed the amber phase at camera-equipped intersections and found that some had been reduced down to to 3.5 seconds. Half a second may not sound like much, but when a car is travelling at 60km/h and the traffic light changes to amber just as he enters the intersection, that half-second equates to a distance of nearly 17 metres.
The intersection of Pennant Hills Road and Parkes Street in Thornleigh Sydney is a typical intersection on a busy main road. It is exactly 25 metres from the entry white line to the exit white line when driving north along Pennant Hills Road. So if the amber phase in that location was 4 seconds, then a car travelling at 60km/h would get across the intersection in 1.5 seconds, a pretty good margin. If the amber phase was reduced to 3.5 seconds, that car would need at least 2 seconds to get across the intersection.
The reduced amber phase scam works because a car that may be travelling at 60km/h and the driver spots the green light changing to amber, let's say 1 second before he reaches the intersection. In that very short 1 second, he has to make a decision to either slam on the brakes and risk suffering a rear-end collision from the car behind, or do the wise and safe thing and plant his foot on the accelerator and try and get through that intersection, knowing that cross traffic would still be facing a red light.
So if that driver does hit the accelerator, he not only risks getting booked because the shortened amber light will change to red before he gets across the intersection, but he also will get a speeding ticket if the camera is a combined red light and speed camera. And that's how the scam works and that is why governments all over the world are installing these insidious machines. This is proven by councils and governments removing them because some are not raising enough money and not retaining them because they allegedly reduce accidents and save lives. This is why we have to fight and beat these machines by using GPS with camera warnings and deny these scammers the revenue that they crave.
Thanks to Joe Allen for this item.
30 October 2014 - In the USA, The City of Chicago is mired in a red-light camera scandal replete with bribes to city officials, indictments and improperly timed cameras geared to hand out illicit fines. But despite all this, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel refuses to refund the improperly levied fines. Emanuel, who is running for re-election in 2015, faces a petition sponsored by challenger Bob Fioretti, demanding that the $7.7 million in fines generated by the red-light cameras be refunded. The improper fines resulted from yellow light timers being reduced from the legal three seconds to 2.9 seconds.
But Emanuel, President Obama's former chief of staff, handed down the decision through Chicago transportation commissioner Rebekah Scheinfeld that the fines were perfectly legal. "These were valid violations," Scheinfeld said in a recent meeting of the city council. Chicago's red-light camera system has been under a microscope since an executive of Redflex, the company under contract to the city for the camera system, was snared in a federal probe for being involved in a $2 million bribery scheme with city officials. The investigation resulted in indictments for Redflex executive Karen Finley, city official John Bills, and his friend Martin O'Malley, who was hired by Redflex as a "consultant."
Chicago has been notorious for the sheer number of red light cameras that have been installed in that city, along with the way it has rigged them to generate more revenue from fines. These cameras have been the cause of far more accidents wherever they have been installed, yet even when the Chicago authorities have been shown their own accident statistics, they have still refused to acknowledge this and have added insult to injury by rigging the cameras to generate more fines.
The motorists of Chicago really should instigate a class action against the city administration because the tickets that have been generated by these rigged cameras are provably illegal. But this report merely shows the lengths to which local councils and other administrators will go in their aim to rip off as much money from motorists as possible. As in the USA, in Australia, motorists are now seen as prime cash cows for cash-strapped state governments that target them by deploying cameras, reducing speed limits to frustrate them, use police as tax collectors and impose laws to fine motorists for merely holding their mobile phones while driving, an activity proven to not have any correlation with accidents.
Unfortunately, no matter how much motorists complain about these unfair tactics and blatant scams, it seems that governments are so completely hooked on revenue from ripping off motorists that no matter which party is elected to power, it does not make any difference. But motorists do have a simple remedy for this. They can completely deny the government this revenue, merely by using GPS with camera warnings to prevent them from being entrapped. What is sad is that most motorists will not take those active measures to protect themselves and thus governments will keep reaping tens of millions of dollars every year from these scams.
Thanks to Joe Allen for this item.
28 October 2014 - Record numbers of motorists are being caught by mobile speed cameras after the state government's seven-fold increase in the amount of hours they operate on NSW roads. From July 2014, the cameras have been snapping speeding drivers for a total of 7000 hours per month at 640 different locations. In 2013, the state's 45 mobile cameras, mounted on the back of vans and station wagons, only operated for a total of 930 hours per month.
Figures from the Office of State Revenue show that between June and August 2014, the amount collected in speeding fines from mobile cameras jumped from about $1.18 million to $1.67 million per month. The number of fines leapt from 4732 in June to more than 6600 in August.
The government's Centre for Road Safety general manager Marg Prendergast confirmed that the expanded mobile speed camera program has operated at 7000 hours of enforcement per month since July 2014. The centre's NSW speed camera performance review for 2014, released last week, stated that the cameras operated approximately 930 hours of enforcement per month as at 31 December 2013.
Prendergast said that the cameras are now used at 640 locations, covering about 6000km of the road network. "Mobile speed camera locations will soon be expanded to other areas based on crash risk to maximise the road safety benefits of the program," she said. Roads minister Duncan Gay said that mobile speed cameras would be operating at about 2500 locations for 7000 hours per month by July 2013. Labor roads spokesman Michael Daley said that the Liberals were addicted to revenue-raising through driving fines.
The NRMA said that measures were needed to bring the road toll down and mobile speed cameras was one of them. "As operation hours go up, we want the government to be strategic about how it uses them," spokesman Peter Khoury said. "If they put one in a location and it keeps booking people, then the government needs to look at other solutions to make the road safer."
The sheer hypocrisy, disinformation and blatant lying that emanates from politicians and their stooges is simply mindblowing. For starters, NSW Labor roads spokesman Michael Daley accused the Liberals of being addicted to revenue-raising from driving fines. This clown was part of the NSW Labor government that was in power for 16 years and which introduced all those revenue-raising speed and red light cameras to the state. Now that Daley is in opposition, he hypocritically criticises the Liberals, who are merely continuing the Labor tradition of ripping people off.
The NRMA, an organisation that should be protecting motorists, especially its members, from these blatant ripoffs, is now complicit in the scam by advocating the use of mobile speed cameras. CARR has contacted NRMA and challenged this organisation to provide evidence which showed that one single fixed or mobile camera stopped an accident or saved a life. The NRMA could not do that. The same went for Duncan Gay, who also could not produce one single example where a speed or red light camera saved one life.
As for Marg Prendergast, she said that the expanded mobile speed camera program has operated at 7000 hours of enforcement per month since July 2014. How the hell can she say that this mobile speed camera scam is enforcement? This is utter crap. Enforcement means preventing an offence or dealing immediately with an offender. Mobile speed cameras allow speeders to whiz past at any speed, but they do not stop them from continuing, just ping them for the purpose of fining them. This is not enforcement, merely entrapment to raise revenue from fines. Anything that Prendergast seems to say propagates the NSW government ripoff scam and she should be completely ignored, as she is just a government stooge.
The whole speed and red light camera regime is merely about raking in revenue from motorists, who are now considered to be prime cash cows for cash-strapped governments. Motorists make easy targets because people need to drive and the artificially low speed limits and other restrictions incite them to speed and thus get booked. The same goes for other offences, such as driving while touching a mobile phone, which is not dangerous in the least, but it is an easy thing for cops to spot and book motorists. We drove for a solid decade with our mobile phones in our hands without a problem until state governments latched onto their racket of demonising this practice, making it illegal and then fining people as a way of making more money.
The one thing to note is the correlation between road fatalities and the deployment of more cameras and more hours for mobile cameras. Has the road toll reduced because of this? The short answer is that although more cameras have been deployed, the road toll has not decreased. In other words, those cameras have done nothing to save lives and are merely there to raise revenue. If those cameras were effective, the road toll would have reduced in approximately the same proportion as the cameras were increased, but that did not happen.
The real reason for the reduction in road fatalities has nothing to do with speed and red light cameras. It has everything to do with safer cars that are equipped with features such as anti-lock braking, traction control, dynamic stability control, electronic brake-force distribution, emergency brake assist, multiple airbags, pyrotechnic seatbelt tensioners, body crumple zones and many other safety features. Those are the factors that save lives in accidents, not cameras that take happy snaps so that governments can raise revenue. The main thing to understand is that politicians and their stooges are liars and scammers when it comes to motorists and their money and they seem to stoop to any means to rip that money off.
Thanks to Dave Trotter for this item.
28 October 2014 - In Britain, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) stated that organised criminal gangs are increasingly targeting high-end cars with keyless security systems. The thieves are able to bypass security using equipment intended only for mechanics. Manufacturers are trying to stay ahead of the thieves by updating software. Some London-based owners of Range Rovers have been denied insurance over the issue.
The warnings echoed those made by the US National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB), which earlier in 2014 said it had seen a spike in car thefts involving equipment to spoof keyless entry. Keyless entry and ignition typically works by the driver keeping a fob on their person which automatically opens the car and activates it so it can be driven. As the popularity of keyless systems has increased, criminals have been buying equipment online that is able to re-programme keys.
"The criminal act of stealing vehicles through the re-programming of remote-entry keys is an on-going industry-wide problem," said Jaguar Land Rover. "Our line-up continues to meet the insurance industry requirements as tested and agreed with relevant insurance bodies. Nevertheless we are taking this issue very seriously and our engineering teams are actively working in collaboration with insurance bodies and police forces to solve this continuously evolving problem. This has already resulted in a number of prosecutions."
A specific case involved insurers AIG refusing insurance cover to a motorist. The company said that it treated every case individually. "We do not have a blanket policy to exclude certain vehicles from cover. Given the increasing likelihood that replacement vehicles may be a target for thieves we may ask for additional security measures, such as secure off-road parking. This could be, for example, secure private garaging or the installation of mechanically moveable bollards. If this is not possible then, as a last resort, we may refuse to offer insurance cover but only after exhausting every avenue."
Thatcham Research, which collates data on behalf of British insurers, acknowledged that the problem was widespread. "While BMWs and Audis appeared to be the early targets, it's fair to say that this was largely associated with their desirability across Europe, rather than any specific security lapse. Recently we've seen evidence of a range of makes and models being affected, including the Ford Fiesta and Focus, Range Rover Evoque and also now including light commercial vehicles, such as the volume-selling Ford Transit and Mercedes Sprinter."
It is becoming much harder to steal cars. According to the British Office for National Statistics, car theft has fallen from 318,000 in 2002 to 77,500 in 2013. But thefts involving computer equipment used to circumvent security are rising. The SMMT is pushing for stronger legislation to help reverse this. "The challenge remains that the equipment being used to steal a vehicle in this way is legitimately used by workshops to carry out routine maintenance," a spokesman said.
"As part of the need for open access to technical information to enable a flourishing after-market, this equipment is available to independent technicians. However a minority of individuals are exploiting this to obtain the equipment to access vehicles fraudulently. We need better safeguards within the regulatory framework to make sure this equipment does not fall into unlawful hands and, if it does, that the law provides severe penalties to act as an effective deterrent."
Keyless security systems in cars are fraught with danger. There have already been numerous reports of car thieves merely jumping into vehicles that are unlocked and ready to start, merely because the owners were nearby and their security key fobs unlocked those vehicles. There are also reports of people being locked in their cars by defective security systems, such as the woman who was trapped in her Porsche on an extremely hot summer day, when her defective security system deadlocked all the doors and she could not exit her car.
However, most of the cars with keyless security have been stolen because of opportunistic thieves who just jumped into those cars when the owner was not looking and drove them away. But if car thieves can merely use computers with software to open and start cars without the owner's key fob being in proximity, then that is a very unacceptable security risk. Of course keys can be stolen, but with most cars having security systems with rolling codes and sophisticated security keys, thieves have to steal those keys and the fobs in order to steal those cars.
But why are car manufacturers pushing keyless entry onto consumers? Sure, unlocking one's car when it is approached is a convenience, but there is nothing hard about pushing the unlocking button on a security fob when approaching one's car. Many cars now have automatically opening boots or hatches when a button is pressed and that is a good thing, but keyless security systems are already proving to be a security risk.
An in-depth analysis by a leading law academic has found that mobile phone laws are confusing, overly-broad, constantly out-dated and do not warrant the vast amount of time and money spent on enforcement. The published research by professor of law and Associate Dean at the University of NSW, Alex Steel, argued that using a mobile phone was less distracting than tasks such as interacting with children or applying make-up and there may be little correlation with having a crash. His analysis of the laws has led to calls for education campaigns about driver distraction as a whole, rather than a fixation on what drivers can and can't do with mobile phones.
In September 2014 during a 24-hour road blitz, NSW police detected that 900 people had used a phone illegally. Police estimate that 330,000 people a year use a phone illegally while driving. The number of crashes involving phones is low, compared to factors such as fatigue, speeding and alcohol. There was an average of 43 phone-related crashes a year, the NSW Centre for Road Safety said. Fines issued for using a phone while driving have decreased, from 52,691 in 2010-11 to 34,493 in 2013-14.
But Marg Prendergast, general manager of the Centre for Road Safety, warned that crash data was unreliable because offenders rarely admitted to using a mobile phone. "We know that it is becoming more prevalent in lower-order crashes, and we are trying to improve our data collection," she said. "The problem we have, like at the start of the drink-driving journey, is trying to highlight what the danger actually is."
In his study, published in the Criminal Law Journal, Professor Steel said there were many bizarre anomalies and ambiguities, particularly because of new technologies such as voice-to-text and wrist phones. The law has become so complex that it criminalises some behaviour unjustifiably, such as looking at the time on a phone or using a phone while riding a horse, but drivers rarely challenge the legislation in court.
"It's the sort of law that is doomed to fail because you're basing prohibition on forms of technology that have evolved even before the law has been enacted," Professor Steel said. "You have this very complicated law, then you have an advertising campaign to simplify it, then a local police officer's understanding of what he or she thinks it is, issuing on-the-spot fines to a person who has even less of an idea of what the law is."
Dialling on a hand-held phone made a person 2.8 times more likely to crash, but the rate for applying make-up was 3.4, a major US study showed. The rate for reaching for a moving object was 8.8, and for inserting a CD it was 2.3. For talking on the phone, it was 1.3.
Professor Steel questioned whether singling out the use of mobile phones for criminal prohibition was justified. "It is getting ridiculously complicated and impossible to enforce," he said. "It's probably time for a re-think, to concentrate on the underlying issue of distraction rather than being so hung up on the fact it's a phone."
This study just reinforces what we all know already, that talking on a mobile phone, whether hand-held or in a car cradle, is relatively safe. People talked on hand-held mobile phones for at least a decade before the repressive laws prohibiting this were imposed, yet the road toll fell in that time. Of course texting while driving is very stupid, but talking on a phone is no different than talking to a person in the car.
There is only one real reason why there are laws against driving and holding a mobile phone, because it is the easiest thing for police to see and book motorists and rip revenue from them for their government masters. Some may argue that motorists should have both hands on the steering wheel, forgetting all about arm amputees. It's the same stupid argument that motorists should not listen to music via earphones while driving because they may not hear emergency sirens or car horns, completely forgetting about all those stone-deaf people who have driving licences and are quite capable of driving around safely.
The truth is that the laws about driving and mobile phone use are being pushed by governments that have a vested interest in ripping as much revenue from motorists as possible, along with government stooges such Marg Prendergast from the NSW government Centre For Road Safety. It would not matter how convincing a study is that shows that an activity such as talking on hand-held mobile phones is as safe to do as anything else, Prendergast seems to always side with the government mantra that is aimed at raising revenue, rather than increasing safety.
27 October 2014 - Victorian Police Assistant Commissioner Bob Hill, the state's top traffic cop labelled a horror day on Victorian roads as "devastating" after five people were killed in separate accidents. By noon on 26 October 2014, four people, including two motorcyclists, were dead, with a fifth killed at 3pm. Hill pleaded for drivers to take more care, as the annual road toll jumped to 206, with 21 more lives lost than at the same time in 2013.
A motorcyclist aged in his 30s travelling in the rural district of Foxhow, 200km southwest of Melbourne, was the first person to lose their life just before 1am. The rider was killed after colliding with a car full of passengers on Foxhow Road. A passenger in the car, a woman in her 20s, suffered minor injuries and was taken to hospital. The other occupants of the vehicle, all men aged in their 20s, were uninjured.
There was little chance of survival for a man whose car burst into flames after he ran off the Princes Highway and crashed through a wife fence in Point Wilson, near Geelong, about 3.30am. Witnesses unsuccessfully tried to help free the driver, who is yet to be identified. It was the second incident that claimed a life on the freeway, with another incident at Mount Moriac only minutes earlier. A driver, aged in his 40s, was killed after crashing his van into a tanker on the Princes Freeway near Mt Moriac about 3.15am. The driver of the tanker, a man aged in his 50s, was uninjured.
Meanwhile a man has had his car impounded after he was caught driving 212km/h, 112km/h above the speed limit, on the Monash Freeway in Dandenong. The 35-year-old driver was intercepted by members of the Greater Dandenong Highway Patrol on Stud Road at 2.45am moments after being detected racing down the freeway.
Police are investigating the latest collision in Melton, in Melbourne's outer west, after two cars crashed at the intersection of Barries and Coburns Roads. A man travelling east, who was the sole occupant of the car, was killed while the other driver involved survived. The fatality came just hours after a female motorcyclist lost her life riding along the Goulburn Valley Highway in Yea, 98km northeast of Melbourne. The rider, who veered on to the wrong side of the road and hit an oncoming truck, was killed instantly.
These tragic accidents have one thing in common, that all of those sneaky speed and red light cameras that the Victorian government installed had absolutely no effect in saving any lives or preventing those accidents on Victoria's roads or any other accidents. For years, the government trumpeted that those cameras reduced accidents and fatalities and the revenue from them has skyrocketed, yet the hard statistics show that the road toll actually rose, as Victorian Police Assistant Commissioner Bob Hill admitted.
The truth is that the greatest factor in road toll reduction over the years has been safer cars that are equipped with airbags, electronic stability control, anti-lock braking and many other enhancements. Speed and red light cameras are machines that cannot do anything except take photos and generate money for the government, but they certainly cannot prevent anything from happening.
It is a fact that in many jurisdictions in the world where cameras were removed, the accident rate actually fell, especially at intersection with red light cameras. Yet the motoring public in Australia is still inflicted with blatant lies from state governments that claim that those cameras save lives, when the hard facts show exactly the opposite. If those cameras actually did what the government claimed, the road toll would have markedly reduced, but it has not.
It is high time that governments removed those insidious devices, admitted that they are just for revenue-raising scams and started policing the roads as they did before the advent of these automated revenue-raisers.
26 October 2014 - Police could soon be equipped with a hand-held device to catch drivers using their phone behind the wheel. A small tech firm is blending electronic cable repair technology with police equipment to create a new tool for law enforcement. ComSonics, which works to calibrate radar guns and other police equipment, says its technology is close to production.
Based around sensors used to detect radio emissions leaking from damaged electronic cables, the device could show police which cars are actively using mobile phone data. The company says there are no real privacy concerns surrounding its proposal, as the device cannot decode information such as text messages. But there could be practical hurdles surrounding such a device.
ComSonics presented its technology at a distracted driving summit in Virginia, where it told delegates that there were several hurdles to clear surrounding use of the technology. It's not clear whether it would be able to reveal whether a driver or passenger is using a phone, or whether drivers are using phones legally, through Bluetooth or dock-based systems.
Colorado-based entrepreneur Scott Tibbits has proposed a different solution. His company, Katasi, has developed a system that will lock incoming calls or text messages to mobile phones while cars are on the move. The system involves a small black box that connects to a car's onboard diagnostics port before blocking incoming mobile traffic to the driver's handset. Passengers are free to use phones as the system can learn a family's patterns and movements before deducing who is driving the car - such as a teenager driving home from school - while using GPS sensors to check if a phone is moving or stationary.
Police in NSW fine around 1000 drivers each week for mobile phone use. Transport for NSW statistics suggest that four people were killed and 66 injured between 2006 and 2010 as a result of drivers using mobile phones.
The first thing that one can see from this report is that it won't work. Many motorists now use their mobile phones for receiving data, such as Google and Apple Maps for navigation, applications such as Waze for real-time traffic information, or even one CARR member's listening to Spanish-language streaming radio from his home nation of Chile when his mobile phone is in its car cradle? So how are cops with such detectors going to be able to figure out what kind of data is being sent and received? Will they be able to figure out if it is texting or other data? The short answer is - No.
As for that clown who is proposing fitting a black box connected to a car's systems to block incoming data to a mobile phone, that is an abrogation of the right of motorists to receive data such as real-time traffic information or streaming map and guidance data. Nobody in their right mind would allow such a device to be fitted to their vehicles. There is nothing wrong with making or receiving phone calls via hands-free units and there's nothing wrong with receiving streaming data for all sorts of good reasons.
But there seems to always be people who are intent on crippling the facilities of people and governments who are after revenue tend to listen to these dopes and adopt their recommendations so that they can gouge motorists further while making their lives more miserable. Motorists need to fight these proposals simply on the grounds that they are really stupid and unfair. Of course if a cop books a motorist for streaming data and it is a legitimate application, then that cop should be sued for his back teeth and maybe a few large succesful lawsuits might send a message to governments to lay off motorists for a change.
Thanks to Justin Cramond for this item.
24 October 2014 - Queensland Police are searching for a fake cop armed with a gun who pulled over a motorist at Woolloongabba. A 29-year-old man was intercepted along Turbo Drive by a white dual cab utility flashing its headlights. He pulled over and a male occupant of the ute produced a firearm and claimed that he was an undercover police officer. The fake cop then searched the man's vehicle for more than an hour before allowing him to leave. The driver was not injured during the encounter. He described the man as Caucasian in appearance, 182cm tall with blue eyes.
Queensland Police advises that if a motorist finds themselves in a similar situation, they should stop in a well-lit area near other people, keep the car doors locked and windows closed, ask to see the person's police identification and inform them that they will call police to verify it.
This is a very good warning for all motorists to beware of fake cops and never pull over for them. Anybody can go to a costume store and get a police costume. Anybody can go to an electronics store and get flashing blue and red stroble lights. Anybody can buy fake police badges and ID on the Internet. So if you are signalled to pull over by what appears to be a cop, even if he's in a uniform and his car has flashing strobe lights, just keep driving until you get to the nearest police station. Call the emergency number 000 and tell the operator where you are and what is happening and ask to have real police intercept you and the cop car and to check its bona-fides.
If it happens to be a real cop that tried to pull you over, you can quote this news report and tell him in no uncertain terms that you do not stop for anybody purporting to be police until you are completely satisfied that the person is really a cop. Make sure that you video record the entire encounter and the conversation with the cop and do not give him your smartphone or camera with the video. You are legally entitled to record anything in a public place, especially something to protect your lawful interest. Don't be scared of cops because they don't have the powers that they pretend to have.
18 October 2014 - How long is a yellow light? Most people would have no idea of the exact length of time before a traffic light goes from yellow to red. The answer is: A minimum of three seconds, according to federal safety regulations in the USA. What happens when a mere tenth of a second is shaved off that time and a yellow light lasts 2.9 seconds? If you thought, not much, you'd be wrong.
In the US state of Illinois, the city of Chicago and its mayor, Rahm Emanuel, are taking heat for ever-so-quietly sanding that measly tenth of a second off of the length of yellow lights in the spring of 2014. The impact was substantial: 77,000 additional red light camera tickets were issued at $100 a pop, which added up to nearly $8 million forked over by unsuspecting drivers.
The Emanuel administration quietly issued a new, shorter yellow light standard when the city began the transition from red light camera vendor Redflex Traffic Systems to Xerox State And Local Solutions in February 2014. Confronted by complaints from officers and questions from the media about the tickets issued at shorter yellow lights, the administration reversed course in September 2014 and told Xerox to re-establish the three-second standard.
In October 2014, Inspector General Joseph Ferguson issued a review that found that when the city was handing over the contract to Xerox, the administration directed the company to accept red light camera violations for incidents with yellow light times above 2.9 seconds, one-tenth of a second less than the minimum under Redflex. The city previously had told Redflex not to submit tickets with yellows of less than three seconds. Emanuel admitted that the city went back to three-second yellow lights “because trust is the most important” thing. The Mayor is still mulling refunding the ticketed drivers.
This incident merely shows how sneaky and rapacious governments can be, when trying to figure out new ways to rip off motorists. None of this has anything to do with safety, as statistics have proven time and again that red light cameras increase the rate of accidents wherever they are installed. It's just about the money and the fact that motorists make a geat target because all sorts of legislation can be passed to make the ripoffs legal and there is little or nothing that motorists can do to fight it.
Apart from voting out the bastards who inflict this blatant scam on motorists, the only way to fight this is to deny the government revenue by using cheap electronics to avoid being booked in the first place. If every motorist used GPS with camera warnings and slowed down when approaching those red light camera intersections to make sure that they did not have to try and beat the amber light and thus not get booked, this would make those cameras completely redundant.
This is the last thing that governments want - motorists beating their revenue-raising scams, but it is so easy to do. Motorists who use cheap GPS receivers or smartphone GPS applications with camera warnings will never be entrapped by these disgraceful machines and they will deny their hard-earned money to greedy government. It is simply amazing that most motorists do not take such active measures and allow themselves to be victims.
Thanks to Klaus Luetjens for this item.
13 October 2014 - West Australian motorists who tamper with their number plate to avoid detection will face heavy fines under tough new laws. Under the new system, fines for people caught deliberately obscuring their car or motorbike number plates have jumped from $50 to $1,000. The change came after police discovered a spike in the number of drivers deliberately altering their licence plates.
Some drivers have installed remote controlled shutters and protective films to hide their number plates. Others bent the corners of their plates to hide the registration number. Acting Police Minister John Day said that he believed these methods were most likely used by drivers trying to avoid detection by speed and red light cameras. "This is not just inadvertent or an accidental change that people are undertaking," Day said. "This is a deliberate change to try and evade detection, essentially and $1,000 is entirely appropriate." Day said that the new penalty could be increased to $1,200 at a later date.
Superintendent Michael Peters said that drivers caught trying to hide their number plates were then flagged by police, who have automated plate recognition systems in some cars to detect the plates of repeat offenders. He said that some of the devices used to hide number plates were legal to buy but illegal to install on a vehicle.
There is an even better way to avoid getting booked by speed and red light cameras, a technique that CARR has been advocating for many years now. It's all too simple and best of all, it is completely legal. Just get a GPS receiver with current camera warnings and check your speed when a warning pops up and you will never be booked by these insidious cameras. Such GPS receivers can be purchased for much less than $100, but there is even a better solution.
Most people these days have smartphones and there are some excellent and inexpensive GPS applications with camera warnings available, such as MetroView for around $20 once-only purchase. For this, MetroView has lifetime free map and camera updates, so if motorists do not avail themselves of cheap GPS receivers or GPS smartphone applications with camera warnings, then they have no grounds to complain if they get booked by those cameras.
06 October 2014 - In Melbourne, drivers will suffer nearly three years of construction traffic pain as lanes are added to the Bolte Bridge, CityLink tollway and the Tullamarine and West Gate freeways in an $850 million project. Toll road operator Transurban signed a contract with the Victorian government to widen the road from Melrose Drive to Power Street, beginning construction in October 2015, with a completion time of early 2018. The project will include 33 kilometres of new lanes.
Premier Denis Napthine said that the widening project would reduce travel times to Melbourne Airport by 16 minutes in the peak. VicRoads will also build new lanes inbound and outbound between Melrose Drive and Bulla Road, financed by Transurban. Napthine said that toll increases for cars, motorbikes and light commercial vehicles would be suspended during the construction. He said there would be no new tolls on the road, but truck drivers would pay more after it was completed. Trucks pay 1.9 times the toll of car drivers, but will pay three times more during the daytime and two times more at night once the project is complete.
The project is estimated to increase road capacity by 30%. A new traffic management system will be introduced with speed signs above all lanes, ramp meters with signalling lights at on-ramps and signs with variable messages to alert drivers to changes and disruptions. The state government also flagged proposed future increases in lanes between Melrose Drive and Melbourne Airport.
This is all very nice, but one has to wonder why the Victorian government, rolling in money from its rapacious regime of traffic fines, cannot build a decent road or carry out needed extensions without having to involve private toll road companies such as Transurban. And that nonsense that Denis Napthine came out with, in regard to reducing travel time is stupid. Yes, travel time may be reduced in the middle of the night, but anybody who has driven on Melbourne toll roads in peak hours would know that they are nothing but mobile parking lots that are very expensive. Motorists who avoid those toll roads not only save a lot of money, but often get to their destinations faster as well.
As usual, CARR advises all motorists to route themselves around toll roads and just stick to freeways by setting the "Avoid Toll Roads" option on their GPS receivers. The money saved by avoiding those rip-off toll roads, often some thousands of dollars, can be better used by motorists to buy goodies like large screen TVs, household goods or for holidays. That money is far better off in the motorist's pocket than in the clutches of Transurban.
05 October 2014 - Disgruntled car owner Ashton Wood said goodbye to the most hated possession he has ever owned - his Chrysler Jeep. Years of campaigning the car manufacturer to refund or replace his 'lemon' car that he bought from a Sunshine Coast dealer proved fruitless, so the Queenslander decided to employ a different strategy to get the message across. He invited the public along to a rural property at Bli Bli, an hour north of Brisbane, where 300 people watched and took part in the car's demolition by wielding bats and sledgehammers and shooting bow and arrows at it.
The demolition came four years after Wood bought the 'lemon' car for $49,000 and months after he started planning the demolition event. He said that his feeling of satisfaction could not have felt sweeter: 'It's fantastic, I'm here celebrating at the pub eating chicken wings. Wood took the extreme measure to destroy his car, using augers, crow bars, bow and arrows and sheer man power, after years of frustration with his 'cursed' Jeep Cherokee.
Wood started an online kick-starter campaign to recoup the losses on his $50,000 vehicle. He raised $18,000 through the crowd-funded project for people to bid on parts of the car they wanted to smash to smithereens. After four years of repayments, he still owed $29,000 in total, so he was out of pocket close to $10,000, but by the time of the demolition, that no longer mattered.
The main impetus behind the idea was to raise awareness around "lemon laws" and to try to stop big companies from selling cars that should never be put on the road. "The serious side to it is that I shouldn't have had to destroy a $50,000 car," he said. "If the law was there today and if Chrysler group respected and looked after its customers then it wouldn't have had to happen." Wood said that plenty more jeep owners that have come forward with complaints that they are taking to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.
In the four years since Wood bought the car, in 2010, he claimed that it has provided him all sorts of problems, including the fuel line falling off, coolant leaks, the rear strut leaking oil, ongoing ignition failure and the turbo inlet manifold cracking. Chrysler offered Wood a settlement of $22,500 for the car, for which he originally paid $49,000 and he said that if he sold the car himself he could get $28,000 for it, but he stated that he felt uncomfortable with both options. "Why would I have wanted to sell it on to someone else?' They'll just have the same problems." He will have to buy a replacement car and while he is not certain which model he'll purchase he does know one thing - it won't be a Jeep.
It is excellent that Ashton Wood has brought the public's attention to defective vehicles, but CARR considers that he went the wrong way about dealing with Chrysler. Australia has federal consumer legislation that covers all new and some second-hand products sold, no matter what those products are. Motor dealers are notorious for claiming that cars come under different consumer laws than other products, but that is completely wrong. Woods has been campaigning for so-called "Lemon" laws, but Australia already has them.
Wood made the big mistake of believing that cars were different than toasters or television sets and he spent years campaigning and negotiating with Chrysler to replace his defective Jeep, with no avail. He could have easily brought this entire situation to a head in a very short period of time, merely by taking Chrysler to the Consumer Affairs Tribunal and invoking the law covering defective products.
Here is an excerpt from the Australian government's consumer law advisory document.
The goods must be of acceptable quality. The Jeep that Wood bought was certainly not of acceptable quality and Wood could easily prove that with the record he would have of all the repairs that had to be performed on his car. So that alone would prove that his Jeep was of unmerchantable quality and not fit for the purpose for which it was sold. Obviously the seller could not fix that Jeep, so it would easily qualify for a refund under the consumer laws. Continuing to take the Jeep back for constant repairs was not only a waste of time, but futile because Chrysler could not repair it, so Woods should have looked at the following part of the consumer laws.
The important part of the consumer legislation is that the buyer has the ultimate right to choose whether he wants a replacement or a refund and it is not up to the seller to make that decision. For instance, if a person buys a toaster and it has to be repaired three times, then this is more than adequate evidence to show that the toaster was of unmerchantable quality and qualified for either a replacement or a refund under the law.
CARR webmaster had a similar problem many years ago when he purchased a brand new Holden Berlina station wagon that had a defective gearbox. He made the same mistake of returning his car five times for unsuccessful repairs to Suttons Motors in Waitara in Sydney, before he decided to study the then NSW consumer laws to see what remedy was available to him. The Suttons Motors manager told him in no uncertain terms that cars were not covered under the consumer laws, which was deliberately misleading and untrue. So Ziggy decided to bring the matter to a head.
Ziggy prepared a Supreme Court statement of claim and sent it to the Suttons Motors manager. Ziggy told him that he was prepared to bring the car to Suttons Motors for one final attempt to repair his car's defective gearbox and if the problem was not fixed properly and permanently, he would take Suttons Motors to court. He stated that he had more than enough evidence in the form of the unsuccessful repair invoices to not only win an action against Suttons Motors, but to also be awarded substantial damages and all court costs. Ziggy quoted the consumer laws and educated the manager as to their validity in reference to motor cars.
Suttons Motors suddenly got the message that Ziggy was going to take this company to the cleaners with a court case that Suttons Motoris could not win. So the company flew a Holden engineer from interstate with a brand new blueprinted automatic gearbox that was fitted to Ziggy's car. From that time, the car and gearbox behaved impeccably until Ziggy sold it in 2012.
But this taught Ziggy a very important lesson, which was to not even give a seller that many chances to repair any defective product that Ziggy purchased. Taking his car to Suttons Motors and leaving it there for a week at a time was a massive inconvenience that should not have happened. After the second failed repair to the gearbox, Ziggy should have then stood his ground and told Suttons Motors that they had just one more chance to effect a permanent repair and if they could not do this, then Ziggy would immediately launch either Consumer Affairs Tribunal action or drag Suttons Motors to court and beat them hands-down.
State consumer laws have now been abolished and federal consumer laws are in force. They are essentially the same as all former state consumer laws and they uphold the principle that goods sold - any good, including cars, must be of merchantable quality. If a new or fairly new car is found to have ongoing defects, then the consumer laws require that the car either be replaced or a refund given - at the buyer's choice. It is easy to see this in hindsight and most people are not aware of the consumer laws. Sellers such as car dealers also do not help the situation by misleading consumers as to their rights and claiming that cars are not covered by the consumer laws.
So the Ashton Wood destruction of his Chrysler Jeep should really educate car buyers as to their rights. If a person buys a defective car and a number of repairs cannot fix the problems, then the car is of unmerchantable quality and is subject to the consumer laws governing refund or replacement at the buyer's choice. A buyers of such a defective car should not give the car dealer any more than three chances to repair the vehicle and if this is not successful, the buyer should immediately drag the seller to the Consumer Affairs Tribunal and if he has the evidence to prove that the car is as defective as claimed, the buyer should have no problem getting the Tribunal to force the seller to give him a full refund.
03 October 2014 - In Sydney, The Hills, Blacktown, Holroyd, Hornsby, Penrith and Parramatta Councils have all confirmed they have no plans to introduce parking meters in the next 12 months. Each of the councils said that they felt the current level of parking demand was being effectively managed and attributed this to the success of their school-enforcement campaigns. The result has seen fewer fines for drivers, on average, in the past three financial years in all but Hornsby Council, where revenue from parking fines increased.
Figures produced by the NSW Office of State Revenue showed that in The Hills district, revenues from parking fines dropped from $831,368 in 2011-12 to $630,882 in 2012-13 and $613,621 in 2013-14. The Hills Council's spokesman said that it had responded to concerns from principals and parents by issuing a higher proportion of school zone penalty notices. The biggest change was in Parramatta Council, where penalty notices dwindled to $3.97 million in 2013-14, compared to $5.85 million in 2012-13. The figure was $5.36 million in 2011-12. The introduction of 15-minute free parking in the CBD may have made figures fall.
It is terrific to see that revenue from those insidious parking fines has fallen in many western Sydney areas, apart from Hornsby, where the local council is still ripping off the motorists who happen to park in its jurisdiction. However, motorists need to reduce revenue from parking fines to zero by taking very simple measures, as outlined on the CARR website's Parking page. The real reason for this fall in parking fine revenue is probably because motorists are becoming more savvy and are not going to places where they can be booked.
The simple rule to avoid being booked is to not park in places where parking fines can be inflicted. If you need to go shopping, drive to shopping malls where there is free parking. Avoid parking on streets where there are parking meters and make sure to tell the stores in those streets why you will not be shopping in them. If enough people do this, those store owners will harass the councils to remove parking meters because they are sending those stores broke. This actually worked in a couple of Sydney suburbs, so it can be effective.
Shopping on-line is another good alternative, where you don't even need to waste your time and fuel to buy many articles. This is far more effective and usually the goods you buy on-line are cheaper than if you bought them in shops and risked getting booked for over-parking. In any case, people who receive parking fines have many ways to fight them legally and the information is on the Parking page. The best way to fight parking fines is to not get booked in the first place and the way to do that is to not park where you can get booked.
01 October 2014 - The NSW Government stated that it will remove 10 speed cameras from the state's roads because they are doing little to improve road safety. Roads Minister Duncan Gay made a show of donning a hi-visibility vest and a hard hat to "assist" with the removal of a camera at Delhi Road in Macquarie Park in Sydney's north. It will be among ten removed in the coming weeks, three years after the cameras were first switched off following an audit in 2011.
