RANKIN Park is home to the state’s only speed camera with a significant recent increase in crashes, but the NSW government has decided to keep it.
In five years since the camera was installed on McCaffery Drive there has been a 367 per cent rise in “casualty crashes” there, starkly at odds with a statewide trend of fewer crashes in fixed speed camera locations.
Over the same period, the camera has caught about 10 speeding drivers a month.
It has also cost motorists about $30,000 a year in fines, out of a Hunter annual speed camera toll for drivers of about $4 million.
But despite the Rankin Park camera being singled out for mention in a Transport for NSW annual review of speed cameras, the government has ruled out removing or relocating it.
A “comprehensive review” found the camera had reduced traffic speeds on the downhill, or westbound, section of McCaffery Drive and should be retained.
“Fixed speed cameras in NSW are placed at specific locations with a known crash history,” a Transport for NSW spokesman said.
“Our aim is to slow drivers down, not fine them, which is why speed cameras are clearly signposted and all locations are published on the Centre for Road Safety website. Over 99 per cent of drivers in NSW do the right thing and pass speed cameras without being fined.”
Wallsend state Labor MP Sonia Hornery called on the government to consider moving the camera, but said the rise in crashes on McCaffrey Drive was a symptom of worsening traffic.
“McCaffrey Drive is used as a rat run through to Wallsend and the Link Road. The government needs to get on with completing stage five of the Newcastle Inner City Bypass,” Ms Hornery said.
“The government should also review the positioning of the speed camera, given its remarkable failure to reduce casualty crashes in the area.”
Crashes near the Rankin Park camera tend to be low-impact and the result of “poor decision-making”, relieving Northern Region traffic tactician Bruce McGregor said, but aren’t necessarily caused by the camera.
“It’s a heavily populated road at peak times, a main feeder road for John Hunter Hospital and areas of the city, the lake and even the Hunter,” Chief Inspector McGregor said.
“No matter which way you go there’s a heavy volume of traffic, so there’s always the chance of a crash.”
The review found crashes had decreased at all of the Hunter’s other fixed speed cameras, including those at Mayfield West, Gateshead, Sandgate, Lochinvar and Nords Wharf.
Transport has already decided to retain all the cameras except the one on Maitland Road at Sangate, which is under review.