Road safety campaigner John May is worried by the decision to de-activate Urunga's Pacific Highway speed camera.
Road safety campaigner John May is worried by the decision to de-activate Urunga's Pacific Highway speed camera. Bruce Thomas

Speed camera decision 'unwise'

THE State Government's decision to deactivate a high-profile Pacific Highway speed camera has left a local road safety campaigner dumbfounded.

John May has been tracking the flow of heavy vehicles through his home town of Urunga for more than a decade and can't believe the government has decided to turn off the speed camera which he claims has kept the brakes on trucks and cars exceeding the 60kmh limit.

“Before the camera was put in place we were living under conditions no one should have to live under with trucks speeding along the Pacific Highway through Urunga and putting people's lives in danger,” Mr May said.

“The camera breaks the momentum of trucks through Urunga, where before it was treated as a big dipper.”

Mr May claims 500 trucks pass through Urunga every hour and his 2001-2005 figures logged trucks going an average of 97kmh during the day and 107kmh at night in the 80kmh zone before the Urunga Bridge.

He said trucks would speed past Newry Island and pressure cars to go faster over the bridge when south-bound and when north-bound they would speed through black-spots like the S-bend at Hungry Head and the crest at Martells Rd.

“The effect of slowing down trucks could be seen either side of Urunga because with the camera in place there was no point in them rocketing through before being forced to slow down to 60kmh,” Mr May said.

“I'm concerned things will return to the way they were with this instrumental safety mechanism de-activated.”

The Minister for Roads and Ports Duncan Gay pulled the plug on 38 of the state's 141 fixed speed cameras which were found to be “ineffective” in a bid to quash public concern the cameras serve simply as revenue raisers.

The move follows a report released by the Auditor-General analysing their contribution to road safety, based largely on crash data.

The audit found that overall speed cameras improve road safety but there were a number which needed to be closely examined as they appeared to have “no significant road safety benefit”.

Prompted by the findings, the fixed camera at Urunga (between Ranger St and Hillside Dr) was deactivated on Wednesday.

In the 2010/2011 financial year the Urunga camera clocked 2934 drivers with fines totalling $446, 699. Since records started in 2006, the camera has accrued nearly 20,000 penalty notices, totalling $2.38 million in fines.

While the government has decided to pull the plug on the Urunga camera, it is keeping the one at North Macksville switched on despite it only detecting 51 speeding drivers in 2110/11.

Another on the old highway at Bonville will also remain switched on, despite it only moni- toring local traffic on Pine Creek Way. A third camera which the government announced it would decommission at Bundagen has been inoperative for the past two years.