Five of those cameras to be pulled out of the ground are on Sydney roads and include cameras at: General Holmes Drive, Botany, Hume Highway, Burwood, M4 Motorway, Wentworthville and Sherwood Road, Merrylands West. Another audit, recommended that two further cameras, including one in Berkshire Park near Penrith, for switching off and eventual removal.
Gay said that removing cameras not found to benefit public safety was one of the government's election commitments. "Now in NSW we can be sure that every speed camera is saving lives," Gay said, adding that 34 cameras had already been turned off. But despite the publicity display, the state government was criticised by the opposition for enjoying record revenues from roadside camera fines.
In the 2013-14 financial year, data from the Office for State revenue showed that the government collected nearly $150 million in revenue from speed camera fines. In the 2011-12 financial year, revenue stood at just over $107 million. The NRMA, which lobbied for the policy to be introduced before the last state election, welcomed today's announcement. "It adds further weight to the argument that the enforcement system in NSW isn't about revenue raising," said president Kyle Loades. The speed camera audit credited speed cameras with having prevented 53 fatal accidents and more than 900 injuries on the state's roads in the past five years.
It is good to see that the NSW government is removing some speed cameras because they were ineffective, but on the other hand, the government assertion that speed cameras were credited with having prevented 53 fatal accidents and more than 900 injuries in 5 years is just a complete load of baloney. So how does a speed camera prevent a fatal accident? It cannot stop a speeding driver, because all it does it take a photograph of his car. It cannot possibly prevent anything at all except the depletion of money in a driver's wallet if he chooses to pay the fine.
NSW must be a very unique place, because in every other place in the world, speed cameras have not decreased accidents and many jurisdictions have removed them for that reason. Also, red light cameras have increased accidents at every intersection where they were placed. So what's different about NSW? The difference is that the government can trot out a pile of utter bullshit about speed cameras saving lives and expect the gullible people to swallow it.
How can the government state that speed cameras prevented 53 fatal accidents? There are many factors that mitigate accidents - safer cars, airbags, anti-lock brakes, stability control, better roads and so on. How can the government pinpoint cameras that just stand there on poles and take snapshots and say that these devices saved those lives. It's just crap.
Then there's the revenue aspect, where the NRMA has proven again that it is just the lackey of the government. NRMA president Kyle Loades stated, "It adds further weight to the argument that the enforcement system in NSW isn't about revenue-raising." What Loades doesn't get is the difference between enforcement and entrapment. Enforcement is when a cop sees a speeder and immediately pulls him over and prevents him from continuing to speed. Entrapment is when a camera sits in a location and takes photos, but does nothing to stop the speeder from continuing to speed. That speeder, not even realising that he was booked, may then go on and smash into somebody and kill them and probably himself. And that's the difference.
Duncan Gay might have put on a show for the press about removing a few cameras, but the truth is that his government is installing many more cameras in many more places, even sites where there are literally no accidents. For instance, in September 2014, a new combination speed and red light camera was installed at the intersection of Castle Street and Pennant Street in Castle Hill, Sydney. This intersection does not have any problems with accidents, but the government installed this camera there for the purpose of ripping revenue from motorists who inadvertently make a left turn and don't beat the amber light.
What is interesting is the increase in revenue from speed camera fines from $107 million to $150 million in just one year. All this tells us is that the government's program to stop people speeding is not working. But the road toll is lower in 2014 than it was in 2013, which also tells us that people are driving less dangerously, but are getting booked more frequently. So logic dictates that the government's infringement program is there to raise revenue because more people are being fined for no good reason.
But we know that the last thing that the government wants is for motorists to not speed and not get booked. Can you imagine Duncan Gay confronting parliament and telling those money-grubbing politicians that the NSW speed mitigation program is working and there will be a $150 million hole in the budget because nobody got booked by speed cameras? The government would go berserk. So we need to stymie the government by using technology to avoid being booked and CARR has all the information as to how to achieve this on this website. It's up to motorists to either take positive steps to avoid being booked, or just be victims of government rip-offs.
Thanks to Santo Calabrese for this item.
25 September 2014 - NSW Minister for Roads and Freight Duncan Gay announced that a 40km/h speed limit will be introduced in a large part of the Sydney CBD at the end of September. "The CBD's 40km/h speed limit zone will be rolled out from Saturday 27 September as we work to further improve pedestrian safety," Gay said. "Considering a vehicle that hits a pedestrian at 50km/h is twice as likely to cause a fatality as the same vehicle travelling at 40km/h, this speed limit change will deliver significant safety benefits."
The new 40km/h limit zone will operate in the area bound by Castlereagh Street to the east, Kent Street to the west and Hay Street to the south. It will also link in with the current 40km/h speed limit in The Rocks to the north of the CBD. The area will include a 40km/h speed limit on and adjacent to George Street. "It's not only motorist behaviour that needs to change. If you're walking around, cross at the lights, obey traffic signals, look both ways before stepping onto the road and don't get distracted by your phone," Minister Gay said. The NRMA stated that it broadly supported the 40km/h speed limit.
This reduction in speed limits is another knife in the heart of motoring, as well as being a golden opportunity for the entrapment of motorists for the purpose of gouging revenue. The way speed limits are being reduced, one day motorists will have to arrange for people walking in front of them with red flags, as was done when cars first hit the roads.
Roads Minister Duncan Gay is a hypocrite. He is part of the regime who railed against speed and red light cameras, calling them nothing but revenue-raisers, yet has overseen the installation of many more of these highway robbers. He so ignominiously refused to remove the time of day tolling impost on the Sydney Harbour crossings and confessed that although this did not have the desired effect, he would retain this tax because it raised an extra $7 million.
The crazy thing is that the traffic in the CBD would seldom get any faster than 40km/h, but all that Duncan Gay has done is to create more opportunities for his tax-collecting cops and cameras to rip off motorists even more. This Liberal government has become just as big a disgrace as the pack of clowns that were the former state Labor government.
There is no honesty in government and those fools in Macquarie Street have become the enemies of the very people who elected them. What we need is a proper motorists party that will stand against the candidates of the major parties at the next election and convince motorists that they should unseat the incumbents. There are millions of motorists in NSW. If even a small percentage voted for a party that had their interests at heart, instead of voting for the Liberals and Laborites who have been ripping them off for so long, both those major parties would be wiped out. Alas, it will never happen. Motorists are far too apathetic and far too willing to allow themselves to be victims of the government.
22 September 2014 - A USA toll road company part-owned by Macquarie Group will file for bankruptcy after collapsing under the weight of $US5.8 billion in debt. A lending syndicate of banks and hedge funds have agreed to allow the joint owners of the Indiana toll road to enter a Chapter 11 bankruptcy to restructure the debt or sell the distressed asset. Traffic volumes on the road have failed to live up to forecasts since Macquarie and Spanish infrastructure company Cintra paid the state of Indiana $US3.8 billion in 2006 for the 253 kilometre toll road linking Chicago to west of Ohio.
The lingering effects of the 2008 recession and opening of a nearby competitor freeway hurt the toll road's revenues. Macquarie Infrastructure Partners owns 25% of the project and Macquarie Atlas Roads, spun out of Macquarie Group in a 2010 demerger, controls 25%. Cintra, the road's operator, holds 50% of the equity. It is a subsidiary of Spanish multinational company Ferrovial.
The toll road entity, ITR Concession Company, said in a statement that it had received support from its lenders and equity sponsors for a "pre-packaged" restructuring plan. "The plan will permit ITRCC to either sell its assets through a competitive process or recapitalise ITRCC by reducing its debt," it said. "ITRCC has chosen to take this action to restructure its debt, while maintaining its commitment to providing high-quality maintenance and road operations as well as high levels of customer service along this critical transportation corridor." The toll road lease, which still has almost 70 years to run, will be put up for sale to gauge interest from potential buyers.
The company emphasised to locals that the bankruptcy filing would not affect drivers or employees and the road would continue to operate without disruption. The then governor of Indiana, Mitch Daniels, said in 2011 that Macquarie and Cintra "overpaid" for the $US3.8 billion road and the state had "hit the jackpot" with its 75-year lease in 2006. Most of the major banks who originally lent money to the infrastructure consortium cut their losses by selling their debt on the secondary market.
This is terrific news. If only all toll roads went broke and had to be taken over by governments and turned into freeways, that would be wonderful. It is amazing that in the USA, with a massive population of 330 million people, most of whom drive cars and pay taxes, that Americans cannot build more proper freeways and have to rely on private consortiums to build toll roads. But governments everywhere these days are trying to do whatever they can to avoid taking responsibility for vital infrastructure, including roads, so they bring in toll road operators to gouge motorists for roads that should be freeways built by those governments.
The motoring public should ensure that they never use toll roads, in order to send them broke. In fact if all motorists did this and also used GPS with speed and red light camera warnings, along with black box recorders, to avoid expensive tolls and to completely avoid being entrapped for motoring offences, governments would have to completely abandon their coercive revenue-raising scams and build proper freeways and remove those insidious cameras.
Thanks to Santo Calabrese for this item.
19 September 2014 - In Melbourne, Moreland Council installed new automatic parking fine technology in 3000 car spaces in less than half the time it took for it to install nine CCTV cameras. The 3000 parking overstay detection sensors (PODS) were put out to tender in April 2011 and were operating by the end of November that year. But this council had taken 19 months to install just four CCTV cameras along Sydney Road in Brunswick, scene of the murder of TV presenter Jill Meagher, after getting $250,000 in State Government funding. It is still working to install another five cameras and get all of them operating.
Moreland Mayor Lambros Tapinos said that the CCTV process had taken longer than hoped. "Our residents expect us to follow thorough and correct processes," Tapinos said. "The widespread community concern about privacy issues - who would have access to the CCTV vision and where it will be stored - had to be worked though in an appropriate manner. I am extremely disappointed that the process has taken so long.
The council had only applied to install the cameras on poles along Sydney Road in June and July 2014, after a tender process to find an external security company to oversee the project. Its request for tender document for the parking technology said that council issued about 37,000 parking fines per year and the potential income was worth $3.6 million. This was expected to rise significantly once the new parking sensors were installed, council stated.
The 3000 parking sensors were installed over five months, following a two-month tender process. The council installed another 1415 parking sensors in the two years since the first batch were put in. Streets in Coburg, Coburg North, Brunswick, Brunswick East, Hadfield, Fawkner and Oak Park have now had 4415 automatic parking detection systems installed and the council has budgeted another $750,000 over the next five years for parking overstay devices.
This report just proves that rather than installing essential safety features, municipal councils are obsessed with gouging as much money as possible from motorists and they will do whatever it takes to achieve the maximum return from their infringement systems and their Gestapo-like parking officers. However, motorists have many weapons in their arsenals to beat this rip-off. Firstly, every person should shop where there is free parking and starve those councils of both parking meter and infringement revenue. Not only that, the store owners of businesses that are boycotted by shoppers because of the stringent parking regimes will soon attack their council when their profits turn into losses because of the council's revenue-raising activities.
Secondly, every motorist who receives a parking infringement fine should send it straight back to the council and demand that the council proves who was driving the vehicle at the time. The council has to be able to identify the driver and if it cannot do so, then it has no case. As with speeding camera offences, where a driver is not identified, there is no compulsion for anybody to make statements or sign statutory declarations that they or somebody else was the driver. Every person has the right to refuse to provide any material that may incriminate him.
Deeming the owner of a vehicle to be the guilty party if he does not nominate another person is a sick joke and should be challenged all the way to the highest court, because this stupid deeming laws that state governments have passed completely violate common law and natural justice. To blame somebody of an offence because he is the owner of a vehicle, but without a shred of evidence to prove that the person was the one who committed the offence is ridiculous and unfair and most probably completely unsustainable under the law.
Any motorist who is booked for parking should immediately demand that the fine be withdrawn on the grounds that there is no evidence that he was the person who parked the car that attracted the infringement. The courts need to be clogged up with irate motorists demanding that councils prove beyond reasonable doubt that they were the drivers who committed the offences and if councils cannot do this, which in most cases they cannot, the fines should be withdrawn.
Thanks to Steve Howton for this item.
19 September 2014 - Police are concerned about the Apple Watch due in February 2015 and the adverse impact it may have on driver safety. The Apple Watch and other smartphone watches such as the one made by Samsung and Motorola will be next to impossible for police to enforce if they are used while driving, as they are a wearable device. However, drivers will still be able to get a ticket under distracted driving laws. "There is no doubt there is potential for distraction if a driver has a message beep at them on their watch phone," said a high-ranking NSW highway patrol officer.
"Drivers will be tempted to take their eyes off the road to check the message," he said. "Drivers might not be booked under mobile phone laws but they can be booked for not paying due care and attention, or booked under driver distraction laws." The fines for dangerous driving are as severe as, if not higher than, those for using a mobile phone. In most states and territories, driving while using a mobile phone attracts a penalty of three demerit points and about $300, but in Victoria the fine is $433 and four demerit points.
Queensland Police issued the following statement: "The Queensland Road Rules which apply to using a mobile phone while driving do not apply to a smartwatch. However, drivers could be charged with not having proper control of their vehicle and driving without due care and attention, should they drive erratically or become distracted." At a stretch, drivers could also be booked under the laws covering display screens that can distract drivers.
The exact wording of the laws vary slightly in each state and territory, but according to the Australian Road Rules: "A driver must not drive a motor vehicle that has a television receiver or visual display unit in or on the vehicle operating while the vehicle is moving, or is stationary but not parked, if any part of the image on the screen is visible to the driver from the normal driving position." This law was intended to cover TV screens and DVD players but could be used to book a driver using a smartwatch given that it has a display screen.
Here we go again, with police softening up the motoring public with scaremongering about the alleged dangers of using smart watches while driving. So it is legal to fiddle with a car sound system or one of those fancy touchscreens that are now appearing in most new cars or a GPS receiver, but the government and police are scrabbling to find plausible pretexts to book motorists for looking at their new smart watches, even though fiddling with normal watches, such as those with stop-watches and other functions is perfectly legal.
It is illegal to hold a mobile phone in the hand while driving, but it is legal to hold a GPS unit, a camera, a banana or just about anything else while driving under the ludicrous laws in every state. If a motorist held a banana up to his ear while driving and talked into it, the cops would have absolutely no grounds to book him unless they could prove that he was driving dangerously and this is the crux of the situation.
The biggest study ever undertaken into driving while talking into a hand-held mobile phone found that in a whopping 7 million instances, there was no increase in the accident rate. So why is illegal to do this? The answer is that it's a great way to raise revenue, because governments know that this activity can be easily spotted by police, who are always ready to whip out their infringement books and hit drivers with expensive fines. State governments are now so reliant on revenue from infringements that they have turned this gouging and entrapment into an art form and are constantly scrabbling for new reasons to fine motorists.
Police have stated that motorists could also be booked under the laws covering display screens that can distract drivers. This merely shows how police are hunting for more reasons to book motorists and raise revenue for their government masters. A regular watch has a face that is a display screen. It may not be lit up or have little icons on it like a smart watch, but nevertheless it is a display screen. Many modern watches have multiple functions that can be used while driving. For instance, the top-line Casio Pro-Trek has an altimeter, compass, barometer, stop-watch, timer, world time, alarms and other functions. So how many people have been fined for looking at their watch or pressing its buttons while driving? The answer - none at all.
The "distracted driving" ploy is an open-ended charge that police can use when they cannot find any other reason to book motorists. The problem is that motorists would find it impossible to disprove in court without having some corroborating evidence, despite the fact that the onus is always on the prosecution to prove its case beyond reasonable doubt. This is why every motorist should have a car black box recorder operating at all times while driving, because that device will furnish the evidence needed to beat such a booking.
Imagine a cop booking a motorist for "distracted driving" or "dangerous driving" because he was talking into a banana at the time or holding something in his hand while driving. A magistrate would be inclined to take the cop's word over that of the motorist because at the end of the day, magistrates are employees of the government that pays them. But if the motorist produces a time and date-stamped GPS-logged video recording that shows his car being driven rock-steady in the appropriate lane without deviation, any charge of distracted or dangerous driving would have to be dismissed on the spot.
This is why it is so important for motorists to have every possible way to protect themselves against police who are more often than not inclined to "verbal" a motorist with false accusations of distracted or dangerous driving. Cops know that most motorists could not refute the charge without evidence and it always looks good for a cop to go back to his boss with a book full of infringements. So motorists should always have that evidence in the form of a GPS-logged video recording.
As for smart watches and other forthcoming connected electronic devices, it will be interesting to see what governments do to try and make them a source of revenue-raising, because going on past history, they may consider this to be another opportunity to gouge the motoring public in their ever-increasing and rapacious pursuit of money.
18 September 2014 - In the USA's capital, Washington DC, speed cameras have been used for more than a decade, but traffic safety has not improved. The city's private vendors have mailed more than 7 million photo tickets and collected half-billion dollars in revenue, but injury accidents have not declined as they have throughout the rest of the USA.
According to an analysis released in March 2014 by Howard University's Transportation Safety Data Centre, there were 18,428 collisions in the city in 2012. Of these, 18 were fatal and 5258 involved injuries. Many of the photo radar units are stationed at high volume locations that are among the city's safest roads. The District has, for instance, speed cameras on Interstates 295 and 395, even though only 87 of those 18,428 collisions happened on an interstate, none of which proved fatal.
The city's focus on speed enforcement does not match the District Department of Transportation's own statistics, which show speed was a factor in only 3.1% of accidents. Red light cameras are also stationed throughout the city, even though red light running caused 2% of accidents and right turns on red were implicated in 0.08% of collisions. At most, the use of speed cameras could have an impact of 3% on the accident rate and red light cameras a 2% difference.
On the other hand, driver inattention was the most frequent cause of an accident at 16.1% of incidents. The use of a cell phone, being distracted by passengers, interacting with loose cargo, reading behind the wheel, interacting with a pet and personal grooming were all examples of common causes of accidents. Three collisions were caused while drivers or pedestrians were writing on a piece of paper.
In the USA, accidents, injuries and fatalities have been on a steady decline. Between 2008 and 2012, the injury rate per mile traveled dropped 15%. The injury rate is 150% higher in the District, and the rate did not drop at all between 2005 and 2011 - a steady 203 incidents per 100 million vehicle miles travelled, compared to 75 nationally. Washington only beat the national average in fatal accidents.
With streets frequently gridlocked in the nation's capital, the most common types of accident are sideswipes, followed closely by rear-enders. The majority of incidents happen on a clear, sunny day during medium to heavy traffic. About 5% of accidents involve a pedestrian and 3.5% a bicyclist. Drivers holding DC licenses are involved in 37% of accidents, Marylanders 33% and Virginians 13.8%.
Here is yet another hard statistic that proves that excessive speed is a factor in only around 3% of accidents. This very low percentage is seen in similar studies all over the world, including Australia. So why do Australian state governments constantly harangue motorists that speed kills, when it is such a small factor in accidents? The only reason is that the governments lie to motorists by claiming that speed kills to justify their campaign of revenue-raising by making speed limits artificially low, in order to frustrate drivers, who become easy targets for police entrapment.
The other very revealing fact is that in Washington, the most common accidents are sideswipes and rear-enders. These are almost invariably caused by the deployment of red light cameras, which frighten motorists into slamming on their brakes to avoid getting booked if they see that the lights are about to change as they drive up to an intersection. Thus cars behind them plough into the rear of those cars in front. Sideswipes are often caused by motorists slamming on the brakes when approaching red light cameras and losing control.
These reports come out at frequent intervals and the statistics are invariably the same - excessive speed is a factor in only around 3% of accidents and red light cameras do not prevent accidents, but actually cause them. As for speed cameras, they can't prevent speeding, but they sure are great revenue-raisers and that is why so many of them are placed on roads that have records of little or no accidents, but where motorists feel that it's safer to drive faster. The entire speed and red light camera regime is a massive scam and has to be abolished.
Thanks to John Vance for this item.
16 September 2014 - Red light cameras, controversial traffic enforcement devices that can fine an unsuspecting motorist for $500 a pop for minor infractions like illegally turning right on red are slowly fading to black. For the first time since they were introduced in the 1980s, statistics show a large drop in the number of cities and counties using the photo enforcement systems. Yet, many smaller cities are hanging on to the programs in order to keep the revenues they raise.
According to a not-yet-released report on red light cameras from the Reason Foundation, the number of communities with red light cameras in the USA has dropped from about 700 in 2011 to 500 at the end of 2013.
In California, 60 cities and counties have ended red light camera programs, more than the number presently using the cameras, about 51, said Jay Beeber, a researcher writing the report on red light cameras for the libertarian-leaning think tank, who is also executive director of the group Safer Streets LA and a member of a subcommittee of the California Traffic Control Devices Committee, authorised by Caltrans to study reforms. "The overall number of red light camera locations have dropped," Beeber said. "The trend has begun to reverse itself."
Declining revenues, a non-supportive court system and increases in the number of accidents instead of decreases, are the major reasons why cities have pulled the plug on red light cameras in the past two years. Some city council members and city traffic engineers interviewed said that photo enforcement is causing more rear-end accidents because people are scared when they see a yellow light at a camera-controlled intersection and slam on their brakes.
At one intersection in Los Angeles, Beeber said that statistics showed an 80% increase in rear-end collisions. Murrieta reported a 325% increase in rear-end collisions after red light cameras were installed, according to the state Legislature. Both cities have scrapped their programs. In Murrieta, voters approved a ballot measure that called for removing the cameras by 87%. 27 out of 30 ballot measures on red light cameras have resulted in programs being overturned.
In Walnut, rear-end collisions increased by 80% at the photo-enforced intersection of Grand Avenue and Amar/Temple Avenue, according to Beeber's report. The city staff said that the increase in rear-end collisions were a worthwhile trade-off for fewer broadside collisions. But Beeber said there was only one fewer broadside accident, a statistically insignificant number.
A Virginia Department of Transportation study concluded that rear-end collisions increased between 31% and 54% at intersections with red light cameras, including an 18% increase in injury-related accidents. El Cajon, a city in Northern San Diego County with about double the population of Walnut, junked its red light cameras in September after suspending the program in February, not long after San Diego did the same. A before and after study in El Cajon found about the same number of accidents.
"There wasn't much difference," said Majed Al-Ghafry, assistant city manager. In the past year with the cameras, there were 28 to 30 accidents; with no red light camera, there were 34 accidents. "It was not significant and many were other types of accidents," Al-Ghafry said. Likewise, after San Bernardino ended its program in December 2012, there has not been a significant increase in accidents, said Lieutenant Rich Lawhead.
Los Angeles and Pasadena removed all their red light cameras within the past two years. Both cited numerous reasons, but one that they had in common was declining support from the Los Angeles County Superior Court. The court does not report the violations to the state DMV. It is not attached to a person's driving record and does not pop up when a driver is renewing a licence or car registration, said court and city officials. Registered drivers would receive the violations in the mail. But the courts said that this was not proof the driver violated the law, only the car. That led to the non-reporting of the red light camera violations by the courts.
Often, judges would reduce the fines or dismiss them, if the picture of the driver on the video was blurry. Since the fines are split by the state, the county and the city, residuals dropped below the cost of the program, said Norman Baculinao, traffic engineer manager with the city of Pasadena. "Literally, the voluntary payment became the norm," he said. "The judge exercised a lot of discretion. Sometimes the judge would give them community service and then no revenue would go to the city."
Former Los Angeles City Councilman Dennis Zine, who voted with the majority to remove all its cameras at 32 intersections on 31 July 2011, said that the program became too costly to operate. The city continued collecting fines until 01 April 2012. Zine at the time called the program "completely wrong" and characterised it as one that was more about revenue than public safety.
In a recent phone interview, he said that the city ended the program because payments to a vendor and time spent by LAPD officers reviewing videotape from the cameras outweighed the benefits. "It was costing us much more than the city was receiving from the fines," he said. After further analysis, Los Angeles concluded that most of the fines were for people who stopped at the red light but made a right turn where a sign prohibited the normally allowed move. He said that right turns on red, or rolling right turns, were not causing traffic collisions. "The fine of $500 didn't seem just and fair to the motoring public," he said. "It was oppressive."
Pasadena had red light cameras at: Lake Avenue and Union Street, Marengo Avenue and Union and Foothill Boulevard and San Gabriel Boulevard. Some were installed in 2003, others in 2005. All were removed in July 2012. Accidents dropped during the first year but city engineers saw a huge fall-off in violations in the years following. Beeber said that red light cameras are ineffective and unnecessary. The best way to reduce collisions is to lengthen yellow-light times, he said. His committee is working with Democratic Assemblyman Adrin Nazarian of Sherman Oaks on a bill, A.B. 612, that will require the minimum yellow light time be increased by one second beyond the designated interval set by the California Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices for all intersections with red light cameras.
If the bill is passed, red light camera violations issued on intersections with the shorter yellow would be invalid, he said. Also, fewer violations would be issued since most occur within the first second when a light turns red, according to Nazarian's bill, which used research from the Texas Transportation Institute. The TTI concluded a one-second longer yellow light decreases accidents by 40%.
Caltrans increased the yellow-light time at an intersection near a freeway in the Bay Area town of Fremont, a city fighting off challenges to red light cameras. The change resulted in a 76% drop in straight-through red light camera violations at that intersection, said Roger Jones, an opponent of the cameras. As little as three-tenths of a second on yellow-light times can reduce accidents, Beeber said. West Hollywood added three-tenths of a second to all its stop lights, resulting in a 49% to 70% drop in violations at red light camera intersections.
He's trying to convince Beverly Hills to do the same at a controversial red light camera intersection at Wilshire and Whittier. "My message is this: At a properly engineered intersection, you shouldn't have a lot of red light running. And you don't need red light cameras," Beeber said. Jones stated that the evidence is overwhelming, but many smaller cities that have had the programs for 10 or 15 years don't want to reverse themselves out of pride or if the revenue stream is positive. Like a prosecutor who is shown to have convicted the wrong man, they want to save face. "To come back 13 years later and say we made a mistake? That's like having egg on their face. It is embarrassing. So instead, they spin it as keeping the city safe, but it doesn't," Jones said.
This lengthy report is the biggest indictment against red light cameras that CARR has seen in the nearly 9 years that it has existed. It has to be understood that American traffic laws are far more sensible than some of our asinine road rules, but essentially American drivers are similar to Australians and the roads are reasonably the same in metropolitan areas, although in general, American roads and streets are far better maintained and signposted.
But the hard statistics are simply mind-blowing. When we see an increase of 325% in accidents at an intersection where a red light camera was installed, then we know that there is no other reason for this appalling statistic. Most other intersections in California produced an increase in accidents of up to 80%. In Australia, independent studies have revealed an increase of up to 50% at red light camera intersections and this has to be taken in context with the lower traffic rate in Australia.
And yet we see corrupt lying politicians in Australian states constantly declaring that red light cameras have reduced accidents at intersections where they were installed. This is complete and utter crap by these bastards, the very people that we elect to look after our interests. We have already seen how corrupt they are by the number of heads of politicians that have rolled as a result of the recent Independent Commission Against Corruption and these are the people that we are supposed to trust.
It is high time that politicians were forced by the people to take measures that are beneficial to those who elected them. When hard statistics from overseas and Australia prove beyond a shadow of doubt that red light cameras cause a drastic increase in accidents, some resulting in fatalities, then it is unacceptable for politicians and their police lackeys to keep lying to us by claiming the opposite.
We have to fight these bastards at every step. We need to show up at their media appearances and ask them why they are lying to us about red light cameras. We need to embarrass them at every step, to the point where they will be publicly exposed as liars and frauds, until they are forced to get rid of those insidious accident-causing revenue-raising scam machines.
Thanks to Klaus Luetjens for this item.
05 September 2014 - The small US town of Waldo, Florida only has seven police officers, but they are evidently very busy. In 2013, they collected nearly 12,000 speeding citations worth almost $400,000, about a third of the town's revenue. Now, in the midst of a scandal, state officials are investigating whether the town broke the law.
Waldo, a town of just 1,000 people, has but one traffic light. It also has six different speed limits in a handful of miles, dropping from 65 mph to 55, then 45, then 35. The situation has resulted in not only a massive amount of tickets, but also the American Automobile Association posting a billboard on US Route 301 outside Waldo warning of the speed traps.
The problem is, Florida has a law banning ticket quotas, which is what sparked an investigation by the state's Department of Law Enforcement. Who blew the whistle on the speed traps? Believe it or not, the police in Waldo themselves. Officers complained to the city council that they were ordered to write at least 12 tickets per 12-hour shift or face repercussions.
The officers then filed a complaint with the Florida Inspector General's Office, claiming that the city manager refused to conduct an investigation into the quotas. The police chief and his successor were both suspended in August 2014 and both could potentially face charges.
And you thought that this sort of stuff happens only in American movies, where redneck cops roam around grabbing people for all sorts of things, a-la the Rambo movie. But yes, this really does happen in many American towns, where cops seem to have nothing better to do than to lie in wait for unsuspecting motorists in order to book them. And it is a glaring fact that police in the USA do indeed work to booking quotas.
This report should set the alarm bells ringing in every motorist's head, because it is also a fact that in Australian states, police also work to booking quotas, despite their strident denials. Mostly they are not official quotas as such, but every traffic cop knows that if he comes back to his station after a shift with an infringement book that has little or no tickets issued, he's not going to be very popular with his sergeant and it will affect his chances of promotion. So he will do his best to improve his work chances by going out every day and booking everybody he can, so that he can score those brownie points with his bosses. That is how the de-facto quota system works in Australia.
The penalties for speeding in a car in NSW in 2014 are pretty steep. Exceed the speed limit over 20 km/h and it will cost you $436 and 4 demerit points. Exceed the speed limit over 30 km/h and you will be fined a whopping $835 and accrue 5 demerit points. But what if you were doing the legal limit and you are pulled over by a cop who books you for going 92km/h in a 60km/h zone? How are you going to fight that if you have no evidence except for your almost useless bleatings to a magistrate in court? You literally do not stand a chance in hell of beating such a wrongful infringement without some hard evidence.
Knowing this, all motorists should arm themselves with a bit of technology that will completely stymie this revenue-raising scam. A GPS with camera warnings and speed zone alerts will ensure that a motorist will drive at the legal speed limit. However, if a rogue cop books that motorist for driving over 30km/h over the speed limit because he wants to fill up his infringement book, a car black box recorder will provide hard evidence in court that the motorist was driving at the legal speed limit when booked.
A once-only purchase of a GPS receiver or GPS smartphone application with camera and speed limit alerts plus a car black box recorder will generally cost between $400 to $500 and it's a once-only investment. It might sound like a lot of money, but if you are hit with one wrongful booking and have no way to disprove it, you will wish that you had outlaid this money and used this equipment to protect yourself. But if you prefer to drive around, knowing that cops are on booking quotas and that cameras that are often defective are out there to book you and you don't take active measures to avoid being entrapped, you cannot complain if you get hit with infringements and no way of beating them.
Thanks to Santo Calabrese for this item.
04 September 2014 - US state New Jersey's controversial red light camera program may be coming to an end. The five-year pilot program is set to expire in December 2014 and so far, there is no indication that state politicians are interested in renewing it. Also, Governor Chris Christie signalled his intent to let the program. "I have concerns about it and my inclination is not to continue it," he stated. "But I haven't made any final decisions."
To renew the program, the state assembly and senate would need to pass legislation that would then need Christie's signature. So far, no bill has even been introduced. Red light and speed cameras have recently caught the ire of motorists and politicians alike in the Garden State. In August 2014, the state asked local courts to dismiss 17,000 red light infractions because a glitch in the system prevented drivers from ever receiving their infringement notices.
State assemblyman Declan O'Scanlon (Republican Monmouth) has been a vocal critic of the program and is leading a political effort to end the red light program, asking New Jersey residents to sign a petition to help thwart the movement. "The RLC program has failed and does nothing more than rob motorists every day of their hard-earned money," he wrote. "I am fighting to end this costly and possibly dangerous program."
Earlier in August 2014, O'Scanlon introduced legislation that would effectively prohibit other states from ticketing New Jersey motorists via automated traffic-enforcement devices. The proposed law would prohibit New Jersey's Department of Motor Vehicles from sharing any information with other states that would reveal their identities for the purpose of infractions generated by red light or speed cameras.
Would it not be wonderful if Australia had honest politicians like Chris Christie and Declan O'Scanlon, who admit that speed and red light cameras are nothing but a revenue-raising scam? When our state governments boast in their respective parliaments that they expect increases in the revenue from those cameras, then it is very obvious that those governments want motorists to speed or to be entrapped at intersections in order to get that increased revenue. That merely proves that the cameras are not there to reduce speeding or intersection infractions.
What really should happen in Australia is for motorists to rise up en-masse and force state governments to remove those insidious cameras completely, but that will be rather difficult, given the apathy of the average Australian. So smart motorists will take the active measures that CARR suggests, such as always using GPS with camera warnings and a car black box to gather evidence of wrongful bookings. And if motorists refuse to do this, then they are suckers and deserve to have their money ripped from them via camera infringements.
Thanks to Santo Calabrese for this item.
03 September 2014 - In the US state of Illinois, a former Chicago official and his alleged bagman have denied involvement in a $US2 million bribery scandal involving Australian red light camera company Redflex. Redflex's North American operation is accused of paying John Bills, the former Chicago transportation manager, $US570,000 in cash and other benefits to help them win contracts.
Prosecutors allege that through the relationship, Redflex won $US124 million in contracts, making Chicago the red light camera capital of America. In a single year in the city, drivers were hit by as many as 791,000 tickets. Bills allegedly lived a lavish life via the payments, including buying a Mercedes-Benz, an Arizona condominium and getting Redflex to pay for stays in luxury hotels, golf outings, car rentals and meals.
Bills' friend, Martin O'Malley, was hired by Redflex and is accused of funnelling bribe money to Bills. Redflex's former North American chief executive Karen Finley has also been indicted and will be arraigned in mid-September 2014. Bills and O'Malley entered not guilty pleas to bribery charges in a Chicago court.
The scope of the Redflex contracts in the USA just goes to show how American cities are now using camera bookings as a major source of revenue. Chicago's administration was exposed as also rigging the amber phase of traffic lights with red light cameras, in order to make it nearly impossible for motorists who inadvertently entered them to go through without being booked.
The same is happening in Australia, where every state now counts on revenue from speed and red light cameras as a major budgetary component. Governments even boast about their expectations of increased revenue from those cameras each year, meaning that they hope that people speed, rather than hope that the cameras deter people from speeding. The truth is that the last thing that governments want is for people to avoid being booked, because that will put a massive dent in state budgets.
As far as Redflex is concerned, this company should be barred from participating in any traffic business in Australia because of its abysmal record of corruption and bribery. Governments should investigate Redflex to see who this company has bribed, in order to win contracts in Australia. But of course this will not happen unless a whistleblower makes it untenable for a government to avoid not taking action against Redflex.
The bottom line is that governments are ripping off motorists with their camera scams, but motorists can easily avoid them and not pay one single cent in fines. Good GPS receivers or GPS smartphone applications have camera warnings, so if motorists use these all the time, they will never be booked. As for red light cameras, if the GPS warns a motorist that he is approaching a red light camera, he should just slow down, so that there is no chance that he will enter the intersection on the amber light and risk getting pinged. And if the cars behind are impatient, bad luck - no motorist should be pushed into taking the risk of being booked.
Thanks to John Vance for this item.
01 September 2014 - Masked protesters are warning Perth drivers before they reach speed cameras in a bid to combat what they call the Government's revenue raising. The protesters, part of Revenue Raiser Resistance (RRR), are holding up signs warning drivers to slow down before they get fined. The university student behind the group said their goal was to reduce and reform the use of speed cameras in WA.
"It's about representing the Western Australian people against the increase in fines the government has just released," one protester said. "I hope you wish the guy that T-boned your family's car met me before he did that because he would have slowed down."
Wearing Guy Fawkes masks and holding placards alerting motorists to upcoming speed cameras, photos of the RRR protestors have clogged up Perth's social media feeds in recent days. Displaying photos of their own exploits, the RRR Facebook page boasts, "We are the resistance. We the people know this government program is nothing more than a fraud. We the people have the power."
West Australian Police Commissioner Karl O'Callaghan said that it was not illegal to warn people about speed cameras, as long as they did not obstruct traffic. "I don't mind if people bring attention to speed cameras, that's good," he said. "If it helps people slow down, so much the better." He stated that problems could arise if those involved obstructed traffic or frightened other motorists. "If that was the case, we may have to do something about that," he said.
One of the group's Facebook posts shows a masked person holding a placard and posing near a police van. It claims that the police officers in the vehicle sympathised with the protest. "Not all policemen are pigs", the caption on the placard stated. "These were the most friendliest down-to-earth policemen I have ever met. Yhey agreed on our position." said the protester. The West Australian government told parliament that it hopes speed and red light cameras will make $100 million in 2014.
The statement from the West Australian government revealed completely why there is an aggressive speed camera and police speed entrapment program in operation. Read the statement and let it sink in - "The West Australian government told parliament that it hopes speed and red light cameras will make $100 million in 2014". What does that say? It simply says that the government WANTS people to speed so that they can be booked, with the expectation that this taxation activity will raise $100 million in revenue.
If the government's intention really was to prevent speeding, then it would have reported to parliament that it expected the speed camera and police roads activity to eventually reduce the revenue from speeding fines to zero, not hope that people would speed and fork out $100 million in fines. So this statement from the government proves beyond a shadow of doubt that it's all about revenue, not road safety and this is why the citizenry has to take action.
A very telling statement came from West Australian Police Commissioner Karl O'Callaghan. He stated that problems could arise if those involved obstructed traffic or frightened other motorists and if that was the case, the police may have to do something about that. This man, the leading police paid lackey of the West Australian government, seems to be looking for a pretext to prevent RRR from continuing its activities because they frightened motorists.
Does O'Callaghan really think that motorists would be frightened by people warning them to slow down so that they would not be booked by a speed camera down the road? Those motorists would be eternally grateful to people who prevented them from being ripped off by a speed camera fine or being caught in a police speed trap. Has there ever been a complaint from a motorist who was warned in such a way? Has there ever been a complaint from a motorist who was warned by another driver who flashed his lights at him or signalled him to slow down? Of course not. As for the Guy Fawkes masks, the police will only have a case against their wearers if they also outlaw people wearing burqas in public.
