Vehicle & Traffic Amendment (Driver Distraction & Speed Enforcement) Bill 2022 (No 20)
Tuesday 18 October 2022, Special interest matter speech
Ms ARMITAGE (Launceston) - Mr President, I too will be supporting this bill. Sadly, too many people have been seriously injured or lost on our roads and I support any endeavour to reduce the road toll. It is interesting looking at the camera technology and I have been looking at other states even before Tasmania took it up. If you look at Queensland for example, they were one of the first states to take it up. In Queensland in their first two months, after their trial period, they issued nearly $18 million in fines.
Ms Forrest - They also have a zero tolerance there.
Ms ARMITAGE - Eighteen million dollars in fines to distracted drivers across the first two months that catch out people using mobile phones and not wearing seatbelts. One of the interesting things about Queensland - and I ask the Leader and she may not be able to answer this question - it was pleasing to see the Minister for Transport and Main Roads, Mark Bailey, said:
All fines collected by the cameras would be invested in road safety initiatives and education.
It was good to hear that is happening in Queensland. They are catching a lot of people, but it is great to see that the money will be going back into road safety and into education.
In New South Wales, as well, there are mobile phone detection cameras, including fixed and transportable cameras. The system operates day and night in all weather conditions, and has been successful in reducing illegal mobile phone use on our roads.
Obviously, during the trial period, no fines would be issued, and I am assuming that would be the same - that during a trial period, people would get a notification. I hope they get a notification letting them know that they had been caught, but that a fine was not going to be issued, rather than just a trial period where no‑one received anything. It is always good to know that perhaps you have gone past something, and it might just -
Mrs Hiscutt - Through you, Mr President. You want to know, will fines be issued during the trial period?
Ms ARMITAGE - No, not fines. I am assuming you would not issue fines during the trial, but that people would perhaps be sent a letter telling them that they had been caught, although it is a trial period, and they would not be fined. Sometimes, that reminds people that gosh, they did not have a seatbelt on. Obviously, it would not be the speeding. This would just be the trial period, I am assuming, under this bill, which is for the things that do not come under our current legislation. Not the speeding and the red light; we can already cover that.
However, I was looking at other states, and Western Australia was another one, and I thought the comment they made was very pertinent:
WA road safety commissioner Adrian Warner said the presence of more cameras and the fear of getting caught was 'the most powerful driver of good behaviour.'
'We can't have police everywhere, they have other things to do, and these cameras are a very efficient and effective way of creating a deterrence' he said.
That is one thing we discovered in our Road Safety Committee with the submissions, that the fear of getting caught seems to not be as obvious at the moment. With COVID‑19, there were not as many police on the roads, and as the member for Elwick mentioned, police have been caught up with COVID‑19. They have been busy with COVID‑19, and the traffic response has not been there, as it has in the past. Who knew that they did not have mobile cameras for the last few years? I certainly did not. I assumed they were there. I knew there were eight fixed cameras, but I had not realised that the cameras were not there on the side of the road.
There are a lot of things that we have discovered during our Road Safety Committee and we are hopeful, as a committee, that we will finalise it within the next week or so, barring any more proroguing.
Mr Willie - Or losing any more members. You will not have a quorum.
Ms ARMITAGE - We are down to three members, Mr President, but -
Ms Forrest - What are you doing to them?
Mr Willie - I am not the Chair.
Ms ARMITAGE - I will not make a comment that one of them was a Labor member who left the parliament. I thought the member for Elwick deserved that one back. Of course, another member became a minister. Obviously, I was not responsible for them leaving, but it is difficult to try to get a quorum when you have three members. It is not easy, with two proroguings and one suspension, but we are getting close to the end, which is very pleasing.
Anything we can do, and any recommendations - there are no silver bullets, but we are hoping that anything that we can bring up to the Government to try to help the road toll is certainly worthwhile.
I received an email from a constituent, and I was asked to forward it on to all members. I am not going to go into all the questions here. The Leader would have received this as well. I forwarded it to all members, but a lot of it relates to certain clauses. However, perhaps you could answer some of the general questions, because some of these things have been raised with me as well, with regard to a mobile phone. Now, I know you cannot have a mobile phone on your lap. You cannot be touching it. I have been asked by quite a few people, if the mobile phone is in your shirt pocket, for example - it is on your body, but you are not going to get it out of your pocket, whereas I appreciate if it is on your lap you may be texting or doing something like that.
