In the run-up to the usual Christmas crackdown on motorists, Queensland Police have released this video compilation of the stupid things some motorists do.
We’ve edited down the bodycam vision a bit as it gets boring.
However, it includes a rider doing 160km/h in a 60km/h zones, stupid drivers holding mobile phones, not wearing seatbelts and a drunk driver spinning his 4WD out of control on a damp corner when it hits white lines — all riders would know about that one!
Interestingly, bike cops were involved in several incidents including the detection of a driver at night on his mobile phone.
Queensland police are today launching Operation Romeo Sleigh to focus on road safety from this Friday (13 December 2019) and running until January 31.
“The Queensland Police Service is releasing this vision as a reminder to all motorists using our roads during this busy holiday period, to do safely,” they say.
There will be a similar crackdown on motorists in all states, with higher police patrols and speed camera deployments.
For example, a motorcycle could easily handle a corner at a higher speed than a sports car which would be better than an SUV which would be better than a truck…!
Chris says the signs would allow the authorities to monitor the impact of approach speeds.
“The averages and 85th percentiles will all be calculated so further measures can be put in place if needed,” he says.
Our concern is that this could lead lower speed limits!
“We have been doing similar signage for various dangers, hazards and speed indication since 2002,” Chris says.
“I’m a biker myself and we have been supplying Isle of Man with some of our DayBright units for enhanced pedestrian crossings … I’m speaking to them to see if the crash site (sign) is something they could utilise as well.”
While the signs may be advisory now, we wonder how long before authorities use them to issue speeding tickets!
Riders travelling through regional NSW this weekend not only need to be on the lookout for bushfires and road closures, but also police.
NSW Police have launched Operation Chrome which they say will be “focusing on reducing rural road trauma this weekend”.
Operation Chrome is being conducted in the Northern, Southern and Western regions tomorrow (Friday 29 November 2019) and Saturday (30 November 2019).
Here is the full police press release:
The operation will utilise police from all districts within each region, working alongside officers from the Traffic & Highway Patrol Command to provide a coordinated effort to reducing rural road trauma.
Police will be targeting poor driving behaviours on rural roads – including speeding, drink and drug-driving, not wearing seatbelts, using a mobile phone behind the wheel and fatigue.
Drivers and riders should expect to see more police on rural roads and highways over the weekend.
Northern Region Commander, Assistant Commissioner Max Mitchell APM, said reducing rural road trauma is a top priority for the regional NSW.
“So far in 2019, 234 people have lost their lives on regional roads – that’s 19 more than this time last year.
“Operation Chrome is designed to not only target the main highways, but the back roads and suburban streets. Expect to see us in numbers this weekend. It won’t just be officers from the Traffic & Highway Patrol that will be tasked with keeping everyone safe on our roads.
“If you are on the road and doing something wrong, you will be stopped by police in an unmarked car, general duties police, or one of our highway patrol officers.
“Our main aim is to stop fatal crashes before they happen. Road safety is everyone’s responsibility. It’s that simple,” Assistant Commissioner Mitchell said.
Now don’t say you haven’t been given a decent warning!
It points out that motorcyclist deaths have remained stable in major cities over the past decade, but increased in regional and remote Australia by up to almost 50% in recent years.
The report suggests “safety improvements on popular motorcycle routes” potentially funded by a levy on compulsory third-party injury insurance for riders as well as speed limits aligned with “road attributes”.
Poor-quality regional roads
Since regional roads are in such a poor state, that means speed limits would come down if Austroads had its way. (Austroads is the prime research authority advising Australian and New Zealand governments and transport authorities.)
The Austroads’ report suggests speeds be set to “minimise the effect of a crash given the current road infrastructure”.
It notes that the ability of riders to survive a crash “decreases rapidly” above 30km/h and says speed limits should be set “within these tolerance limits”.
The report points out that speeds limits in Sweden and the Netherlands are based on “harm minimisation principles in contrast to those set in Australia”.
This has been a hobby horse of Victorian Assistant Police Commissioner Doug Fryer for several years as this 2017 video shows.
Rider numbers increase
The report does acknowledge that the increase in regional motorcyclist fatalities is largely due to the increase in the riding popularity.