A few years ago, CARR did try to organise a similar activity to that of the Revenue Raiser Resistance, but due to a lack of participation by CARR members most of whom were too busy working, that idea fell by the wayside. So CARR has contented itself by trying to teach motorists how to avoid getting booked in the first place by using technology and in the off-chance that they do get booked, show them how to respond to the infringements and hopefully beat them. But it would be great to see an active RRR movement in all states.
Thanks to Peter Janc for this item.
29 August 2014 - In Britain, two Glasgow police officers found themselves being confronted after trying to snare speeding vehicles in an unmarked car. The pair were approached by two passers-by as they sat, in high visibility vests, pointing a camera towards the busy road in Glasgow. After being quizzed by the men, who were on foot as to why they were not making themselves visible, the officers drove off without warning.
The exchange was captured on camera by Jamie Rooney and Chris McCann and was shared more than 500 times on Facebook. Video shows the female officer sitting in the passenger seat, looking towards the men as they approach the unmarked Vauxhall. "You're in an unmarked police car with a speed gun. You're meant to be highly visible," one of them said.
The officer then pointed at her high visibility vest protesting that they were highly visible as required, but was quickly told otherwise. "You're not. You're in an unmarked car. That's not highly visible. That's at shoulder height," one of the passers-by protested. "Are you telling me that if a car drove down from up there they would be able to easily tell that this is a police car?" he said to them. The men then warned the police that if they pulled a vehicle over, they would be be there to argue with the decision. With that, the female officer and her colleague swiftly drove off.
When asked why he decided to approach the vehicle, McCann said that he saw them sitting and then they flew after an Audi, then they came back to the same spot, so he went over and gave them a dressing-down.
A Police Scotland spokesman said, In direct response to community concerns regarding speeding motorists, uniformed police officers were deployed to the Gorbals area of Glasgow in an unmarked car. The officers were using an approved handheld speed detection device in accordance with the manufacturer's guidance. Officers were operating under the normal parameters of their powers as police constables in uniform. The handbook does not apply to handheld devices."
However, the Scottish Safety Camera Programme handbook states, "Staff operating cameras from outwith a van or other substantive vehicle, must wear high visibility clothing at all times when operating camera equipment. Vehicles being used for safety camera deployment must be clearly identifiable as such."
As in most parts of the world, Scottish police have been pressed into service as government tax collectors. In the case of these cops in their unmarked car with their speed guns lying in wait for unsuspecting motorists to commit minor speeding offences, those cops could have been patrolling the road and deterring speeding in the first place. But of course doing their proper job of deterring speeding does not raise revenue and that's why those cops were hiding in their unmarked cars and hoping that motorists would exceed the speed limit so that they could be booked.
This whole regime of revenue-raising by entrapment needs to be outlawed, however virtually no government wants to cut of its cash flow from the entrapment of motorists, even if it means doing the right thing and instructing police to actually do their jobs and deter motorists from speeding first, rather than letting them speed and then hitting them with fines. This is why motorists need to treat police with complete contempt and understand that police are the enemy of motorists and learn to deal with them in the most appropriate manner.
The two passers-by who confronted these despicable cops should be accoladed and every person who sees cops running their entrapment scams should do the same. Most people now have video recording facilities in their phones, so they should record cops operating their revenue-raising swindles and put the video clips onto the Internet and shame these bastards. Motorists should flash their headlights at other motorists who are approaching speed traps on the grounds that they are a hazard, whether flashing headlights is deemed to be an offence or not.
Many years ago, police used to be respected by citizens and highway patrol cars were a highly visible deterrent against speeding, but since the advent of electronic entrapment devices, police now conceal themselves with radar and laser guns and lie in wait for motorists for no other reason than to rip money from them. Motorists should do everything they can to stymie this disgusting behaviour by cops, including video recording them and publicly shaming them and the police service that sends them out to scam victims.
Thanks to Santo Calabrese for this item.
27 August 2014 - South Australian police are being pressured to "hammer" drivers by strictly enforcing road laws, rather than giving cautions, if the number they have spoken to within a "reporting period" is too low. Emails revealed that a sergeant from the Sturt police station told staff in February 2014 that, "I'm expecting the senior sergeant to have some words. We fell below our expected returns for traffic contacts for the last reporting period. We'll hammer those poor people who choose to drive when we're night shift."
In May 2014, a further email from a different Sturt sergeant showed that police were still concerned with their figures. The second email acknowledged three of the station's teams for their arrest numbers, which were substantially higher than the other teams. The sergeant then goes on to say, "What I would be aware about is our high caution rate. I understand it is the officers discrepancy, but for any of the 'fatal five' (road safety issues), strict enforcement should occur. Currently, Sturt LSA (local service area) is running at over 30% cautioning."
A police spokesman said that the road safety strategy emphasised the requirement for all police to enforce laws which influenced driver behaviour and adopt a lower tolerance of poor driving behaviours. "The establishment of benchmarks in relation to road safety policing, for local service areas, branches and other relevant areas assists in achieving these objectives and in reducing the number of fatal and serious injury crashes," the spokesman said.
Deputy Opposition Leader Vickie Chapman said that the Police Minister must confirm whether the benchmarks that police were being required to meet were actually quotas. "If this is the case and officers are being required to meet quotas for traffic infringements, I am sure South Australians will be rightfully annoyed and disappointed with the Weatherill Labor Government," she said.
"Police officers want to be out doing their job and protecting the community. They don't want to be spending time filling quotas. The Police Minister needs to confirm once and for all whether his government is imposing quotas on South Australian police officers."
The police spokesman said road safety "benchmarks: comprise road safety related contacts made by police officers and the level of breath testing conducted. "The benchmark process recognises that direct intervention by a police officer, whenever poor driving behaviour is observed, is the best means of modifying such behaviour."
The South Australian cops and the government can call them what they like - benchmarks, contacts, whatever. The truth is that they are quotas. The bottom line is that the cops are expected to come back to their stations with a certain amount of infringement notices in their books or they will get reamed out by their superiors, such as that senior sergeant from the Sturt police station.
Like all the other states, along with an aggressive speed and red light camera revenue-raising regime, the South Australian government has co-opted police to be its tax collectors, rather than do what police are meant to do - prevent and investigate crime. Residents have complained for years that they cannot get police to attend their premises within a reasonable time after a break-in, but there always seem to be plenty of cops hiding behind bushes or marauding in unmarked cars, ready to pounce on unsuspecting motorists. Why? It's for the money, that's why.
With this disgraceful expos?, motorists should regard the police as the enemy and fight them in every way possible, in order to beat unfair infringements. Motorists should refuse to co-operate with police in every way, considering that the police have stated that they will be targeted in such a disgusting manner. Motorists should do the following to protect themselves against this rapacious attack by the very people who are supposed to protect and serve them.
Once upon a time, people had respect for police. People looked up to them and knew that police were there to protect them. Now we have seen that state governments have corrupted police into being revenue-raisers that use their power to entrap and book motorists for even the slightest infraction. This is why they need to be treated as the enemy and no motorist should ever co-operate with the police. In fact no motorist should ever even talk to them, apart from showing them a driver's licence and stating their name and address. From that point, a firm "No Comment" should be the only thing ever said to a cop.
26 August 2014 - South Australian government officials will pose as customers in a bid to catch and prosecute drivers operating an illegal Adelaide taxi service. Acting Transport Minister Tom Koutsantonis stated that drivers would be hit with fines of up to $8000 if they accepted work through California-based company Uber, which has one car operating in the metropolitan area. But the service has hit back at Koutsantonis, saying that its drivers are accredited and professionally licensed.
Uber, which is cheaper than taxis, can be accessed by using a smartphone application to order and pay for a car using geolocating technology to connect a customer to the nearest driver. The company has been criticised by the SA Government, which is gathering information about Uber's activities and can monitor how many cars are logged in and available for work.
Koutsantonis said that strategies included compliance officers posing as customers, undercover audits and using information from the taxi industry and the public. He said that Uber was not an approved taxi service and that any driver caught working for the company would be fined between $315 and $8000, face disciplinary action and court. Operators found providing services without accreditation face fines of up to $30,000.
"South Australia has a regulated taxi and chauffeured vehicle industry for the purpose of providing the highest standards of not only passenger and driver safety, but safety for all road users," Koutsantonis said. "If you chose to provide Uber Black services or any services that do not comply with government regulations you are acting in breach and will face severe financial penalties. There are potential insurance issues for non-commercial vehicles, meaning passengers may not be covered."
Drivers offering the Uber taxi service in New South Wales have been fined $2500 and threatened with legal action. That followed a blitz in May 2014 on the service in Victoria, where the Government issued $50,000 in fines at $1700 each to more than 30 drivers. According to the Uber website, its service is active in 44 countries worldwide and operates in 171 cities across North, Central and South America, Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Asia Pacific since its inception in 2009. In Australia, those cities are Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth, Sydney and Geelong.
A statement from Uber said the safety of its drivers and passengers was always our highest priority. Uber stated, "The South Australian state treasurer has his facts wrong. All partner drivers who use the Uber platform to connect with riders in South Australia are accredited, professionally licensed operators, who are fully compliant with local laws. All drivers and riders also rate each other at the end of their journey and those not meeting Uber's very high standards are quickly removed from the system."
This action by the South Australian government is a disgrace. Literally for decades, all state governments have incessantly promoted ride-sharing and car pooling and there was never a complaint from taxi drivers or any other transport industry. All of a sudden, with the advent of smartphone technology and applications that can easily facilitate ride-sharing and car pooling, this has suddenly become illegal. Why, when it was never illegal before? Of course the reason is that the taxi industry monopoly, with its ludicrously high charges and its rip-off CabCharge system is severely threatened by the loss of business to Uber.
This mantra from governments that Uber is a taxi service is just nonsense. Uber merely facilitates car pooling and ride-sharing, but does it efficiently, something that was lacking in previous ride-sharing schemes, because they did not threaten the taxi industry. Now that people can easily arrange ride-sharing via their smartphones instead of ringing around, state governments, whose powerful taxi industries have them in an arm-lock, have declared that Uber is a taxi service, even when it is not.
As for the claim that taxi drivers are vetted for their reliablity and safety, that has to be a ridiculously sick joke. Court records reveal that cab drivers have been convicted of a litany of offences, ranging from rape, child molestation, assault, fraud and other serious crimes. How the hell does this Koutsantonis clown say that South Australian taxi drivers offer high standards and passenger safety when it is so easy to show that this is just a load of utter crap? Of course it's the same crap as saying that speed and red light cameras reduce accidents and deaths.
All an Uber operator has to do is to have a little document prepared for his co-riders that states, "You, the undersigned, understand that by accepting a ride in my vehicle, you are engaging in legal ride-sharing with me and I am not a taxi driver and neither am I operating a taxi service of any kind." So if the co-rider refuses to sign the document, he doesn't get to ride with the Uber operator.
If the Uber operator is then hit with an infringement for operating an illegal taxi service, he can take that signed document to court and show that the co-rider, even an undercover government spy, agreed and signed a legal declaration that he was not being offered any sort of taxi service, but was merely ride-sharing, just as the government had been advocating for decades. It would be surprising if the government could beat this in court. The only other way the government could stop Uber would be to ban ride-sharing entirely, which would mean that nobody could be a passenger in any car - and that would never happen.
24 August 2014 - In the US state of New York, Nassau County has forgiven $4.2 million in speed camera fines issued in a one-month period. County Executive Edward Mangano said there were problems with cameras installed at six school locations because of malfunctions in the equipment and the timing. Mangano said that he was declaring amnesty on the fines. He stated that enforcement will resume when school opens in September 2014.
"Clearly, there were some errors in the speed zone violations, so we're meeting with the vendor and our traffic safety department to make certain that those errors are corrected," Mangano stated. "So as a matter of fairness, we're eliminating all those tickets."
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed legislation allowing 200 new speed cameras at school zones in New York City and Long Island. The cameras are supposed to operate during and immediately before and after school. "Many of the residents believed there was not enough notice, so this will serve as a notice of the new state law that there will be speed cameras in school zones, come this September with the opening of school," Mangano said.
The state allows speed cameras to ticket drivers going more than 10 mph over the school speed limit on school days during school hours, plus an hour before and after school and during school activities. In total, Nassau issued 30,108 citations at the five schools, totaling more than $2.4 million in fines.
It is obvious that American politicians are just as addicted to revenue from motorists as the Australian politicians who are running their camera scams. But this report should drive home to all motorists to never ever accept a speed or red light camera ticket, because those cameras cannot be relied upon for accuracy. The NSW government has already admitted that at least 14% of those cameras are defective at any one time and in any case, none of them are certified as measuring instruments as they are required to be under the National Measurement Act.
This is the sort of situation where a car black box recorder is the motorist's most valuable ally, because courts are mostly rigged to prop up the government's camera scam, so unless motorists can provide hard evidence that they were booked wrongly, most courts will just convict them, which is most unjust. But motorists should always remember that if they get a camera infringement notice, they should never nominate the driver and they should send the infringement back with a demand that due legal process be followed and that they are innocent until proven guilty in a properly convened court of law.
Thanks to Joe Allen for this item.
25 August 2014 - West Australian Road Safety Minister Liza Harvey stated that she hoped that new advertisements targeting people who use their mobile phones while driving will put an end to an increase in crashes caused by distraction. Harvey said that the purpose of the seven-week awareness campaign was to educate the community about tough new penalties, which come into force on 26 September 2014.
"There are now no longer any excuses - it is simply unacceptable to touch your mobile phone while driving," Harvey said. "We have increased the penalty for using your mobile phone to three demerit points and $400 because we are starting to see that distraction element of people texting and using their mobile phones being represented in our road stats."
Harvey said that the advertisements would also warn of increased penalties for offences such as running a red light, failing to stop at a stop sign, failing to give way to pedestrians and not wearing a seatbelt. "People will start seeing messages about penalty changes on television, hearing about them on the radio and reading about the amendments through press and online channels," she said. "Using your mobile phone, running a red light and speeding are just some of the broad range of offences that will see an increase in fines and demerit points."
Typical of revenue-hungry politicians, Liza Harvey has this amazing ability to trot out utter baloney in order to find a pretext to increase penalties for all sorts of things. For instance, Harvey sent a letter to a CARR subscriber, claiming that accidents at intersections where red light cameras were installed had reduced accidents by 19%. West Australia must be the only place on the planet that can claim this, because every single independent study in the world on red light cameras has found that their use has led to a far greater accident rate.
The same goes for using mobile phones while driving. For at least a decade, people spoke on hand-held mobile phones while driving and the accident rate decreased. A massive study done by researchers at the USA's prestigious Carnegie Mellon University and the London School of Economics studied a whopping 7 million instances of motorists talking on hand-held mobile phones while driving and could not find any correlation between this activity and the accident rate. But now governments are using this new pretext of "distraction" to invent offences in order to rip money from motorists.
Of course reaping revenue from booking motorists holding mobile phones is like shooting fish in a barrel, because police can see them doing this at a distance, so it has been made into an offence that is so lucrative to state governments. Harvey stated that it was it is simply unacceptable to touch a mobile phone while driving. Why is this unacceptable when it is perfectly acceptable to fiddle with a car's sound system or air conditioning while driving, or scratching one's head, smoking or drinking? A cop would never get away with booking a motorist fiddling with his car's built-in GPS receiver while driving.
Many modern cars have integrated Bluetooth that can control a mobile phone. For instance, a motorist in a fairly recent Mazda 6 can pull up a phone touchscreen on the car's central video display and stab away at the buttons to make or receive calls. This is perfectly legal, but it is not legal to even touch a mobile phone when driving, which is literally doing the same thing. It merely shows that not only is the law a complete ass, but the reason for the law against holding mobile phones while driving only exists as a mechanism to fine motorists and raise revenue.
In fact, fiddling with a car's video display is no different than texting on a mobile phone while driving, but it's much harder for police to entrap motorists who are doing this.But just talking on a hand-held mobile phone, which is far safer than stabbing away at a car's touchscreen, attracts a massive fine because people who hold mobile phones can be easily seen and booked, that's all.
Unfortunately, unless the people of Australia rise up and depose the governments that use them as cash cows, all we can do is to protect ourselves against the ripoffs. This is very easy. Motorists who put their mobile phones in cradles or leave them in their pockets while making or receiving calls using Bluetooth car kits or integrated Bluetooth will never be booked for this ludicrous and unjustified offence. The best way to attack rapacious governments is to deny them the revenue that they so badly seek and using very cheap technology such as Bluetooth will completely stymie the mobile phone infringement rip-off.
21 August 2014 - The former head of US operations for Redflex Traffic Systems, Karen Finley, 54, was indicted by a federal grand jury and was charged with nine counts of mail fraud, three counts of wire fraud, three counts of bribery and one count of conspiracy to use bribes to win and expand a lucrative red light camera contract with Chicago, Illinois worth $124 million.
"Rooting out public corruption remains one of the FBI's highest priorities," Robert J Holley, special agent-in-charge of the Chicago office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, said in a statement. "Today's indictment underscores our commitment to work in a collaborative effort to promote honest and ethical government at all levels and to prosecute those who allegedly violated the public's trust."
In May 2014, federal prosecutors indicted John Bills, Chicago's deputy transportation commissioner, for accepting $643,000 worth of cash and benefits from Redflex in return for his providing essential insider information on how to win the lucrative contract for what became the world's largest municipal red light camera program. The money and gifts were delivered through Martin O'Malley, a Redflex contractor who was friends with Bills and was also indicted for his role in the plot. Prosecutors say that they have emails that show Finley not only knew what she was doing, but also that she tried to cover it up in 2007 after O'Malley accidentally sent an invoice to a Redflex employee who was not aware of what was going on.
"In an e-mail exchange with Individual A (Aaron M Rosenberg) regarding the drafting of documents that would give Redflex an advantage in obtaining the contracts, defendant Finley admonished Individual A that Individual A's discussions with O'Malley about the drafts should not be in writing and advised that Finley was deleting her e-mails regarding the drafts as she was sending them," the indictment stated.
On 23 September 2008, Finley signed an economic disclosure statement for Chicago, falsely certifying that no Redflex employee had attempted to bribe any Chicago employees. When Bills retired from the city, Finley and Rosenberg arranged to have the Traffic Safety Coalition, a front group funded and controlled by Redflex, hire Bills. When Bills left the group, Redflex hired his girlfriend.
Federal prosecutors are looking to seize $613,400, plus the proceeds of the sale of a condominium in Gilbert, Arizona as funds directly related to the bribery scheme. Finley faces up to twenty years in prison for each count of wire fraud. In a statement to Australian investors on Thursday, Redflex shrugged off the charges by pointing to a hundred jurisdictions that have renewed automated ticketing contracts in spite of the cloud of corruption hanging over the Australian company.
Redflex must be one of the most unrepentant corrupt companies in recent memory. They have been caught committing bribery and other serious crimes and yet they boast about a hundred jurisdictions that have renewed their contracts with Redflex. Why? Obviously because when these jurisdictions collude with Redflex and their insidious automated moneymaking rip-off machines, there's a lot of loot to be made. And of course who knows how many officials in those hundred jurisdictions have been bribed by Redflex too.
This company should be shut down, not only for its criminality, but for the fact that what it does is immoral. Redflex operates speed and red light cameras that do absolutely nothing to reduce the road toll and those bastards know it. But in cahoots with governments and municipalities, Redflex manages to get these disgraceful machines in operation, entrapping and screwing motorists wherever they are. It can only be hoped that the US prosecutors will manage to get very heavy penalties imposed on those Redflex crooks and see them put in jail for many years.
Thanks to John Vance for this item.
19 August 2014 - Queensland police have spent $1.3 million on 13 next generation laser-based LIDAR mobile speed cameras, capable of capturing up to six speeding cars a second. Latest figures released reveal that in 12 months, mobile cameras raked in at least $69 milllion in speeding fines. These fines were handed out at prime locations, including 6,925 fines at Herston Road in Kelvin Grove and 5,687 at Gympie Road in Kedron.
None of the top areas were listed blackspots for serious crashes, like the Riverside Expressway, the Gold Coast Highway at Southport, the Gateway Arterial at Sandgate or Deception Bay Road, Deception Bay. The RACQ said that the crash data police use to select where they place mobile speed cameras is up to a decade old. "We think it's time for the Queensland Police to have a good review of the crash data and what they're using to place these speed cameras," said Paul Turner from the RACQ.
Police hope to roll out 10 of these high tech units across Queensland by the end of 2014, including a stand-alone unit in high risk areas that officers previously considered too dangerous to police. Ironically, police believe the new cameras will drive down revenue. "With the release of every new camera we've put out, we actually see a decline in detections which is great," said police spokesman Alan Hales.
Queensland Police also stepped up the technology behind its fixed speed cameras. Its new generation of digital cameras can scan six lanes of traffic to grab a clear image of who is going too fast. The new cameras were launched on 19 August 2014 and are expected to reap more revenue than ever before.
There seems to be no depths to which state governments and their lackeys, the police tax collectors will stoop, in order to devise newer and more lucrative ways to rip off motorists. Whenever people think that they have reached the peak of being victimised, the state governments will roll out more ways to fine them and make more things illegal for which motorists can be booked.
The nonsense spouted by cops about speed cameras reducing accidents is just a load of bullshit and that's being polite. The cameras have not stopped speeding, because those devices are raking in more money every year and it is obvious that state governments increasingly rely on this revenue because it is a major component of their forward estimates. But if the incidence of speeding has not reduced, but the road toll has decreased, the reason for this is not speed cameras, proving that those machines are just there to raise revenue.
As usual, CARR states that being booked by speed and red light cameras is completely avoidable by motorists simply using GPS receivers or smartphone GPS applications with camera warnings. It's the simplest form of taxation to avoid and you better believe it, motoring infringements are a tax, as stated by former NSW premier Barry O'Farrell. Any motorists who do not avail themselves of this very cheap technology and allow themselves to be victimised and entrapped by speed and red light cameras are stupid and deserve to lose their money.
As for Paul Turner from the RACQ, who advised police to update their speed camera locations, he would do his members a greater service if he ran a campaign to have those cameras abolished. It is obvious that speed cameras cannot prevent accidents - they merely snap photos and generate revenue. Turner should be ashamed of himself for not acting to force the Queensland government to stop ripping off motorists with those insidious devices.
17 August 2014 - Daniel Liemareff took on police and won, after he was slapped with a $219 fine for allegedly reversing too far up Gouger Street in Adelaide CBD on 16 August 2013 and almost hitting an officer who was heading to a Chinese restaurant. The penalty was overturned and police were ordered to pay his court costs. Liemarff said that the officer with an English accent berated him for about 10 minutes, saying that where he was from, it was a major offence to hit a police officer and that people in Australia never look around when driving.
Liemareff stated, "He was threatening me with a lot of different charges, then took my details and said he would look into giving me a fine after he had got something to eat." The officer went into a restaurant and Liemareff, who had apologised for the near miss, thought that this was the end of the matter until he received a phone call from the officer about 9pm.
"He told me he had decided to charge me with reversing further than was reasonable and to expect a $291 fine in the post. The fine itself was so exaggerated and made up that anyone with commonsense would see it was utter rubbish. That's why I said to myself, whatever it takes I'll fight it - you hear of many people being hit with silly fines but I wasn't going to take it," Liemareff said.
Liemareff asked the police expiation unit how far was 'further than is reasonable' and was told by letter in September 2013 that the officer alleged that the distance was approximately 20 to 25 metres. However, in a 06 December letter, the police expiation unit branch's Operations Manager said that the officer estimated the distance reversed was now approximately 30-35 metres.
Instead of paying the fine, Liemareff elected to be prosecuted and had his day in court in August 2014. At the hearing, police withdrew the charge and Adelaide Magistrate Stefan Metanomski ordered police pay Liemareff $2915 in legal costs. Liemareff said that the fine represented a significant financial burden but he was also motivated by a sense of justice to fight to the charge. Liemareff's lawyer Chris McDonough said he thought the charge was withdrawn because the evidence did not support it.
It is wonderful to see a motorist take on the police over a manifestly unfair fine and beat them hands-down. It was obvious that the police officer was a bully for berating Liemareff for 10 minutes, but Liemareff was only 23 years old and inexperienced in dealing with police. If he had known about CARR, he would have told the cop to either book him or not, right there and then and to shut the hell up and stick his 10 minute lecture where the sun don't shine. Nobody has to tolerate a dressing-down from a cop, especially an annoying prick like the one who bailed up Liemareff.
The one thing that Liemareff should have done, which is what CARR advises all motorists to do, is that he should have immediately pulled out his mobile phone and started to video record this cop. The video recording would have served as evidence of this cop's belligerence and the unjustified threats. Of course the cop would most probably have changed his offensive attitude if he saw that he was being recorded and would possibly have even been deterred from pursuing this stupid and unwarranted infringement.
This incident is yet another one of those where a cop makes an estimate of a distance that can be completely wrong and then books a motorist on the basis of that wrongful assessment. Anybody who is booked for any offence where the police's evidence is an eyeball estimate should always challenge it in court and if necessary, put the cop to the test. Most of the time, if a cop is asked to estimate a car's speed to within 5km/h, he will fail miserably.
The one thing that Liemareff should now do is to launch a civil lawsuit for damages against the South Australian police in general and the cop who booked him in particular. Getting his costs was one thing, but what about the trauma of spending a year preparing and fighting this wrongful fine? What about the worry, the sleepless nights and the wasted time?
Liemareff should sue the police for exemplary damages and rightfully win compensation for this travesty and that is what every motorist who beats wrongful fines should do. Never ever let the cops just get away with such things. Always make them pay. If every motorist contested wrongful bookings, had them dismissed and then sued police for damages, cops would think very carefully before victimising motorists.
Thanks to Mark Eisen for this item.
17 August 2014 - A Darwin police officer was photographed using his hand-held mobile phone while he was driving. A vigilant member of the public sent the media a photo of the unidentified police officer, driving a car clearly marked Watch Commander, on Tiger Brennan Drive, near Bayview. A woman, who asked to remain anonymous, was a passenger in a car when they spotted the faux pas and snapped the picture.
"I saw him there and I thought, 'Is he on the phone?'" she said. The motorist said that she was not happy with what she had witnessed. "It's just a classic case of do what I say, not what I do," she said. "You know, we do little things like not indicate and get fined - it's not really fair."
Driving while using a handheld communication device could result in a $60 fine and the deduction of three demerit points, according to the NT Transport Department. Motorists who are talking or listening on a mobile phone are also more likely to be involved in a crash, a road safety message police send heavily to the Territory public. Darwin police were contacted for comment but did not return calls.
As that woman who photographed the cop stated, it seems that there is one law for them and one law for us and this is actually true. In most jurisdictions in Australia, police have an exemption from the mobile phone laws and they are permitted to do things that are considered dangerous for us mere mortals to do. Things like driving while chatting on hand-held mobile phones while driving and flashing their headlights at motorists, something that motorists are booked for when they warn others of speed traps.
These exemptions are hypocritical to say the very least. If driving while chatting on a hand-held mobile phone is dangerous for a motorist, it is just as dangerous for a cop. If flashing lights by motorists at others is dangerous, then it is just as dangerous when cops do it. Of course the only thing that is dangerous for cops when motorists warn others of speed traps is that it cuts into the revenue-raising scam that the cops run for their employers, the state governments, as well as their booking quotas that they deny exist, even when they do.
For instance there are many cases where police book motorists for flashing their high beams to warn others of speed traps, but police do this all the time when they are pulling motorists over. Anybody who has police flash high beams at them should immediately get details and demand that the cop be fined. It's the same with police sirens and flashing roof lights. Cops are only entitled to use sirens and flashing strobe lights in a declared emergency, so if a cop does this merely to pull somebody over, the motorist should immediately take details, photograph the cop and have him charged with an offence.
As for this message put out by all state governments that motorists who are talking and listening on mobile phones are more likely to be involved in accidents is a load of utter baloney. A number of studies, including the famous Bhargava-Panathia study involving two famous universities, found that there was absolutely no correlation between accidents and drivers talking on hand-held mobile phones.
Of course the mantra shoved down our throat that this is dangerous and has therefore been made illegal is merely another mechanism for state governments to raise revenue. It's the easiest thing for cops to see and book motorists for doing. So despite all the independent studies - not the trained lapdog studies that governments trot out to justify their revenue-raising - but real research that has proven that talking on the phone while driving is perfectly safe, governments will keep fining people for this. It's no different than the utter crap governments put out about speed and red light cameras reducing accidents, when in fact the exact opposite is provably true.
Thanks to Mark Eisen for this item.
15 August 2014 - In the USA, the Maryland Drivers Alliance accused local governments of lying about the law to boost speed camera cash through snitching. The advocacy group filed formal complaints against cities and counties that have been telling motorists who receive photo tickets that they must turn informant against wives, husbands, children or friends when speed camera tickets arrive in the mail, even though the law says that is not the case.
The group filed a complaint with the newly created speed camera "ombudsman" for the city of Gaithersburg, pointing out that the city's website told motorists who were not driving at the time of the alleged violation that there is only one way to get out of the ticket. "The law provides that the registered owner must provide a signed affidavit that states they were not operating the vehicle at the time of the violation and provide the name, address and, if possible, the driver's license identification number of the person who was driving at the time of the violation," the city website claimed. "The police have the discretion to then forward the citation notice to the person identified by the registered owner."
Identical language, provided by the for-profit camera vendor, is found on the Montgomery County website and similar wording is used on the Maryland state speed camera page. While the language may have been accurate when it was first drafted, state law changed five years ago when the General Assembly deleted the requirement for an innocent ticket recipient to identify the driver. The Maryland Drivers Alliance is demanding that Gaithersburg and the other jurisdictions remove the obsolete and incorrect language from their websites.
"The city of Gaithersburg is making an objectively false statement on their website regarding the requirements of the law, in a way that has the practical effect of biasing the system in favour of the collection of fines rather than the protection of the rights of the innocent," the group's complaint states. "The language on the city of Gaithersburg website attempts to nullify the 2009 change to the statute which removes the requirement that a person identify the driver."
The state court similarly developed a uniform citation that does not inform drivers that, under the law, they have no obligation to identify the driver of the photographed vehicle. Instead, the wording implies that an innocence defence requires snitching on someone else.
"If you, as the registered owner, were not operating the vehicle at the time of this infraction and you choose to identify the person who was, you shall provide to the district court a sworn to and affirmed statement and mail by certified mail, return receipt requested," the Maryland uniform citation states. "Your statement must indicate you swear or affirm that the person named in the citation was not operating the vehicle and include any corroborating evidence."
This report is most important, because state governments in Australia have done exactly the same thing, requiring a motorist to dob in another person as a driver, or be "deemed" to have been the driver at the time of the alleged offence and provide a signed affidavit to that end. This is completely wrong and flies in the face of our legal system. Traffic offences may not be as serious as bank robberies or murders, but they are still criminal offences, so many facets of the law have to be upheld, including the legal rights of the defendants.
For a person to be convicted of an offence in a duly constituted court of law, the prosecution MUST prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant is indeed the guilty party. This requires a positive identification of the defendant. "Deeming" a person to have committed an offence, merely on the basis that he owned a vehicle at the time of the offence does not satisfy the required burden of proof in any way whatsoever, despite the stupid laws that state governments have passed in this regard. Plenty of stupid and unjust laws have been struck down by the High Court.
Then there is the matter of the affidavit, the Statutory Declaration that comes with a camera infringement, where the government demands that the owner of a vehicle either nominates another person who was the driver at the time of the infringement or be "deemed" to be the driver. Nobody should ever sign one of these documents and nobody is forced to do so. However, there is another interesting facet to this, if a "deemed" driver actually does nominate another person as the driver of the motor vehicle in question.
If this happens, the person who is "nominated" can merely deny that he was the driver at the time and demand that the prosecution prove beyond reasonable doubt that he was indeed the driver. Just because a person swears a Statutory Declaration does not mean that what he is swearing is true, only what he BELIEVES is true. For instance, the "nominated" person may have allowed a third party to drive the car at the time and that "nominated" person does not have to furnish any sort of statement to say so or admit anything whatsoever. And that "nominated" person, not being the owner of the vehicle, cannot be "deemed" to be the driver.
In Australia, as in many other parts of the world with a Westminster style legal system, people are not required to do anything that may incriminate them. Here is a definitive statement from the Australian Government Law Reform Commission:
Very simply, this means that the owners of vehicles do NOT have to incriminate themselves or anybody else by providing anything, including a Statutory Declaration, nominating either themselves or anybody else as the drivers of their vehicles at the time of the alleged offence. Vehicle owners do not have to make any written or verbal statements to that effect and they are crazy if they do so. NEVER provide anything that can be used against you and you are not required to do so.
This is why this report from the USA should be noted by all drivers. You should understand that if you receive an infringment that does not specifically identify you as the driver, such as a camera booking, then it is entirely up to the prosecution to prove beyond reasonable doubt that you were the driver. Just because state governments claim that a car owner is "deemed" to be the driver of a vehicle does not make it so and neither does this satisfy the burden of proof that the prosecution has to lay before a court. Of course drivers should never sign a Statutory Declaration or any other document that may identify them as the drivers of their cars at the time of a camera booking.
A car owner contesting a camera infringement in court does not even have to answer questions from the prosecution or the magistrate regarding the driver of the vehicle at the time of the booking. A defendant has the right of silence under the law. A defendant does not have to furnish one scrap of evidence or admit anything, including nominating the driver of the vehicle. If the prosecution cannot do this, then the defendant should demand that the magistrate dismiss the infringement on the basis of lack of evidence.
Thanks to John Vance for this item.
14 August 2014 - Official analysis has revealed that by reimposing a toll on the M4 motorway between Concord and Parramatta, the NSW government will drive traffic onto alternative free routes such as Parramatta Road and Victoria Road. This means buses travelling along and trying to cross the western stretch of Parramatta Road will also be slower, while surface air quality on some sections of road will suffer. There is also more likely to be more trucks on suburban roads as they attempt to avoid the tolls.
These details emerged from the environmental impact statement for the first stage of the WestConnex motorway, including two extra traffic lanes to be added to the existing M4, which are to be built by 2017. After building the two extra lanes, the federal and state governments plan to reimpose a toll on the M4. They will use the toll revenue to help fund the rest of the WestConnex, such as a tunnel further east under Parramatta Road and another M5 East tunnel.
The EIS predicts that travel times for some motorists using the widened M4 will fall by as much as 74%, compared to if the project was not built. But free routes will slow. Traffic modelling for the project predicts that traffic numbers on Parramatta Road will increase from 3210 vehicles per hour to 3350 vehicles per hour in the morning peak. The impact is expected to be more pronounced outside of peak hour, when motorists are more likely to try to avoid the new toll.
The EIS stated that the model predicted that the project would increase traffic during the day and the evening on Parramatta Road at Auburn and on Victoria Road at Rydalmere. The number of vehicles using Parramatta Road, however, would be less than before tolls were dropped from the M4 before 2010. "The benefits of WestConnex will be fully realised when the entire motorway is operating, because each section is designed to operate as part of the broader network, rather than in isolation," Roads Minister Duncan Gay said.
The document also detailed slower bus times. Journey times on the Metrobus M92, for instance, will increase up to 3.4 minutes one way as it travels on Parramatta Road. Air quality studies show that while there would be an improvement along the M4, there would be an increase in emissions along Parramatta Road. Labor's roads spokesman, Walt Secord, said: "Families will be getting more heavy vehicles and trucks as well as more pollution."
The widened section of the M4 will attract a toll of between $1.50 and $3.90. Greens transport spokeswoman Mehreen Faruqi said widening the M4 would shift a traffic bottleneck. "Even if motorists have a faster run on the widened and tolled M4, they will still be sitting in a paid car park once they reach Parramatta Road," Dr Faruqi said. The design and construction contract for the M4 widening is planned to be awarded later in 2014.
This plan to reimpose a toll on the M4 Freeway is an act of sheer bastardry by the NSW government. This road was built from a toll that was imposed to fund it, with the absolute commitment that the toll would be removed as soon as the debt for the road was fully paid off. This happened in 2010 and the toll was removed and the road reverted to full public ownership. Now this corrupt, lying and evil NSW government plans to hijack this paid-for road that is owned by the people and hand it over to a toll road company again so that it can rip motorists off again.
Again, this shows how no government and no politician should ever be trusted. They all have their snouts in the trough and they are corrupt. We have already seen the former Liberal premier's head roll at the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) and just this week, two Liberal government ministers had to resign for taking corrupt bribes virtually in the euphemistic brown paper bag. Labor is even worse, with a litany of former Labor politicians found to be grossly corrupt at ICAC hearings.
NSW Roads Minister Duncan Gay has been talking up the benefits of the WestConnex and the toll to be re-imposed on the M4, however nobody should ever forget that this man stated that although the time-of-day toll increase on the Sydney Harbour crossings did not achieve any reduction in congestion, which was the reason for this impost (we always knew that), nevertheless the increased toll would remain because the government was reaping an extra $5 million per year from it. That proved that the NSW government kept something that was not achieving a desired result, merely to rip motorists off for revenue. That is corrupt behaviour in the extreme by a government that has a mandate to protect people, not gouge them.
The NSW government needs to be firmly told that a toll on the M4, whether widened or not, is completely unjustified and intolerable. We the people own that road. We have already paid for it. We should not have to pay a toll to drive on a road that we already own. This NSW government is an utter disgrace. It is composed of crooks, liars, bribe takers and the usual pack of scum that label themselves as politicians. None of them can be trusted and unfortunately all we can do is to stymie their rip-offs by boycotting all toll roads and denying them our money.
