Cessation of “pay as you go” speeding fines in Joburg no great loss

JOHANNESBURG – As revealed in the Moneyweb article entitled “No more camera fines for Joburg speedsters” on Wednesday 17 August 2017, the City of Johannesburg is not currently issuing and posting somewhere in the region of a half a million camera “speeding” fines each month, as it used to do in the past.

Instead, traffic officers – some equipped with speed measuring equipment – are being utilised to physically and visibly enforce road traffic laws in and around the City.

This is due to the termination of a string of contracts with private “contractors” which previously supplied the City with portable speed cameras to “hide in the bushes” in an effort to generate revenue, and whose whose contracts could not lawfully be extended. JPSA believes that this is a good thing, as opposed to the bad thing it is being made out to be.

There are those who believe that this development means that “motorists can now speed with impunity” but whilst it may be true that physical law enforcement is not capable of generating as many fines as automated entrapment is, physical enforcement is nonetheless way more effective. Where delinquent motorists are stopped at the time of the alleged infringement and taken to task immediately this has the bonus effect of preventing the possible consequences that could arise out of non-compliance with speed limits.

The proponents of camera-based “speed enforcement” make claims of it enhancing road safety, whilst simultaneously failing to provide any empirical evidence to support their claims that hidden speed cameras reduce crashes. Instead, what is apparent from the annual reports of entities such as the Road Traffic Infringement Agency (RTIA) which administers the AARTO Act’s “adjudication procedure” is that the payment rate of fines which are posted is extremely low but is compensated by high volumes.

In the 2015/16 financial year, the RTIA reported that a grand total of R264,261,091 was collected and paid to the four issuing authorities under the AARTO Act in relation to the 6,720,193 infringement notices issued, 82.07% of which were posted.

The RTIA pocketed a further R224,628,726 arising out of its share of the penalties and the fees due to them which were paid. The RTIA does not break its figures down into which issuing authority received what and when, but since the JMPD was responsible for issuing 79.48% of the infringement notices issued in that financial year, it is reasonable to assume that a significant chunk of the revenue collected went to the JMPD.

Traffic law enforcement should never be about generating revenue for Municipalities, agencies and private companies, but sadly, it is and has been for decades. Road safety considerations come a distant last place in the big scheme of things.

“I’m not sure what road safety benefit can be ascribed to ‘pay as you go’ speeding fines which arguably benefit private ‘contractors’ above and beyond anyone else,” said JPSA’s chairperson, Howard Dembovsky.

“Based purely on a casual observation of the behaviour of motorists in Johannesburg, I have not noticed any increase in the incidents of speeding since the withdrawal of the portable speed cameras the JMPD used to deploy,” he concluded.

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