Fixed speed cameras on the Western Ring Road will be replaced and around 90,000 motorists will have fines reimbursed and demerit points reinstated, Premier Steve Bracks announced today.
“While the Ring Road fixed cameras have saved lives and reduced accidents, they must be reliable – and Victorians must have full confidence in them,” Mr Bracks said.
“It is unacceptable that the Ring Road system has deteriorated to the point of unreliability.
“The Government will repay motorists, ensure the cameras are working properly, and establish a special investigation by former Auditor General Ches Baragwanath into the Western Ring Road contract and its management by the relevant departments and agencies.
“It will also explore all legal options against Poltech International, which was contracted by VicRoads to install, maintain and fix the cameras under warranty, and is now in administration.”
Testing conducted by SGS International showed both ‘over-readings’ and ‘under-readings’, with the majority recording lower speeds than motorists were travelling, or not recording at all.
The faulty readings were due to poor installation and maintenance, degradation of the in-road sensors and electromagnetic interference.
“When the cameras were put into operation they complied with all contract specifications and had been certified in accordance with the Road Safety (General) Regulations 1999. I want to know how and why the subsequent system failures occurred,” Mr Bracks said.
The Government also announced:
·Tenders will be issued to replace and improve fixed cameras on the Western Ring Road;
·An allocation of $13.7 million to reimburse fixed camera fines incurred on the Ring Road;
·A $6 million fund to reimburse motorists with legitimate claims due to losses resulting from licence suspension for fixed camera penalties on the Western Ring Road;
·Infringements issued up until November 12 on City Link and the Monash Fwy will stand;
·All infringements on hold since November 12 on the Western Ring Road, City Link and the Monash Fwy will be withdrawn.
Mr Bracks said 30 million motorists had travelled on the Western Ring Road before cameras were suspended in November.
During the test period 0.005% of motorists were detected at higher speeds than they were actually travelling and would have been fined, while 0.55% were travelling faster than was recorded.
While the error rate for ‘over-readings’ was low, the Government will reimburse fines and restore demerit points for around 90,000 motorists who paid infringements on that road.
“This decision is based on the poor condition of the network, the inability to identify precisely when the faults began, which infringements may have been affected, and the inadequacy of failsafe systems to catch questionable readings before fines were issued,” Mr Bracks said.
Infringements on City Link and the Monash Fwy issued before November 12 will stand as the system was not subject to the same degradation, and verification systems were working.
“There was evidence of some electromagnetic interference, and degradation of the sensor strips on one Monash Fwy camera site due to exposure to weather, but these were not significant enough to over-ride the cameras’ verification systems,” he said.
“While the City Link and Monash Fwy cameras recorded ‘over-readings’ of 0.004%, the report found none would have progressed through verification systems to an infringement.”
More than 2500 motorists who lost their licences last year received at least one infringement from Western Ring Road cameras. Of those motorists, the 780 still without licences will have demerit points reinstated and the majority will have their licences restored.
All 43,725 infringements put on hold when the cameras were suspended on 12 November (34,742 on City Link and Monash Fwy, and 8983 on the Western Ring Road) will be withdrawn.
“These fines, totalling $6.1 million, will not proceed because the extensive testing program has interfered with prescribed maintenance and certification procedures for the cameras,” he said.
City Link and Monash Fwy cameras will be re-calibrated and re-certified, sensor strips at the Monash Fway site will be replaced, and cameras will resume operation as soon as possible.
The report by SGS Australia found:
·Of 1.5 million tests on the Ring Rd, 72 were ‘over-readings’ and 8064 ‘under-readings’.
·Of the 72 over-readings, only 12 would have resulted in infringements being issued.
·Sensor strips for all 19 Ring Road cameras had degraded, and during the testing period five cameras were not recording images at all due to power supply problems.
·Of the 1.4 million vehicles tested on City Link and the Monash Fwy, 225 were recorded at lower speeds than they were travelling and 61 at higher speeds. None of these readings passed the image verification process.
The Department of Justice will write to all motorists booked by the Western Ring Road fixed cameras advising them how to have fines reimbursed and points restored.
A major overhaul will include replacement of the Ring Road network, a progressive upgrade of all fixed cameras including a ‘time-over-distance’ double-image.
Mr Bracks said management of all speed camera contracts would be moved to one central body within the Department of Justice.
He said the Government was committed to having an effective road safety program, including fixed speed cameras, because they were clearly contributing to a declining road toll.
“On the Western Ring Rd there were nine fatalities before cameras were installed in October 2002. Since then there have been no fatalities, and the road toll is at its lowest ever level.
Motorists can find out more about refunds and reinstatement of demerit points at http://www.justice.vic.gov.au/speedcameras or contact 1300 369 819.
SUMMARY OF STATUS OF FIXED CAMERA INFRINGEMENTS
APPOINTMENT OF A SPECIAL INVESTIGATOR UNDER THE PSME ACT
Terms of Reference
To conduct an investigation into the implementation of the fixed digital speed program on the Western Ring Road, with particular reference to:
·The adequacy of the letting and subsequent contract management of the installation and maintenance of FDSC on the Western Ring Road; and
·Advise if any public sector employees have been negligent in their role in the contracting process for FDSC on the Western Ring Road.
As a result of this investigation into the adequacy of implementation and contract management of the FDSC program on the Western Ring Road advise on improvements to program management of the FDSC program (including installation, maintenance and other contract management functions such as performance monitoring) for future roll out of the FDSC program.
The Special Investigator will be appointed in May 2004 and report by September 2004.
The Special Investigator will report to the Premier, who will table his report in the Parliament during the Spring 2004 parliamentary session.