08 August 2014 - The US state of Connecticut's judicial system in January 2014 issued a cease-and-desist order to Redflex Traffic Systems after the Australian photo ticketing vendor was caught giving the impression that its tickets and payment website came from the court. Connecticut does not allow red light cameras or speed cameras, but Redflex uses school buses as photo ticketing platforms in accordance with a law passed in 2011.
One of the vehicle owners who received a $450 school bus ticket from Redflex under this law became suspicious and sent a copy of the notice he received to Connecticut's chief court administrator, who was appalled at what he saw. "The documents purport to be issued by the state of Connecticut, reference the Judicial Branch website and direct payment to the Centralised Infractions Bureau," wrote Martin R. Libbin, legal services director for the Connecticut Judicial Branch.
He stated, "The documents further direct questions concerning this infraction to an out-of-state number and the footnote references the smart bus website. Also attached are screen captures from the Smart Bus website which make use of the Judicial Branch mission statement, Judicial Branch seal and Judicial Branch web page banners."
The email to Redflex employees put an immediate stop to ticket issuance. "The office of the chief court administrator has reviewed these documents and has determined that your organization not only lacks the authority to issue said documents, but that it inappropriately suggests that payment is the only option for the recipient of the ticket," Libbin wrote. "Please be advised that you are to immediately cease production and use of these documents."
On June 24, the state accepted a revised citation design from Redflex and the company's lobbyist, Jay F Malcynsky. Libbin issued a memo lifting the ban on school bus ticketing with a warning that a human being must witness the alleged violation "live" and file an affidavit for the citation to be valid.
"As I have advised you in the past, I cannot make any representations as to how a magistrate (or judge) will rule should there be a challenge to the sufficiency of the documents noted above, or if a party seeks to compel the testimony of the individual who witnessed the violation live," Libbin wrote in an email to Redflex. "Furthermore, the propriety of any violation issued will depend upon full compliance with Connecticut General Statutes Section 14-279."
School bus ticketing has been a headache for Redflex ever since it bought the upstart school bus camera firms SBL Investments and Americore Enterprises in 2012. The $7 million deal has caused the Australian firm to report a $2.2 million loss from bus enforcement in its most recent financial statement. "The company experienced a number of challenges in turning violations detected into paid fines," Redflex told Australian investors. Redflex predicted further loses in the second half of this year.
Automated school bus ticketing programs generate volume by focusing on technical violations, such as photographing vehicles that did stop for the bus, but not at the specific distance required in the statute. In some states it is not necessary to stop on the opposite side of a "divided highway," but confusion over what meets the definition of "divided" creates the opportunity to trap motorists.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 73%% of the school-age pedestrians who have died in a crash near a school bus since 2000 were hit by the school bus, not other motorists.
It is truly appalling to see the measures and scams that are used to victimise motorists and rip them off. Redflex has been the subject of many investigations and charges, ranging from outright corruption and bribery to matters such as this report, showing that Redflex falsely represented itself as an official Connecticut authority and issued unlawful infringement notices.
The fact that these automated school bus ticketing programs trap motorists by using techical violations is a disgrace. It seems that every opportunity to fine motorists is used, including booking them if they comply with the law, but stop a fraction too close to a school bus. Motorists do not carry rangefinders in their cars to measure exact distances from school buses that pull over. This is why every one of these infringements should be challenged and if defeated, companies lile Redflex that were responsible for generating the infringements should be sued, not just for actual costs, but for punitive damages.
It is interesting to see that statistics show that 73% of school-age pedestrians who were killed in the vicinity of school buses were actually hit by a school bus, not other cars. That is around three-quarters of those fatalities were caused by school buses. So it would be logical to try to prevent school buses from hitting students, rather than targeting motorists that are far less risky to school children, but of course that does not generate revenue.
Companies like Redflex are an utter disgrace and the fact that Redflex, which has been caught engaging in corruption and bribery and now found to be sending out infringement notices falsely purporting to come from the US state of Connecticut, should be prosecuted and driven out of their vile enterprise permanently. And those laws in the USA that allow Redflex to operate automated cameras from school buses should be rescinded immediately.
Thanks to John Vance for this item.
07 August 2014 - Along with throwing his support behind the move to sell off more government assets, "congestion pricing" should be on the table in any debate over further economic reform, according to the head of the competition watchdog Rod Sims. Congestion pricing, which is where charges to use public services are raised at times of peak demand, has been touted for the use of some roads and in other areas, such as electricity, to ensure the most effective use of public assets. It is already used on Sydney's two harbour crossings, with tolls raised during peak hour, for example.
Sims claims that the reason to privatise assets is to promote economic efficiency. He advocates that with sound regulation, the private sector will operate businesses more efficiently, as they will have better incentives for, and impose fewer constraints on, performance. Unlike other parts of the economy, the country's road network has not had the same focus in the debate over microeconomic reform.
The prices paid by road users do not reflect the economic cost of using roads, nor is there a link between the prices charged to road users and the revenues received by road providers, Sims claims, with decisions about funding investment in roads often made via political processes rather than by an independent assessment of the relative costs and benefits of a proposed investment. Sims concludes, "All Australians understand why it costs more to rent a beach house in January than July. We just don't call it congestion pricing."
Congestion pricing could boost efficiencies not just in road transport, but also in the electricity sector and other areas such as trucking freight to ports and at airports in the allocation of take-off and landing slots, Sims claims.
Here's another piece of softening-up strategy to get the gullible public to eventually accept a congestion tax, this time coming from Rod Sims, head of the ACCC, the government authority that has already shown its complete ineptitude and uselessness in dealing with rogue petrol companies and their manipulation of fuel prices. Sims claims that congestion "pricing" - remember that term was used for the idiotic carbon tax that the lying Julia Gillard claimed was a carbon "price" and didn't have the honesty to even call it a carbon dioxide rip-off - is an efficient way to deal with resources.
Well that is a massive piece of tripe and the proof that it is utter nonsense comes straight from the examples in the report, the Sydney Harbour Bridge and Tunnel. Not that long ago, NSW Roads Minister Duncan Gay was asked whether traffic on the Sydney Harbour crossings had reduced during the times that the congestion charge was applied and he said that the congestion charge made absolutely no difference to the volume of traffic. When challenged to drop this tax because it was ineffective, Gay merely stated that it was going to remain because the NSW government was making an extra $5 million per year from it. So it was not about congestion alleviation, just the revenue.The concept of congestion taxes is outrageous and should be resisted, however as Duncan Gay did with the money grab from the congestion tax on the Sydney Harbour crossings, it is probably inevitable that congestion taxes will somehow be applied to many other roads. What is obscene about these taxes is that people need to drive to places at certain times, such as to work and they do not have any alternative. Unlike speed and red light cameras, a congestion tax works even better, because for example, somebody who lives in Milson's Point and starts work at Sydney Airport every day at 8:30pm has no alternative but to use the Harbour crossing and pay the congestion tax. He can't avoid paying it in the same way that he could avoid getting booked by a speed camera.
Of course the reasons given for a congestion tax on roads are so false. Imagine if it worked and people stopped driving or used other free roads at the times that a congestion tax was being applied, let's say on the Sydney Harbour crossings. The government would not only lose revenue from the regular tolls, but it would not receive the congestion tax either. Has anybody ever heard of a state government doing something that reduces revenue? Of course not. The government knows that people have to keep driving at all times of day and night and a congestion tax will not reduce congestion, but it will rake in more revenue at the expense of motorists as usual.
Various state governments have been floating the idea of congestion taxes for years, but now Rod Sims, head of the ACCC, has jumped into the fray to soften up the hapless motorists who pay more than their share of revenue from taxes, excise, fees and charges that should be more than enough to fund the best roads in the world. However, both federal and state governments rip that revenue from motorists off and waste it on stupid and useless schemes. The whole concept of the congestion tax ripoff should be resisted by all motorists, who should let their members of parliament know in no uncertain terms that they are unacceptable and in fact the congestion tax on the Harbour crossing should be removed as well.
06 August 2014 - Australia's monopoly toll road operator Transurban paid just $3 million tax in the 2013-2014 financial year, despite raking in $1 billion in tolls from motorists. Transurban Holdings Limited, was able to achieve this thanks to the way in which it structures its financial accounts and runs high debt levels. Some $344 million was paid in interest on Transurban's massive $6.8 billion in borrowings.
Interest payments are tax deductible and have the effect of bringing down profits from which tax is ultimately paid. Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation charges came in at $759 million. Actual income tax paid was just $3 million, down from $12 million last year. The tax paid was less than Transurban chief executive Scott Charlton was paid ? $4.9 million. Directors and top management were paid $17 million last year and $21 million the year before.
This report shows how motorists, mostly people who really cannot afford to drive on expensive toll roads, are being ripped off by Transurban and filling the pockets of its CEO and directors. Scott Charlton received $4.9 million in 2013 and that is over $94,000 PER WEEK - yes, Charlton got more than the average yearly earnings of most people every week. For what? Running a toll road monopoly in collusion with inept governments who are not capable of building decent infrastructure, but squander taxpayer money and then expect toll road entrepreneurs to fill the gap.
CARR really wonders about motorists who use toll roads to save themselves a few minutes every day and pay a fortune for the privilege. Using toll roads in Sydney, to get from the the Abbott Road toll road entry in Seven Hills to the Fairford Road exit in Padstow would cost $17.73 ONE WAY. The return trip would cost $20.02, making a total round trip cost of nearly $38. Motorists who do this five days per week for a 50 week working year would be up for close to $9,500 per year. They would have to be either insane or stupid to fork out this sort of money, which is at least 10% of an average annual wage.
It is obvious that very few motorists pay any attention to anti-toll road advocates like CARR, because it is obvious that toll road companies such as Transurban and its executives and directors are really riding the gravy train that those motorists provide. Scott Charlton and his cohorts are laughing all the way to the bank while motorists who are barely making a living are stupidly forking out those exorbitant tolls instead of merely using free public roads and saving themselves a lot of money.
Most motorists would love to be able to spend $9,500 on a luxury overseas holiday. That sort of money will buy a month in Los Angeles in a 5-star hotel for a family, including airfares, yet motorists handed a whopping $1 BILLION over to Transurban in 2013 like gullible suckers. What is worse, state governments are contracting with toll road companies to build even more toll roads that will slug motorists instead of building freeways. Those tolls are so easy to avoid, yet it seems that hardly anybody is taking CARR's advice and saving themselves all that money.
02 August 2014 - All of Victoria's mobile speed cameras are to be replaced with "supercams" that are the most effective in the world at catching leadfoots. The new hi-tech cameras will be able to snap speeding motorists from both the front and rear, and across up to eight lanes of traffic. So a camera car parked on one side of the road could get motorists travelling towards it on the opposite side as well as those driving in the direction it is facing. Infra-red technology means they are just as effective at night as during the day.
Police Minister Kim Wells has revealed plans to replace every one of Victoria's 141 mobile speed cameras with the supercams within four years. The ageing mobile cameras now used rake in more than $100 million a year, but state-of-the-art supercams could easily double that. Supercams being able to snap vehicles in both directions at the same time will lessen the problem of the thousands of speeding motorcyclists who escape fines every year because their bikes are not required to have front numberplates. Of motorcyclists snapped by mobile speed cameras in 2011-12, 55% escaped a fine because they couldn't be identified.
The Victorian Government's world-wide hunt for the most sophisticated mobile speed camera available will start in August 2014. Supercams which catch motorists across eight lanes as they speed towards and away from the camera are already in use outside Australia. Wells said that an initial $17.1 million had already been allocated to buy the first batch of supercams. "Technology in this area is advancing rapidly and we will explore all options to make Victoria's road safety camera network as strong as it can be," Wells stated.
"We will be looking at everything the market has to offer, including the potential to capture front and rear licence plates and speeding vehicles across multiple lanes. We know the majority of motorists do the right thing and comply with the speed limit. The latest advances in technology can assist us in catching those who don't." Wells said that expanding the state's speed camera system was a key part of Victoria's 10-year Road Safety Strategy. "This new technology will send a strong message to all road users - take your time, it's cheaper than a fine," he said.
This is the same government who spent a solid ten years in opposition decrying speed cameras and how they were nothing but revenue-raisers and how the Liberal government would eradicate them if they won office. Well they did win office and their greed for revenue overcame their principles and their promises. Victoria is quickly becoming the speed camera capital of Australia by the very same pack of hypocritical bastards who screamed about these devices being completely ineffective in safety terms and that they were just money-grabbing devices.
Motorists should do everything in their power to avoid being booked by these rapacious devices. GPS receivers with the latest speed camera locations should always be used. Car black box recorders to gather evidence of wrongful bookings should be fitted to every car. Every single infringement issued using speed camera data should be challenged in court on the grounds that none of these cameras comply with the National Measurement Act, which requires all measurement devices to be certified as accurate.
Nobody should ever allow themselves to be victimised by automated money-making machines that are backed up by state governments holding legislative guns to the heads of motorists. It's not a matter of complying with speed limits, because many limits have been made artificially low in order to frustrate motorists and thus entice them into speeding and being booked. The Victorian government is in fact engaging on a despicable course of entrapment of motorists for no other reason than to raise revenue and this is wrong.
As despicably bad as the former Victorian Labor government was, this current Liberal government is just as bad, if not worse. They are a pack of lying, cheating, double-dealing mealy-mouthed scammers who continue the practice of ripping off motorists and rigging the legal system to make it as difficult as possible for motorists to dispute the fines imposed on them. Well every motorist should indeed dispute every fine and clog up the courts and even dispute the legal jurisdictions of those courts, because many infringement courts are actually not legally empowered to hear the cases. We have to fight them in every way possible and also do this at the ballot box at elections.
Thanks to Santo Calabrese for this item.
02-August 2014 - On 02 May 2014, the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) ordered that Care Park's claim of $88 of "liquidated damages" in relation to breach of a car park contract was a penalty and therefore unenforceable. In the case of Vico v Care Park Pty Ltd (Civil Claims)  VCAT 565, Member Wilson therefore ordered that the consumer, John Vico, did not have to pay the $88 amount to Care Park. Member Wilson did not accept Care Park's evidence in relation to how it justified the $88 amount and found that its claim for loss was "overstated". The Member also found the $88 amount was "wholly unexplained", with "no forensic veracity" and "no legal or factual providence".
This case yet again proves that private car park operators do not have the power or authority to levy fines or penalties against motorists and any notices from them that demand payment for either not paying for parking or overstaying a parking time limit are completely unenforceable. CARR advises all motorists who receive such "fines" to never pay them. Motorists should either ignore them completely, or if they want to go on the front foot, write to the senders and advise them that if they persist with their illegal demands, that they will be charged with demanding money with menaces.
This is not to say that motorists should go and park in private car parks and refuse to pay the fees that are scheduled by the car park operators. Even if those fees are outrageous, motorists have the choice to accept them and pay those parking fees, or not park at those places and thus avoid paying the charges. But in cases such as Vico v Care Park Pty Ltd, any notices that arrive from private parking companies that appear to be penalties are completely unenforceable and should never be paid under any circumstances.
Thanks to Steve Howton for this item.
31 July 2014 - Brisbane man Luke Casey was fined $113 for placing "For Sale" signs in the windows of his own car. He stated that Gold Coast City Council was penalising him for merely selling his car by placing those signs on it. Each council has its own law on "For Sale" stickers on cars and some councils have passed laws to make this practice illegal. Some of the grounds for banning "for Sale" signs on cars include being distracting to other drivers and pedestrians, obstructing maintenance of a road and impacting the amenity of an area.
Casey said that he intended to dispute the fine with Gold Coast City Council. A council spokesman claimed that car owners had plenty of avenues where they could advertise their cars for sale, such as in newspapers and even in their driveways with signs on them. Casey removed the "For Sale" signs from his car to avoid another fine and has put it up for sale on-line.
The only thing that anybody can say about Gold Coast City Council and this law against placing "For Sale" signs on cars is that these people are crazy. There are cars, vans and trucks driving around the Gold Coast every day with signs advertising goods and services, flashing lights and other features. Under this insane law and the council's own ridiculous reasons, they could all be fined. It's such a shame that Luke Casey didn't simply stand up to the council, drag them into court and demand to know why he was fined when half the vehicles driving around the Gold Coast have some sort of advertising signage on them.
This is the sort of lunacy in which councils indulge and the best way to deal with these idiots is to drag them to court and beat their fines and then sue them for their back teeth. They should never ever get away with infringing the rights of motorists to place whatever signs they wish on their own cars, simply because it is none of their damn business. The only thing that could have any relevance in such cases is that the signs don't obstruct the view of the driver when he is driving his car. Apart from that, it is not up to any council to dictate to motorists what they can put on their cars. This matter is yet another example of councils exceeding their powers.
Thanks to Paul Greene for this item.
30 July 2014 - The City of Melbourne will be forced to withdraw almost 35,000 parking tickets dating back to 2012 due to a costly administrative error. The bungle will cost the Council $3.2 million. The Council said that while it believed there was no doubt that the parking violations occurred, the staff who issued the fines did not have the authority to do so due to an error, which was discovered only in July 2014.
The blunder related to cases where the owner of the vehicle nominated another person as being the driver at the time of the offence. It applies to 34,800 tickets issued from 06 July 2012 to 30 June 2014. The City of Melbourne said that two administrative staff had their authorisation to reissue infringement notices revoked by mistake and without their knowledge in 2012, but continued to reissue tickets.
The 16,200 motorists who had already paid the incorrectly issued fines will be refunded at a cost to the council of $1.46 million. The remaining 18,600 tickets will be withdrawn, costing $1.76 million. Affected drivers will be contacted in coming weeks to start the process of withdrawing or refunding their tickets. "We will work to refund any fines already paid as soon as possible, but it is a complex process that could take several months to complete," the Council stated. The bungled infringements represent 4% of the total number of tickets issued between July 2012 and June 2014.
This report highlights the number of parking tickets issued by the City of Melbourne Council if those refunds ony represent 4% of the infringements issuedin a two year period. A quick piece of mathematics shows that around 875,000 tickets were issued in that time, around 437,500 per year. Assuming an average of $100 per infringement, that means that the Council rakes in nearly $4.5 million in revenue for booking motorists who already paid registration fees for the right to use public roads, which inherently gave them the right to stop on them.
Motorists need to fight all councils on parking fines. Firstly, motorists should never ever sign any statements asking them to either admit that they were the drivers of their vehicles or nominate others who were the drivers. Signing such documents is a clear admission of guilt and should never be provided to an accuser. Secondly, all motorist who receive parking infringements should contest them on the grounds that councils are not recognised arms of government and not recognised under the Australian Constitution.
Furthermore, most infringement courts are not duly constituted or empowered under the Australian Constitution and motorists who contest the infringements should either show up at those courts and demand to see their legality under the law, or merely ignore the "summons" on the grounds that it came from an entity that is not empowered to demand that motorists should attend a court that is not legally recognised under the Constitution.
There are many ways to fight and beat parking infringements and all motorists should do that and never accept infringement notices that deems them to be guilty of an offence before they are found to be guilty by a duly recognised court of law under the Australian Constitution. We have to fight these rapacious bastards in any way we can, because they do not have the right to make us victims with their bogus legislation.
Thanks to John Vance for this item.
28 July 2014 - Western Australian Police Minister Liza Harvey agreed that Perth's five fixed speed cameras cannot operate 24 hours per day because authorities could not cope with the number of infringements for speeding. Her comment came at the launch of WA's new fixed speed camera on Kwinana Freeway north near the South Street exit. The site, the first with dual remote cameras to photograph the front and back of vehicles, was tested over the past few weeks and began operating on 27 July 2014.
During the trial, police detected six hoon drivers doing between 146km/h and 179km/h in the 100km/h zone. In the past nine years, there have been six fatal crashes and another 25 serious crashes along that stretch of the freeway.
Harvey rejected criticism that the other four fixed cameras operated only between 9% and 23% of the time. She said that the cameras had a good effect and rotating them gave drivers an incentive to keep to speed limits. However, she did admit that having the cameras on all the time would create so many infringements to process, it would be a problem. WA Police's fleet of Vitronic speed cameras are rotated between the fixed camera sites and mobile locations.
Harvey called the Opposition "numpties" for suggesting the cameras were revenue-raisers, because the millions of dollars from infringements went to road safety initiatives. "It's really a stupid comment to say that speed cameras are a revenue-raiser when everyone knows the penalties go into the road trauma trust account to improve road safety," she said.
Shadow police minister Michelle Roberts said that the Government was sitting on more than $80 million in the RTTA and used it as a buffer against the high debt it had incurred. "There's only one numpty and that's the Minister for Road Safety," Roberts said. She stated that the cameras were raking in tens of millions of dollars and this could in some way be justified if it was spent on road safety, but it was not.
For Police Minister Liza Harvey to state that those cameras are not revenue-raisers was really stupid. She said that the penalties went to road safety initiatives. These initiatives need funding to operate - it's called revenue. So if penalties from cameras fund those initiatives, they are collecting revenue to do so, therefore the cameras are revenue-raisers. It is astounding that politicians can be so illogical about the things they claim, but Australia has a very poor standard of politician anyway, so Harvey's comments were not surprising.
What is astounding is the number of people who are being booked by these cameras, when these infringements are so easy to avoid. These cameras allegedly operate between only 9% to 23% of the time, yet the authorities are being swamped with infringements from them. Are those WA drivers complete idiots? What's the matter with these people, when they can't even take note of where these cameras are located and ensure that they don't get pinged by them?
As usual - and CARR is getting rather bored with saying this - motorists need to take proactive action to avoid being fleeced by state governments using speed and red light cameras as tax collection machines. It's the easiest thing in the world to do. A cheap GPS receiver or a $20 smartphone GPS application with camera warnings will alert a driver before he gets to a speed camera, so that he can check his speed and ensure that he won't get booked. Motorists who are so negligent as to not take such measures to protect themselves deserve to be fined.
27 July 2014 - Three new double-whammy speed and red light cameras reaped $3.4 million from motorists in 27 days. The trio raced into the top 15 worst-offending locations, despite the other cameras' data being collected over three months from January to March 2014. The cash cow in Lakeside Drive, St Kilda came in top spot, nabbing 8043 drivers who paid $1.86 million in fines.
The dual-operating cameras at Flinders and William Streets took out ninth position with 3507 red light racing motorists nabbed, while the one at Exhibition and Victoria streets polled at number 14 by issuing 2606 fines. The Lakeside Drive and Flinders and William streets cameras were the only two in the top 10 that were not on major highways.
The Department of Justice released its third quarter statistics on 205-07-2014 and it showed more fines were issued than the previous quarter, jumping to 320,636, compared to 317,524, and $74.7 million was paid in fines. The speed cameras were added to existing red light cameras in March to catch those roaring through 40km/h zones.
The variable speed limits are proving to be a bonanza for state government coffers, with some motorists being fined about $650 - $289 for speeding by more than 10km/h and $361 for the red light offence - in one hit. Victoria Police Assistant Commissioner Robert Hill said that the detection rates at the Lakeside Drive intersection were concerning and unacceptable, especially because it was a high-risk road trauma location. "If drivers exceed the speed limit, not only do they put themselves and other road users at risk of road trauma, they will be detected and fined. I make no apologies for that," he said.
Department of Justice spokesman Jonathan Granger said there was often a spike in infringements when new cameras were switched on. "As motorists become more aware of the camera system and slow down, the number of infringements should trend downwards," Granger stated. "While most motorists do the right thing, there too many who continue to ignore the road safety message and put their own lives and other users including pedestrians at risk."
The new cameras in Victoria are just revenue-raisers, simply because the Victorian government has never been able to show that the road toll has been reduced because of them. In fact the road toll in all jurisdictions is lower because of safer cars with multiple airbags and other features that reduce trauma and fatalities. But of course every state government will fudge the facts in order to justify installing more and more speed and red light cameras because they are such effective cash cows.
As CARR always says, motorists should never put themselves in a position to be booked by these cameras and if they do receive infringement notices, they should always contest them. The CARR page called Fight Unfair Fines has more than enough material to use in order to beat infringements. But the easiest way is to merely use a GPS receiver or smartphone GPS application such as MetroView to warn when approaching cameras and slow down and not get booked in the first place.
One of the most potent weapons in a motorist's arsenal is a car black box recorder. This device, described on the CARR website, is a motorist's reliable witness if he is wrongfully booked. It will prove by way of time and date-stamped GPS-recorded video exactly what the motorist was doing at the time of the booking and the data from these devices have already resulted in many wrongful bookings being dismissed.
It is staggering to think that so many motorists in Australia simply fail to use simple and cheap technology that would completely kill the government revenue-raising scam and they fork out millions of dollars in unnecessary fines. Smart motorists will take proactive measures to prevent themselves being victimised by rapacious governments using speed and red light cameras as their tax collectors, but it is such a shame that there are so few smart motorists.
Thanks to John Vance for this item.
25 July 2014 - In the USA state of Illinois, a Chicago man filed a lawsuit seeking class action status against the city's former red light camera vendor, claiming that the company should provide approximately $100 million in refunds to motorists caught by the cameras because it only got the contract through bribery. Matthew Falkner filed the federal lawsuit on 24 July 2014 against Redflex Traffic Systems and its Australia-based parent company, Redflex Holdings.
Falkner received a $100 red light ticket at the intersection of 76th Street and Stony Island Avenue on 19 January 2013, according to the lawsuit. He claims that under the contract Redflex had with the city for 10 years, it received 20-25% of the money from every red light camera ticket. Redflex was dismissed as the city's red light camera vendor in 2013, after company officials admitted that a Redflex employee bribed a city transportation official to steer Chicago's red light camera contract to the firm.
Former Transportation Department executive John Bills, 52, was arrested by federal authorities in May 2014, accused of taking more than $643,000 in cash and cheques from an unnamed Redflex consultant. That consultant also allegedly bought Bills a $177,000 condominium in Arizona, helped him pay off loans, and paid for his retirement party. Redflex has since been replaced by Xerox under a new contract that the city has said will save taxpayers $50 million.
The lawsuit was filed one day before an investigation found that thousands of drivers received red light camera tickets they did not deserve, as a result of either faulty equipment or possible human intervention. It was reported that many cameras in Chicago experienced sudden and unexplained severe spikes in the number of tickets issued. Experts told the tribune the deviations should not happen in automated camera systems, and could only be the result of malfunctions or a change in procedure to catch more violators.
Falkner's lawsuit estimates that the city received at least $500 million from red light tickets from 2003 to 2013 and Redflex received at least $100 million share of that revenue. "As a direct result of the bribery scheme, defendants were able to contractually retain approximately 20-25% of all ticket revenue generated by tickets," the lawsuit stated. Falkner claimed that because Redflex obtained the city contract through bribery, it should be forced to provide refunds.
"Both Redflex and the City of Chicago have recognised that the Redflex contract with the City of Chicago was secured through corrupt behaviour," Falkner's attorneys wrote in their complaint. "As such, Redflex's $100 million-plus dollars in revenue since 2003 generated under the corrupt contract represents ill-gotten gains that have unjustly enriched Redflex."
The city is not named as a defendant in the lawsuit, which does not seek a refund of the full $100 fine from red light tickets, but only Redflex's share of the revenue. "Defendants' retention of said benefit violates the fundamental principles of justice, equity, and good conscience," Falkner's attorneys wrote. The lawsuit seeks class-action status to cover any person who received a red light camera ticket and paid the fine while Redflex had its city contract. A federal judge would have to approve class-action status. The suit estimates hundreds of thousands of motorists have received red light camera tickets to date.
Apart from the corrupt practices of the Redflex company that was caught engaging in corrupt practices in other jurisdictions, it is important to note that the red light cameras in Chicago were either faulty or deliberately manipulated to increase the rate of infringements, even by wrongful means. This is also prevalent in Australia, where in NSW, the government's own statistics revealed that around 14% of cameras are defective at any one time.
The problem for motorists is that without other means of showing that they were indeed driving within the law, they have little or no chance to have wrongful bookings dismissed. The state governments of Australia have rigged the infringement and court systems to make it as difficult as possible for motorists to contest wrongful bookings and most motorists consider that the cost and effort of fighting a wrongful booking simply is not worth the trouble, when it is easier to grit their teeth and pay the fines. This is exactly what these governments work to achieve in their pursuit of ripping revenue from motorists.
After seeing this report, CARR again advises motorists to take proactive measures to protect themselves by using GPS with camera warnings whenever they drive, Bluetooth devices to use their mobile phones hands-free and most importantly, install a car black box recorder with GPS logging of speed, position and time. Then if motorists are wrongly booked, they have hard evidence to present to court and also have firm grounds to sue the government for those wrongful infringements.
One very important piece of advice to motorists is to NEVER EVER sign any document or affidavit that comes with an infringement notice especially the one that demands that you either admit to being the driver at the time of the alleged camera booking or nominate another driver. Governments have passed a ludicrous law that "deems" the owner of a car to have committed the infringement if he refuses to nominate another driver, however because traffic infringements are actually criminal offences, every person has the right to refuse to incriminate himself.
"Deeming" a person to have committed an offence is not sufficient evidence under our criminal justice system to identify the perpetrator of an offence, therefore if the state cannot prove beyond reasonable doubt - and that is the minimum standard of evidence required - that a particular person was the driver of a car that was recorded committing a traffic offence, then the prosecution does not have a case.
No motorist should ever admit to driving a car that has been booked by a camera under any circumstances. We have the right to silence and we have the right to refuse to incriminate ourselves. So the best course of action for any person, motorist or even pedestrians is - DO NOT TALK TO POLICE. DO NOT ADMIT ANYTHING. DO NOT SIGN ANYTHING. Just keep your mouth shut, because without evidence, the police or the state government don't have much of a case to present. People are conned into thinking that they have to sign affidavits and admit things. Nothing could be further from the truth. You do NOT have to make it easy for the people who are trying to rip you off.
Thanks to Santo Calabrese for this item.
24 July 2014 - Recent studies in the USA have found that banning cellphone use while driving is not leading to a decrease in accidents. The results are somewhat surprising and have left researchers and regulators scratching their heads, especially given that 13 US states, the District of Columbia and several US territories have hand-held cellphone bans. Additionally, 44 US states specifically outlaw texting while driving.
The most recent study, published in the mid-year of 2014 in the journal Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, analysed California's cellphone ban for drivers in 2008. Researchers found that the number of accidents only dropped from 66.7 per day to 65.2 per day statewide, a statistically minor decline. The results were mirrored in many of the state's major cities, including San Francisco, though Los Angeles did experience a slight decrease in accidents. Researchers looked at the six-month periods before and after the ban went into place on 01 July 2008.
"We went in there expecting to see something," stated Daniel Kaffine, one of the study's authors. "But it was pretty clear to us that there was no compelling evidence of a decrease in accidents."
Though offsetting for safety advocates, Kaffine's research is in line with other findings. The Highway Loss Data Institute, the research arm of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, studied insurance claims rates in 2009 and 2010 studies and found no link that bans helped decrease crashes. "Unfortunately, there is no evidence that various kinds of cellphone restrictions states have enacted have reduced crashes," said Russ Rader, IIHS senior vice-president of communications.
Conversely, California's Office of Traffic Safety said in 2012 that research conducted by the University of California, Berkley found a 22% drop in traffic deaths in the two years after the ban went into effect. Furthermore, deaths resulting from hand-held use of phones was down 47%. While the studies have focused on accident and insurance statistics, the results have spurred wider discussions as to why the roads likely have not gotten safer.
Kaffine, an associate professor of economics at the University of Colorado in Boulder, said that it was possible many motorists are simply ignoring cellphone bans while driving. It's also likely hands-free devices, while meeting the letter of the law, are still distracting. And with a fine hanging over their heads, drivers may also be more reluctant to disclose that they were using their cellphones during an accident.
Another theory is drivers who talk on their cellphones are already easily distracted, and even if they do comply with the law, something else, like the GPS, satellite radio, passengers or even other motorists, is capturing their attention. "Cellphone use has become synonymous with distracted driving, but distracted driving didn't become a problem with cellphone use," Rader said. "People do a lot of things behind the wheel that distract them besides using cellphones."
Finally, there's the possibility that cellphone use isn't as bad as previously believed. Some reports claim it's as dangerous as drunk driving, which Kaffine is quick to rebuke, noting motorists can simply put down their phones at any time. "The idea that it's as dangerous as drunk driving is not true," he said. "It's much harder to get undrunk."
Most researchers and motorists don't dispute that making a call from behind the wheel isn't at least partially distracting. The question then becomes: how to remedy this? Bans on hand-held devices are one way to try, but the research of Kaffine and others suggests it hasn't been an effective tactic.
This study essentially has come to the same conclusion as the extensive study by Saurabh Bhargava and Vikram Pathania of Carnegie-Mellon University and the London School of Economics. These researchers studied a whopping 7 million instances of motorists driving while talking on their hand-held cellphones and concluded that there was no correlation between this activity and any increase in road accidents.
Of course texting while driving is definitely dangerous because it involves taking one's eyes off the road to type in the messages or even to read received messages, but talking on a hand-held mobile phone and driving is no more dangerous than scratching one's head and talking to a passenger at the same time. Steering with one hand is not dangerous and in fact most pilots fly their aircraft with just one hand on the control yoke or joystick. Of course if it was dangerous to steer a car with one hand, no arm amputee would ever get a driver's licence.
The truth is that motorists holding mobile phones and driving are the easiest targets of all for police to book and to raise all that revenue for state governments. Like the revenue from speed and red light cameras, along with the entrapment by police to book motorists, the mobile phone fine revenue is very important to government budgets and that is why they have made this activity illegal.
Driving while holding a mobile phone is no more dangerous than driving and smoking a cigarette. But just like governments refusing to ban tobacco products, despite knowing that they kill up to 20,000 people every year, governments will not actually do anything about preventing drivers using hand-held mobile phones by mandating phone jammers in cars because it's such a nice revenue-earner for them.
As usual, CARR advises all motorists to use Bluetooth hands-free devices for their mobile phones when driving. These are very inexpensive and effective. Even better is for motorists to purchase their next vehicle with integrated Bluetooth or retrofit Bluetooth-equipped car radios to their existing cars. These are very cheap nowadays and are the neatest solution. But fines for driving and holding mobile phones are so easily avoided that it is staggering that anybody is booked for such offences these days.
Thanks to Santo Calabrese for this item.
22 July 2014 - A Brisbane nurse was hit with a $113 fine by a zealous parking inspector for parking in her own driveway. She was nabbed in the dead of night on a quiet suburban street. Rachael Cook accused Brisbane City Council of blatant revenue raising after she was fined for parking on her own driveway at 1.30am. Her $113 fine, issued while she was sleeping, was among four infringement notices handed out to residents of Farrington Street Alderley for the same offence.
"The fine is just ridiculous. This is a quiet suburban area and there's not even a footpath to warrant a worry," Cook said. "Why would there be an inspector in this area at that time? It's not West End, it's not South Bank or the City or Fortitude Valley."
A Brisbane City Council (BCC) spokeswoman said that council had received two parking complaints in relation to Farrington Street. She said that state laws only permit a car to stop on a driveway to drop off passengers. The driver must remain with the vehicle for a maximum of two minutes.
BCC Opposition Leader Councillor Milton Dick, who has appealed the fine on Ms Cook's behalf, said it was ridiculous that inspectors were walking suburban streets in the dead of night. "The Lord Mayor has set a revenue target of $47.5 million from parking meters and parking fines this year and it's examples like this that make people think council is just revenue raising."
BCC lifestyle chairwoman Councillor Krista Adams said that parking inspectors could be dispatched 24/7 to respond to complaints, particularly where there was an immediate safety risk to pedestrians or other road users. She said that BCC enforced parking laws under the Queensland Government's Transport Operations (Road Use Management - Road Rules) Regulation 2009.
"It has long been illegal for vehicles to park on the footway or driveway, regardless of whether or not there is a path, and given the serious safety issues caused by this illegal behaviour, there's really no excuse for not knowing the law," she said.
Councillor Dick said that BCC was undertaking a review of parking and he was organising a series of public meetings so that people could have their say about what should be done to fix Brisbane's parking problems.
Apart from this booking being a sheer act of bastardry by the Brisbane City Council and its parking ranger, it is more than apparent that this council has embarked on a program of revenue-raising from fines. Why the hell would the Lord Mayor set a target $47.5 million from parking meters and parking fines if she wasn't chasing the revenue and deploying rangers to book anybody and everybody in order to reach that projected target? This is beyond obscene.
Firstly, the law about parking in driveways needs to be scrapped. People should be entitled to park in their own driveways and the only time that council rangers ought to have the power to book somebody is if they have parked in somebody else's driveway and there was a complaint made. Secondly, the council should be taken to task for setting revenue targets from infringements, because these penalties are to deter offenders, not use them as cash cows.
It is time that all councils stopped relying on revenue from fines, just as state governments should stop relying on revenue from infringements. State governments make all the right noises about deterring speeding and other traffic offences, but the reality is that they want motorists to speed and run red lights, so that they can be booked and fill the government's coffers. Governments have become so reliant on revenue from traffic infringements that if everybody avoided being booked for just one month, those governments would collapse financially.
But it's so easy to avoid being a cash cow and being ripped off. If you don't want to be booked by cameras, use a GPS with camera warnings that will alert you of cameras BEFORE you get to them. If you don't want to be booked for talking on a mobile phone, buy a Bluetooth car device and a cheap phone cradle. If you don't want to be "verballed" for speeding by a cop with a speed gun, get a car black box recorder that will prove that you were driving at or below the speed limit. If you get pulled over by a cop, say nothing at all, just video record him as evidence.
If you take active measures to protect yourself against this disgraceful money grab, spend the money and get the equipment that will save you from it. CARR has heard all the stories about wrongful bookings and in every case, the motorists did not take any active measures to protect themselves. There's an old saying - God helps those who help themselves. If you don't take active measures to avoid being booked, you will just become another victim if you get booked.
17 July 2014 - A test by Drive magazine has shown that 93% of new car speedometers were inaccurate. A five-month study of 60 new vehicles ranging in price from $14,490 to $441,300 showed that most speedometers measured over the posted limit by an average of 5km/h at 100km/h, well within the Australian Design Rule parameters.
