Fines have exploded in NSW since authorities stopped warning motorists about speed cameras, according to an opposition analysis.
From an average of 1634 fines handed out per month over a six-year period ending last year, NSW officials handed out more than 27,000 speeding tickets in a single month in 2021.
NSW Labor called the increase a “cash grab” meant to collect revenue and “prop up the budget”.
“These hidden speed cameras are a blatant revenue-raising tactic to prop up a budget with record debt,” opposition roads spokesman John Graham said in a statement.
Opposition Leader Chris Minns called for a return to warning signs, letting drivers know a speed camera is coming up.
“We need to do everything we can to save lives on our roads,” he said.
“Warning signs change behaviour and get drivers to ease off the pedal and slow down.”
He also called for higher visibility of police operations on roads to make motorists drive slower.
Roads Minister Andrew Constance has said removing the signage could save dozens of lives per year and the revenue from tickets goes to a road safety fund.
“There is no such thing as safe speeding,” Mr Constance said.
He said that studies had shown going just 5km/h too fast where the speed limit was 60km/h doubled the risk of being involved in a deadly crash.
“That’s why we’re guided by the experts, not some politicians more interested in pandering to people speeding than keeping our community safe,” he said.
Mr Constance said prior to the changes, speeding was a contributor to half of all road fatalities.
“We had to take action to save lives and create a culture that you can be caught anywhere, anytime.
“So far this year, this number has dropped below 40 per cent, so we know it’s working.
“Every cent raised by these cameras goes into the community road safety fund and is spent on upgrading roads, education and putting police on our roads to make sure loved ones get home safely. The bottom line is don’t speed and you won’t pay a fine.”
Nationals MLC Wes Fang has previously called for warning signs to be reinstated, saying rural drivers who depend on driving to make a living would be hit hardest by the new regimen.
“Having an increase of 16 times the previous number of fines is no doubt going to have an impact on people losing their licence,” he told NCA NewsWire.
“For many in the areas I represent, a loss of your licence means a loss of the ability to get the kids to school, to earn a living or go to the doctors and the shops. Public transport does not exist for us.”
Labor’s analysis was made by comparing speeding fines handed to drivers going less than 10km/h too fast. The number of fines given out in the month of March between 2015 and 2020 ranged from 2588 to 1616.
But in March 2021, there were 27,760 such fines administered, a 1599 per cent increase compared with the March average.
Labor said the total value of all fines in March 2021, including those for higher-range speeding offences, totalled more than $6.3m.
That’s compared with a total of $478,580 in March 2020.
“The NSW government has worked out a way to slug families with hundreds of dollars for low-range speeding offences by hiding the cameras,” Mr Minns said.
“This policy has made families and tradies poorer, but it hasn’t made our roads safer.”
NRMA spokesman Peter Khoury said warning signs would make drivers slow down.
“The NRMA maintains the view that mobile speed cameras should have warning signs,” he said.
“We believe the warning signs act as an important educational tool and help slow drivers down. Ultimately, if we can help slow drivers down we can help save lives and make our roads safer.”