Rider registrations are up 5% a year while estimated kilometres travelled is up 4% a year.
It also notes that motorcyclist fatality rates per registered vehicle and per kilometre travelled actually decreased by 0.9% from 2008-10 to 2016.
However, the report points out a shift from urban deaths to regional deaths over the same period:
Regional motorcycle fatalities increased 15.4% and remote deaths were up a whopping 49.3%;
59% of motorcyclist fatalities occurred in regional and remote Australia during the four-year period 2012-2015, an increase of 53% over the previous four years;
Most regional motorcycle crashes were riders running off the road and hitting a tree, barrier, sign or other roadside hazard;
The typical motorcycle fatality or hospitalisation in regional and remote areas is a male motorcyclist who is riding recreationally during daylight hours on the weekend and is involved in a single-vehicle crash; and
Motorcycles are over-represented in crashes with animals with more than 80% involving kangaroos, but it also noted an underreporting of animal-related crashes.
The report admits a lack of data on motorcycle crashes.
Yet it says speed limits in regional and remote areas are “high and do not necessarily reflect the risks of travelling on a given road (eg unsealed surface), or the existing infrastructure (eg unprotected trees close to the road)”.
“Speed management is necessary in the absence of adequate infrastructure,” it says.
“The primary means for speed compliance is via enforcement, which is inherently difficult in regional and remote areas due to expansive road networks and a lack of resources.”
It suggests “vehicle-based speed management technologies” which could include speed limiters.
“Any gains in speed management are beneficial,” it concludes.
Austroads reports that “initiatives” to improve motorcyclist safety have included:
Apart from a reduction in regional speed limits, the report calls for a number of other moves, particularly targeting riders:
National mass media campaigns targeting motorcyclists;
riders encouraged to ride bikes with ABS and emerging autonomous emergency braking (AEB) technology that detects imminent forward collisions and reacts by automatically applying the brakes without rider intervention;
motorcycle blackspot/black programs for regional areas;
examine more graduated restrictions for novice riders including a minimum period with a car licence before motorcycle licensing as in Queensland and “licensing options” for returning riders.
The report states that AEB technology reduces low-speed rear-end crashes for passenger vehicles, but notes that it is not yet available for motorcycles.
“Once AEB technology has been improved and is readily available in Australia, its benefits should be promoted to motorcyclists in regional and remote areas who are looking to purchase a new motorcycle,” it states.
Despite criticism from motoring organisations and a motorcycle cop being hit by a driver, NSW has extended its rule to slow traffic to 40km/h past emergency services.
The 12-month trial will be extended to a permanent law on September 26but with some changes.
It will now include tow trucks and and motorway recovery vehicles, police will stop in visible locations and new warning signs will be deployed by emergency services.
However, it will no longer apply on roads with speed limits of 90km/h or more.
Instead, motorists will have to slow to a “safe and reasonable” speed, give “sufficient space” to emergency workers and “change lanes to keep the lane next to the vehicle free if it is safe to do so” as is required in most US states.
Then Motorcycle Council of NSW Chairman Steve Pearce told us when the trial started that it was “just a matter of time until a serious incident occurs as a result of this rule”.
He was right. In December 2018, a NSW motorcycle cop was hit by a car when he pulled over another car on a 100km/h highway.
Emergency vehicles are defined as police cars, fire engines and ambulances displaying red and blue flashing lights and/or sounding their siren.
In Victoria it includes all “escort vehicles”. In SA, SES vehicles are included and in WA it extends to all emergency vehicles, including tow trucks, RAC roadside assistance patrol vehicles, and Main Roads Incident Response Vehicles removing road debris and broken-down vehicles.
The rule does not apply if the emergency vehicle is on the other side of the road where there is a median strip.
Victoria’s fine is $272.05, but there is a maximum court penalty of $777.30 if you unsuccessfully challenge the fine. The RACV says it could be difficult for motorists to see flashing emergency vehicles’ lights over a hill and have enough time to slow down to 40km/h.
The Queensland Government has rejected Police Union calls for a similar road rule.
Tips for avoiding tail-ender
If riders see the flashing lights of an emergency vehicle, there are several things they can do to avoid a rear-ender.