The difference in readings, as much as 6% at 100km/h, partially explains the difference in driving speeds on some freeways. It is particularly noticeable on heavily policed sections of road, where tailgating can be rife as frustrated drivers either urge others to speed up or are afraid to inch over what their vehicle's speedometer is displaying.
The Drive test was undertaken using a satellite phone application on the same flat stretch of road, with the device mounted securely in a cradle. Sitting on 100km/h with the cruise control activated, testers monitored the true speed of the application over a period of about 60 seconds, comparing it with a vehicle's indicated speed. The application reading was then compared to an industry-certified GPS performance meter, to ensure absolute accuracy.
The worst culprits for inaccuracy were the Nissan Juke, Toyota Kluger, Alfa Romeo MiTo and Jeep Wrangler, all 6km/h off. The most inaccurate reading ever obtained by Drive was in a Nissan Patrol, which was out by 11km/h. Luxury cars fared better in the testing than regular passenger cars, usually within 2km/h of the true speed.
All cars fell within the parameters of the Australian Design Rule that requires that the speedometer must not indicate a speed less than the vehicle's true speed or a speed greater than the vehicle's true speed by an amount of more than 10% plus 4km/h. For instance, with the speedometer displaying 100km/h the vehicle must be travelling between 87.3km/h and 100km/h. This gives the perception that drivers are travelling faster than what they really are, or exactly at the limit.
The biggest fluctuations in speed readings usually come from tyre wear, pressure and tread depth, as well as calibration of the speedometer. The difference between a new and worn set of tyres usually equates to about 3km/h at 100km/h, as the car will actually be travelling slightly slower for the same reading on worn tyres.
All those tests were performed on new or near-new vehicles with unworn tyres. But how do speedometers perform on older cars with different-sized tyres to the original ones that came with those vehicles? The chances are that many of those speedometers will be reading slower than the actual speed of those vehicles at the time. This is where the ludicrously low tolerances of speed applied by Victorian cops when booking drivers is so unfair, among other factors.
The speed measuring devices used by police also have errors of tolerance, apart from the fact that none of them have been certified as measuring devices complying with the federal Weights and Measurements Act. Therefore any motorist who is booked for speeding, either by a cop holding a radar or laser speed gun, or by a speed camera, should always contest the fine in court, subpoenaeing the operations manuals for the particular devices that were used to book them and pointing out to the magistrate all the errors listed, as well as demanding that the infringements be thrown out because those devices did not comply with certification under the relevant Act.
15 July 2014 - The Federal Government says that it is closely considering charging drivers per kilometre they travel in order to pay for roads. A final report into infrastructure by the Productivity Commission has recommended pilot technical studies of how cars and light vehicles might be charged. It recommends adopting telematics, which can monitor a vehicle's location and movements in real time.
The report states, "The application of a charging mechanism created by rapidly changing communications technology appears promising. Importantly, these trials would introduce direct user charges as a substitute for other taxes, such as the fuel excise." The report suggests each state and territory hold its own road fund to pay for new roads, upgrades and maintenance. States and territories would be best placed to decide where money needed to be spent.
Despite Prime Minister Tony Abbott saying in March 2014 that road-user charging was unlikely to ever be adopted by any government, Assistant Infrastructure Minister Jamie Briggs said that the Government was considering all aspects of the report. Noting the majority of recommendations were relevant to state governments, Briggs said that the Government would consult with them before releasing its formal response.
Briggs stated that issues relating to road-user charging would be considered as part of the Federal Government's broader reform agenda. "There are already a number of initiatives on user charging already under way," Briggs said. That included consultation with motoring clubs and industry bodies on potential road-user charge models. The fuel excise is due to rise twice yearly under a Budget proposal, but legislation has not yet passed Parliament.
If there is one thing that is virtually guaranteed, it is that when governments say that something that has the potential to raise revenue is unlikely to be adopted, you can bet that the government will adopt it. About the only time that governments do not adopt revenue-raising strategies is if they are political suicide, but some politicians, like the liar Julia Gillard and her carbon tax do not seem to be deterred from trying to rip us off. So when Tony Abbott says that something is unlikely, in fact it is most likely to be adopted, once the government figures out how to implement it at some stage.
The most insidious aspect of this charging by the kilometre idea is that cars will be able to be tracked everywhere they go and this is another Big Brother intrusion and violation of the privacy of motorists. Why the hell should the government ever be permitted to track our vehicles and thus whoever is driving them? What next? Forcibly implanting microchips into us to monitor our every movement? This car tracking concept should never be allowed to raise its ugly head.
Nevertheless, governments constantly scrabble for more revenue, instead of balancing their books by reducing their spending. If Australia cancelled its foreign aid program, this would mean that around $7 billion would be available for roads infrastructure and that would mean a reduction in fuel excise and enough money to build and maintain our roads. Charity begins at home and squandering taxpayer revenue on other nations is ludicrous when Australia needs the money for the benefit of its own citizens. Australia does not owe any other nation anything and taxpayer money should be spent on those who pay those taxes.
14 July 2014 - In the USA state of California, Napa's remaining red light traffic cameras will continue to operate through August 2014 while the Napa Police Department finishes a study on the equipment's pros and cons. The Napa City Council voted to extend its contract with Australia-based camera operator Redflex Traffic Systems and its Arizona subsidiary on a month-to-month basis through the summer, while the department wraps its analysis. This is the second contract extension granted by the City Council. The first was a one-year extension approved in June 2013.
"We are looking at expanded data," said Napa Police Chief Richard Melton. "First off, we wanted to see collisions at the intersections that have these cameras, both before and after they were installed. I think the data will show some pretty positive results. Secondly, Redflex has had some issues over the past few years and we need to make sure we are doing our due diligence on the contract."
The problems Melton referred to stem from allegations of bribery and corruption among the company's former leaders. In January 2014, a fired Redflex executive named Aaron Rosenberg filed a civil defamation claim against Redflex, accusing the company of firing him to hide a tradition of bribing government officials. Redflex eventually lost its largest American contract with the city of Chicago, which the company said could cost it about $17 million in revenue. Other towns across the country have abandoned Redflex as well, including cities in Arizona, Louisiana and California. The nearby city of San Rafael in Marin County cancelled its Redflex contract in March 2014.
Despite the company's issues, Napa Police Capt. Jeff Troendly said that Redflex officials met with the department and assured city officials that the issues were regionally isolated to the Midwest and East Coast states. "Anytime an accusation of illegal acts comes up, it brings great concern to us," Troendly said. "But it's our understanding that the company took steps to safeguard against future corruption and bribery. Their assurances put us at greater ease."
Troendly also pointed out that Redflex's legal issues came about when executives were signing up new accounts, not dealing with existing ones. "But we're always open to looking at the possibility of another vendor, if the City Council wants us to," he said. "At this point though, our main goal is to figure out if the cameras are increasing safety and are financially self-sustaining."
Mayor Jill Techel, who voted against the contract, renewed her objection to the use of red light cameras, which she originally lobbied against in 2008 when the city was first exploring the technology. Her opposition has always been that the nearly $500 tickets charged to violators are exorbitantly high fines. The state sets the ticket price independent of local cities.
According to past reports prepared by the Police Department, the red light traffic cameras are proven to increase safety. The department's ongoing study, set to be released in August 2014, should present conclusive data to the council, as well as explain whether the program is financially sustainable. Troendly said the department hopes to present their findings to the City Council at the August 2014 meeting.
Napa Police Chief Richard Melton needs a reality check. He made an assumption that data from his local study will show positive results, in other words, a reduction of accidents at intersections where red light cameras have been deployed. Instead of making this unfounded comment, he should have merely studied all the independent reports that have proven beyond doubt that red light cameras increase accidents. However, like Australia state governments who ignore those reports and trot out fabricated statistics to bolster their false contention that red light cameras reduce accidents, any report in Napa that shows this needs to be examined with a very jaundiced eye, because it will fly against all global reports.
It is also obvious that the previous reports prepared by the Napa Police Department that allege that the red light traffic cameras are proven to increase safety are just a load of utter crap. Of course the police would like to see these red light cameras remain, because those devices save them having to do their job, which is maintaining a visible police presence on the roads to deter bad driving. Those reports were obviously made by vested interests and are thus completely worthless.
Of course a truly independent study of Napa's red light camera intersections will find that just like everywhere else in the world where these devices have been installed, the accident rate has increased. This will certainly not help Napa's budget, so those cameras will probably stay for a while longer until the people of Napa kick out their council and install one that is honest and refuses to continue to rip people off. As for the Napa police chief, he should be hunting for a new job.
Thanks to Klaus Luetjens for this item.
14 July 2014 - In the USA, the town of Riverside will turn off its red light cameras in September 2014, ending an eight-year program that lost money most of those years and aggravated a majority of residents. After several years of contentious public debate, in July 2014, the council to cancel the contract with Redflex Traffic Systems. Dumping the program will wipe out about US$450,000 in revenue that was anticipated in the 2014 budget.
Councilman Chris MacArthur stated, "I think the will of the people should take precedence over the desires of the bureaucracy. It's time once and for all to terminate this." In the Inland area, only Victorville and Cathedral City have red light cameras out of 10 cities that have tried them. Across California, more cities now have axed photo enforcement than continue to use it.
Riverside's red light camera program started in late 2006 and includes 18 cameras at 15 intersections, though four are not in use due to road construction. Until recently, the program ran in the red and it was in danger of being canceled in 2012 because of a projected $611,000 deficit. But officials reduced the number of cameras to cut costs and the city came out about $450,000 ahead in each of the past two years.
Supporters say that the cameras have reduced crashes and nudged drivers to be safer. Opponents counter that safety statistics are often misleading or inconclusive and that the roughly $500 ticket price is a hardship in tough economic times. The city may cancel its contract with Redflex without penalty by giving 60 days notice. The cameras will operate until then and any citations given out during that time would still be considered enforceable.
The same is happening in the town of Clive in the US state of Iowa. In July 2014, crews were working to remove red light cameras along intersections on Hickman Road. They were designed to catch people running red lights. The cameras had been in place since June 2006. Police said that officers will devote a significantly greater%age of their time to traffic enforcement duties, especially along Hickman Road.
Unlike Australia's state governments and their rapacious grabs for money ripped from motorists, the various authorities in the USA who oversee the installation of red light cameras actually listen to their citizens and understand that these revenue-raising devices actually do not reduce accidents. Every independent study in the world has shown this, yet the blatantly dishonest Australian state governments will not take them into account and remove these cameras, even though David Andreassen of Monash University proved beyond a shadow of doubt that red light cameras increased accidents at the intersections where they were installed by a whopping 40%.
There is a worldwide trend for speed and red light cameras to be removed, simply because they are proven to be completely ineffective at preventing accidents and fatalities. In fact in Australia, it is obvious that governments rely so much on fines generated by these machines, that they really do want motorists to speed and to rip through intersections on amber and red lights, in order to bolster their coffers with the revenue from them. This is a disgrace, where governments are happy to condone road fatalities in order to raise money, but then again, they are taking a leaf out of the conduct of the federal government that refuses to ban smoking because of the whopping taxes on tobacco products, despite the fact that it kills up to 20,000 people per year.
Those towns of Riverside and Clive in the USA must be congratulated for removig these rapacious cameras. This should be happening all over the world and in many places it is, but not in Australia. Raising money from entrapping motorists and hoping that they will speed and risk lives in intersections is utterly obscene and the state governments and the sleazy politicians who deliberately operate such policies should be thrown out on their ears.
Thanks to Klaus Luetjens for this item.
13 July 2014 - NSW Government data has revealed that motorists paid $408,000 a day in fines from speed and red light cameras during the past financial year. The State Government collected just under $150 million in revenue from traffic fines in the 2013-14 financial year, according to official figures. Data from the Office of State Revenue showed that May 2014 was the highest-generating month for fines from speed and red light cameras. During that month, $18 million was collected from motorists, which equates to $580,000 a day.
The Eastern Distributor camera is the busiest in New South Wales, generating the most money, followed by the Pacific Highway at Ewingsdale, Botany Road at Rosebery and Cleveland Street at Moore Park. Annual revenue from speed and red light cameras had doubled doubled in just four years.
The State Opposition said that in the past financial year, the NSW Liberal Government collected almost twice the amount of revenue from road cameras than Labor did in its last year of power, when $78 million was made in 2010-11.
"No one supports speeding and I recognise the need for red light and speed cameras in fixed locations for safety reasons, especially in school zones, but I do not support their use for blatant revenue raising," said Labor's roads spokesman Walt Secord. "Unfortunately, the State Government has built the foundation of its state budget on collecting fines. There is no other explanation for the explosion in revenue. In Opposition, the Liberals and Nationals promised to reduce the number of speed cameras, but in Government, they are seen as cash cows for Treasury," he said.
The unmitigated hypocrisy from politicians is literally mind-blowing. There was Labor's roads spokesman ranting about the NSW Liberal government's revenue-raising from speed and red light cameras, when it was his government that installed and operated most of them and used the money to boost its coffers. But here is this Walt Secord person bitching about the Liberals doing exactly what Labor did in the 16 years that it was in power. Hypocrisy and dishonesty by politicians is normal and not one of them can be trusted in any way.
But the revenue figures from these speed and red light cameras just shows how dependent the NSW government is on these funds. Have these cameras stopped people speeding? Of course not - that's the last thing that the government wants. If all motorists took the measures that CARR advocates and used cheap GPS receivers or inexpensive GPS smartphone applications with current camera warnings and avoided being booked, the government would earn nothing from those cameras and would be in deep financial trouble.
The statistics show that NSW motorists simply refuse to take such very simple active measures to completely negate this rip-off, so it is hard to feel sorry for them. However, all motorists should understand that many of these cameras are defective and all infringements should be contested in court, with defendants firstly refusing to nominate who was driving their vehicles at the time.
There is no law requiring motorists to sign any statutory declaration that is sent with an infringment notice. Because traffic offences are actually criminal offences, the prosecution has to prove beyond reasonable doubt who the driver of the vehicle in question was at the time of the infringement. Without any admission or declaration from vehicle owners and in the absence of an actual photo of the driver, that would be impossible to prove to the requirements of a criminal offence.
The government claims that it can "deem" the owner of a vehicle to be the driver of a car if he does not nominate another person, but that does not satisfy the burden of proof for a criminal offence. It is like the government trying to deem the owner of a car to be the getaway driver of the vehicle used in a bank robbery if the owner makes no admissions. No court of law could possibly convict a person like that. In legal matters, absence of evidence is not admissible evidence.
Motorists can do a lot to prevent themselves being ripped off by these obscene revenue-raising cameras, but it seems that most of them keep getting booked to the tune of nearly $150 million in the 2013-2014 financial year. CARR does its best to teach motorists to avoid this blatant scam, but it's like the old saying - you can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink. That is why CARR refuses to waste its time giving personal advice to anybody who asks for assistance in fighting camera infringements and has not taken active measures to prevent being booked in the first place.
Victoria's two major political parties have rejected a call from police to consider lowering the drink driving limit. Police say that the legal blood alcohol limit should be lowered from 0.05 to 0.02 to reduce road deaths and trauma.Inspector Martin Boorman stated that drivers whose blood alcohol levels are 0.05 are twice as likely to be involved in road trauma, and a new limit of 0.02 would reduce fatalities. But Premier Denis Napthine said that such a change would have a negative impact on the hospitality sector and more research was needed.
CARR's position on the level of blood alcohol that is acceptable may infuriate many people, however the statistics show how deadly alcohol can be to motorists. The grim fact is that overall, 20% of all fatal accidents involve drink-driving. The comments of Denis Napthine are absolutely disgraceful, simply because he seems to consider that the impact on the hospitality sector is more important than saving lives. In any case, his claim that more research is needed is complete bullshit because there has been extensive research done for many years and the conclusions are all the same, that a large%age of road fatalities involve drink driving.
You can bet that Napthine and his cohorts in the government and even Victorian opposition politicians wouldn't dream of getting into an aircraft flown by a pilot with 0.05 blood alcohol level or even any blood alcohol level. The rule for pilots is - 8 hours from bottle to throttle - and flying aircraft is far safer than driving cars. There's a saying in the aviation business that the most dangerous thing about flying is the drive to the airport.
Again, the Victorian government has displayed its total disregard for the safety of its motorists, just to keep its cronies in the booze business in business. It is no different than the bullshit reasons for retaining speed and red light cameras when all independent studies show that they do not reduce accidents and are just revenue-raisers. It's even the same with the federal government that refuses to ban cigarettes when their own figures show that up to 20,000 people die from smoking every year. It's all about money taking precedence over lives and it's a thorough disgrace.
05 July 2014 - An American driver who just happens to be a judge has filed a lawsuit against the City of New York for a traffic camera ticket that he claimed was unjust. Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Geoffrey Wright filed his lawsuit in the same court. City attorneys said that they would review the suit upon receiving it.
Wright said that his family received a notice stating that a camera caught his car being driven in a Manhattan bus lane in October 2013. A bus-lane enforcement camera snapped Wright driving the 2005 Mazda that he co-owns with his 94-year-old mother Constance and issued a ticket for driving in the bus lane. Wright countered that the ticket mailed to his mother's home in December 2013 showed that he was not driving within the solid lines designating the bus lane, but within broken lanes where cars are allowed to turn right.
Wright later took his own photographs that he said backed him up. The photos were based on where certain street features were located in respect to his car. Wright contested the violation and appealed an administrative law judge's ruling against him. But when Wright requested an opportunity to testify and present evidence at a 13 January 2014 hearing, he was denied.
In court papers, Wright argued that the administrative judge refused to allow him to present photographic evidence proving that the city bus-lane camera was wrong. The suit charged that the administrative judge failed to perform a "legal duty to properly review evidence and issued a finding which was factually incorrect." Wright not only wants his ticket dismissed, he is demanding that an independent body investigate whether the appeals board conducts an objective, critical review of decisions made by administrative judges.
This is yet another example of why everybody should have GPS-equipped car black box recorders - not dashcams that just record video, but devices that log GPS-derived speed and position on a map, just like aircraft navigation systems. If that judge had the time and date-stamped recording from a car black box recorder, even that administrative law judge could not have made the ruling against him in the face of incontrovertible video evidence to show that he was not in the bus lane.
CARR constantly exhorts motorists to equip themselves with fairly inexpensive technology that literally guarantees that they have the means to not only beat traffic infringements, but not even be booked in the first place. A car black box recorder will prove that a motorist was complying with the law if he is wrongfully booked, but without such hard evidence, he stands very little chance of beating the infringement. A GPS receiver with speed and red light camera warnings as well as school zone warnings will alert motorists before they get to those revenue-raisers and they won't get booked in the first place.
Motorists have to learn to protect themselves and over the years, CARR has received a mountain of pleas for assistance in fighting traffic offences. However, it's almost impossible to beat the meat grinders that Australian states have established, which they laughingly call the traffic courts where the entire system is rigged to make it nearly impossible for motorists to beat wrongful bookings. But come to court with a time and date-stamped GPS-located video clip showing exactly that what you were doing was legal and you will wipe the floor with the prosecution and even have grounds to sue for damages.
Thanks to Joe Allen for this item.
03 July 2014 - Perth drivers are venting their rage about recently announced masssive hikes in road user penalties. These include a $1200 slug for an offence that previously didn't attract a fine or affect demerit points - altering number plates or fitting device that prevents effective identification.
Failure to wear a motorcycle helmet has jumped from a $100 penalty and three demerit points to a $550 fine and four demerit points. "It's just ridiculous," several radio callers stated. Others said that the penalty changes were blatant revenue raising.
But road safety minister Liza Harvey said they were designed to discourage unsafe driving behaviour, particularly those with the highest risk of causing crashes or injury. "Despite significant improvements in road safety since 2008, it is an unfortunate fact that Western Australia has one of the worst road safety records in the country," Harvey said. "We need to do everything we can to discourage unsafe driving behaviour, which is why penalties need to reflect how dangerous these driving offences are."
She singled out mobile phone use while driving, which now attracts a $400 fine and three demerit points, up from a $250 fine and three demerit points. The changes will apply from WA's Queen's Birthday public holiday in late September 2014.
Of course this is blatant revenue-raising. If Liza Harvey wanted to reduce preventable deaths in WA, she wouldn't be spouting on about road fatalities and accidents. In 2013, 86 people died in car accidents. However, in the same year 1200 died from smoking. So what is the bigger problem? Mitigating road deaths or mitigating smoking deaths? The grim facts show that nearly 14 times more people die from smoking in WA than do in road accidents.
It seems that the WA government is succumbing to the revenue-raising disease afflicting eastern state governments. They simply cannot resist slugging easy targets such as motorists and motorcycle riders. How many motorcycle riders would die if none of them wore helmets? Maybe four or five at the most. That's insignificant when compared to the 1200 deaths in a year from smoking, but the WA government does absolutely nothing about that disastrous statistic for the same reason - revenue from tobacco and GST go to the states, so they don't mind people killing themselves with cigarettes.
Unfortunately for the WA government, motorcycle helmets and driving are not addictive, so the revenue stream is non-existent, therefore traffic fines are used to gouge drivers and motorcycle riders. It's an utter disgrace and WA motorists ought to start screaming at the government for this rip-off and possibly field political candidates to stand against incumbent government politicians at the next election and hopefully win their seats from those incumbents.
15 June 2014 - A defiant Queensland pensioner has made a stand against electronic road tolls and so far, seems to be getting away with it. Self-proclaimed toll-buster Bob Jarvis has not paid a fee in three years despite making about 12 trips annually over Brisbane's Gateway Bridge. Jarvis, who wants to use coins, has sent refusals to every fine and demand notice from Queensland Motorways since July 2011 to the point they have stopped bothering him.
"They don't even send me them (bills and warnings) anymore," stated Jarvis, a former Noosa councillor. "The last notice I received was June last year and I've driven over the Gateway many times since then." Whether he's driving his wife Joy's Toyota Starlet or Peugeot 306 or his new Nissan Pathfinder, he has been getting away without even a letter.
While most motorists accepted the switch to electronic payment in 2009, self-confessed computer-illiterate Jarvis is adamant that he has a right to pay by gold and silver coins and would rather go to jail. He also refuses to hand over credit card details or pay at other designated locations that would divert his trip. His first fine in July 2011 was incurred as he approached the Gateway from the Sunshine Coast with a fistful of money, only to discover it was not a payment option.
Since then, he has badgered Queensland Motorways, Queensland Transport and the State Penalties Enforcement Registry (SPER) with handwritten letters outlining his constitutional right to pay with actual money at the location of the charge.
"I was willing to pay toll fees in gold and silver coin as per the Australian Constitution, chapter V, the states, section 115 ? 'A State shall not coin money, nor make anything but gold and silver coin a legal tender in payment of debts'," he quoted. "But the Queensland Motorways no longer have the facilities on the actual toll road for me to pay the toll in gold or silver coin."
In September 2012, Queensland Motorways dropped its court case against Jarvis for his outstanding fines, even though a hearing date was listed. However, he continued to receive new fines to which he responded with more letters repeating his position. The notices stopped in June 2013, even though Jarvis has made numerous trips to this day from his home in Noosa to the Gold Coast.
A Queensland Motorways spokesman would not comment on Jarvis's situation. He said that drivers had three days after a trip to fix an unpaid toll before extra fees were added. The first "unpaid toll notice" incurs a $7.71 fee before it rises to an extra $22.05 with a Notice of Demand. After 30 days, the problem is referred to SPER. The spokesman stated, "Once a Notice of Demand is referred to the State Penalty Enforcement Registry, Queensland Motorways has no further input in toll recovery process."
CARR has been telling motorists for many years that electronic toll collection can only happen with their consent. Most people don't realise that under the Australian Currency Act 1965, all transactions are to be made in Australian currency. Also, under various civil statutes, if a payment for something is offered and it is either refused or is not accepted, then the debt is forgiven. So in the case of tolls, if a motorist drives up to a toll road and there is nobody there to collect the toll in cash, legally the motorist is free to drive on that toll road without paying, as the toll road operator has abrogated his right to collect the toll by not being there to do so at the tolling point.
The other important issue is the way that unpaid tolls in Queensland are enforced by the State Penalties Enforcement Registry (SPER). The same happens in other states. What we have here is a government agency acting as a debt collector for private companies and this is wrong. All motorists who are booked on toll roads operated by private companies should always challenge the right of taxpayer-funded state agencies operating as debt collection thugs for private companies and penalising motorists for unpaid tolls by cancelling their licences. There should be a complete disconnect between states and private companies when it comes to incurring of debt. Private companies that claim that somebody owes them money have civil remedies available to them.
This is something that all motorists should do and have a template letter or even better, an email ready to fire back at either the toll road company or the state agency that is handed the job of recovering unpaid tolls. That letter or email should simply state that the motorist drove up to the toll road and the tolling point and was ready to pay the toll with "coin of the realm", the only acceptable form of payment under Australial law, yet there was no person there to accept it. Therefore under various civil statutes, the debt, as in the toll payment, was forgiven and the motorist was not liable to pay anything to anybody for driving on that toll road.
10 June 2014 - A speed camera that has dished out $1 million in fines has copped some pain in return after vandals set fire to it. The perpetrators are believed to have stood on two milk crates before hooking a burning tyre over the top of the camera at about 5:30am. Redfern Police and Roads and Maritime Services are investigating the incident, with an RMS spokesman saying they will be conducting a full assessment of damage. The event was captured on a CCTV camera mounted on traffic lights at the corner of McEvoy Street and Botany Road.
Office of State Revenue figures show that the camera has made $991,888 since it was installed in December 2010, with an average fine of $400 for each of the 2476 incidents. It raked in $403,872 in the 2013-2014 financial year, with all but $6972 coming from motorists running the red light. Locals defended the installation of the camera after a recent string of accidents. A three-year-old girl was killed at the intersection in 2007 when a truck ran her over. Her mother was injured.
That baloney from local residents defending this money-grabbing machine is stupid. No speed or red light camera has ever jumped out in front of a car or truck and prevented it from hitting and killing anybody. These locals say that there was a recent string of accidents at that location, presumably after that camera was installed. So did that camera prevent any of those accidents? Of course it didn't do anything of the sort. The government installed it, hoping that as many motorists as possible would be booked by it so as to fill the government's coffers.
The truth is that the government really wants as many people to speed and be booked as possible, simply because revenue from traffic infringements makes up a major proportion of the state's budget. In fact, former premier Barry O'Farrell even had the nerve to tell the truth for a change and call those fines a form of taxation, which proves what everybody knows. O'Farrell promised to remove those cameras because he considered them to be nothing but revenue-raisers, but as soon as he got into power and smelled the money flowing in from them, he quickly reneged on his promise - another lying scumbag politician, but what's new? They all lie.
The people who burned this speed camera are heroes and CARR applauds them for their act of civil disobedience. When governments act in unconscionable ways, such as entrapping motorists instead of properly enforcing the law by deterring speeders with a visible police presence, then the people have a right to fight back in any way against such scams. Obviously the people cannot trust politicians to keep their promises, such as the ones O'Farrell and his counterpart Ted Baillieu in Victoria made to remove those highway robber cameras, so the people have to take their own actions to redress such disgraceful ripoffs. We can only hope that these two heroes inspire more people to do the same as them and destroy as many of these ripoff cameras as possible.
Thanks to John Stead for this item.
14 March 2014 - A tiny Florida town is in trouble with the state, after its police department wrote a whopping 12,698 speeding tickets, despite holding jurisdiction over just 1,260 feet of road, just one-third of a kilometre. Hampton, the town of 477 is in the crosshairs of the state after taking in $419,624 in fines between 2011 and 2012, yet still ending each year with a big deficit in the city ledger.
Hampton is considered to be the most corrupt town in Florida, known all over the USA as an infamous speed trap, with one police officer for every 25 residents. State officials fear that at least $1 million in city revenue has gone to line the pockets of city workers. Barry Layne Moore, the town's elected mayor, is in jail awaiting trial for allegedly selling oxycodone, a restricted drug, to a cop for $20. An audit showed 31 potential city misdeeds, including a $132,000 bill at a convenience store next to city hall. Auditors were even told that some missing public records were "lost in the swamp".
The city keeps a bloated police force in order to continue pursuing what many say is its sole purpose: ticketing drivers as they drive through town. The town extended its city limits 1,260 feet down the width of a busy highway in order to lay claim to any and all traffic violations and their accompanying ticket fines in that spot. The sight of Hampton Police sitting alongside US Route 301 on lawn chairs and pointing their radar gun at passersby has become the norm on the outskirts of town. They became infamous for ticketing anyone and everyone they possibly could for even the tiniest of infractions and between 2010 and 2012 raked in an unbelievable $616,960 in fines.
The money allowed the Hampton police to upgrade their police cars to SUVs and check drivers' speed while wearing pricey riot gear. One such police officer became known by the nickname Rambo because of his swagger and the AR-15 rifle he wore while greeting vacationing speeders during traffic stops. "It became 'serve and collect' instead of 'serve and protect'.' Cash register justice," local Sheriff Gordon Smith stated. "Do y'all remember the old Dukes of Hazzard? Boss Hogg? They make Boss Hogg look like a Sunday school teacher."
"This town has struggled financially for years and years," said Jim Mitzel, the 50-year-old former mayor of the town. "But once we got Route 301, our chief went crazy." The town annexed the heavily patrolled route in the 1990s, installing a speed trap that dropped suddenly from 65 to 55 miles per hour. The town's police force increased from one to 17, with the county sheriff saying he was unsure if any of the new officers had training on radar guns. "The last couple of years were the worst," Mitzel said. "The police went after people like fresh meat. They pulled out in front of semis."
"I have said it before: It's something out of a Southern Gothic novel. You can't make this stuff up," stated State Senator Rob Bradley, who represents Hampton. "This town exists apparently just to write speeding tickets. Most people don't understand why it exists in the first place." Bradley continued, "This situation went on for so long and the mismanagement was so deep, we have to seriously consider abolishing the government." Unless the citizens can come up with a solution to the town's deep-seated problems with 30 days, dissolution looks to be Hampton's final fate.
What the police in that Florida town of Hampton are doing is literally the same as what the NSW government and its tax-collecting police are doing in Sydney. We know about these little American towns with redneck cops and the movie Rambo actually is closer to the truth than most Americans would like to admit and this town in Florida merely epitomises this.
But as far as entrapment goes, in the Sutherland area of Sydney, a major road with a speed limit of 70km/h suddenly reduces to 50km/h for no apparent reason. But of course there is a terrific reason for this, as far as the government is concerned. It gives police a golden opportunity to set up speed traps, where cops hide along the roadside and ping motorists with their notoriously inaccurate speed guns and hit them with infringements. There is no other valid reason for the sudden speed limit reduction. There are other places around the Sydney metropolitan area that suffer from the same situation.
Road conditions conducive to breaking the speed limit are deliberately set up in order to facilitate the ripping-off of motorists and this deliberate entrapment should be resisted at every step by active measures. Motorists travelling on the other side of the road who spot a police speed trap should always flash their headlights at oncoming motorists to warn them to slow down. Drivers with CB radios should broadcast the locations of all speed traps. Many of these sudden speed limit reduction areas have fixed speed cameras and these can easily be beaten by the use of GPS receivers with speed camera warnings.
Motorists have to fight this greedy gouging by government. The story of that Florida town may sound crazy, but motorists in Sydney are treated to the same sort of entrapment by revenue-raising cops and revenue-raising speed cameras. As for real entrapment, one only has to look back at the report of the cops driving unmarked cars on the Sydney-Newcastle Freeway, who darted out in front of motorcyclists, trying to annoy them into committing offences and then booking them. Those cops were caught by a motorcyclist who video recorded them, which is yet another good example of why every motorist should install and use a car black box recorder.
Thanks to Santo Calabrese for this item.
13 March 2014 - Motorists would be slugged with new tolls to drive on existing major highways under a plan being considered by the Abbott Government. Under a "user pays" model, road tolls would be treated in the same way as charges for electricity, telecommunications, gas and water. The recommendations were released in a draft Productivity Commission report. It argues that user charges should become the default option for funding roads. "User charges should be used to the fullest extent that they can be justified," the report states.
As part of a its proposed overhaul, the commission called for motorists to be hit with more tolls, arguing this was already the norm in paying for access to power. The commission argued that tolls, along with vehicle registration charges and fuel taxes, should be seen as a form of paying to use roads and the money should be set aside for future road upgrades. An existing plan to improve the process of charging heavy vehicles based on road usage should be expanded to cars and other light vehicles, the report said.
Pilot studies to extend tolling across existing road networks using new tracking technology would be funded by the federal government as part of the plan. A government regulator could either monitor the charges or set appropriate tolls to guard against unfair price hikes. Some government funding will still be needed for infrastructure, with the commission warning that public transport passenger numbers would plummet if ticket prices reflected the full cost.
This proposal has to be the most disgracefully rapacious attempt to rip-off motorists of all time. Those existing major highways have already been fully funded and paid for by taxpaying motorists who have been slugged with registration and other specific motoring charges and unjustified levies such as the luxury car tax, a massive%age in petrol excise and revenue from fines and other imposts, just to name a few. The current taxes and excise on fuel and other charges are there to pay for the upkeep of those paid-for freeways and major roads, but of course every government has misused this funding by squandering it on stupid failed projects and pork-barreling for elections.
The motorists of Australia already pay far too much in taxes excise and levies that if used for road infrastructure, would provide them with the best fully freeway system in the world. But of course state governments and the federal government have been reaping this revenue and not ploughing it back to benefit motorists. But as usual, governments see motorists as easy targets to rip off, because unlike all those sin taxes on smoking, drinkin alcohol and gambling that can be avoided, people need to drive to their jobs and use their cars for shopping, taking kids to school and other necessary activities.
So again, the hapless motorist is the subject of yet another proposed money grab. This should be resisted in every way possible. What is really needed in Australia is a Motorists Party that, unlike the existing large motoring organisations such as NRMA, RACV, RACQ, RAA, RACWA and others, actually stands against these unjustified money grabs and organises a political arm that will field candidates at elections.
There are around 14 million motorists in Australia. Even a small%age in every electorate voting for a Motorists Party candidate could unseat a Liberal, Labor, Greens or other candidate and get into parliament and start shredding all those rapacious rip-off ventures and prevent any more attacks on the pockets of motorists. We already pay too much tax as individuals, plus all those other motoring-based charges and fees, so this garbage has to be stopped.
12 March 2014 - Drivers illegally texting or using mobile phones may be photographed by police and their phones surrendered as evidence after a crash, under a NSW government plan to increase prosecution rates and improve road safety. The NSW government's response to the Staysafe inquiry into mobile phones and road safety comes as new data shows that police are issuing fewer fines. The Office of State Revenue says 2228 drivers were fined for mobile phone offences in August 2013, less than half the number fined in August 2012 (4522). In 2012-13, a total of 36,584 mobile phone fines were issued, down from 42,377 in the previous year, and 52,691 in 2010-11.
The police told the inquiry that the use of mobile phones by drivers involved in crashes was under-reported because they had no power under transport laws to compel drivers to surrender their phones. A phone could be seized only if there was evidence it was used at the exact time of the crash.
The government wants to make it easier for police to enforce penalties. ''Future legislative reform may be considered to allow photographic evidence from police operated cameras to be used for prosecution of mobile phone offences,'' it said in its response. ''The NSW Police Force will investigate various camera technologies that could be used to complement on-road enforcement offences of illegally using a mobile phone while driving.''
As usual, CARR again states that being fined for using a hand-held mobile phone while driving is the easiest offence for cops to see and the easiest infringement to avoid. It is simply astounding that so many motorists keep committing this offence, when a car cradle can be purchased for as little as $5 at a discount store and a Bluetooth hands-free car kit or earpiece is less than $30 in some places.
But this report merely proves yet again that governments are scrabbling to find more ways to penalise motorists by inventing new offences. When one sees phrases such as, "under a NSW government plan to increase prosecution rates", "new data shows that police are issuing fewer fines", "government wants to make it easier for police to enforce penalties" and other similar statements, we know that governments and their tax-collecting police force are simply out there to rip motorists off, not so much be concerned about safety.
As for police getting the power to seize mobile phones, this is where motorists need to protect themselves. CARR is not sure about Android and Windows OS phones, but the iPhone can be passcode protected. Once the phone is switched off or even put into sleep mode with the press of the OFF switch, more than 10 attempts at unlocking the phone by putting in the wrong passcode will lock the phone down and any attempt to start the phone up by bypassing the passcode will wipe all data from the phone.
And that is what every motorist needs to do now and do not leave this for another minute. He should set up his mobile phone with a passcode and ensure that if he is ordered to surrender it to police, that he immediately hits the OFF button first. Then when the cops try to turn the phone on and see that they require a passcode, the motorist should refuse to provide it. There is no law requiring citizens to even talk to police, let alone reveal confidential passwords or passcodes. Furthermore, if the cops try to enter more than 10 wrong passcodes and the phone locks and they wind up wiping all the data, it doesn't matter because the phone's owner can restore the data in minutes.
If the police don't try to access the phone by trying to guess the passcode and don't lock it down and the iPhone is returned to the owner, he can merely drive off and then punch in the correct passcode and his phone is back to normal. In the case of the iPhone that has been locked down by cops failing to guess the passcode more than 10 times, the backup on the iTunes software on the motorist's computer will restore his iPhone with all data in a matter of minutes when the iPhone is returned to the him. But if the iPhone is not returned, the motorist can merely go and obtain another iPhone and restore it with all data from his iTunes backup while the cops sit and stare at a locked-up iPhone that they cannot examine for alleged offences.
We all have the inherent right to not incriminate ourselves and giving police access to our phone data is no different than admitting details that may get us convicted of a crime. Being booked for holding a mobile phone while driving is utterly stupid when hands-free devices and car phone cradles are so cheap, but the fact that police may be able to seize mobile phones is very concerning and we all need to protect our data from scrutiny by strangers.
