Our Say: Nationals still missing the point on cameras

NATIONALS MPs can come up with plenty of excuses as they reject a push to train the state’s point-to-point cameras on cars.

It was an election promise, they say. Well, this government has never previously shied from the odd political backflip.

The point-to-point cameras are not currently in locations where accidents are occurring, they say. Well, why are they there in the first place? And even if there is a low accident rate currently, training the cameras on cars certainly won’t add to the number of crashes. So what do you have to lose?

We are implementing other measures, they say. Well, congratulations for that. But surely every possible measure should be explored to tackle this state’s horrendous road toll.

The reality is, NSW’s network of point-to-point or average speed cameras is the nation’s most extensive. It is also the most under-utilised.

Covering more than 650 kilometres of the state’s most dangerous stretches of road, the cameras represent a significant investment in road safety yet they continue to turn a blind eye to the vast majority or vehicles.

Successive state governments have resisted calls to turn the cameras onto cars so it is a little unfair to lay the blame solely at the feet of the current office holders.

But after a Christmas break when the road toll shocked even the most complacent driver and after more than a month of tough-talking rhetoric, it’s more than curious that this proposal was not among the raft of road safety initiatives announced in a far-reaching new plan on Tuesday.

NSW has installed 25 point-to-point cameras - which measure motorists’ average speed across a distance rather than taking a single snapshot - but remains the only state to use the technology to catch only speeding trucks and not cars.

That is despite safety experts saying evidence from other states and nations shows the technology is highly effective at reducing dangerous driving because drivers are monitored for longer and reduce their speed accordingly.

Perhaps the Nationals fear a backlash from their rural voters who would, through pure fact of geography, be the most likely to be caught speeding by the cameras. But that is no reason to keep saying no.

The people of NSW have made it clear they want to see action to bring down the road toll. Tuesday’s new road safety plan offers so much, but point-to-point cameras have been lost in the blind spot.