That is a question that has been raised by several people with me - if the phone is in your shirt pocket, how does that work? From reading the second -
Mrs Hiscutt - Through you, Mr President, I will get the correct answers, but during the Burnie Show, the police were there and I put all these questions to a policeman at the time. The answers were very good, but we will wait for the official answers.
Ms ARMITAGE - Thank you.
Ms Forrest - Were they arresting you?
Mrs Hiscutt - I was in the tent.
Ms ARMITAGE - The police tent?
Ms Forrest - It was a very good display.
Ms ARMITAGE - This gentleman has a few questions about the point-to-point cameras as well. My understanding is that it takes a picture of every vehicle. His concern was if someone was a learner driver and they changed over, that the speed of the point-to-point could vary. I will ask it with a clause, but I am giving you a heads-up that I will be asking it.
Mr Gaffney - Through you, Mr President. I was also interested with what you sent us. During the Committee stage, will you be asking those questions on each of the clauses?
Ms ARMITAGE - Yes, on the clauses; but I thought if I give the Leader a heads-up now she will have a -
Mr Gaffney - It is good it is going to be on the record for the person who sent it in to you, to see that is what he has asked.
Ms ARMITAGE - Some of the questions were with regard to the cameras that detect. This gentleman says, as he understands it, the average speed at the point in time as it triggers the camera, or in the case of new generation video-recorded evidence which pictures may be taken from - his question is that it may not reflect the driver's true nature in regard to speed and responsibility in regard to driving. For example, if an L-plate driver triggered detection point camera 1 and, especially if over a longer distance, a fully licensed driver takes over control of the vehicle for whatever reason and continues part of the journey and then swaps back to the L-plate driver, the second camera is triggered and an automatic fine is sent with regard to point-to-point. Is there a tolerance?
Mrs Hiscutt - Through you, Mr President. So, you are presuming the L-plater is only allowed to do 80 kilometres per hour and that the licensed driver can do 110 kilometres per hour?
Ms ARMITAGE - Yes. If an L-plate driver started, maybe drove from Launceston to Campbell Town; the other driver took over for a period of time; and the L-plate driver took over again; perhaps they drove in areas that were not as busy or different sections. His question is, how does that work?
Mrs Hiscutt - Bearing in mind that they probably stopped for at least 10 minutes to swap over drivers.
Ms ARMITAGE - They may or may not have. They may have just stopped and swapped over.
Mrs Hiscutt - They would have to stop to swap.
Ms ARMITAGE - Yes, I know, but they may not have stopped for 10 minutes, that is all I am saying. His question was with regard to tolerance. I will ask you at the clauses but I am giving you a heads-up with some of the general questions this gentleman has asked. They are the main ones he is concerned about - the point-to-point. As he says, 'the portable device offence - so, the charge does not apply to the defendant due to the kind of licence or class of licence held by the defendant'. The camera takes a picture, but there are certain things the camera cannot identify. It is artificial intelligence. I understand it goes on to a human to look at after that. As I said, I will ask these questions when it comes up to the clauses.
I was interested in recent comments by Inspector Nick Clark in The Examiner, that about a third of Tasmanian road fatalities and serious crash injuries are linked to speeding. He was going on about the mobilising of dedicated police resources to address this, undertaking a range of highly visible operations targeting the fatal five dangerous driving behaviours including speeding. He was speaking after police statistics showed that statewide, detected numbers of speeding offenders doing 15 to 29 kilometres over speed limits had fallen in the 2021‑22 financial year; but the number caught 30 kilometres or more over speed limits had increased.
Under our new road policing services model, which is based on national research and learnings from other jurisdictions, we now have a dedicated highway patrol - and it is pleasing to see that it is back - and improved ability for districts to undertake intelligence-led, joint road safety operations in rural and regional areas.
Transport minister, Michael Ferguson, said in late August:
The State Government had committed $75 million to 42 initiatives based on crash data and expert advice under its Towards Zero Action Plan to reduce road fatalities and serious injuries.
The positive thing with this new legislation is that the new enforcement cameras can be anywhere at any time, making people think about speeding before putting their foot down and risking death.
I am pleased to support the legislation we have before us. I will elaborate further when we get to the clauses on some of the questions from our constituent. I am assuming he is in the north of the state. I am not absolutely certain where he is from but he has quite a few questions that he asked me to forward on to other members.
I will let you know that the point-to-points were of concern to him - how that would be ‑ and also if you could advise whether there is some tolerance to do with the point-to-points to see how that will actually work? I support the legislation before us.