The evidence of governments trying to raise more revenue from motorists is incontrovertible and we have to fight this with every means at our disposal, but a gross invasion of our privacy by police examining the data and personal information on our mobile phones is unconscionable and we have to take all measures to prevent this from happening.
10 March 2014 - A veteran police officer has broken ranks to say that a tough new speed policy will turn people against the police force. Sergeant Phil Wild, who has been with Victoria Police for 42 years, said the push to book people for low-level speeding offences was a bad move. "The consequences of this flawed and unfair policy will be felt by the mostly law-abiding members of the motoring public, the mums and dads who are struggling to make ends meet. My junior members, the constables and senior constables at the front line of policing will also suffer when the respect and confidence of the public dries up," he stated.
Sergeant Wild said that there was near-unanimous community opposition to the policy and he could not argue with widespread opinion that it was about revenue raising. He said that vehicle speedometers were not calibrated to be 100% accurate and a driver drifting over the limit by a few kilometres an hour did not represent a significant safety threat. "Policing in this way would have the effect of turning the public away from the police and the ramifications of that would be horrendous for all. I took an oath to serve the people of Victoria. Nowhere in that oath did it say that I had the right to persecute the public or to encourage my junior members to do so," he said. Wild said that he accepted that he ran the risk of "consequences" for going public.
Victoria Police recently announced that officers had been instructed to start fining more motorists for low-level speeding offences. Assistant Commissioner Robert Hill said at the time that 15 deaths and 300 injuries could be prevented each year if drivers cut their average speed by 1km/h. Hill wanted to make low-level speeding as socially unacceptable as drink-driving. He stated, "Research indicates that 20% of our fatalities involve low level speeding." He said that police officers had discretion about when to apply the law but denied they had been instructed to fine drivers going 1 or 2km/h over the limit.
"A commonsense approach has always been encouraged," he said. "While we are disappointed at the comments made by the serving police officer, Victoria Police is committed to improving the safety of our roads for all members of the community."
(a) The instruction does not withstand public scrutiny:
I refer to pg40 of the Herald Sun of the 24th January where 18 of the 20 letters to the editor on that date provide totally negative feedback (the remaining two were unrelated). Radio talkback callers have been almost unanimous in their condemnation of the policy.
(b) The instruction is not ethical:
The reasons given for the implementation of this program are in my view, demonstrably wrong. Some of the conclusions reached as a result of "research" are questionable and cannot be properly measured. For example, it is claimed that if every driver on our roads were to lower their average speed by 1km/h, 15 lives would be saved every year. If the reasons given are wrong, then there must be another reason. The greater portion of the community appear to believe that the reason is revenue raising and I cannot disagree with that. For a government department such as Victoria Police to be used in such a way is unethical.
(c) The instruction is of questionable legality:
Much of our legislation, particularly the less serious summary offences were never intended to be policed to an absolute degree or at all times. There are many instances where police "turn a blind eye" to offences occurring in our immediate presence because of their trivial nature or because the circumstances in which they occur make rigid policing inappropriate. If this were not the case we would create a huge backlog in the courts as the majority of people "booked" would opt to take the matter before a magistrate who would, in most if not all cases, dismiss the charges as "trifling". Policing in this way would have the effect of turning the public away from the police and the ramifications of that would be horrendous for all.
(d) The instruction is unfair:
Vehicle speedometers, even in brand-new vehicles, are not calibrated to be 100% accurate. There have also been instances where speed measuring devices used by enforcement agencies have been shown to be inaccurate. Any driver, even the most prudent, can find his vehicle speed to have increased without his being aware of it simply by virtue of him coming to a slight dip in the road. He will correct his speed immediately upon becoming aware of the fact but may well have been photographed or clocked in that brief moment. That small increase in speed on a straight stretch of road over such a short period does not represent any significant threat to road safety. That, in my view is an irrefutable fact.
When I joined Victoria Police in 1972, I took an oath to serve the people of Victoria. Nowhere in that oath did it say that I had the right to persecute the public or to encourage my junior members to do so. I have written to Road Policing Command and expressed my concerns to them. In a series of emails and a face-to-face meeting with the Assistant Commissioner, I have outlined my views on the likely consequences of their policy and urged them to reconsider their position. I have also asked for their advice on what I can do about this matter. They have offered no advice other than to try to convince me that their actions are appropriate.
On January 29th I wrote, and hand delivered, to the Office of the Chief Commissioner (Ken Lay) a detailed letter in regard to this issue. I asked that he advise me as to what avenues are open to me, as I do not wish to retire at some time in the future knowing that I could have done something further to ward off a lessening of the community's respect and confidence in its police. The Chief Commissioner did not reply.
The consequences of this flawed and unfair policy will be felt by the mostly law-abiding members of the motoring public, the mums and dads who are struggling to make ends meet whilst feeding and educating their children and wondering whether they will still have a job when their employment contract expires in the next few months. They are not, however, the only ones who will suffer. My junior members, the constables and senior constables at the frontline of policing will also suffer when the respect and confidence of the public dries up.
As Chief Commissioner Lay has stated often enough, we (the police) need to have the public "on side". Otherwise, a very difficult job will perhaps become nigh on impossible. There is no doubt that compliance with this instruction will have the affect of swelling the government coffers and that in turn may enhance the promotional prospects of the programs authors and/or those who champion it. The long-term effects however will be sorely felt by the general public and our members alike.
The Victoria Police manual, under the section covering professional standards and conduct, lists the organisational values of the Force. Under the subheading 'Integrity' the manual advises us that we are, among other things:
(i) required to act with honesty, respecting the right of fair process for all;
(ii) demonstrate moral strength and courage; and,
(iii) behave with honour and impartiality.
In the absence of any meaningful instruction or advice from the hierarchy of my department, I see no other avenue open to me but to voice my concerns via this public forum.
Phil Wild, Sergeant 17312
Finally the Victorian Police Force has an honest copper who understands that he and his colleagues should be fair with the motoring public. The fact is that this new directive for Victorian Police is not only ridiculously stupid, but is also literally unenforceable. Any motorist who is booked for driving at 1 to 3km/h over the speed limit can bring into question the accuracy of the equipment used to measure his speed, which has a tolerance of accuracy of 5% or more, meaning that at 1 to 3km/h is within the error parameters of the device and cannot be relied upon. On top of that none of the speed measuring equipment used by any police force has been certified under the federal Weights and Measurements Act and therefore cannot legally be used as accurate measurement devices.
Then there is the accuracy of a car's speedometer, which is covered by the Australian Design Rules (ADR) and has an allowable degree of error. No magistrate would be crazy enough to uphold an infringement against a motorist who proves that if if the police radar gun that was used to book him had a degree of error of 5%, being 3km/h at 60km/h and the car's speedometer also had a degree of error of 5%, also being 3km/h at 60km/h, the motorist could assert with confidence that if he was booked driving at 65km/h, the combined degrees of errors of the speed gun and his speedometer meant that he could have been driving at 60km/h when that cop booked him for speeding.
Of course the real reason for this new and really stupid directive is just about revenue-raising. Nobody driving at 63km/h in a 60km/h zone is driving more dangerously than somebody driving at 60km/h, because the difference is negligible. What is highly dangerous is that Victorian motorists will now drive with their heads buried in their speedometers and cause even more accidents, putting a lie to the mealy-mouthed bullshit coming out of Assistant Commissioner Robert Hill.
Let's see this clown point out one single speed camera that has actually stopped somebody from speeding. Let's see him show us how red light cameras allegedly reduce accidents when literally every intersection that was fitted with these rapacious devices showed an increase in accidents worldwide. Let's see Assistant Commissioner Robert Hill explain how cops hiding in bushes and behind billboards with speed guns prevent speeding, when it is more than obvious that the one thing that is guaranteed to stop people speeding is a visible police presence on the roads.
It is an utter disgrace when Hill sends his cops out to set up speed traps and lie in wait for motorists, hoping that they will speed and get booked, rather than sending those cops on the road to show a visible presence and stop people speeding in the first place. Of course the difference is that the visible presence actually stops people speeding, but doesn't raise any revenue, but those speed traps are just a money-making ploy that work by entrapping motorists.
And when Hill comes out with statements like " 15 deaths and 300 injuries could be prevented each year if drivers cut their average speed by 1km/h", we know that this is utter bullshit. 1km/h is not even noticeable and CARR challenges Assistant Commissioner Robert Hill to drive a distance of one kilometre maintaining an accurate speed of 60km/h and then doing the same at 59km/h in an ordinary car. He couldn't do that in a million years, but that's what he expects Victorian motorists to do, or he will book them if they exceed the limit by such a minuscule amount.
CARR commends Sergeant Phil Wild for having the backbone to reveal this travesty. CARR is thoroughly disgusted at Assistant Commissioner Robert Hill for being a party to this disgraceful new directive, because we all know that it's just about revenue-raising and ripping off the motorist. Any motorist who is booked at a speed within 5% over the speed limit anywhere should fight the matter in court and if he proves that the combined inaccuracy of the speed gun and his speedometer are at the known tolerance, he should win handsomely. Then he should sue the bastards who booked him for damages.
Thanks to John Vance for this item.
08 March 2014 - A Queensland Police officer was hit by a utility vehicle while conducting traffic operations on the Gold Coast. The male sergeant suffered minor leg injuries after being struck by the vehicle during radar operations on the M1 motorway at Pimpama about 7.30am on Saturday 08 March 2014. He was taken to hospital for treatment. The driver, a 21-year-old man, wasn't injured and is assisting police with their investigations.
CARR has no sympathy for cops who attract the wrath of victimised motorists and are attacked when they are operating radar traps and acting as tax collectors for the government. CARR is not saying that this happened in this particular instance, but if a motorist decides that he has had enough of being a victim and mows down a cop operating a speed trap, most people wouldn't shed a tear.
Why wasn't that Queensland cop driving his highly marked police car up and down the M1 motorway and deterring motorists from speeding? The answer is very obvious. He was manning a radar trap because he was entrapping and booking motorists who were driving over the speed limit in order to raise revenue.
Cops could stop motorists from speeding merely by maintaining a visible presence on the road, but instead, they lurk behind bushes and billboards with their radar and laser speed guns and hope that motorists speed so that they can rip money from them, instead of properly doing their jobs and preventing those offences occurring in the first place.
Very few motorists would feel sorry for any cop who is injured or killed when he is engaged in entrapping or enticing motorists to speed so that he can hit them with expensive infringements. Cops should not be doing this because it's immoral and repugnant. It's no different when we cheer when an irate motorist ploughs into a speed camera or enraged victims set fire to those revenue-raisers. We have a right to exercise legitimate civil disobedience to fight back against despicable government rip-off tactics.
04 March 2014 - Motorists who fail to register their car now face fines of up to $2500, the highest in the nation. The combined fine for driving an unregistered and uninsured car has jumped from $954 to $2500. The Royal Automobile Association (RAA) and the state's peak welfare group are lobbying the Government to reconsider the hike because it says the existing penalty is a sufficient deterrent.
RAA road safety manager Charles Mountain stated, "We also believe the increasing number of safety cameras creates a much greater chance of people being caught and this also acts as a deterrent. Really the new fines are way in excess of the crime. Our argument is the fines are already substantial and a lot of money to pay, especially in those cases where the car is unregistered due to an oversight."
The fines changes are:
The penalty increase is the most significant change to registration regulations since the Government abolished registration stickers in July 2011 as a money-saving initiative. Attorney General John Rau said that the increase was timed to coincided with a new fine enforcement unit tasked with clawing back millions in unpaid penalties. The South Australian Centre for Economic Studies stated that South Australia had a reliance on heavy traffic penalties, indicating an overly strong preference for revenue-raising in the pursuit of greater road safety.
Firstly, the comments from the RAA Safety Manager Charles Mountain about "safety cameras" shows how completely out of touch the mainstream motoring organisations are and how they fail to take governments to task in regard to these revenue-raisers. What the hell do speed and red light cameras have to do with safety, when they cannot prevent accidents? All speed cameras do is take happy snaps of speeders going by on their way to major accidents, but the cameras don't stop those accidents from occurring, nor do they stop those motorists from speeding at the time.
As for red light cameras, hard statistics from all over the world, including the massive 10-year study of these devices by David Andreassen of Monash University has proven beyond any shadow of doubt that these cameras actually increase accident rates at intersections, often up to 40% and more. So how the hell can anybody call these things "safety cameras" and completely disregard the facts about them? This is why RAA, NRMA, RACV, RACQ and other mainstream motoring organisations need to fight against these insidious cameras in support of motorists who are being used as cash cows for cash-strapped governments.
Secondly, it is interesting to see the comments from the South Australian Centre for Economic Studies, which stated that South Australia had a reliance on heavy traffic penalties, indicating an overly strong preference for revenue-raising in the pursuit of greater road safety. That is only half-true. Yes, South Australia had a reliance on revenue-raising heavy traffic penalties, but not in pursuit of greater road safety. Far from it.
The truth is that the last thing that the South Australian government wants to see is less speeding, less red light running at intersections and less traffic offences, because that would have a drastic impact on the revenue that this government reaps from infringements. This is why the government deploys those cameras, knowing that not one of them will prevent speeding, but they sure will raise some money for government coffers. It's the same reason why no government will ban smoking and the sale and use of tobacco products, because the revenue from this toxic substance far outweighs any safety and health considerations.
However, it is easy for motorists to avoid being booked for driving unregistered cars. Most people these days have mobile phones with reminder features. All that motorists need to do is to put reminders with alarms into their mobile phones to alert them two weeks before their car registrations expire, to give them plenty of time to renew those registrations. It's that simple. Or if they really miss those defunct registration stickers, they can attach a sticky label to the corner of their windscreens with the registration renewal date on it. Taking such simple measures will ensure that not one cent of revenue from those preposterous fines get into the coffers of the South Australian government.
Thanks to John Vance for this item
04 March 2014 - Four men died in separate accidents on South Australian roads on the weekend of 02-03 March 2014, including a driver who ploughed into five pedestrians before hitting a tree. South Australian Police Superintendent Bob Fauser said that speed was a factor in each accident and drink-driving was possibly involved in two. Each fatality involved a male driver - one was on a motorcycle - colliding with a tree.
On Sunday night, 03 March 2014, a 32-year-old driver died in Adelaide after his car hit the pedestrians, injuring four of them, and then a tree. Superintendent Fauser said that the driver was disqualified, adding, "We can just consider ourselves lucky that these pedestrians weren't killed".
The statements and conclusions of South Australian Police Superintendent Bob Fauser in these matters are so ridiculously fallacious that it is beyond belief, but this is what is wrong with the way accidents are handled in Australia. Firstly, speed does not cause accidents. Speed is just an intangible measure of velocity and doesn't cause anything. Speed doesn't kill. What does kill is motorists who drive beyond the safe capability of the road and their own skill.
But to really show the utter stupidity and illogic of the "Speed Kills" mantra, every one of these accidents involved a male driver colliding with a tree. So maybe driving too fast was a factor, but the absolute common factor of each accident was a tree. So obviously using the same logic from Superintendent Fauser, instead of saying that "Speed Kills", we should be saying "Trees Kill" and that they are dangerous and all of them should be removed in order to protect motorists.
Then there is the aspect of drink-driving, where Australian state governments refuse to mandate a zero-alcohol limit for motorists. Pilots are not permitted to drink alcohol 8 hours before flying and aviation is far safer than motoring, especially with the level of automation and safety features in modern airliners, so why the hell are motorists legally permitted to drive immediately after consuming strong alcoholic drinks that will impair their reflexes and judgement?
It is more than obvious in these four accidents that they were a result of drivers who operated their cars beyond their abilities and who may have been drunk or impaired by alcohol. None of this has anything to do with speed. But as each of these fatalities involved trees, we can come to the firm conclusion that trees anywhere in the vicinity of roads are a menace and should be removed forthwith. Will that happen? Of course not, because it's politically incorrect and the greenie tree-huggers will be offended.
02 March 2014 - A NSW man was caught drink driving three times in 30 hours. The first reading was taken on Saturday 01 March 2014 after he drove to Toronto police station on to collect his 19-year-old daughter, who had herself been caught drink driving. The 37-year-old returned a blood alcohol reading of 0.192 and had his provisional licence suspended.
At lunchtime on the same day, he received another high-range drink driving charge after blowing 0.190. Then 10 hours later, he lost control of his car and drove down the wrong side of the road. He was breath tested again and returned a reading of 0.159 and received his third high-range drink driving charge. The man will face Toronto Local Court later in March 2014.
This idiot is a menace to everybody in his vicinity on the roads. If NSW had proper laws and did not pander to the alcohol industry, we would have zero-alcohol laws, just like the aviation laws that prohibit pilots from consuming alchohol at least eight hours before flying. But like the revenue from smoking, despite the fact that this dangerous and addictive habit kills more than 15,000 people every year, the government will not introduce laws that will really stop people drinking booze and driving.
Alcohol is one of the major contributors to road accidents and deaths, yet people are still allowed to drive with a certain amount of alcohol in their systems and this is so wrong. If pilots are not allowed to fly with alcohol in their blood, then motorists who are in a far more dangerous situation on the roads should be constrained in the same way. And that fool who was caught three times in one day driving with alcohol in his blood should be banned from driving for life, not just for this, but for being an irresponsible and dangerous idiot. You cannot cure "STUPID".
01 March 2014 - For many years, professionals within the USA criminal justice system have acted upon the belief that driving a motor vehicle upon public roads was a privilege that was gained by citizens only after approval by their respective state government in the form of the issuance of permits or licences to that particular individual. Legislators, police officers and court officials are becoming aware that there are now court decisions that prove the fallacy of the legal opinion that driving is a privilege and therefore requires government approval such as a licence. Some of these cases are:
These court decisions affirm that American citizens do indeed have the inalienable right to use the roadways unrestricted in any manner, as long as they are not damaging or violating the property or rights of another. In requiring the people to apply and obtain drivers licences, vehicle registrations, mandatory insurance and demanding they stop for vehicle inspections, breath tests, roadblocks and other obstructions without question, are restricting and therefore violating the common law right of people to travel.
Unfortunately, the people of Australia do not have a constitution that really protects their basic rights in the same way as the US Constitution and the first 10 Amendments which are known as the Bill Of Rights. However, it could be argued that Australians do have certain Common Law rights that supersede any statutes that mandate them having to obtain driver's licences to be permitted to drive on public roads.
Common law has been recognised for centuries in Westminster justice systems, however Australian governments and the judiciary have mostly trampled on those very important rights by passing laws that restrict citizens from exercising them. The right to travel on public roads without having to obtain permission from governments should be one of those common law rights that should be recognised without question.
28 February 2014 - Australian toll road company Transurban has lost US$51 million in the first year of operation of its underperforming toll road in Virginia. Located just outside Washington DC, US state and federal authorities poured hundreds of millions in taxpayer funds on what was supposed to be a showcase for public-private partnership innovation. Transurban charges up to $10 for a short 13-mile trip high occupancy toll (HOT) lanes on the Capitol Beltway, a proposition that far fewer motorists than expected have found worthwhile.
Although Transurban collects an average of US$64,000 per day from drivers, this amount is well below projections. Transurban unsuccessfully attempted to draw extra traffic to the pay lanes by holding down the speed limit in the general purpose lanes with a non-compete clause in its contract with the Virginia Department of Transportation. The idea was to lure customers with the chance of legally driving 10mph faster by paying a toll. In total, the 495 project lost US$51.6 million in 2013.
Seeing Transurban lose this much money in just one year on one road is terrific news.Transurban deliberately held down the speed limit in the regular lanes of this toll road in order to try and coerce motorists into paying a higher toll to use the higher-speed lanes. This is more or less what happened in Sydney when the once-excellent three-lanes per direction Epping Road in Lane Cove was narrowed to just one lane per direction, in order to coerce motorists to use the Lane Cove Tunnel toll road. Hopefully the motorists around Washington DC will not succumb to the same disgraceful scam as Sydney motorists suffered.
CARR's position is that motorists pay more than enough in fees and charges to deserve a top-class network of free roads and governments of nations such as Australia and the USA have an obligation to provide those roads as normal infrastructure and not allow toll roads to exist. Unfortunately motorists don't seem to get much say in these matters, as governments collude and conspire with toll road operators such as Transurban to allow them to impose onerous and scammy conditions on those toll roads.
But we motorists have the ultimate weapon in our arsenal to beat these bastards - the power of the boycott. Any motorist who objects to this gouging can simply deny those toll road operators the revenue simply by boycotting the toll roads and using free roads. If every motorist did this, the entire toll road system would collapse on the spot and governments would be forced to provide good networks of free roads from the revenue that we motorists already give them in all those charges we pay each year.
So CARR again advises all motorists to boycott all toll roads. It's easy to do. Just use inexpensive GPS and select the "Avoid Toll Roads" option and the GPS will guide you to your destination on free roads and save a considerable amount of money. For instance, a return trip on toll roads from Castle Hill in Sydney to Sydney Airport costs around $25, all to save around 6 minutes each way in time. The fuel for the average medium-sized car on this trip is around $12. So the tolls for this trip are more than double than the cost of the petrol used. It's an utter disgrace and a monstrous rip-off that is easily avoided.
Thanks to John Vance for this item.
23 February 2014 - Speed cameras will be switched on at three of Melbourne's busiest intersections in the next two weeks. Police said that the fixed cameras are in 40km/h speed zones at the intersections of Flinders and Williams Streets and Exhibition and Victoria Streets in the CBD and Fitzroy Street and Lakeside Drive in St Kilda. The cameras were switched off in 2012 to give motorists time to adjust to reduced speed limits. They will be turned on again some time in the next two weeks. Signs will warn drivers of the changes.
Road Policing Superintendent Kevin Sheridan said that he hoped the new cameras would discourage drivers from speeding in areas with large numbers of pedestrians and cyclists. "We encourage everyone to be responsible on the roads and to drive within the required speed limits. The 40km/h speed signs are not advisory ? they are the law and if you speed, you will get caught," he stated.
These cameras at the intersections of Flinders and Williams Streets and Exhibition and Victoria Streets in the CBD have absolutely nothing to do with safety, but everything to do with revenue-raising. The Victorian government deliberately imposes unrealistic low speed limits in certain areas to annoy motorists, then installs speed cameras to book those frustrated motorists. The crazy thing is that there has never been a safety issue at these intersections.
Nobody ever had a problem at those spots when the speed limit was 60km/h, but it is obvious that the Victorian government hunted around for a few more places to place their taxation machines and found these two intersections were good candidates for some gouging, even though there were no safety problems in those areas. It's another despicable money grab by the government.
Victorians need to rally together at the next election to run candidates against any politician who will not give an ironclad binding guarantee in writing that he will remove all these disgusting machines from their roads. One of the best methods is to confront politicians at their public appearances and embarrass them by challenging them to name just one speed camera that has saved one life or prevented one accident. Of course they will never be able to do this.
Thanks to Adrian Clarke for this item.
21 January 2014 - The introduction of a pay-by-phone parking system in Melbourne is expected to cut the council's fine revenue by as much as $900,000 a year. The new Payzone system, imported from Ireland, will let motorists pay for on-street parking at the City of Melbourne's 12,000 parking bays via a smartphone app, under a proposal to go before the council. A trial of similar pay-by-phone technology has been running in Carlton since 2011.
Motorists who use the service register their details and are charged via credit card. They receive a text message reminder 15 minutes before their parking limit expires and do not have to display a ticket on their car. According to a council report, the new technology could lead to a reduction in fine revenue of about $900,000 a year. The rollout of the pay-by-phone parking system will cost the council $890,000 over three years, but this is expected to be offset by $460,000 saved in maintenance when hundreds of old parking meters are removed.
It is hard to see how any council would forgo this sort of revenue, even though the reduction in meter maintenance would offset it by a considerable amount. One can only imagine that parking fees will go up to cover any shortfall in revenue, as councils these days are so reliant on income from fines and parking fees to bolster their budgets.
But why would any motorist want to pay parking fees anyway, considering that by rights, the paying of car registration fees should confer the right to park one's car on any street that is funded and owned by the taxpayer? The whole paying for parking system is wrong and unfair, but the best way to protest against this is to use the power of the boycott and never park at metered parking places.
Boycotting metered street parking denies these rapacious councils revenue and completely eliminates any risk of being booked. One can always go shopping at places that do not charge for parking, such as shopping centres and some suburban commercial areas. It's easy to do and CARR always prefers to see motorists keep their money in their pockets instead of forking it out to governments. We already pay too much in tax.
14 January 2014 - NSW road safety officials claim that texting, surfing the internet or talking on the phone while driving is now one of the top five causes of fatalities on NSW roads, along with speeding, fatigue and drink driving. The use of phones while driving has overtaken people not wearing seatbelts as one of the major causes of fatal car accidents, said Marg Prendergast, general manager of the NSW Centre for Road Safety, but the difficulty of collecting conclusive data about the role of distractions meant such accidents were under-reported.
"The problem is that people are addicted to their phones," Prendergast said. "The key message that people need to understand is: no phone call, no message, no song is worth risking your life or somebody else's. I just don't think people get that yet. This is our mission for the next decade ? to highlight the dangers and get people to adjust their behaviour." Prendergast said that speeding represented 42% of all road fatalities, the most prevalent of all causes.
The warning came after NSW Police issued nearly 1000 fines in one day in February for phone use while driving, with one woman getting caught twice. The 29-year-old driver was first fined at 11am for allegedly talking on the phone and was stopped again 25 minutes later by a different police car. She lost three demerit points on each infringement notice and was fined a total of $608.
NSW police stated that such examples showed that people were ignoring safety messages about the use of phones when behind the wheel. "You would think that by now, every driver in NSW would be aware of the dangers and laws relating to talking, texting, online chatting or web browsing on a phone while driving," said Assistant Commissioner John Hartley, the NSW Police Traffic and Highway Patrol Commander.
More than a third of the 1000 fines were issued to drivers in Sydney's Central Metropolitan Region, which stretches from the CBD through the eastern suburbs and down to Sutherland. This was followed by drivers in the North West Metro with 173 fines, South West Metro, 110, Northern NSW, 85, Southern, 58, and Western NSW, 39. From July 2013 to January 2014, more than 20,800 mobile phone infringements were issued.
Professor Mike Regan, applied experimental psychologist at the UNSW Transport and Road Safety Centre, said that the high number of fines indicated that drivers need more education about the dangers of using phones. While he believes that safety messages such as the "Get your hand off it" campaign were getting through to people, drivers were simply finding ways to get away with the offence.
Regan stated, "The laws, it seems, are reasonably effective in targeting the sources of visual manual distraction, but I think the problem is that, generally, there's not enough police enforcement. Even if they are out enforcing the laws, it's quite difficult to see people interacting with these devices. These bans are only effective if they are properly enforced and the fines are high enough." Professor Regan urged car manufacturers and phone designers to develop technology for the Australian market that prevents people from using their phones while driving.
Marge Prendergast believes that current law enforcement was adequate and that more education was needed. She said that the government was exploring new ways to catch offenders, including the use of roving police cameras.
One can understand that texting or trying to surf the Internet while driving is very dangerous and distracting, but comprehensive research from all over the world, including the collaborative study in August 2013 by a team at the US Carnegie Mellon University and the London School of Economics proved that talking on a hand-held mobile phone was not dangerous. They analysed more than eight million incidents of car crashes and all fatalities on roads in eight US states.
Professor Saurabh Bhargava from Carnegie and Dr Vikram Pathania from the LSE found that while there was an increase in callers using multiple phone masts after 9pm, there was no corresponding increase in the number of road accidents. Dr Pathania said that they were very surprised by the results. "At first we thought the numbers were wrong. We went back and checked everything, but there was nothing going on at all," he said. "We just know that we saw a big jump in cellphone use and there was no impact on the crash rate."
Of course the Australian authorities completely ignore such research, because booking people for driving while holding mobile phones is a very lucrative and easy way to generate revenue, using the false pretext that doing this is dangerous. Well while this was legal for a good 12 years, there did not seem to be any increase in accidents involving people who were just talking on their phones while driving and not texting.
Then you get the nonsense spouted by general manager of the NSW Centre for Road Safety Marge Prendergast, who said that speeding represented 42% of all road fatalities, the most prevalent of all causes. The problem is that speed doesn't kill. Speed is a measurement of velocity and does nothing. What kills motorists is not driving according to the prevailing road conditions, vehicles that cannot be driven in certain conditions because of defective tyres and mechanical problems and most of all, the lack of skill and common-sense of drivers. People have been killed driving at 40km/h or less, so Prendergast's claims are so much nonsense.
Psychologist Professor Regan came out with much the same rubbish as Prendergast and advocated that car manufacturers should develop technology to prevent people from using their mobile phones while driving. This is complete and utter lunacy and a damn good reason why academics who don't seem to live in the real workd should be completely ignored. What if a motorist is the victim of road rage? How will he call the police if his car jams his mobile phone? What about motorists who encounter a serious accident. How will they call for an ambulance if their mobile phones are being jammed by their cars? The utter stupidity of this suggestion is beyond belief.
Why is Regan singling out talking on mobile phones and ignoring everything else that drivers can do? Modern cars have touchscreen audio, Bluetooth and GPS systems and it's not illegal to fiddle with these while driving. Motorists can bring up screens with keypads and dial phone numbers, send messages, select music tracks, enter GPS destinations, look for Points Of Interest (POI) and do a million things on those car systems and it's all legal. It's not illegal to eat a piece of fruit while driving. It's not illegal to do lots of things while driving that are far more distracting than holding a phone, but these academics never seem to get this message.
These NSW road safety experts mentioned drink-driving as a major cause of road fatalities. Did we hear them call for a total ban on alcohol for drivers? Of course not. Pilots are not permitted to consume any alcohol 8 hours before flying. So what is wrong with applying the same standard to car drivers? In fact driving a car at 100km/h on an undivided road, with oncoming cars driving at that same speed and passing each other within one metre is a damn sight more dangerous than flying an aircraft with a mandated separation of 5 nautical miles in controlled airspace, which is a good 9km apart.
But these so-called road safety experts never seem to call on the government to totally ban the consumption of alcohol for drivers, simply because the revenue from booze sales is far more important than taking active measures to prevent road fatalities from drink-driving. The hypocrisy is astounding. But what is more astounding is the utter stupidity of motorists, who refuse to use cheap Bluetooth hands-free devices while driving.
The one thing that is very obvious is that the police can easily see motorists holding mobile phones while driving, so why give the tax-collecting cops these opportunities to raise revenue for their masters in government? These idiots, like that moronic woman who was booked twice in the one day for talking on her phone while driving, deserve to be hit with massive fines, not for the offence, but for their stupidity in not spending $30 for a Bluetooth hands-free kit and never risking being booked again.
13 January 2014 - Further doubts have emerged about the economic case for the east-west link, with the Napthine Liberal government's secret business case revealing the benefits to Victoria could be overshadowed by the cost of building and operating the road. The state government's own estimates show that Victoria could recoup a loss-making 80? for every $1 spent on the project if so-called "wider economic benefits" are excluded from the analysis.
Although the government has long said that the benefits of the $6 billion-to-$8 billion tunnel far outweigh the costs, it has refused to provide details, insisting the project will produce a return of $1.40 for every $1 spent. But this represents a best-case scenario, relying heavily on a controversial branch of analysis known as "agglomeration economics", which holds that increased urban density linked to transport projects adds to business productivity.
Infrastructure Australia head Michael Deegan told a Senate committee that the government's unpublished business case also provided an alternative estimate, showing a benefit-cost ratio of 0.8 when wider economic benefits are not included. Under this scenario, the project would return just 80? for every $1 spent, suggesting an economic loss if the stock-standard analysis preferred by Infrastructure Australia is used.
In his response, Victorian state Treasurer Michael O'Brien said that the project would create 3200 jobs and it was entirely appropriate to consider wider economic benefits when assessing it. "Tunnelling is an undoubtedly more expensive way of delivering this project but the alternative - creating a freeway at grade - would devastate Royal Park, the Melbourne General Cemetery as well as hundreds of additional properties including schools," O'Brien said.
"The lived experience of Victorians has been that major transport projects such as CityLink, EastLink and the Western Ring Road have led to significant wider economic benefits for business and the broader community that should be taken into account in assessing the value of these projects. It is no different for the east-west link," O'Brien stated. Opposition transport spokeswoman Jill Hennessy accused Premier Denis Napthine of inflating the benefits of the project, while failing to invest in public transport. "Instead of meaningful investment in public transport, Denis Napthine's only priority is spending $8 billion on a dud road tunnel that won't do much," she said.
The big problem with infrastructure programs such as the Melbourne East-West Link is that they are farmed out to private operators such as toll road operators, who impose massive costs on motorists to use roads that should be freeways. Because of the squandering of revenue by both federal and state governments on stupid and unjustified projects, often to fulfil pork-barrelling promises in order to get themselves elected, there is not enough money for governments to fund proper road-building.
The truth is that there is more than enough revenue available to fund road infrastructure such as the East-West Link and it's not a matter of governments recouping the costs. Providing roads is the full responsibility of governments and if all the revenue from fuel taxes, excise and levies were ploughed back into road infrastructure, Australia would have a network of freeways to envy Los Angeles. But only a fraction of revenue from motoring is used for road infrastructure and the rest is squandered on stupid and worthless vote-buying, such as the Pink Batts fiasco, the Building the Education Revolution scam that saw school halls being built for $900,000 each when the true cost of them was about $200,000 or less.
Building roads is not a matter of cost-benefit analysis. It's a matter of governments being responsible to provide adequate freeway networks, not rely on tolls to recoup funds or private toll road operators to gouge motorists. The motoring public are entitled to have the best roads as part of essential government infrastructure. The East-West Link should be built with funds taken from motorist-related revenue, instead of this money being ripped off to be blown by governments on wasteful and useless projects that have nothing to do with motoring.
As for the calls for the East-West Link money to be spent on public transport, that's another area where governments should provide this service in any case. However, those people who advocate public transport instead of essential road infrastructure do not seem to realise that most people use cars and commercial vehicles because using public transport is simply not viable for them. Tradesmen need to transport their equipment and cannot catch buses or trains and neither can many other people. Governments need to provide both road infrastructure and public transport as part of their role and it's not a matter of trying to turn a profit on them.
Thanks to Adrian Clarke for this item.
11 January 2014 - A South Australian Member of Parliament stated that a threat has been made to prosecute people who have lent their cars to family or friends for weddings. Family First MP Robert Brokenshire said that several of his constituents in Adelaide have received warning letters after their cars were photographed being used for weddings. He said that a letter from the Transport Department claimed anyone running transport passenger services without accreditation can face penalties of up to four years in jail or a $15,000 fine.
The owner of a vintage car said that he was shocked to get a letter threatening to prosecute him for lending it to a family friend for a wedding. Kevin May stated that he had been warned of the risk of jail or a fine for lending his 1969 XW GT Falcon to a bridal party. He demanded that the warning be withdrawn immediately, saying it is an infringement of his human rights.
"I was quite upset about it at first - I thought it was a joke - and then when I studied the letter properly, you could see it had numbers on there and it was definitely an official letter and I thought 'God, blimey charlie, I was only trying to help someone out'," he said. "I wasn't trying to get a fine - $15,000 is a lot of money."
Robert Brokenshire said that the SA Government had gone mad. "It's one thing to be out there catching rogues that are impersonating accredited hire car companies, but when a family friend lends the Subaru or the Ford Falcon to a friend for a wedding and they receive a demanding prosecution letter, it's absolutely outrageous," he said. "Are the Government so tight with financial management at the moment that they're hitting innocent people with significant fines? I mean this is absolutely wrong. A person should be able to lend their car legitimately to a friend for a wedding without intimidation or fear of a fine or prosecution," he stated.
Transport Department manager for passenger transport, Bill Gonis, said the letters were only to inform people what was legally allowed. "It's a letter of warning and advising them if they want to speak to someone at the office we are more than happy to help them with any inquiry they may have," he said. "If they're simply just providing that service for a friend of theirs that's fine, that's the end of that. Again I just have to make that clear that we're not prosecuting people who are simply driving their friends around. "This is just really about ensuring public safety if some of these vehicles are going out, ensuring that some of these vehicles are roadworthy."
Here is another piece of utter illogical insanity from a money-grubbing state government. However, they won't get away with this nonsense. Any person is legally allowed to lend a vehicle to friend, or even to total strangers, for any use whatsoever, providing that the vehicle is not used for hire or reward.
CARR can only say to people that if they lend their car to be used for weddings, funerals, parties or any other purpose on a private basis, then this is completely legal. Anybody who receives a warning or even a penalty for doing this should tell whoever sent it to stick it where the sun don't shine.
Thanks to John Vance for this item.
07 February 2014 - Victorian speed camera commissioner Gordon Lewis wants the State Government to install more point-to-point cameras.Lewis also called for:
Lewis stated, "In my view the most important word in the road safety camera system is transparency. I believe that only by increased transparency in Victoria will the motoring public's cynicism about the accuracy of speed and red light cameras ever be assuaged."
He said that installing new point-to-point cameras would stop the dangerous "camera surfing" tactic many motorists had adopted. "They slow down just before they reach a fixed or mobile camera, then plant the foot again when they have passed it and only stop speeding as they approach the next camera," Lewis said. "You can't do that with point-to-point cameras. Your average speed for the full distance between the cameras can't be above the speed limit, which makes for safer driving."
Lewis said that a recommendation from him in his first annual report prompted police to provide very brief details about the criteria used to choose the state's 2000 mobile speed camera sites. "But they should go further and provide much greater detail on the history of each site as far as crashes, hoon behaviour and other factors go," he said. "At present, motorists who become aware of a particular mobile speed camera site have almost no information as to why that site was chosen. That lack of transparency can easily lead to motorists deciding a particular camera is placed in a particular spot for revenue raising."
These comments and recommendations from Lewis are a crock of baloney and he is merely trying to justify his position and defend the indefensible. He said that motorists should be convinced that speed cameras are life-savers rather than just revenue raisers. CARR openly throws down the challenge to Lewis to point out one single speed camera anywhere in the world that has saved one life. Of course he can't do that, simply because he knows that these cameras cannot do anything except take happy snaps of people driving by on their way to their deaths, but do not stop them from killing themselves and others.