Look at traffic behind you to assess the danger;
Indicate and change lanes away from the emergency vehicle, if there is a vacant lane to move into;
If not, switch on the hazard lights;
Brake as smoothly as possible, perhaps activating the brake light on and off to attract the attention of following traffic; and
Search for an escape route, possibly between lanes or on the road edge.
Now, Chris follows up with information a lawyer seeks when defending a rider on a speeding fine based on an estimate:
As I stated in my previous article, photographs of where the incident occurred are a great help as it provides information about what may have obstructed the proper tracking of the vehicle.
Distances will also enable the calculation as to the distance over time and therefore the potential speed.
We usually attend the police station to see the police in-car video (ICV). That video will show in many cases what the officer could see and what you may have said when pulled over.
In a hearing, the officer may produce a transcript of what you said which is another reason to be wary of saying anything.
If it is an in-car radar breach, it provides us invaluable information of what speeds were registering, the time between observation of the vehicle and locking the speed, and any other matters that could potentially affect the Doppler beam or the reading on the radar, in addition to the patrol speed of the police vehicle.
A “check speed” fine is based on the speed the police vehicle was travelling.
In this case, examining the ICV will show whether the officer had the ability to maintain a consistent distance and speed to provide an accurate reading.
In many of these cases I have observed the highway patrol (HWP) vehicle being baulked by slower vehicles that the smaller, lighter and more nimble motorcycle has been able to get around unaware they are being followed.
When the HWP vehicle gets around the obstruction, seconds have gone past and the police have to accelerate hard to catch up.
In the heat of catching up, it has, on occasion, been that the speed alleged is the speed of the HWP vehicle and not that of the bike.
Similarly, if the HWP vehicle is parked on the side of the road and the officer has to accelerate in pursuit, there is often a degree of hard acceleration involved.
The ICV may also show whether the officer was able to view the bike consistently during the test or lost sight of the vehicle, which would put the check speed or estimate in question.
I ran a case on the Old Pacific Highway where the officer passes the bike and the radar showed the bike was travelling at the speed limit of 80km/h, as shown in the ICV.
The bike pulls into Pie in the Sky cafe and a number of minutes later the HWP vehicle pulls in. The officer gets out and starts yelling at the rider and charges him with speed over 45.
When I examined the ICV it showed the bike had travelled past the HWP vehicle at 80km/h but more importantly the police vehicle had done a u-turn and did not see the offending motorcycle until it was pulling up.
So how was an estimate or check speed of more than 45km/h made in the absence of seeing the vehicle?
More importantly, why had the HWP been unable to catch up to the bike, which was the other issue, relied on by police seeing the PV had been hitting speeds of 140-150km/h.
On closer examination of the video it was seen that the HWP vehicle was held up when doing its u-turn by several cars pulling out of Brooklyn, including a learner driver who held up the police by a considerable amount of time.
As many riders are aware, if you give someone a 15-second rolling start at the track, it takes a long time and a lot of speed to catch up. We obtained scientific calculations relating to this, which established that the bike could not have been travelling at the speed alleged. Our client was successful at the hearing.
A police officer’s estimate is the least reliable assessment of speed.
Observing the ICV may give us information as to time and distance that the officer had to make their assessment.
I ran a case where two bikes crested a hill on the Putty Rd at the same time as a police vehicle travelling in the opposite direction. The officer saw the bikes and locked on to their speed within a second.
They did not allow for three seconds of observation and testing with the radar, nor did they allow for multiple vehicles in the beam.
When that was challenged, the officer relied on his estimate which was dubious because of the short observation time as the bikes went past.
At the hearing, the officer conceded a lesser speed and our client retained his licence.
The longer the observation, the greater the accuracy of the estimate.
If an officer is coming around the corner as you are tipping in going in the opposite direction we have to challenge the speed estimate over the length of observation time.
Often it is based on a momentary snapshot and preconceived ideas based on the rider’s posture on the bike, noise, etc, not hard facts. Therefore, it is subject to challenge.
Potentially more accurate forms of speed assessment such as lidar and radar needs more careful analysis which will be covered in a future article.
This article is for reader information and interest only and is based on New South Wales law. It is not intended to be comprehensive, and does not constitute and must not be relied on as legal advice.
