A UNIVERSITY researcher says a speed camera in Bagshot, north of Bendigo, could be ruled unlawful.
The fixed speed camera on the Midland Highway is one of Victoria’s top 50 highest fine generators, collecting more than $8,200 a day on average.
University of Melbourne research fellow Simon Crawford said the camera raised a number of compliance issues surrounding signage and speed zone distances.
He said the case against the legality of the camera could potentially pave the way for millions of dollars in infringement notices to be overturned.
Dr Crawford was prompted to investigate the speed camera after he was issued a $282 fine for driving at 100km/h in the designated 80km/h zone in June this year.
He said he was planning to contest the fine and was confident he could prove major road compliance issues.
“There are a number of measurements and studies I have made that show the signage does not meet criteria fixed by VicRoads,” he said.
“If it sets a precedent that said these infringements were unlawful then the state could be required to repay millions of dollars worth of fines.”
Dr Crawford said speed signs that marked the change from 100km/h to 80km/h were inadequate and obscured by trees.
In his research, he said he had found key compliance issues with the length of the speed zone at the level crossing where the speed camera is placed.
The 80km/h speed limit stretches 700 metres – which is less than the 800 metre minimum length stated in VicRoads’ Traffic Engineering Manual.
Dr Crawford said the research also raised questions on the prominence of the “repeater” speed sign that was shrouded against a backdrop of eucalyptus trees.
VicRoads Northern Victoria regional director Mal Kersting said VicRoads staff had arranged for an inspection of the signs approaching the Bagshot rail crossing.
He said that would include any required roadside maintenance to ensure the signs are not restricted by vegetation.
Mr Kersting said there were large warning signs installed on both approaches advising of the presence of speed cameras.
The speed limit change was introduced at the level crossing in 2008 as part of a statewide program that implemented 80km/h speed zones on railway crossings on arterial and local sealed roads.
Mr Kersting said part of that upgrade was introducing large oversized (‘C’ type) signs, supported by repeater (‘B’ type) signs.
“Standards were specifically developed as part of the program to ensure consistency throughout the state,” he said.
“The Traffic Engineering Manual also qualifies minimum lengths by stating that “where a speed limit is to apply to an isolated section such as through a small town on a rural road, the minimum length may need to be reduced”.
The speed camera has consistently featured among the state’s highest fine-generators.
Between January and March this year the camera issued an average of 37.5 fines a day, reaping $831,493.
The eastbound facing camera recorded the 30th highest infringements of any camera in Victoria.
It was the only camera in central Victoria that was listed in the top 50, and one of the only ones outside metropolitan Melbourne.
Dr Crawford said it was clear there was a disproportionate amount of people not complying with the speed zone.
He said he would inform Civic Compliance of his intention to challenge the decision, and said he was optimistic about having it overturned.
“The fact that VicRoads have arranged for an inspection of the signs suggests that they are not absolutely sure that everything complies,” he said.
A spokesman for the Department of Justice, which is responsible for fixed speed cameras, did not reply to requests for comment.