Lawyer: Local authorities may use speed cameras as cash cow ({{contentCtrl.commentsTotal}})

Indrek Sirk in the Vikerhommik studio.
Indrek Sirk in the Vikerhommik studio. Source: ERR/ Romi Hasa

Local authorities taking on the management of road speed cameras is a bad idea, one lawyer says, and runs the risk of municipalities using them simply as a source of revenue.

"I'm quite critical of this," Indrek Sirk, who specializes in traffic law, told ERR radio show "Vikerhommik" Thursday morning.

"Behind road safety lies several aspects. One of these is the creation of a traffic environment, and another is safety. My opinion is that local government should not get involved in the latter," Sirk went on.

As reported by ERR News, the interior ministry says it wants to not only raise speeding fines, but also make speed cameras the preserve of local government.

"If we consider the plan we have in front of us where local government will pay for speed cameras, and then get this money back (via fines – ed.); this raises the inevitable question of what is the motivation of local governments to start installing speed cameras. Isn't it one of getting money back," he went on.

Sirk noted that the whole point of a speed camera is to contribute to road safety by encouraging drivers to stick to speed limits, not as a cash cow, adding that mobile speed cameras were the most effective tool, as evidenced by figures showing a rise in violations – i.e. because more people were being caught out.

The public additionally cannot become wise to the location of mobile cameras by their very nature, as compared with static ones, he added.

They also have the overall effect of smoothing out the flow of traffic rather than a slowing down-speeding up pattern that static cameras might do.

For most people, warning signs were enough as a general nudge to adhere to the rules, he added.

At the same time and augmenting his point about local authorities potentially on the take, Sirk said that current speeding fines, particularly for minor infringements, were too high.

An alternative might be to link penalties to income, he thought.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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