Please be aware that every case is different and the matters raised may not be of specific relevance to your situation but may have a general application. You must seek specific advice tailored to your circumstances. Chris is happy to talk to anyone needing clarification. He can bet contacted on 0418 211074.
The issue of police being directed to meet traffic offence targets or quotas are back in the news in Queensland and South Australia.
The matter generally raises the ire of motorists who say it is proof that police are revenue raisers rather than performing road safety duties.
Critics also say it leads to motorists being fined for minor speeds and diverts police patrols from catching high-range speeders.
The quota controversy has been raised after two recent events:
In Queensland, emails that set quotas for traffic tickets have been revealed in court by a Gold Coast cop in evidence of bullying by senior officers. Queensland police have always denied the existence of quotas but have again admitted there are “benchmark” expectations or “targets” for officers on various offences.
In South Australia, a senior police officer sent an email to staff offering a gift card as an incentive to issue more speeding and traffic fines. SA Police were forced to retract the email and advise that the incentive went against official policy.
Brisbane riders who spent Wednesday’s Ekka Holiday riding the famed Mt Glorious Rd may find they have an unwelcome TruCAM speeding fine in the mail in the next couple of weeks.
This video was recorded by rider David Englebright, showing police in the bushes using the TruCAM hand-held laser digital camera to record speeding offences.
“Being a public holiday in Brisbane a lot of people were out enjoying a drive or ride over Mt Glorious,” he says.
“They will get a rude shock in a few weeks.
“Little did they know a policemen was hiding in the bushes of the far side of Mt Glorious on a downhill selection of road with a TruCAM taking pics of vehicles going down the hill.
“This is a section where a billy cart would do more than 60km/h.
“This is no deterrent to speeding, just revenue raising.”
While there is no longer any requirement for speed camera detection signs, the Queensland police website clearly states: “It is not the policy of the Queensland Police Service to deliberately conceal speed cameras.”
This is yet another incident which may spark debate over the lack of speed deterrence in covert operations while others will argue “if you’re not speeding, you have nothing to worry about”.
Queensland Police Union president Ian Leavers says these “sneaky” devices do not reduce the road toll nor stop motorists from speeding.
“Getting a ticket in the mail up to a month after speeding when you can barely remember even where you were back then, has no effect and is quite rightly cynically viewed as revenue raising,” he said.
RACQ technical and safety policy spokesman Steve Spalding says they also prefer a visible police presence.
“Our members have repeatedly told us that over the years, they much prefer to see a police officer use a marked vehicle, not just for speeding, but for all of the other problem behaviours that we see on the road,” he says.
Is covert detection legal?
Well, yes and no. It depends on the state and how the speed detection equipment is deployed.
We asked police in every state for their policies on covert speed detection and most replied.
Victoria Police say mobile speed cameras are “not deployed in a concealed way”, but didn’t answer questions about handheld devices and cops hiding in bushes.
South Australia Police say they make “no apologies about using covert, camouflaged cameras to detect dangerous road behaviour”.
WA Police basically told us it was none of our business: “We use various tools to assist in our traffic enforcement capabilities. We will not be providing details of specific tools or methodologies.”
NSW Police say they “use a range of enforcement strategies to assist in reducing road trauma”. But, like the WA cops, they say it’s none of our business.
“For operational reasons it would be inappropriate to discuss the guidelines surrounding these strategies. If riders and drivers observe the speed limits, then they have nothing to be concerned about,” they say.
Mobile speed cameras were originally introduced to reduce speed at black spots. NSW still has very prominently signed fixed and mobile speed cameras, Western Australia is now trialling more visible speed cameras and England is going all-out to make the cameras much more visible.
However, Queensland has removed the signs warning of mobile speed cameras and a report by Queensland’s auditor-general found they are not always deployed at the right time, in the right location, or in the “right mode” (not covert enough).
The report says only 16.3% of mobile deployment hours is covert because police want to avoid perceptions of revenue-raising.
It recommends that a high percentage of covert deployment would prompt a general deterrence to speeding.
Professor Cameron agrees: “… if you’re trying to affect speeding all the time then the best idea is to make sure the cameras aren’t predictable or apparent and to operate them covertly,” the professor says. “The idea of being conspicuous is really in the wrong direction.”