Speed Cameras

08 Feb 2005 questionsarchive
Question put forward to the Hon. P. HOLLOWAY (Minister for Industry and Trade) regarding the accuracy of speed measurement devices.

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: I seek leave to make a brief explanation before asking the Minister for Industry and Trade, representing the Minister for Police, a question about the accuracy of speed measurement devices.

Leave granted.

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: An article published last year by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers entitled ‘Target Aspect-Dependent RCS: The Effect on Assumed Beam Angle’ highlights that there may be some significant inaccuracies in a range of speed camera devices in use in Australia. Under freedom of information I have obtained a list of traffic speed analysers, and I will read them for the record: Slant Radar (AS Type VII); Slant Radar (AS Type VII) Photographic Systems; Direct Radar (AS Type III) Stationary; Direct Radar (AS Type IV) Mobile; and Traffic Speed Laser (Kustom Pro Laser II).

The article refers to a type of analyser called the Multanova 6F; however, I am led to believe that similar devices may be used in South Australia. The article states:

Initially, the radar tolerance used to slant radar (radar that is placed at the side of the roadway and is aligned at a specified angle to the lanes of the roadway) was based on a standard originally produced by the National Highway Transport Safety Association. . . Many jurisdictions now use a standard that allows tolerances of measurement error that are less than the previously mentioned standards.

The article further states, in the section relating to testing of the device:

The speed calculated and displayed by the radar may, in fact, be higher than the actual vehicle speed.

In the conclusions section, the article states:

The standards currently used for these devices may therefore often be inadequate. The cosine errors allowed for in the standards relate to the radar setup, some roadway curvature, and vehicles travelling at a small angle to the laneway.

Withstanding the technical difficulties most of us who do not have physics degrees will have in understanding the content of this article, I am quite happy to provide it to the government.

My questions are:

1. Is the government aware of such research, which states that speed measuring devices may be up to seven per cent inaccurate?

2. What level of accuracy is provided by each of South Australia’s speed camera devices?

3. Does the government deploy any of the cameras referred to or anything comparable to that which was tested and referred to in the article?

4. Does the government plan to reduce tolerance, as has occurred in other states, and what liability will it accept if these devices are discovered to be inaccurate?

The Hon. P. HOLLOWAY (Minister for Industry and Trade): I will refer those questions to the Minister for Police in another place and bring back a reply. Obviously, the government wishes that these devices are accurate, but I would like to point out that last year, thanks to the use of these devices (amongst other measures), we did have the lowest road fatality rate in modern times. So, obviously it is important that they be accurate. The honourable member’s questions are important but, whatever one thinks about these devices, the runs are on the board in terms of reducing road fatalities.

I know it has been an issue in Victoria where questions were raised some time last year about the ways these devices are being used. I am sure that the police here are very diligent, but I will get a detailed reply from the Minister for Police.



(Monday 23 May 2005)

In reply to Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK (8 February).

In reply to Hon. J.F. STEFANI (8 February).

The Hon. P. HOLLOWAY: The Minister for Police has provided the following information:

The Commissioner of Police has advised:

1. The South Australia Police are aware of research indicating that some brands of speed measuring devices such as the Multanova 6F analysers may exhibit variances. Such variances are taken into account by the manufacturers of the equipment and documented so that differences are compensated for in the equipment manuals and standard operational procedures.

2. In South Australia speed camera devices are tested for accuracy in determining the speed of motor vehicles in accordance with Australian Standard AS 2898. This standard relates to the manufacturer's specifications, which states that the device is accurate within a limit of error not exceeding plus or minus two kilometres an hour.

3. The South Australia Police do not operate or deploy any Multanova 6F speed analysers or similar devices. This device uses a different radar beam and antennae than the speed camera devices currently in use within South Australia.

4. SAPOL generally allows a tolerance for speeding offences, which allows for reasonableness and fairness when taking into account any variance of speed detection equipment and road user vehicle speedometers. This tolerance does not denote any perception that it is permissible to drive up to the tolerance level. Police officers may exercise their discretion to take action regardless of this tolerance depending on the circumstances of any breach.

The general speed enforcement tolerance allowed in South Australia is a policy issue for the Commissioner of Police.

In response to the supplementary question, fixed site speed cameras are checked every seven days. Mobile devices deployed by SAPOL are checked for accuracy daily by means of a run through whereby a SAPOL vehicle with a known accurate speedometer is driven past the speed detection device at a set speed. The speed recorded is checked to ensure that it is accurate. This process is overseen by a supervisor and is repeated during the course of any one day if the device is deployed over more than one shift. The vehicle speed and the vehicle used to conduct the run through is speed tested every three months by the Royal Automobile Association (RAA). The speed testing apparatus used by the RAA is certified by the National Association of Testing Authorities (NATA). The speed camera is immediately defected if there is any discrepancy found between it and the testing vehicle.

No compensation due to faulty speed cameras has been paid in South Australia.