Speeding fines issued to Newcastle motorists have risen by 1100 per cent since the NSW Government removed warning signs on mobile speed cameras late last year.

Mobile speed cameras warning signs were removed in November 2020

NSW Labor has obtained figures relating to fines issued to drivers from January to March 2021, compared to the same months in 2020, when warning signs were still in place.

Broken down by residential postcodes, 2299 (Jesmond, Lambton and North Lambton) recorded the greatest increase with 122 fines issued, compared to only five during the same period last year. This represents a massive 2340 per cent increase.

Postcode 2295 (Stockton and Fern Bay) also recorded a significant 1780 per cent increase, with 94 fines issued against the five given out in 2020.

Whole-of-state data revealed that in January 2021, almost $3.4M in revenue was collected, compared to $382,000 in January 2020.

Similarly, in February 2021, revenue from 28,000 fines totalled $6.1M–more than the $5.7Mcollected during the entire 2019/2020 financial year.

State Member for Newcastle Tim Crakanthorp, who requested the data through the Upper House, said the exponential fine increase was an example of government revenue raising.

“I think we all expected to see some kind of rise when the warning signs were removed, but it has gone into absolute overdrive,” Crakanthorp said.

“The NRMA was completely opposed to the removal of warning signs because signs educate drivers and make them change their behaviour in real time, rather than when they receive a fine in the mail a few weeks later.”

The increase has sparked an inquiry launched by NSW Parliament and the Joint Standing Committee on Road Safety, which will investigate the recent changes to the state’s mobile speed camera program.

The inquiry will cover increased enforcement hours, reduced high visibility livery on vehicles and the removed warning signs.

Committee Chair The Hon. Lou Amato MLC said the inquiry would provide insight into mobile speed camera enforcement and how it protected road users.

“We want to know what the community thinks about these changes in terms of how they promote and improve road safety,” he said.

“We also want to consider how the revenue from speeding fines is spent as part of the ongoing funding of safety initiatives.”

The inquiry, which closes on July 9, will also look at the balance between mobile speed cameras and direct enforcement by police.

Minister for Transport Andrew Constance announced on May 5 that $135Mwould be invested in road safety projects.

Constance said that 78 projects would be delivered and financed through the Community Road Safety Fund.

“We want to ensure everyone who travels on our roads makes it home safely at the end of the day,” Constance said.

“That’s why all money generated from the mobile speed camera program goes directly into the Community Road Safety Fund to deliver lifesaving projects like these.

Constance said the Safer Roads Program was expected to prevent the loss of more than 1500 lives over 15 years.

“That’s 1500 people making it home safely to their families because of these projects.”

Projects will include 28 kilometres of safety barriers that absorb impact forces and protect passengers, 167 kilometres of rumble strips to alert motorists when departing lanes, and more than 30 kilometres of wide centreline.

Other projects will include 313 high-risk rural curve improvements, using safety barriers, shoulder sealing and signage upgrades, as well as 47 urban intersection improvements like roundabouts and traffic signals.

Hayley McMahon

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