An audit of Victoria's speed cameras has concluded that the network is effective in saving lives and improving road safety. The report by the Victorian Auditor General, Des Pearson, follows mounting complaints that the cameras are little more than cash-cows for the state government.
Mr Pearson found that the camera technology used in Victoria's fixed and speed camera systems are sound. He said that the network remains an appropriate law enforcement strategy.
"There is a high level of confidence in the accuracy and reliability of the equipment used in the road safety camera system," the report reads.
“While there can be no absolute guarantee over the accuracy of any system, the processes and controls in place provide a particularly high level of confidence in the reliability and integrity of the road safety camera system.”
In his review, Mr Pearson added that the use of mobile speed cameras at night should be increased. He also criticised the Baillieu Government's decision to make the locations of speed cameras publicly available.
He said that the decision goes against the intention of the network, and that a target number of random mobile speed camera sites should be set.
Police Minister Peter Ryan says the Government will now reconsider publishing the information.
"That is a recommendation and we will do as the auditor-general has suggested and reconsider it," he said.
The report points to public education as a point of concern, advising that a campaign should be launched to improve the perception of speed cameras.
“The report has found that the siting of cameras is based on sound criteria with no consideration to revenue raising," Victoria Police Acting Assistant Commissioner Neville Taylor said.
“This is a very important point to reiterate. I would encourage anyone who has concerns or doubts about the camera program to read this report which thoroughly explains and evaluates the system we operate in Victoria."
The Auditor-General also recommended more regular independent testing for mobile speed cameras, to "allay public perceptions about [the program's] integrity and purpose".
The report has not been welcomed by all. Road safety advocate and lawyer Rob Bryden said that while cameras are effective in certain accident black spots, the Victorian Government "is in denial".
“Whilst the Victorian report has cited other Australian and overseas speed camera studies that suggest speed cameras make a difference, the actual findings of two of the most recent reports would suggest otherwise,” Mr Bryden said.
He said that speed cameras have no effect on the actual causes of accidents, which are most likely to be caused by driver inattention, poor training, fatigue, alcohol, unroadworthy cars and bad road design.
“As part of a more holistic approach a combination of better roads, better training, safer cars and rewarding rather than penalising drivers is required to improve safety on Australian roads,” he said.