Editorial: Keep the speeders guessing

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Trying to keep Northland's speed camera vans "mufti" or even remotely covert had become a bit of a joke.

One of them was the blue van pictured above. It was a unique colour - "speed camera blue", let's call it. The mere sight of it caused motorists to slow down, which is exactly what we all want.

However, as you can read in today's Northern Advocate, police no longer want their vans to be mufti - it's all about increasing the vans' visibility and making them preventative safety tools.

We've come a long way since the mobile cameras were introduced in the mid 1990s.

Initially, we had clearly marked speed camera zones, and the mobile cameras and vans could only be employed within these zones.

The zones were done away with, and it was soon realised that uniformed staff were wasting their time and the Government's money by being employed to drive and look after the vans.

So civilians - non-sworn staff - were hired.

Despite their visible presence on Northland roads, we have continued to rack up thousands of speed camera fines. In fact, in the year to June, 26,073 speed camera tickets were issued in Northland for fines totalling $2,093,970.

That's an average of about $80 a ticket.

With the introduction of marked speed camera vans, I think police should have the power to increase the fines. Getting caught by a van clearly marked as a police speed camera vehicle should carry an extra "stupid tax".

I don't think all of our vans should be marked though - here's why.

In the case of the blue van pictured above, I used to wonder whether there was actually a speed camera in the back or whether the empty van was simply being parked in strategic spots to slow the traffic.

Maybe we should buy cheap imported vans in "speed camera blue", but don't buy the expensive cameras that go with them. Keep the speedsters guessing, in other words.

- NORTHERN ADVOCATE

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