NSW Roads and Mobile Speed Cameras

Life in the Panopticon Lane


August 31, 2021

Driving a car is one of the riskiest activities you can do.

I am a Member of the NSW Parliament Joint Standing Committee on Road Safety. My fellow Committee members and take road safety very seriously. Saving lives, preventing serious injury and reducing general road accidents is why I am part of this Committee.

I have asked the Minister for Transport and Roads Hon Andrew Constance a Question on Notice:

If mobile speed cameras truly do save lives then why not increase their number at key dangerous points with warning signs so as to slow down drivers rather than allow them to speed without heed?

To which the Minister’s response was:

The purpose of the NSW mobile speed camera program is to deter motorists from speeding at all times, not only when they see speed enforcement. Best practice evidence shows that this is achieved through less visible enforcement, operating randomly across a large number of locations. This unpredictability of speed enforcement that could occur any time or anywhere, encourages drivers to comply with speed limits at all times. This reduces the risk of a speed-related crash across the entire road network, and associated trauma.

This is an unsatisfactory response from the Minister. NSW Motorists should not be forced to live as though they are prisoners in the Panopticon.  Social theorist Jeremy Bentham created the Panopticon theory as a means by which to determine the impact of surveillance on a ‘prisoner’ population. The Panopticon theory is that of a circular prison with prisons cells facing inward and a guard tower in the middle. Prisoners are informed that the guards in the tower may observe them at any given time but without their knowledge or awareness. Australia does not have such a prison.

The fear of punishment and constant surveillance has well documented negative side effects on the mental health of participants. Mental health issues are skyrocketing due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the associated lockdown. Those who do not have the luxury of working from home should not be treated in such a disrespectful and damaging manner.

Warning signs should be used as a form of deterrence to speeding drivers in key dangerous locations rather than as revenue raisers. In a truly shocking statistic it has been revealed that speeding fines have increased by 1655% from 2020 to 1021. The NRMA have statedall enforcement cameras in NSW that tackle speed must have warning signs because warning signs act as an important educational tool to remind drivers to do the right thing”, I concur.

I have continued to advocate for change on this matter by asking what relevant evidence the Minister is basing his opinion on. Road users have significantly reduced their travel due to the Covid-19 crisis and associated lockdowns.

I am in full support of returning warning signs before mobile speed cameras. The people of our State are already enduring enough hardship.

Speed cameras should save lives, not ruin them with harsh financial penalties.

Yours faithfully,


Rev Hon Fred Nile MLC

CDP Parliamentary Leader

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