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SA speed cameras raking in far more fines than expected

Speed cameras in South Australia are raising more revenue than predicted

Speed cameras on the South Eastern Freeway near Adelaide are generating three times as much fine revenue as expected and providing a multimillion-dollar windfall for the South Australian Government.

The cameras - at the Crafers Interchange and Mt Osmond overpass - have generated $5.84 million in speeding fines in their first seven months of operation, compared to police estimates of just over $1.6 million.

At this rate of detection, the fixed cameras will raise more than $10 million a year - well above the expected $3 million.

Figures obtained under Freedom of Information show the two cameras caught more than 13,000 speeding vehicles between December and June.

If the aim is road safety and not revenue raising, then point-to-point cameras should have been used, so people stick to the speed limit for all of this part of the freeway

The RAA said the higher than expected speeding revenue may relate to the variation of speed limits imposed on this busy section of the Adelaide Hills freeway.

Speed levels can be reduced for roadworks and poor weather conditions. RAA safety manager Charles Mountain said many drivers might be getting caught at reduced speed limits.

"If this is the case, then there needs to be an increase in the number of speed limit signs when the variable speed levels are used," he said.

Family First MP Robert Brokenshire said the average fine indicated most motorists were only "a little bit over the limit".

"So the question has to be if the fixed cameras have been put in for revenue raising rather than road safety," Mr Brokenshire, who obtained the fine figures, said.

"If the aim is road safety and not revenue raising, then point-to-point cameras should have been used, so people stick to the speed limit for all of this part of the freeway." Mr Brokenshire said he wouldn't be surprised if Transport Department surveys prior to the cameras' installation, which showed high levels of speeding vehicles on the downtrack into the city, "encouraged the Government to set up the cameras".

Transport Department data shows that, of the 152,602 vehicles that descended the freeway into Adelaide on July 9, 2012, 11,140 had exceeded 105km/h.

They are on track to generate more $30 million, based on the current rate of detection

"I wouldn't be surprised if the survey tempted the Government to put the cameras where they are because Treasury is always looking for a good return on its investment in speed cameras," Mr Brokenshire said.

Road Safety Minister Tony Piccolo said the simplest message for motorists was "if you do not speed you will not get caught".

'It is only a very small percentage who choose to flout the law," he said. 'The money from expiations does not go into general revenue, but rather the Community Road Safety Fund.

"The fund provides for a range of important road safety initiatives, including infrastructure upgrades, road safety education and enforcement programs." The minister said that since the fund was established in 2003, the road toll had decreased from 152 in 2002 to 98 in 2013.

Mr Piccolo said police figures showed 99.8 per cent of road users were "doing the right thing".

The higher than expected revenue from the two Hills cameras comes despite the camera near the overpass being the target of two vandal attacks, which took it offline for six days.

The attacks, allegedly involving a slingshot, are estimated to have cost $65,000 in lost revenue.

The hi-tech cameras became operational on December 2 and were the first in the state capable of operating in a variable-speed environment.

This means they can detect heavy vehicles breaking the 60km/h truck-specific speed limit and cars speeding over the general vehicle limit.

In November last year, The Advertiser reported that police thought the cameras would generate $8 million during the first three years of operation.

But they are on track to generate more $30 million, based on the current rate of detection.

And this figure wouldn't include any motorists caught out by the reduction of the maximum speed limit for cars on the freeway's down track between Crafers and Urrbrae from 100km/h to 90km/h since September 1. Police have now increased their expectations for future fine revenue following the rate of detection initially recorded.

The force's Financial Management Services Branch predicts the seven months from November to June next year will see police 'collect approximately $2.733 million'' - 70 per cent higher than the estimate for the corresponding first seven months of operation.

A police spokesman said motorists needed to remember the cameras can catch vehicles speeding even when speed limits are varied for events such as hazardous weather.

"Crash statistics show this is a dangerous stretch of road and motorists must remember to stick to the posted speed limit," he said.