The truth, backed up by hard evidence proves that wherever speed cameras have been removed, the accident rate has either remained the same or has actually fallen, such as in Swindon in Britain. Of course Lewis will completely ignore hard facts about these revenue-raisers in order to try and justify their existence and the money they rake in for his government. As for red light cameras, hard statistics from all over the world have shown beyond doubt that the accident rate increased at intersections where red light cameras were installed, often by over 40%. Why does Lewis ignore these facts? Money, that's why. Revenue from fines is more important to the Victorian government than safety and accident prevention.
As for Lewis's recommendation that motorists be given free access to the photos taken by speed cameras in order to determine whether they should contest the fines or not, CARR advises every motorist booked by speed or red light cameras to always contest fines on the basis that those cameras are not certified under the National Measurement Act and thus cannot be regarded as accurate measurement devices under federal law. There are many other grounds that can be used to fight camera fines and every camera-generated fine should be challenged.
Lewis had the nerve to say, "I believe that only by increased transparency in Victoria will the motoring public's cynicism about the accuracy of speed and red light cameras ever be assuaged." What a load of garbage. If the speed and red light cameras in Victoria are anything like the cameras in NSW, at least 14% of them will be defective at any one time. These cameras are considered to be accurate scientific instruments fror the purpose of generating fines, but of course many of them can be proven to be inaccurate or defective, for instance one booking a parked bus allegedly doing 80km/h. All motorists booked by such cameras should subpoena their testing history and demand that the prosecution prove beyond reasonable doubt that they were dead accurate at the exact times that they generated the infringements.
Lewis is like all the other politicians and bureaucrats who falsely claim that speed kills. This is utter garbage and a mantra that they use to impose artificially low speed limits in order to create more opportunity to generate revenue from speeding tickets. Speed cannot kill - it's just a measure of velocity. Fatal accidents occur when motorists do not assess the conditions or have adequate driving skills for those conditions at any speed.
Motorists need to organise themselves and stand against these politicians at elections and get them thrown out on their collective ears because those politicians who claim that speed kills and that speed and red light cameras increase safety are just blatant liars. In the meantime, CARR openly challenges Gordon Lewis to an open debate about speed cameras to prove that what he says is true, when all the evidence from around the world shows the exact opposite. CARR challenges Lewis to go and stand on the side of the road with a camera and prove that this will stop somebody speeding or will prevent somebody having an accident.
Thanks to Adrian Clarke for this item.
01 February 2014 - Northern Territory police have hit out at drivers who exceeded 200km/h during the first hours of a trial of open speed limits. The territory removed speed limits on a stretch of the Stuart Highway north of Alice Springs as part of a 12-month study. The road was not subject to speed limits until 2007, when 130km/h maximums were introduced.
Northern Territory Transport Minister Peter Styles said he had not seen any irresponsible drivers on the highway but was disappointed when told people had driven at more than 250km/h on public roads. He stated, ''This is a long section of road with very low traffic volumes. This road is not an autobahn. If people want to do those speeds, then I suggest they go to Germany. Styles said the road was selected for a trial without speed limits because it had not had speed-related deaths on it for a 10-year period.
The most telling comment came from Northern Territory Transport Minister Peter Styles, who said that the particular stretch of road where speed limits had been removed did not have any speed-related deaths on it for 10 years. Obviously there were some deaths on this road when the limit was 130km/h, but not caused by speed. And the truth of the matter is that speed does not kill, in exactly the same way that speed cameras do not prevent accidents. Speed is a measurement of velocity and does+ nothing in itself. Motorists who drive faster than their skills and their vehicles allow them to proceed safely are the danger, not some stupid intangible that governments call "speed".
Motorists have a responsibility to drive safely by assessing the state of the road and the capabilities of themselves and their cars. Obviously a very experienced driver in a Ferrari or an Aston Martin could very safely drive on this stretch of road at 200km/h and even an experienced motorist in a recent model Holden or Ford with good tyres would be quite safe driving at that speed. A person driving a car with worn steering and bald tyres is a menace at any speed. It's not the speed that kills, it's the idiot who can't drive properly and has a crappy car who will cause accidents and fatalities.
Of course governments do have a responsibility to impose speed limits in order to cover the wide gamut of vehicles on the road, in order to protect most of the drivers. The problem is that governments do not use criteria that is scientific and well-researched, such as the famed "85%ile" to set realistic speed limits that have been proven to be safer than the current limits that are set artificially low. And why are they so low? The answer is to give the government and police more opportunity to book frustrated motorists in order to raise revenue from them in the form of infringements.
It will be interesting to see the accident statistics from that Northern Territory speed limit-free road after a year. If it remains idiot-free, it will prove for once and for all that speed does not kill and all those statements from governments and police that speed kills will be shown to be utter garbage.
Thanks to Alan Dray for this item.
31 January 2014 - In Western Australia, more than 1300 infringements have been issued for motorists using mobile phones after a one month trial of unmarked police motorcycles on Perth roads. Police Commissioner Karl O'Callaghan said he was disgusted but not surprised by the results. People were caught using their phones, drinking a beer on the freeway with children in the back seat and putting on makeup.
O'Callaghan said, "The introduction of the unmarked motorcycles has been a fantastic success for us. We've actually issued more than 1300 infringement notices for people using their mobile phones and more than 200 infringements notices for people not wearing their seatbelts during this campaign time."
O'Callaghan said that helmet cameras had captured motorists who did not realise they were being pulled over by police. "This is classic mobile phone behaviour - people are so engrossed in using their mobile phones and texting that they can neither see a police officer nor are they looking at the road and they are creating an enormous danger to themselves and other people," he said. "Bear in mind, over the last four years, we know that in 146 cases of fatal crashes it has occurred because of inattention. I think that mobile phone usage in cars is one of the most arrogant things any driver in Western Australia can do."
Motorcycle Traffic Patrol Sergeant Simon Baxter said the trial showed how endemic mobile phone usage had become. "We have one example on the Freeway where a person's looking at their mobile phone, they then put the phone down and they take a drink from a stubbie. Now, the horrendous thing about that is there's two children in the back seat," Sgt Baxter said. "The potential for that to turn into a really serious crash involving children is not worth thinking about."
It is ludicrous that a motorist can be booked for holding a mobile phone while driving, yet cannot be booked for drinking from a bottle of beer, as was quoted by that WA cop. There is no law against taking a drink while driving, even an alcoholic drink such as beer. It's not against the law to comb one's hair, hold and eat a sandwich while driving, or fiddle with a packet of candy, yet it's a mortal sin to hold a mobile phone while driving. Yet all of those other activities while driving could be deemed to be just as dangerous as holding a phone.
For many years since the introduction of the cellphone, people have driven and held their phones with no problems. Sure, texting while driving is dangerous because it requires the driver to look at the phone screen, but holding a phone while talking on it is no different than holding anything else and talking at the same time. Of course state governments have realised that motorists holding phones can be easily seen by cops and make excellent targets for raising revenue, so they made it an offence to hold a phone and are now boosting their budgets at the expense of motorists who are not doing anything dangerous at all.
Many cars these days come with touch screens for integrated entertainment and navigation systems. Motorists are quite entitled to look at these screens, poke away at them with their fingers and do all sorts of things with them while driving. All of these systems have Bluetooth to connect to mobile phones and motorists can bring up keyboards on those screens and enter phone numbers and operate their GPS and other functions while driving at high speed and this is legal.
This merely proves that activities that are far more distracting than holding mobile phones are quite legal, because the cops can't do much about them, but it's easy to entrap people holding mobile phones, even if they are not talking on them. So again, motorists are used as cash cows and the cops have deployed unmarked motorcycles to make it easier to entrap them. This can all be avoided by using an inexpensive Bluetooth hands-free car kit.
Thanks to John Vance for this item.
30 January 2014 - It has been reported that a single speed camera in Sydney is taking more than $12,000 a day. The camera on Sydney's Eastern Distributor is at the top of a list of Sydney's 20 most lucrative, when combined, put $17.6 million in the government's coffers in just six months. The Eastern Distributor camera snapped 10,047 speeding drivers, an average of 54 a day and collected $2,275,724 in fines in the six months to 31 December 2013. The camera has topped the Office of State Revenue's speeding notices' list since the 2011-12 financial year.
A camera in the southbound lanes on Botany Road at Rosebery came in second, again, with 7,266 fines in the six-month period, followed by Cleveland Street eastbound at Moore Park with 5,515 notices. The top 20 fixed speed cameras caught a total of 80,479 drivers.
Opposition roads spokesman Walt Secord said that under the O'Farrell Government, speed cameras have been turned into cash registers. "Before the March 2011 election, Barry O'Farrell said he would remove them, but in government he has been rolling them out across the State," Mr Secord said. "Speed cameras for safety purposes are necessary, especially in school zones, but Barry O'Farrell has turned them into cash registers for his Government."
A spokesman for Roads Minister Duncan Gay said that speeding was a factor in 148 road deaths last year. "In NSW, we use a high visibility approach to address speeding, with cameras supporting enforcement conducted by NSW Police," he said. In NSW there are fixed speed cameras at 108 locations, red light speed cameras at 126 intersections, 13 mobile speed camera vehicles and 22 point-to-point enforcement lengths for heavy vehicles.
The hypocrisy of Labor roads spokesman Walt Secord is staggering. His Labor government was in power for 16 solid years in NSW and is responsible for installing virtually all the speed and red light cameras in the state. Now he's bleating about the O'Farrell government's continued use of these revenue-raisers. Where the hell was he when Labor was in power for all those years? Why didn't he have these cameras removed? These politicians are so grubby and corrupt that it's beyond belief.
The revenue figures show that speed cameras are raking in the dollars in huge amounts, however not one of these devices has ever been shown to have saved one life or prevented one single accident. Well, how can a camera by the roadside save a life? It doesn't throw out a net when it detects a speeding car and stop it immediately. No, it allows the speeding car to hurtle past and takes a photo of it and that's all. However, that speeding car could cause a catastrophic accident one minute after it was photographed by the speed camera, but the camera could not prevent this.
Every time a report like this is released, CARR keep singing the same old song, that no motorist needs to ever be booked by a speed or red light camera if he deploys simple and very cheap technology. An inexpensive GPS receiver for under $100 with camera warnings will safeguard a motorist from every being booked by a camera. One has to wonder about the 54 idiots who get booked every day in the Eastern Distributor tunnel and don't take the simple precaution of using some sort of warning device. Of course there is always the possibility that the camera is defective and the bookings should be challenged.
The report stated that the top 20 fixed speed cameras caught a total of 80,479 drivers. What the hell is wrong with these people? Are they so thick that they can't take the simplest measures to avoid being ripped off like that? When reports like this are seen, it's obvious that nothing CARR says or does is going to educate these fools into taking active measures, so all we can say is that if they get pinged by speed cameras, then they deserve to pay the fine.
27 January 2014 - A Gold Coast woman was slugged $3000 in parking fees while visiting her dying partner in the new $1.76 billion Gold Coast University Hospital. As if caring for her cancer-stricken partner of 35 years was not tough enough, disability worker Michelle Sullivan was forced to pay $990 a month to park at this hospital.
Hefty parking fees at the new hospital have angered patients, visitors and staff and caused chaos in neighbouring Parkwood as they and Griffith University students resort to parking in residential streets and businesses. Sullivan was too grief-stricken to speak after her partner and lifelong friend Kaye Ireland's funeral, but her family told of their anger at the fee impost. Her siblings James Sullivan and Darylyn Robb said that the hospital parking fees were an added cruel blow for their sister and other people visiting seriously ill relatives and friends in hospital.
Sullivan said, "This additional cost is absolutely sickening for families dealing with a loved one's terminal illness. It's even more sickening for families whose main bread-winner is hospitalised. They're already struggling to pay the mortgage, household bills and medical costs without having to stump up a fortune for parking at the hospital. It is absolutely un-Australian that a Government, through its health department, makes money out of a family's misery.'' Sullivan said he intended lodging a formal complaint with Health Minister Lawrence Springborg.
State governments have discovered a new source of revenue-raising that is as disgusting as their speed camera highway robbers. Hospital carparks are now used to gouge vulnerable people who can least afford the outrageously unfair parking fees at these places. However, there is a solution and it is more or less what CARR advises people to do against all rip-offs and that is to use the power of the boycott.
The report stated that "disability worker Michelle Sullivan was forced to pay $990 a month to park at this hospital." Now CARR is very sympathetic to this woman and anybody else who is being gouged, but the report is wrong. Sullivan was NOT forced to pay one cent, because parking at any hospital is not compulsory. Sure, it's convenient, but nobody is forced to park in these places and be ripped off. There is always a way to avoid this disgraceful situation and that is to use the power of the boycott and make other arrangements.
Nobody ever needs to be booked by speed cameras if they take active measures. Nobody ever will be booked for overstaying in a metered parking spot if they don't park in them, but do their shopping and other business in places with free parking. The same goes for hospital carparks. If you don't park in them in the first place, you won't pay a cent. CARR's method to beat the rip-off is quite easy.
Just about every hospital has some form of public transport going to it. So the way to get around the parking problem is to drive to a suburb very close to the hospital that is on a bus route that goes directly to that hospital. Park in a side street that has no parking restrictions and catch the bus that may only take a few minutes to get to that hospital. Instead of paying a fortune to park in the hospital carpark, you will only pay for the return bus fare, which is quite affordable.
In that way you will achieve two important things. You will save a lot of money in parking fees, especially if you have to go to the hospital every day and you will deny the government the parking fees. If everybody did this and nobody parked in those hospital carparks, then governments would have to make parking very affordable or lose a lot of money running carparks that have no cars parking in them. But as much as CARR sympathises with people like Michelle Sullivan, she was not forced to park at the hospital and pay outrageous parking fees, but could have parked a couple of kilometres away in a side street and caught a bus to and from the hospital.
Thanks to Steve Howton for this item.
26 January 2014 - Liberal Democratic Party Senator David Leyonhjelm proposed that Australian states should change the existing speed limits with those set, not by anonymous unelected bureaucrats, but by motorists. The method he supports is that of the 85th%ile. It is based on the assumption that no reasonable driver wants to crash, therefore speed limits should be reset based on the monitored speeds of 85% of drivers in designated ares where there is no speed limit. Along with this plan, he also proposed to remove some of the 40km/h zones.
Leyonhjelm stated that motorists shouldn't be treated like "sinful children and a source of revenue", as the majority of people would certainly travel at 140km/h on freeways if speed limits were removed and that the only way not to have people injured in car crashes would be to reduce speeds to about 20km/h. Of course something like this would definitely not be acceptable.
However, the proposal wasn't too well received, with a spokesperson from the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development saying that their National Road Safety Strategy actually worked and road deaths have decreased by 16%.
It is wonderful to see a politician finally propose a sensible scheme for speed limits. The principle of the 85th%ile has been shown to be the most sensible way to determine safe speed limits, but of course no politician in either the Liberal or Labor Party would consider doing this, simply because it would eradicate most of the revenue-raising from speed cameras and cops with speed guns. Motorists would have speed limits that are commensurate with their expectations and only idiots would drive much faster than those sensible limits.
For instance, the Hume Freeway between Sydney and Canberra is a three lane per side divided road that is better than most German and Italian super freeways that have no speed limits. However, the speed limit on this road is a ludicrously low 110km/h, which frustrates anybody who drives on it. Media owner John Singleton was booked for driving on this road at 160km/h and he beat the infringement by quite rightly claiming that it was perfectly safe to drive his Bentley at that speed. But most modern cars are completely safe to drive on roads like this at 160km/h.
The reaction to this proposal by the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development was completely predictable and the statement that their strategy worked by reducing road deaths by 16% is nonsensical. If the 85th%ile-based speed limits were introduced, chances are that the paltry 16% reduction in road deaths would be much better. But it's typical of any government department to make claims about road matters, especially those bogus claims that speed and red light cameras save lives, which is utter garbage and an outright lie.
CARR applauds David Leyonhjelm for this proposal because it is based on hard research over many years that has proven that this method reduces accidents and road deaths. The other thing it reduces is the opportunity for governments to raise revenue by entrapping motorists, but as Leyonhjelm stated, it is high time that motorists ceased to be treated as sinful children and a source of revenue.
Thanks to John Vance for this item.
24 January 2014 - In the USA, the debate over automatic cameras for speed and red light enforcement is already fairly intense, but a secret audit from 2012 of the traffic cameras in Baltimore, Maryland showed that 13 camereas had a double digit error rate, which helped to account for a system-wide error rate of 10%. Of course the secret part of this secret audit was that the findings were never released to the public.
Baltimore City officials originally said that the cameras had an error rate of less than a quarter of a%, but the audit found that most were not only off, they were way off. Three specific locations in the city had error rates that varied from 35% to 58%. A total of 700,000 tickets were issued in fiscal year 2012 averaging $40, and a 10% error rate would mean that close to $2.8 million in fines were collected erroneously.
Baltimore first started using speed cameras in 2009 and fired the initial monitoring company, Xerox State and Local Solutions, due to accuracy issues. The subsequent company, Brekford Corporation was fired in December 2013 after the city's cameras were shut down. It's not clear if Baltimore plans to reimburse those wrongly charged with automated speeding tickets.
This sort of disgusting rip-off is occurring all the time with speed and red light cameras wrongfully booking motorists. These devices are notoriously inaccurate, according to audits and investigations from many nations, but state governments in Australia continue to lie to the motoring public that these cameras are not only accurate, but have been certified as scientific instruments that cannot be challenged.
There have been many instances of wrongful bookings by speed and red light cameras. In recent times, in the USA, the Baltimore Sun's website featured a video clip of a Mazda vehicle stopped at traffic lights in December 2012, with its brake lights clearly lit. The vehicle was booked for allegedly driving at 38mph in a 25mph zone, however the car was not moving at all. In 2013, a bus in Adelaide was booked by a camera for driving at 80km/h when it was actually parked.
So how do motorists fight such wrongful bookings if they don't have any corroborating evidence to back up their version of events? Very simply, unless they somehow get hold of a video clip or a photo to prove that they were not committing any offence, then most courts will convict them. The unfairness of the system is legendary, because courts are obliged by legislation to treat these cameras as accurate scientific instruments whose readings are beyond dispute. In fact the opposite is the truth, where these cameras are notoriously inaccurate and defective.
CARR may be sounding rather monotonous and boring by now, but again it has to be said that without hard evidence in the form of a GPS-logged time and date-stamped video clip from a car black box recorder to prove a wrongful booking, whether it came from a camera or a cop with a speed gun, a motorist has little or no chance to beat it and that is the tragedy of the situation. Without such evidence, most motorists find it too costly and time-consuming to go to court and challenge such wrongful bookings, so they grit their teeth and fork out this money and this is blatant extortion by the state.
However, if a motorist is armed with hard evidence from a car black box recorder to show that he was wrongfully booked, not only can he beat the infringement in court, but he would be most justified in suing the state for his costs, loss of earnings and even claim exemplary damages for aggravation and suffering and this is exactly what all motorists should do. If every driver had a car black box operating and challenged every wrongful booking and sued the government, the current unfair system would soon disintegrate.
Thanks to Santo Calabrese for this item.
24 January 2014 - Brisbane City Council officers are using covert tactics, including photographing numberplates, to nab increasing numbers of parking offenders at Westfield Carindale. The fines dished out for "stopping on a road with a yellow edge line" in Millennium Drive at Carindale more than doubled in a year. That iss despite regular complaints by motorists about a lack of pick-up and drop-off spots surrounding the centre.
Cleveland resident Greg Bahr stopped for three seconds on Millennium Drive while dropping a relative at work. Bahr said that he didn't see a council officer, but received a $110 fine in the mail. He stated, "There's two lanes there and an island. Where I stopped, there's no way you're creating a hazard and everybody was doing it. I was there for three seconds, put my blinkers on, and they hopped out - a $110 fine for stopping for three seconds. They need some drop-off zones because there's nowhere to drop anyone off."
Carina resident Michelle Evans was also slugged with a fine after her husband Paul dropped her at work at Carindale at 8.46am the same day. "I didn't see anyone that day. They must have been hiding somewhere," she said. Evans said that a drop-off zone was much needed, particularly for young people who relied on their parents to drive them to work. "There are so many cars that stop there, it's not funny," she said.
The issue has prompted council to approve construction of new two-minute pick-up and drop-off zones at Carindale at a cost of $40,000, although works are yet to be officially scheduled. A council spokeswoman said that the council had increased parking patrols around Carindale due to "intensified" vehicle traffic and safety concerns for pedestrians and motorists. The spokeswoman confirmed that officers could take photographs to collect evidence of an offence. "For these type of offences, officers often do not have the opportunity to approach the vehicle to speak to the driver and issue the infringement before the vehicle drives off," she said.
Deputy Infrastructure chair Councillor Ian McKenzie said that Carindale had a high volume of traffic so it wasn't safe for motorists to be stopping unexpectedly in areas marked with yellow lines. "Council does recognise the need for more passenger loading facilities around the shopping centre and we are working to provide that, but until then motorists have the option of dropping off passengers at signed loading zones in the area, for example on Carindale Street," McKenzie said.
The first thing to note is the nonsense emanating from Brisbane City Councillor McKenzie, who said that because of the high volume of traffic, it wasn't safe for motorists to be stopping unexpectedly in areas marked with yellow lines. This road has two lanes and an island and the only problem with it is that some fool has painted yellow lines there. How can this piece of road be dangerous, when most suburban two-lane roads on the planet are safe for motorists to pull up briefly and drop people off. As for his rubbish about stopping unexpectedly, motorists don't suddenly hit the brakes to pull up - they slow down and cars behind them can either wait the three seconds that it takes to drop people off, or move to the other lane to pass the briefly stopped car.
The real issue here is that like most capital city councils, Brisbane City Council is scrabbling for more and more revenue and has discovered that motorists are a fabulous source of this money. They deploy more rangers and find every little pretext to book more motorists, such as the recent reports of rangers booking residents for parking across their own driveways. Most motorists are apathetic and just meekly pay these fines instead of fighting them. But people who are sick of their own councils ripping them off need to take action against the councillors who are responsible for this gouging.
Citizens need to organise themselves into groups and stand against those councillors in local elections and have them thrown out on their ears and replaced by motorist-friendly people. Citizens need to fight back and use video and still cameras against sitting councillors and their employees to record their travesties and have them prosecuted in the same way that they prosecute citizens. We the people have the power to deal with this unfair revenue-raising, but we can only really do it in numbers. The people residing in the Brisbane municipality need to deal with the council to force it to stop this gouging.
Thanks to Susan Heilbronn for this item.
24 January 2014 - Speed cameras did nothing to improve safety on the roads of Pima County in Arizona USA, so county supervisors decided earlier in January 2014 to cut ties with American Traffic Solutions (ATS), the for profit company in charge of the program. The automated ticketing contract expired on 06 January 2014. The crash rate throughout the entire Pima County road system declined 19% since 2008. However, isolating just the eleven camera sites indicated that the three-year crash rate across the camera locations decreased only 13%, which was lower than expected. At some sites, accidents increased and at others they decreased, suggesting the photo ticketing had no effect on safety. The county analysis found that accident severity also stayed the same.
Meanwhile in California, Walnut city council decided to keep red light cameras clicking beyond the automated ticketing contract's 27 February 2014 expiration date. In the face of renewed questions over the program's effectiveness, the council renewed the contract with scandal-plagued Redflex Traffic Systems for just three months as councilmen weigh the evidence. The Australian firm has been mailing tickets, now $500 each, since 2007.
"Photo enforcement programs will typically cause an increase in rear-end type collisions and cause a decrease in broadside type collisions," city management analyst Rosalea Layman admitted in a memo to the city council. According to the city's analysis, rear-end collisions increased 53% from 5.7 to 8.7 accidents per year and broadsides dropped 21% from 1.4 to 1.1. By the city's own figures, one non-injury broadside collision was traded for 21 rear end collisions, several of which involved injuries. After the cameras were activated, the city installed dedicated right and left turn lanes to improve traffic flow. The city blamed the rear end collision increase on the traffic improvements, but credited the cameras alone with the broadside collision result.
Not so fast, said Jay Beeber, Executive Director of Safer Streets LA. Beeber decided to double-check the city's analysis against ten years of data from the California Highway Patrol's Statewide Integrated Traffic Records System database of traffic collisions (five years before and five years after). The numbers show broadside collisions did not decrease, they doubled. Beeber stated, "No argument can be made that photo enforcement has improved safety at this intersection or within the city of Walnut. In fact, the use of red light cameras appears to have decreased safety and put roadway users at increased risk."
In the USA, residents in 25 cities have taken action to ban red light cameras and speed cameras. The same fervour has spread across the border to Canada where residents in Morinville succeeded in gathering 900 signatures on a citizen initiative to ban automated ticketing machines. The council on Tuesday gave a first reading to the proposal, potentially setting up the first-ever direct vote on photo enforcement in Canada. "We demand a new bylaw to have all traffic enforcement done by either Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) or the community peace officers, thus eliminating the use of photo radar or red light camera enforcement," stated the petition submitted by resident Cliff Haryett.
Citizens in other nations are also rising against speed and red light cameras. Vigilantes in Manchester, England set fire to a speed camera in January 2014. The automated ticketing machine on Pine Road in Tameside was completely destroyed with burning tires. Another camera was destroyed on Huddersfield Road. In Portsmouth, officials announced they had just replaced the speed camera that had been destroyed on the A3 on 30 December 2013.
In Morbihan, France, three speed cameras were destroyed within a few days in January 2014, A camera in Moustoir on the RD767 and one in Plouay on the RD769 were set on fire. A third camera was also burned. Since September 2013, one-third of the cameras in the region have been attacked and 33 have been completely destroyed. In Ardeche, officials were forced to remove a brand new average speed camera after vigilantes removed the camera pole and cut the cables to the device in Saint-Jean-le-Centenier.
In Crespina, Italy, vigilantes knocked over a speed camera sign, defaced the camera lens, pried open the camera box and set the inside of the device on fire. In Imola, a speed camera on the Viale Amendola failed to prevent a crash on 15 January 2014. A Toyota Corolla rammed the automated ticketing machine. The Toyota continued forward and hit a police car at the intersection. Meanwhile in Paderborn, Germany, a vigilante swiped a speed camera from the B64 motorway.
What do these reports tell motorists? Very simply, they prove what CARR has been saying for many years, that not only are speed and red light cameras deployed to raise revenue, but they cause accidents. It is a proven fact that wherever red light cameras are deployed, the accident rate at intersections increases. The 10-year study by David Andreassen from Monash University proved without a shadow of doubt that wherever these cameras were installed, accident rates increased dramatically, up to 40%. In other nations, the accident rate at such intersections increased over 50% after red light cameras were installed.
The same goes for speed cameras. Road safety has not improved because of their deployment and people are starting to realise it. Simple logic would tell a person that a speed camera cannot stop a speeder driving past it and then causing a major accident with multiple fatalities. It's just a camera that takes snapshots, but does not do a single thing to prevent accidents from occurring. Therefore the use of fixed and mobile speed cameras has only one purpose, that of raising revenue for the governments that have them installed and for the benefit of the private companies, such as Redflex and ATS to make huge profits from the misery of motorists.
In many nations, motorists are getting fed up with this deliberate gouging and ripping-off and some of them have taken direct action by destroying speed and red light cameras and others have pushed their legislators into having them removed and that is wonderful to see. CARR does not condone vandalism in the normal course of events, but when one's own government acts against the people by deploying machines that are proven to not increase road safety, but are installed to raise revenue, then the people have a right to act against such travesties.
In Australia, various state governments have continued to trot out reports that allegedly prove that these cameras increase safety, however these reports, generally from people who are employed by governments, fly completely in the face of hard evidence from all over the world that show the exact opposite. For instance, in NSW and Victoria, politicians who screamed for years that those cameras were just revenue-raisers, managed to have their lackeys, such as Auditor-Generals, produce reports that justified them to roll out more of these devices.
CARR's position has not changed. All fixed and mobile speed cameras and red light cameras must be removed completely. Motorists need to organise themselves into lobby and political groups and put pressure on politicians and councilmen to act against these devices. Every motorist who is booked by a camera needs to fight the infringement in court and show that not one of these cameras has been officially certified under the Federal Weights and Measurements Act, therefore cannot be used to accurately measure speed. There are many ways to successfully fight such camera infringements, but the best way is to make it untenable for politicians to remain in power unless they have those cameras removed.
Thanks to John Vance for this item.
23 January 2014 - Queensland Police have been accused of committing the same offence as one that they booked a civilian motorcycle rider for committing. A cop was video recorded stretching his leg while riding his motorcycle, two weeks after a civilian rider was fined $146 for doing the same. Sean White captured the image with his dashboard-mounted video camera while driving his van on the Ipswich Motorway on 22 January 2014 around 7.45am.
White compared the incident to the 06 January 2014 booking of Jake Sloman who was pulled over by police on the Logan Motorway and fined, for "taking his foot off the footrest" while riding. Sloman's fine sparked a wave of criticism and complaints on social media, resulting in Police Commissioner Ian Stewart conceding that he also sometimes stretched his legs while riding. Sloman was riding along the Logan Motorway when he stretched his leg. Police pulled him over and fined him $146 for the offence of "Fail to keep both feet on footrest".
Sloman said that he tried to explain he was just stretching his leg but was still hit with the fine. "I've never heard of anyone else being done for taking their leg off for a second. I could understand it if I was riding along with my hands off the handlebars and something ridiculous, but having stretch is a bit far." He said that even though he knew other bike riders did the same thing, he did not intend to contest the fine. "I don't have the time or money - it would probably cost me more if I do lose," Sloman said.
It is interesting to note that Jake Sloman stated that he did not intend to contest the fine, which is very disappointing. Police know that most motorists don't have the expertise or experience in court to successfully fight such preposterous infringements, so they hand out tickets and know that they won't be challenged. The other problem is exactly what Sloman intimated, that they system is rigged to make it as hard and as expensive for motorists to take these matters to court.
The usual procedure for a motorist who wants to contest an infringement is that he has to attend court to set a date for the hearing, then attend the court on another day for the actual hearing. This involves the loss of two days work and pay and of course it does not guarantee that the motorist will win the matter. So the motorist will be out of pocket for two day's pay and will probably be fined anyway, plus pay court costs. This is why the entire infringement system needs to be completely eradicated, because it is rigged against the motorist.
There is probably not one motorbike rider who has not stretched his leg while riding, including that cop that was filmed by Sloman. It is a ridiculously stupid offence that should never be on the statutes and anybody who is booked for this should fight the infringement in court. Motorists should fight any infringement that does not make sense or logic, even if they are listed as offences, in order to get these offences removed from the law.
Thanks to Susan Heilbronn for this item.
23 January 2014 - Victorian Road Policing Command Assistant Commissioner Robert Hill has told police to start fining more motorists for low-level speeding offences. He said that it was time to make travelling only a couple of kilometres above the speed limit as socially unacceptable as drink driving. He said that more traffic operations were planned for 2014 than in 2013 and speed was the main focus.
Hill stated, "I expect there to be an increase number of low-level speeding infringements issued by our members in the future until the attitude is changed on our roads. What we have said to our members is to focus on speed enforcement. The speed limits that are set at the maximum speed you can travel at, having regard to the road conditions. If we can reduce our mean speeds across the road network we will save lives, and this is all about saving lives. Whether you're 5km/h or 15km/h over, if you speed, you can expect to be stopped by police."
Hill said that the strong stance on low-level speeding was being taken because 15 deaths and 300 serious injuries could be prevented each year if drivers cut their average speed by just 1km/h. He warned motorists to stop setting their own "de-facto" speed limits, especially when setting cruise control.
"The evidence is very clear; speed is the absolute killer on our roads.The culture has shifted in respect of drink driving, it's now socially unacceptable for people to get behind the wheel of a motor car and drive while affected by alcohol, but the same cannot be said for ?speeding. Across our community, people don't appreciate that low-level speeds can be just as dangerous as high-level speeding," Hill stated. Drivers who exceed speed limit by less than 10km/h are fined $180 and receive one demerit point, while speeding over the limit between 10-15km/h will cost $289 and three demerit points.
Firstly, as we all know, speed does not kill. Idiot drivers in unsafe cars cause accidents, regardless of the speed they were driving at. So Hill's comments are just so much utter bullshit. His statement in regard to make travelling only a couple of kilometres above the speed limit as socially unacceptable as drink driving is equally preposterous. He would know that the speedometers on most cars are wildly inaccurate and can vary greatly merely by the difference in tyre pressure.
For instance, the speedometers in CARR Webmaster Ziggy's Mazda 6 Luxury Sports Hatch and his lady friend's Mazda 3 SP23 vehicles were found to be inaccurate by around 4 to 5km/h when extensively tested by GPS speed measuring devices. CARR has received many emails from people saying the same thing. So how on earth can the top cop in Victoria insist that people will get booked for speeding, when the instrument that gives them their speed is inaccurate? And what about the documented measuring errors in police speed guns?
In any case, how much more unsafe is it to drive at 63km/h in a 60km/h zone? The difference is not even noticeable to a driver with a speedometer that will in literally every case be wildly inaccurate? Or is it so much more dangerous to drive at 103km/h in a 100km/h zone? To be booked for this is beyond belief, but of course we all know why Hill has ordered police to do this. It's all about raising revenue and nothing else.
CARR advises that any motorist who is booked for going a few km/h over a speed limit should refuse to pay the fine and take the matter to court. Even the police's own speed measuring equipment has documented tolerance errors listed in their operations manuals. It can be shown to a court that if a motorist is booked at 63km/h in a 60km/h zone, the tolerance range of police speed measurement equipment can be proven to be inaccurate enough to not be reliable and thus the infringement should be dismissed.
Don't let the cops get away with this preposterous nonsense that speed kills and especially don't let them get away with booking you for driving at a couple of km/h over a limit when your speedometer and their speed guns have greater errors than this. Hill's directive is nothing more than trying to rip off motorists and you should never let yourself be the victim of this scam.
Thanks to Steve Howton for this item.
Opportunist "parking thieves" who grab parking spots in unit blocks while they shop or commute could face fines of $550 when local council parking officers are allowed to patrol strata parking under changes to the state's strata laws. But once parking wardens are in a building, residents could also be ticketed for such offences as parking in disabled spots or on common property driveways and even for parking over the boundaries of their parking spaces.
The detailed proposals for the update of strata laws - now being examined by members of the NSW cabinet - include provisions for local council parking wardens to be invited into apartment blocks and townhouse developments, mainly to help keep non-residents from stealing parking spots. The details of who can be fined for what will be part of matching changes to the Local Government Act.
While bodies corporate can deal with owners and tenants who park illegally, they have no legal sanction against outsiders who gain access to their buildings and park for free. The law specifically forbids cars from being clamped or towed without the owners' permission. This is a huge problem for unit blocks near business centres or railway stations, where rogue parkers - or parking thieves, as they are increasingly known - will park for free in visitors' parking, on driveways or even in owners' spaces, knowing they are safe from any legal sanctions.
Under the new laws, owners corporations will be able to make arrangements with local councils to ticket illegally parked cars. The maximum fine of $550 is part of efforts across the board to beef up all the sanctions for bad behavior in strata schemes and is a massive rise from the $220 previous maximum fine for many minor infringements. "I assume the devil will be in the detail of negotiations between strata schemes and local councils, which will set the actual fines," said Gerry Chia, secretary of strata advocacy group the Owners Corporation Network. "But this is a huge issue in many buildings and the proposed law change is something for which we pushed very hard in our discussions with Fair Trading."
While the problem of rogue parkers in apartment complexes is very real and annoying to residents, giving jurisdiction to local council rangers to come onto any private property and give them the power to book people is sheer insanity. There are many ways to deal with rogue parking without putting residents at risk of being fined a whopping $550 just because they might have parked for a few minutes on common property to run into their units because they left something behind.
If apartment blocks are having problems with rogue parking, they can install electric gates with access control, limiting car entry to parking areas to residents and their guests. Signs warning trespassers that they will be prosecuted if they illegally park on private property will give residents the right to sue those rogue parkers or reporting them to police, as trespassing on private property is an offence. In NSW, if a person has not been invited onto private property, they have no legal right to be there and can be prosecuted. A simple time and date-stamped photo would be more than enough evidence to get a rogue parker convicted.
The one refuge that motorists have from rapacious state and local governments are those private properties on which their houses or apartments are situated. Giving governments the legal right to book anybody for anything on those properties is fraught with danger and should never be allowed. CARR recommends that if corporate bodies wish to stop rogue parking, just install access control and if somebody happens to bypass it and park on common property or a resident's parking spot, that rogue can be charged for trespass by police.
Thanks to John Vance for this item.
18 January 2014 - The Northern Territory Government announced that speeding fines will double for high range speeders to up to $1000 from 01 February 2014. Fines for speeding between 0 and 15km/h will increase from $100 to $150, 15km/h-30km/h from $200 to $300, 30km/h-45km/h from $300 to $600, and 45km/h and over will rise from $500 to $1000. The changes come into force on the same day an open speed limit trial will start on a 200km stretch of road on the Stuart Highway.
NT Chief Minister Adam Giles stated, "All motorists want to be able to drive on a safer road network and these new safety measures will help achieve this. If you continue to obey the speed limit and the law, then these new infringement increases will not have any effect on you. Reckless and dangerous driving is not condoned by our community and these increases will bring the Territory's speeding fines closer to those that apply across the country."
Medical professionals from The Royal Australasian College of Physicians, The Australian Medical Association Northern Territory, The Royal Australasian College of Surgeons and The Australasian College for Emergency Medicine have joined forces and will tomorrow call for the scrapping of the planned open speed limit trial on the Stuart Highway. The medical organisations believe any open speed limit is irresponsible and dangerous. Speed limits will be abolished on a 200km section of the highway between Alice Springs and Barrow Creek for 12 months from 01 February 2014.
