I use this blog as a soap box to preach (ahem... to talk :-) about subjects that interest me.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012


In Australia, like in many western countries, we have speed cameras.

What is odd, though, is that their position is announced in advance with big street signs (at least in the Australian Capital Territory, where I live).  Speed cameras are called here “speed traps”.  But what trap is visibly marked so that the prey doesn’t “fall” into it?

There are some mobile cameras, but very few.  Often, instead of being used by the police to issue speeding tickets, they are connected to big panels that tell you your speed, as if the speedometer mounted in your dashboard were not enough.

Canberrans are up in arms whenever the government announces more speed cameras.  In the newspapers, you read articles accusing the Police of being money grabbers.  It is as if the Police didn’t have the right to fine you when you break the law.  Evidently, the motorists think they have the right to exceed the speed limits.

I say, fill the territory with speed cameras and place police cars with Doppler radars around curves, at the bottom of down slopes, and hidden in the shrubs!  Hit as many speeders as possible and hit them hard for breaking the law in a way that endangers everyone.  Indeed, most accidents occur because people drink & drive and/or speed.  Breath checks are good, but they also slow down the traffic.  Speed checks don’t.

The Swiss do it right: Zurich has dozens of speed cameras, which take very precise measurements of car speeds (how could it be otherwise?  They are Swiss!  :-).  But fines are only issued if the measured speed exceeds the speed limit by more than 5 km/h.  By giving a margin of 5 km/h, they generously take into account tolerances.  I was once fined forty Swiss Francs (about $40) because my speed was 6 km/h above the speed limit.  Fair enough.

Let the speeders be annoyed that they get caught.  I don’t know how much the fines are, because I have never been fined since I came back to Australia four and a half years ago, but I say: make them higher.  Sooner or later, people will start thinking that speeding doesn’t pay.

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