Friday, September 5, 2008

Speeding fine blitz at school zones

SCHOOL zones have turned into a $50 million-a-year fines nightmare for motorists, with the number of people caught breaking the 40km/h limit soaring by almost 500 per cent.

Even school zone warning lights, located wherever there are fixed speed cameras, have not stopped more motorists from being caught.

Across the state, the value of fines issued by the 161 fixed speed cameras jumped to $79.8 million in 2007-08, nearly double the $41.2 million the year before. In total 677,839 speed camera fines were issued during the year - a jump on the 406,076 issued the year before.

But it was the astonishing increase in fines issued by the growing number of fixed speed cameras in school zones which contributed to such massive growth.

Nine out of the top 10 busiest cameras in NSW are located in school zones, led by a device on the Hume Highway, Bankstown, which issued $3.2 million worth of fines.

Documents on provisional revenue and fine data obtained from the Office of State Revenue under Freedom of Information show school zone cameras issued 327,695 tickets worth $45.2 million. The year before school zone cameras issued just 81,407 fines worth $8.09 million.

With the $4.6 million worth of school zone parking fines issued by councils, motorists last year paid $49.8 million in fines for offences around schools.

There were 193,124 motorists caught breaking the 40km/h school zone limits in the 2007-08 financial year, up from 41,479 in the previous financial year.

The State Government rolled out more fixed speed cameras around schools in the past year as part of its school safety program, initiated after an accident involving primary school student Sophie Delezio, who was injured in two separate accidents at a play school and a primary school.

But the 50 cameras are also doing brisk business outside the morning and evening school zone times - 134,571 fines were issued by these cameras outside the zone periods.

Roads Minister Eric Roozendaal said he did not like speed cameras "any more than anyone else" but said they saved lives.

He said the revenue generated by the school zone cameras was going back into school safety, including $46.5 million spent on flashing lights.

"I ask motorists to slow down in school zones - they are there to keep our children safe," he said.


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