It appears that the Northern Territory government is making another grab for cash by gouging motorists., just like most of the Australian states. Revenue from fines has now become such an important component of budgets, that all governments are using every means to maximise their income in this way, because motorists are easy targets and most of them will not take active measures to prevent themselves from being ripped off.
The comments by NT Chief Minister Adam Giles that if motorists obey the speed limit and the law, then they have nothing to fear from infringements is ludicrous. There are a litany of court cases proving that motorists have been wrongly booked by defective speed cameras, defective radar and laser speed guns used by police and even "verballed" by police who thought that they could get away with wrongfully booking motorists who argued with them. This is typical of politicians, who ignore hard facts about wrongful bookings and make stupid pronouncements.
Then there is this ridiculously unjustified notion from a bunch of medical organisation that believe that any open speed limit is irresponsible and dangerous. Let's see these people telling this to the Germans and Italians who have open speed limits on their autobahns and autostradas and they will tell them that they are stupid and ignorant. Speed doesn't kill. Bad driving in badly maintained cars kills. It's that simple.
CARR again advises all motorists to take active measures against being booked by using GPS receivers with speed camera warnings and car black box recorders to prove that they were not speeding, if wrongfully booked. All motorists should video record every encounter with police at the roadside, as this is perfectly legal. Motorists need to protect themselves from greedy governments, defective speed cameras, defective radar and laser speed guns and corrupt cops and they should challenge every infringement in court, as they are innocent until proven guilty by a court of law.
Thanks to Mark Eisen for this item.
17 January 2014 - A Californian woman who was issued with a traffic ticket for driving while wearing Google Glass appeared in a San Diego court to fight the infringement. Cecilia Abadie was pulled over and given a ticket for speeding and wearing the smart spectacles while driving on 30 October 2013. She pleaded not guilty to breaking a California law barring motorists from watching TV while driving. The case may influence future laws regarding wearable technology.
"It's a big responsibility for me and also for the judge who is going to interpret a very old law compared with how fast technology is changing," Abadie stated. She was one of an estimated 30,000 people initially selected to try the device before it becomes widely available in 2014.
Abadie was pulled over by a California Highway Patrol officer for driving 80mph in a 65mph zone on Interstate 15 in San Diego. The officer observed Abadie wearing Google Glass and cited her for using a visible "monitor", a charge typically issued to people driving while watching a television screen. The device includes eyeglass frames equipped with a camera and small display controlled by voice command. In court, Abadie argued that the device was not turned on when she was pulled over.
San Diego Court Commissioner John Blair dismissed the citation against Abadie on the grounds that there was no proof her Google Glass was operating when she was pulled over and booked. Abadie is apparently the first person booked for wearing Google Glass while driving. The device, which projects a small screen in the corner of a wearer's eye, is expected to become a major catalyst for what many believe to be the next big trend in mobile, wearable computing devices.
The issue of wearable technology is going become an ever-increasing problem for governments, however the authorities who pass stupid laws against them will find that in most cases, fines against motorists using these devices will easily be challenged and beaten. There are already laws in Australia prohibiting drivers from accessing visual displays such as screens playing TV or DVDs while driving, but the first obstacle for a prosecutor would be to prove that a motorist was actually doing so.
For instance, how would a cop be able to prove that a motorist wearing Google Glass was watching a movie and not just driving along with the device on his head? Unless the motorist made an admission that he was doing so, which would be stupidity beyond belief, the cop could not see what the motorist was viewing. Thus he would have no way of proving to a court of law that the motorist was watching a movie while driving and not using the Google Glass to view a GPS navigation display, which would be perfectly legal.
Not only that, in the future, this technology will be built into normal spectacle frames that will make it impossible for cops to even ascertain that a motorist was even wearing such a device, let alone prove that he was watching a video. Of course any motorist who reveals to a cop that he was watching a movie with Google Glass while driving is just asking to be booked. This is why CARR advises all motorists to never ever talk to police. Never make any sort of admission whatsoever. Give the cop your name, show him your driver's licence and submit to a breath test if required. From that point, don't say anything except NO COMMENT to anything the cop asks. And NEVER let the cop inspect your mobile phone under any circumstances.
But why would a cop pick on somebody wearing Google Glass, when so many people have smartphones in cradles fitted to their cars, which are capable of playing video clips, movies and all sorts of other applications not related to driver aids? Even if a cop saw something that looked like a movie on a motorist's mobile phone screen and booked him, the cop would have to prove beyond reasonable doubt to a court that what he saw was indeed a video being played and not a reflection of the surrounds on the screen of the mobile phone.
Then there are other forms of wearable technology such as smart watches. Samsung Galaxy Gear, a smart watch that links to a Samsung smartphone can display video content on a driver's wrist. It would be beyond belief for a cop to try and testify to a court that he could see a video clip being played on a driver's wristwatch from his vehicle. A good lawyer would put the cop to the test and destroy his testimony in a heartbeat.
So unless the authorities banned all devices that were capable of displaying a video to a driver, such as smartphones, smart glasses, smart watches and any other such devices that may emerge in the future, cops would have very little chance of making a booking for using such devices stick. Governments are always looking to implement laws and regulations to give them more opportunity to fine motorists in order to raise revenue and motorists should fight such bookings all the way.
As for Abadie, she easily beat the infringement when the prosecution could not prove that her Google Glass was projecting a video or was even switched on. That is why all motorists should challenge every booking in court and make the prosecution always try to prove their case beyond reasonable doubt. If every motorist did this, instead of rolling over and accepting fines that are often wrongful, then the court system would collapse completely. For far too long, governments have used the pretext of safety as an opportunity to raise revenue and victimise motorists and this has to be eradicated.
15 January 2014 - Melbourne's Knox Council has been given a roasting by ratepayers and readers after it racked up thousands of dollars in legal fees chasing a father of two over a $141 parking fine - and lost. Knox Ratepayers Association (KRA) has called for better staff training, while the Municipal Association of Victoria said it was up to individual councils to decide when to bring in lawyers.
Upwey resident John Ferguson represented himself at the Ringwood Magistrates' Court on 27 November and 02 December 2013 in sessions that lasted a total of about 13 hours. He faced off against a lawyer from Maddocks and risked a criminal conviction after he refused to pay a fine for allegedly stopping in a no-standing zone outside his son's Ferntree Gully school. Magistrate Marc Anthony Sargent dismissed the ticket and ordered the council to pay $503.30 in costs.
Knox Council would not reveal the size of its legal bill, saying that it would include the fees in its next annual report. A suburban solicitor said that clients could expect to pay at least $300 per hour for representation from an inner-city law firm, which amounts to about $4000 for one laywer's court appearances alone.
KRA spokesman Alem Mirvich said that he regularly heard from frustrated ratepayers who had been fined outside schools without being approached by local laws officers. He stated, "It's a pet hate when the fine arrives and residents knew nothing about it. It's like they're (the council) on stealth mode. At the end of the day, if the council didn't enforce tickets nobody would pay them. Anything that improves public safety is money well spent. But they've made the wrong judgment call in this case."
Ferguson said that the combined court sessions lasted at least 13 hours estimated to have costg about $4000 for one lawyer to appear in court, excluding pre-trial preparation fees. Council records show that two local laws officers recorded 23 infringements, including Ferguson's fine, within 30 minutes outside St Joseph's College in Brenock Park Drive on 04 September 2012.
Ferguson said that he always drove into the school grounds before dropping off his son, but remembered having to wait behind another car that day, which had stopped illegally. He asked for the ticket to be reviewed and requested copies of the officers' notes and photographs, but the council stood firm. "They sent me a letter to say they did a review, but when we got to court neither local laws officer had been questioned as part of the review," he said.
Council records show that the officers recorded the driver was female, not male, the colour of the car was incorrect, while there was confusion over which side of the street the officers were on, Ferguson said. "That should have come out in the review. They should have said, 'We don't have our facts right here, why don't we just dismiss this infringement'. I feel Knox were less interested in justice and more interested in maintaining their prosecutorial power. I call it the Knox nonsense," Ferguson said. In an email, a Maddocks senior associate advised Ferguson: "My client (Knox Council) has already incurred considerable expense complying with these requests of yours for documents."
Knox Council director of city development Angelo Kourambas said that the council respected the court's decision, was successful in most cases and had no reason not to take the matter to court. "There is no requirement that every offence be photographed. In this case, images were taken but were unable to be produced," he said. Municipal Association of Victoria president Bill McArthur said that Victorian councils issued more than 1.6 million parking fines annually. "The Auditor General's annual report confirms that fewer than 1% of people elect to go to court. It would be a matter for each local council to decide when to seek legal representation." McArthur said.
McArthur said that councils and other enforcement agencies had to follow prescribed decision-making processes in line with the Infringements Act. Knox Council spent $1.065 million on finance and legal costs during the 2012-13 financial year, an increase of 19%. It issued 5288 parking fines, received 754 requests for a review and withdrew 365 notices, about 7%.
Councils now consider revenue from fines against motorists to be a very important and major component of their budgets and this is why they send teams of tax collectors to vulnerable points in order to gouge motorists at every opportunity. In many cases, such as the Ferguson matter, the council rangers get it wrong. Ferguson forced Knox Council to embarrassingly reveal that their enforcers made a complete hash of it, recording that the driver of Ferguson's car was female, the colour of the car was wrong and even where they were standing when they tried to fit Ferguson up for this infringement.
Every motorist should take action against every infringement that they receive by questioning every single detail that council inspectors claim occurred to have that infringement imposed. Motorists should snow councils down with constant demands for hard evidence on which councils rely to prove their cases and in every case, should actually demand that councils prove that they even have the legal right to levy fines.
Local councils are not recognised as arms of government under the Australian Constitution, thus do not have the power to levy fines. Various states have passed Local Government Acts to give councils this power, however it seems that none of these Acts have ever received Royal Assent, thus rendering them unenforceable. If this can be shown, then any fines that councils levy are illegal. Therefore every motorist who is booked for anything by council should insist that council prove that it even has the power to issue any infringement against him.
What is worrying is that the Auditor-General has found that less than 1% of booked motorists fight their bookings in court. No wonder councils find that booking motorists an easy way to gouge them, when they don't bother to fight back. If every motorist challenged local councils to prove their case and even to prove that they had the legal right to levy those fines, the court system would collapse and that is exactly what motorists should do. Never allow council to book you without challenge.
Thanks to John Vance for this item.
12 January 2014 - Queensland Police Commissioner Ian Stewart has apologised to a recreational motorcycle rider who claimed he was harassed by police when he was pulled over by officers. Wynnum man Jamie Evans posted a video of his encounter with police on YouTube, which has been viewed more than 256,000 times since it was uploaded. The video shows several police questioning Evans for 10 minutes at a service station south of Brisbane. Evans claimed that he was detained for close on an hour and released without any infringement notices or charges being laid.
Commissioner Stewart said he was sorry if the police crackdown on criminal motorcycle gangs impacted on law-abiding citizens. "Some good people in the community, including recreational motorcyclists, are going to be inconvenienced and I'm sorry if that's happened to Jamie," he stated. While Evans claimed that police had pulled him over 21 times in the past and that he was being harassed, Commissioner Stewart said the video showed a good level of respect on both sides and a very professional intercept. He stated that to his knowledge, Evans was not being targeted by police.
The police chief said the new anti-bikie reforms were working and 505 criminal gang participants had been charged since the end of September 2013. In the video, the officers ask Evans basic questions about his identity, whether he belongs to an outlaw motorcycle club, and whether his motorcycle is roadworthy. At one point, Evans tells the surrounding police that he has no respect for cops.
Evans, who is a member of the recreational motorcycle club The Misfits and was wearing a leather vest with the group's logo, said on Facebook that the case was proof that the Newman government's anti-bikie laws were affecting regular citizens. A Queensland Police spokeswoman confirmed that Evans had not been charged.
The one important aspect of the video posted on Facebook by Evans is that he was very foolish for answering any questions posed to him by police. The only obligation that Evans had was to state his name, produce his driver's licence and submit to a breath test if required. Apart from that, he should not have spoken any further to the police, nor answered one single question that they asked. He was foolish because at one time, he stated that he didn't have to answer the questions that police put to him, yet he continued to do so.
CARR advises all motorists to never talk to the police, never answer any questions that they ask and simply do so in order not to incriminate themselves. The time to deal with any issues and questions is in a court of law and in any case, a defendant has the right to silence and it is the prosecution that has to prove its case beyond reasonable doubt. There is absolutely nothing to gain by talking to police, answering their questions or cooperating with them. It will get you nowhere. But make sure that if you are pulled over by police, that you video record the encounter and don't let the cops intimidate you into stopping, as you have the legal right to record anything you like in a public place.
Police are trained to ask questions of motorists to elicit responses that can be used against them or even to show a magistrate that a motorist was aggressive, not that this in itself is illegal. However, the best policy is to say NO COMMENT to any question or statement put to you by police and it gives them no ammunition to use against you.
Under common law, police do not have the right to detain anybody if they are not under arrest. A motorist who is stopped by police should show his licence, then ask the police if he is under arrest. If the police say "no", then the motorist should state that police have no right to detain him further and he is leaving. If they try and prevent him from leaving, he should quote the court judgements of Supreme Court Justice Stephen Kaye and Country Court Judge Duncan Reynolds (on the CARR website) and state that if the police prevent him from leaving when he is not under arrest, he will have them charged under the Crimes Act, report them to the Police Integrity Commission and also sue them for damages in a civil court.
As for the Queensland government's anti-bikie laws, which they call "reforms", that's absolute nonsense and it's only a matter of time before they are overturned by the High Court. Every person in Australia has freedom of association and even outlaw bikies are afforded this right. No government has the right to prevent any person from associating with anybody else and it is rather surprising that the Queensland government has been getting away with these unconscionable laws. The quicker that they are overturned, the better.
The main thing to understand is that police do not have unfettered powers and they do not have the right to harass motorists. It's bad enough that police are now operating as the government's tax collectors by entrapping motorists and gouging revenue from them with fines, many of them for ridiculously unjustified offences, such as in the recent case of the motorist who was fined for parking his car with the window slightly open. When police commit such stupidities, it is no wonder that so many people have nothing but contempt for them.
Thanks to Mark Thompson for this item.
12 January 2014 - In Melbourne, a Victoria Police officer is being investigated after being caught on video performing an illegal u-turn on a dual carriageway and almost colliding into oncoming traffic. The video shows a marked police car pulling up at Reservoir train station to drop off a colleague before swinging round and driving the wrong way. It then crosses an intersection, narrowly missing turning traffic who have right of way.
Footage was captured by a dashboard camera on one of the cars at traffic lights on Spring Street, as it waited to turn right into Edwardes Street. The 32-second video, uploaded onto Facebook last month under the title "One rule for them?" has been liked by almost 1500 people, shared to more than 600 other users and 215 people have made comments. The officer driving was not responding to any police matter or emergency. The video also shows that the police car did not use its flashing lights or siren.
Victoria Police confirmed that the incident was being investigated by Professional Standards Command. "Professional Standards Command has been made aware of the incident and is investigating," Leading Senior Constable Adam West said. "Officers are expected to comply with the Road rules unless operational needs apply."
Literally for decades, police have routinely broken road rules and committed illegalities and got away with it because in the past, witnesses who reported them had little or no evidence to back up their claims. However, with the increasing use of mobile phones with video capabilities, dashcams and car black boxes, police have been filmed committing all sorts of illegal acts, from bashing suspects to committing all sorts of traffic offences.
CARR has no objections to police carrying out their duties and driving contrary to the road rules if they are required to chase after offenders or deal with emergencies. But CARR considers that police have an obligation to obey the road rules like all other motorists. It is the height of hypocrisy for cops to book motorists for speeding and committing other offences, then those cops go and commit the same offences with impunity and they should not get away with it.
Every motorist should install a car black box to gather evidence in the case of wrongful bookings, but those devices are also useful for catching rogue police committing offences. Motorists who obtain videos of police doing the wrong thing should lodge complaints and have those police charged and fined, exactly the same as if they had been charged and fined for the same offences. In theory, the law should apply to everybody, but in the past, police got away with breaking it. Now police can be dealt with in the same way as other motorists.
Thanks to Steve Howton for this item.
10 January 2014 - Concerns have been raised about the downsides of advances in car technology after a Queensland woman faced the terrifying situation of being locked and trapped inside her own Audi car. The woman's keyless-entry car malfunctioned in some way, leaving her trapped and struggling to breathe on a 40?C day. Audi is monitoring the incident, which happened in Noosa on the state's Sunshine Coast.
Sometimes advances in technology can misfire very badly. A number of people have reported that they were trapped inside their vehicles that had keyless-entry and in the case of the Queensland woman who was trapped inside her Audi in 40?C heat could have caused her to have a heart attack and die. Keyless entry is terrific if vehicles have some sort of mechanical internal override mechanism that allow people to unlock their doors and exit their vehicles in cases where they are locked in by keyless-entry deadlock systems.
Another area of grave concern is the increasing prevalence of keyless access and starting of vehicles. There have been many reports of people who have mislaid or inadvertently dropped their car keys or the transmitter fobs that were close enough to open the car doors and allow cars to be started by pushbutton and driven away. But once the drivers stopped the vehicle, possibly many kilometres away from where they lost their keys or fobs, they were not able to start their cars again without them.
This is where such technology can really backfire on users. Keyless entry using buttons on the key or a keyring fob is good because drivers need to have their keys or fobs in their possession. But keyless entry by proximity without having to physically have the door unlock transmitter in one's possession is fraught with danger. The same goes for vehicles with pushbutton start and motorists with vehicles equipped with this technology have to be extremely conscientions to ensure that they are always in possession of their keys or transmitting fobs.
Thanks to John Vance for this item.
08 January 2014 - There are a number of virtually unknown road rules that have been exposed since Julian Harris was fined for leaving his car windows slightly open when parked, in order to ventilate his vehicle on a very hot day. Queensland police have been fining drivers and motorcycle riders for offences that no normal motorist would even imagine existed.
Jake Sloman was riding along the Logan Highway when he stretched his leg. The cops pulled him over and fined him a whopping $146. The offence? "Fail to keep both feet on footrest". The fine caused outrage on social media, with people saying taking that this particular road rule to the letter would mean almost every motorcycle rider would be liable to be fined.
Road rules in all Australian states are a minefield, full of pitfalls that can cost drivers money for falling foul of the numerous obscure regulations. The list of rules is so long and convoluted with references to things such as "dragon's teeth" and "pelican crossings", it is almost impossible for any person to know every one. But state governments are not averse to filling treasury coffers by way of stringently enforcing their rules of the road. Here are some of these rules.
Although some of these mostly unknown road rules involve drivers exercising commonsense, many of them are ridiculously stupid and illogical. A motorcycle rider may have to lift a foot from the footrest to relieve cramp or to stretch to relieve fatigue, but in Queensland, Jake Sloman was booked for merely doing this and found out the hard way that the cops are scrabbling around to find any pretext to fine motorists. No wonder people have lost respect for police when they are now acting as the government's tax collectors instead of spending their time preventing serious crimes from being perpetrated.
The matter of Julian Hill being fined for leaving his car windows ajar because it was a hot day in Brisbane is the most ludicrous and illogical, simply because this rule cannot be applied to all vehicles and thus is discriminatory. The reason given for this idiocy is to allegedly prevent thieves from gaining access to cars, so it is an offence in Queensland to leave car windows open 5cm or more. Yet a person with an open top convertible with the entire interior open to the world can park such a car and walk away, leaving any passer-by free to unlock the doors from the inside or steal anything inside the vehicle. Whoever promulgated this lunacy is an imbecile and the Queensland cop who fined Hill is an utter disgrace to the police force.
Being fined for a non-functioning number plate light is also very unfair, because it may have been working when the driver commenced his journey and failed on the way. CARR does not know of any vehicle on the market that has an indicator on the dashboard that shows when a number plate light fails. So how would a motorist know that his number plate light blew out during his trip? Do the cops expect him to pull over every 5 minutes and jump out of his car to inspect his number plate light? The same goes for tail lights that blow during a drive. This law needs to be challenged in court every time somebody is booked for it.
As for flashing lights at oncoming motorists, this rule is merely there so that police can raise revenue by operating speed traps and preventing motorists from warning others about them. However, if it is not an offence to flash one's lights to warn of hazards or blockages on the road, why is it dangerous to flash lights to warn of speed traps? It's the same activity. Victorian police recently stated that it was all right for motorists to flash their lights to warn of speed traps, therefore the pretext in other states for making it illegal to flash lights because it is allegedly dangerous of has no basis in fact and should be scrapped. How can something that is not dangerous in Victoria be dangerous in other states? Of course other state governments would want to retain this law, purely for the facilitation of revenue-raising speed traps. Anybody booked for doing this should fight it in court.
The rule regarding animals is crazy too. A motorist must slow down or stop to avoid crashing into animals and no driver would want to do this and damage his car anyway. But what if an animal such as a kangaroo jumps onto the road and collides with a car? Is the motorist still liable to be fined when it's not his fault? Under this idiotic rule, he probably could be fined, although only a magistrate with a death wish would uphold such a stupid penalty.
There are many really stupid and illogical road rules and they need to be rescinded. However, state governments are finding that these obscure rules are giving them unprecedented opportunities to raise revenue by fining motorists and motorcycle riders on every conceivable pretext. This is why motorists who are being used and abused as cash cows to fill government coffers should organise themselves into a political party and stand against rapacious politicians in elections and get them thrown out of office. In the meantime, motorists should refuse to pay any penalties if they are booked under these ludicrous rules and they should drag the government and police to court and fight every one of them.
06 January 2013 - Victorian drivers are being warned to watch their speed as police prepare to turn on two new fixed-speed cameras on the Monash Freeway. The cameras have been installed to the south of High Street in Glen Iris and will clock speeding cars travelling north and south-bound.
The switch-on follows a 10-day-trial that clocked more than 1450 drivers speeding on the freeway, with cameras snapping six people zooming at 145km/h or more. Meanwhile, nearly 300 drivers were nabbed driving at speeds of up to 115km/h, and more than 100 drivers were caught travelling between 15 to 25 km/h over the speed limit.
Victoria Police spokeswoman Belle Nolan said that drivers exceeding 125km/h would usually lose their license and those speeding at more than 45km/h would have had their cars impounded in normal circumstances. However, because these drivers were snapped speeding during a trial run, they would not be penalised.
Road Policing Command Assistant Commissioner Robert Hill said that drivers had been given every opportunity to do the right thing, as signs warning drivers about the cameras were put up on the freeway several weeks ago. "The signs have been in place for some time, reminding people that the cameras are about to be switched on. In addition to this, the signs will tomorrow be telling drivers that the cameras are enforcing." he said.
Assistant Commissioner Hill said that research had shown that speed cameras "save lives and are an important tool for police to help reduce road trauma". He stated, "With the cameras switched on, it's a timely reminder to slow down, pay attention, and ensure you're keeping to the posted speed limit at all times."
Here is yet another example of the blatant lying of the Victorian Liberal government that screamed for a solid decade about speed cameras being nothing but revenue-raisers. Of course as soon as the Liberals took power, all those protestations were quickly forgotten as the smell of money ripped from motorists became too tempting to ignore. So here are two speed cameras that will book motorists travelling on a freeway that is better and safer than most unlimited speed autobahns in Germany, yet are restricted to a ridiculously low speed of 100km/h that drops to 80km/h.
As for Victorian Assistant Commissioner Hill's statement that research had shown that speed cameras save lives, CARR states unequivocally that this is a blatant lie. CARR throws down the challenge to Hill to produce one single speed camera that has saved one life or prevented one accident. The truth is that a speed camera is completely incapable of doing anything except take photos and send them to the Victorian Department Of Ripoffs And Revenue-Raising so that infringement notices can be generated.
The so-called "research" to which Hill refers is utter crap. Independent research from all over the world has proven beyond a shadow of doubt that speed cameras do absolutely nothing to reduce accidents and fatalities and in fact in a myriad of places where they have been removed, such as in Swindon in Britain, accident rates have fallen. The same goes for red light cameras that have been proven by independent research and studies to cause up to 40% or more accidents at intersections where they have been installed and a commensurate reduction in accidents when they have been removed.
The simple truth is that all this "research" by Australian state governments that is trotted out to justify the deployment of speed and red light cameras is complete and utter nonsense. However, motorists do have the weapon to totally negate the revenue-raising by those cameras, merely by using GPS receivers with camera warnings. Any motorists who are too stupid or negligent to avail themselves of this cheap and extremely effective technology deserve to be ripped off by these highway robbers.
05 January 2013 - Police expect that charges will be laid against scores of West Australian drivers as part of a crackdown on scamming of the demerit point system. An audit of traffic infringements in the 12 months to November 2013 uncovered hundreds of potential cases of drivers falsely declaring that another person was driving their vehicle at the time of an infringement. The review was ordered after a driver was accused of advertising on the classified website Gumtree for strangers to be paid to take his demerit points for speeding.
Commander Alf Fordham from the traffic enforcement command said that drivers who falsely nominate others to avoid demerit points can expect to be caught. Drivers who accrue 12 demerit points are banned from driving for three months. Registered vehicle owners can nominate another person as being the driver at the time of an infringement, with demerit points transferred to that nominated person.
The audit identified 360 potential false renominations, from which police expect to lay charges in 60 cases where there is clear photographic evidence. Further review could identify more cases for prosecution. Commander Fordham warned drivers that police will continue cracking down on the demerit points scam. "We now have processes in place to ensure we catch people engaging in this practice - and we will get you; both as the driver and the person incorrectly accepting the points. The Infringement Management Office has now developed a set of criteria that will trigger an investigation into a renomination," he said.
Falsely nominating another driver is a serious criminal offence and offenders can be charged with wilfully misleading police or false statutory declarations that can incur potential penalties ranging from $1600 to two years imprisonment and up to a $24,000 fine.
This is a very interesting matter, because the way the infringement system works in most states requires owners of vehicles who have been booked to nominate either themselves as the drivers or declare the names of people who were actually the drivers at the time of the infringements by way of statutory declarations. There is an important principle at law here, the right of a person to refuse to incriminate himself. As the infringement form that is required to be returned is a statutory declaration, under common law, a vehicle owner does not have to incriminate himself, as traffic infringements are criminal offences.
The infringement system states that unless the vehicle owner truthfully nominates another driver, he is deemed to be the driver of the vehicle at the time of the infringement and is therefore liable to pay the fine. However, as this sort of offence is a criminal matter, it requires the prosecution to prove beyond a shadow of doubt to a court that the accused person was actually the driver of the vehicle at the time of the infringement.
What the infringement system is doing is akin to demanding that a person accused of a bank robbery either nominate another person who committed the robbery, or be deemed to be the actual robber - without the police actually proving this. But the person accused of the robbery is quite within his rights to refuse to either incriminate himself or to even talk to police and give them any assistance whatsoever. The right to silence is enshrined in our legal system and CARR has always stated that people should never talk to police, simply because anything people say can be used AGAINST them. Police are not known to produce evidence FOR a defendant.
So if a vehicle owner refuses to sign that statutory declaration because it may incriminate him and he refuses to nominate another driver, then under normal common law, the onus would be on police to prove beyond a shadow of doubt that the car owner was the driver at the time of the infringement and this would be most difficult to do in most circumstances, especially in offences made by speed or red light cameras.
A few years ago, CARR webmaster Ziggy was sent an infringement notice from South Australian police, because a car registered in his name was being used by his daughter when she was living in South Australia. The police demanded that Ziggy sign a statutory declaration either admitting to driving the car or nominating the driver. Ziggy immediately wrote back, telling the cops in no uncertain terms that he refused to sign the statutory declaration under any circumstances because he was not the driver, having not been in South Australia for at least 30 years at the time and that he could not truthfully nominate anybody else as the driver because he simply did not know who was driving the car at the time of the infringement.
The cops threatened Ziggy with court action and Ziggy just told them to try it, reminding them that he didn't have to incriminate himself by signing a statutory declaration, especially when he could not have been the driver, nor could he truthfully identify who was driving the car at the time of the infringement. Ziggy reminded the cops that the onus of proof was theirs and that Ziggy was innocent until he was proven guilty beyond a shadow of doubt by a court that had hard evidence of his guilt. The cops then gave up and sent Ziggy a letter stating that they were cancelling the infringement notice.
So that was a good example of how to deal with a system that tries to force somebody to incriminate themselves. Refusal to sign a statutory declaration, especially one that incriminates oneself, is not a crime - in fact anybody who does this is very foolish. A system that deems that a person is guilty of an offence without that person facing a court of law has to be fought on every front and nobody should ever accept an accusation of guilt for anything without being first convicted of an offence in a trial.
CARR does not have anything against the police. We need them to protect the community against crime and keep us safe. But CARR strongly objects to police being used as the government's tax collectors and enforcers, especially when governments enact laws that infringe upon the civil liberties and legal right under common law of citizens. The traffic infringement systems in all states are designed to remove our legal rights, especially the presumption of innocence and the right to refuse to incriminate ourselves and this has to be resisted in any way possible.
Thanks to John Vance for this item.
03 January 2014 - The Queensland Council for Civil Liberties (QCCL) stated that police will be pressured into breaking the law to keep their figures up on scorecards. As the Queensland Police Service aims to reduce state-wide crime by 10%, officers will be assessed according to their number of traffic fines, random breath tests (RBTs) and street checks.
Terry O'Gorman from QCCL said that it was a return to the so-called "kill sheet" quotas of the 1970s and 1980s. He stated that police will be under pressure to break the law. "Police under pressure to complete scorecards will cut corners, will bully and bluster people into letting police search their cars when the police have no right to," he said. "If police are going to be put on scorecards and you've got say 10 police in a squad and four are doing fewer RBTs, fewer street stops than the rest of them, then those four are going to be asked by their superior for a please explain. That is a return to the kill sheet."
O'Gorman claimed that complaints have already been received about the abuse of search powers since the new bikie laws came into effect late in 2013. But Queensland Police Commissioner Ian Stewart defended the scorecard system, saying it is not a repeat of the controversial 1970s and 1980s quota system. "I expect our people to do their job. Their job is to stop crime in the community, make the community safer and build relationships with our community on a constant and continuous basis." There needs to be ways we can measure how that's occuring." he said.
O'Gorman stated that he believes that no other Australian state currently adopts scorecards or quotas on police activity, as they are deemed too controversial. "What better example do we need than the stories we are seeing at the moment about people fined for driving one kilometre per hour over the speed limit, or for leaving a car window down in the hot weather?" he said.
Terry O'Gorman has hit the nail on the head. No matter what protestations emanate from the mouths of Queensland Police Commissioner Stewart and other government apologists, the fact is that Queensland has become a police state, with cops looking for every excuse to book motorists, even on the most flimsy and unjustifiable pretexts. The bikie laws are one thing, although they fly in the face of Australia's obligation as a signatory to honour the UN Charter of Human Rights that guarantee freedom of association. But this blatant attack on motorists to rip them off is something else.
For instance, the case of Julian Harris being fined for leaving his car windows slightly open in order to try and cool his car in 34?C heat is so preposterously unfair, that it would be surprising to find any magistrate that would uphold this idiotic infringement. How a government can pass such a stupid and discriminatory law is mondboggling, especially when convertibles can be legally parked with the interiors completely open is truly amazing. It just proves that the law is a gigantic ass. But that cop who booked Harris was just doing what his bosses and political masters dictated, trying to find any pretext to issue infringements to raise revenue.
It is high time that motorists in all states organised themselves into political groups and stood against these rapacious bastards who inflicted these ripoffs against them. There are around 13 million passenger cars in Australia, so one can assume that there are at least 13 million licensed drivers. Imagine even if 20% - 260,000 voted for a Motorists Party that fielded candidates to stand against incumbent politicians. That Motorists Party would annihilate both the Labor and Liberal Party in every seat.
Short of mobs marching on state parliament houses with burning torches and pitchforks, scaring the living crap out of political parties in power is the only legal way to achieve some justice for the benighted motorists who are being treated as bottomless wells of revenue for goverments of every persuasion. Both Liberal and Labor governments have shown their true colours in their broken promises to remove those speed cameras that they all claimed were revenue-raisers when they were in opposition, but retained and increased their numbers when they assumed power.
The worst thing is that all the established motoring organisations such as NRMA, RACV, RACQ and others seem to be in the pockets of governments, because they do absolutely nothing to fight those injustices and ripoffs. We need to have an independent voice for the protection of motorists by fighting those governments who attack us in the way that the Queensland government is doing right now.
Thanks to Avi Olshina for this item.
03 January 2014 - Julian Harris was visiting family in Brisbane when he decided to leave two windows down three to four centimetres to let some of the hot air escape from the parked car on the 34?C day. It was a decision that left Harris with a $44 fine and a rap across the knuckles from police.
Harris stated, "It was 34 degrees so I left the windows down slightly, so it wouldn't be boiling hot for my 3-year-old son when we got back in. I was trying to do the right thing - it's just what you do with it being so hot in Queensland."
Harris returned to the car, which was parked on Windsor Place at Deception Bay, about two hours later to discover the fine for an offence he had never heard of. Under Queensland law, if a driver is more than 3 metres from their car, the vehicle must be secured with the engine off, hand brake applied, ignition key removed, if no one over 16 remains in the vehicle and windows up with a gap no more than 5 centimetres.
Perplexed by his fine, Harris went to the police station and spoke to the officer who issued the ticket. "I asked him if he had any measurements and he said no - he just told me he had an accurate eye. The officer said he had the window on video but told me that he didn't have time to show me," stated Harris. He said that the policeman suggested in future he leave where he is half an hour early to unlock the car and let it cool in the future.
Harris said that a friend of a friend was booked for the same offence within hours in Nundah, in Brisbane's inner north. "It would have been better to leave a first and final warning," he said. Police refused to say whether there was a current blitz on the peculiar offence. "Vehicle security remains part of ongoing Community Safety and Crime Prevention strategies designed to help reduce property crime," a spokeswoman said.
The so-called offence of leaving a car "unsecured" should never have been put on the statutes in the first place. It is simply nobody's business to dictate whether somebody leaves their property secured or unsecured. It is not an offence to leave one's house, caravan, trailer or anything else unlocked, so why the hell should it be an offence to leave a motor vehicle unlocked or even just with the window open?
Motorist Brian Last observed that this law was beyond idiocy. He said, "So what's the rule if one own a roadster, convertible or Tee roof? Or if one has a sunroof? Worth going to court over that one." And Brian is quite correct. It is not illegal to park a convertible with the top down, leaving its interior "unsecured", as the cops put it on Harris's infringement. In other words, the law is an ass. Harris ought to drag the cops and the government to court, demanding that they testify as to how many roofless convertibles they have booked for leaving them "unsecured" and why he was booked for merely leaving his car windows open a few centimetres.
If a person chooses to leave his car unlocked or have his windows open, this should not be the business of police and it should not be an offence. Of course if the car is stolen, then the owner who left it unsecured would risk having his insurance company refuse to pay out, but that would be his problem and his loss. In any event, most cars can be quickly opened by experienced car thieves using nothing more than a "Slim Jim" piece of metal.
However, this case merely demonstrates how state governments and their police tax collectors are scrabbling for revenue by fining motorists for every conceivable offence, even really stupid ones that should never be on the books in the first place. Motorists really need to go through the various offences and force state governments to repeal such ridiculous offences such as leaving a vehicle unsecured, because it really is entirely up to the owners whether they choose to leave their houses, trailers, caravans and cars locked or unlocked.
02 January 2014 - Melbourne's Stonnington Council, which managed to rake in more than $25,000 in parking fines at the expense of bargain-hungry shoppers. Council parking officers issued 282 fines in streets surrounding Chadstone Shopping Centre on Boxing Day, as shoppers parked anywhere they could on the biggest sales day of the year.
Doors to the shopping centre opened at 7:00am and council officers were on the beat soon after. Most offenders overstayed their limit or parked illegally in the streets around the centre. Stonnington Council acting chief executive Geoff Cockram said that there were six parking inspectors on duty during the day and two at night, the normal for a public holiday roster. The average number of fines issued near Chadstone was three per day, but the council collected $25,161 on Boxing Day alone.
Detective Senior Sergeant Mick Martin said that Stonnington police took part in Operation Opportunity from 22 to 26 December 2013 to coincide with the sales period. Martin said there were no arrests during the operation. The only problem on Boxing Day was motorists not obeying road signs that told drivers to enter the shopping centre via Dandenong Road instead of Warrigal Road.
How appropriate that the police ran a blitz called Operation Opportunity over the Christmas break. It was a golden opportunity all right - to entrap and fine motorists on every conceivable pretext to raise revenue for their political master, the Victorian government. Detective Senior Sergeant Mick Martin stated that there were no arrests made, but apparently plenty of infringements were handed out to motorists. And while these cops were lurking around and fining people for minor traffic offences that did not injure or kill anybody, serious crimes were being committed around Melbourne with impunity.
Of course Stonnington Council grasped the opportunity to fine motorists for having the temerity to overstay parking limits or for parking in places not permitted, so that they could try and grab bargains at Chadstone Shopping Centre. Not much Christmas goodwill from this council when it came to raising revenue for its coffers. However, there is a huge question mark over the alleged power of councils to levy fines, as they are not recognised as arms of government in the Australian Constitution and only arms of government can do this.
on 08 July 2010, former Attorney-General Robert McClelland responded to a query from a Queensland man regarding the status of local councils. He stated, "The Constitution does not currently recognise local government." Recognition of local government has to be passed by referendum and so far, every referendum regarding this has failed. Therefore, the only way that local governments are able to levy fines is by receiving the power to do so by state governments and this was done by the passing of various Local Government Acts.
The problem is that these Acts have never received Royal Assent as required under the Constitution, therefore motorists who are fined for any alleged offence by councils should look at challenging their power to levy fines on Constitutional grounds. There is much material on the Internet regarding this issue and the letter from McClelland is available on the CARR wsebsite on the Downloads page.
Thanks to Steve Howton for this item.