A few weeks ago, five children under 16 were killed and the 18-year-old driver was injured when a Nissan Navara ploughed into a tree at Buxton, a small village about 100km from Sydney.
The Navara was a dual cab ute weighing two tonnes, yet when it hit the tree it split in half then shredded itself into strips of metal that were unrecognisable as car parts.
Police told reporters the crash was the worst they have ever seen. The Navara seats five “at a pinch”. There were six in the ute when it crashed and only the driver was wearing a seatbelt. During the driver’s subsequent bail application, the prosecutor highlighted two previous suspensions of his licence for speeding in an 18-month period.
A week later four children under 16 were hospitalised and the 18-year-old driver suffered minor injuries when their Honda Accord ploughed into a pole in Sydney’s Beverly Hills about an hour away from Buxton.
Not only was the Accord split open, one of the boys in the back had to be cut out. It is believed the driver’s licence was suspended due to unpaid fines.
Two years ago, Veronique Sakr, 11, and her cousins, Sienna Abdallah, eight, and her siblings Angelina, 12, and Antony, 13 were walking on Bettington Rd, Oatlands. It was the first time they had been allowed to walk to buy ice creams by themselves. According to court records, Samuel Davidson, 29, had spent more than 12 hours drinking and had cocaine and other drugs running around his body when his Mitsubishi Triton Ute mounted the kerb, ploughing into the children and killing them.
In these tragedies and many others, it’s families, police and ambos left to pick up the pieces and try to put their lives back together. For all three, the effects last for many years and for the families, forever.
And what do our governments do? Well not much really.
For instance, in April this year the NSW Government launched its 2026 Road Safety Action Plan (RSAP), including “new targets to halve road deaths and reduce serious injuries by 30 per cent by 2030”. Of course, the RSAP comes in a glossy 40-page brochure which sets a new standard for saying nothing in what appears to be 40,000 words, with the mandatory quotes from the Minister for Metropolitan Roads, the Minister for Regional Transport and Roads, the president, Safer Australian Roads and Highways (SARAH) Group, various road safety ambassadors, the Down The Track group, the Road Trauma Support Group NSW, a bloke from Essential Energy and the president, Cultural Diversity Network Inc.
Of course, nothing from Daniel and Leila Abdallah who created i4give Day as a remembrance of their four angels who were tragically killed on the 1st of February 2020.
The best idea our pollies and their advisers could come up with was the use of more automated stuff to help police in their work. Hard to see mobile speed camera drivers helping out the coppers at Oatlands, Buxton or Beverly Hills. Hard to see them stopping licensed or unlicensed drivers off their faces with booze, drugs and/or testosterone killing kids.
And as the brochure says, and it’s from the government so it must be right: “There is strong community support for action that balances education and enforcement.
“This includes high-visibility policing and speed camera use, alcohol interlock devices and ongoing enforcement programs testing for alcohol and drugs.”
Then surely this report from the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age must be wrong: “After hidden speed cameras failed to reduce the road toll – and following a mounting public backlash from the record fines – the NSW Government has confirmed mobile speed camera operators will be forced to make their cars more visible from February 2023”. Yes, why lose some dollars to spend on brochures and advertising when you can put it off for five months to help the private contractors who run the hidden mobile cameras.
In 2018, the geniuses at Transport for NSW gave Redflex Traffic Systems more than $112m to operate mobile speed cameras.
A percentage of the millions of dollars raised by mobile speed camera fines is being paid to the private operator to deliver the program. Easy to see the incentives there. The more you speed the more we make.
And just saying: In the US Redflex bosses admitted to a scheme that funnelled campaign contributions to elected officials in Columbus and Cincinnati to either obtain or continue the contracts to supply photo red light enforcement.
And our NSW government friends are paying another mobile camera operator, Acusensus, $77m to deliver 8300 hours of enforcement each month. According to the NSW Opposition, taxpayers spent $2075 for every fine issued by Acusensus in July 2021, after comparing the amount paid under the contract with hours of enforcement provided.
Orange NSW MP Phil Donato got it right when he said: “There’s no deterrence in this covert practice, where drivers receive infringements in the mail up to a month after a speeding offence and left to potentially continue driving in excess of the speed limit.
“The continued use of unmarked mobile speed cameras is a revenue-raising exercise – plain and simple.”
Our own journalists at news.com.au reported that “revenue data for the past financial year shows low-range speeding fine revenue – motorists clocked less than 10km over the limit – bolstered Treasury coffers by 855 per cent compared with the previous year”.
To finish on a more traditional note: Bonhams is offering a 2015/2020 Rolls-Royce “Silver Spectre” station wagon for around $500k. Heading off Grouse shooting? Parking in the bushes with a speed camera on top? This one-off is perfect. It has a lengthy roof out of lightweight carbon fibre and its interior finished with a striking “infinity starlight” headliner, which is claimed to be a world’s first. A must have for any mobile speed camera operator to take the loot home in the back.