From ‘Wrong to hide speed cameras from motorists’, 20 Dec 2012, ST Forum
(Emmanuel David): I RECENTLY received a notice from the Traffic Police informing me that my car was caught by a speed camera near lamp post 107 along Nicoll Highway in the direction of Guillemard Road. After revisiting the site several times, I discovered no notices along that stretch of Nicoll Highway notifying motorists of the presence of a speed camera.
There appeared to be a platform for a speed camera near lamp post 107, but no camera was mounted, and the platform was hidden from the view of motorists. I understand that Britain, Australia and many American states, as well as neighbouring Malaysia, have strict laws specifying that the use of speed cameras must be transparent to motorists.
…At a time when there are visibly fewer Traffic Police officers patrolling our roads, and an increasing dependence on speed cameras, it is important that the use of such third-party devices is governed by legislation. Almost all other speed cameras in Singapore would adhere to such a law if it was promulgated, but the one along Nicoll Highway did not when I was driving past it.
Everyone speeds at some point behind the wheel and most get away with it. When we do get caught it’s only natural to be defensive, denying that we exceeded the speed limit or hope that the camera snapped the wrong car or malfunctioned. Those of us who could afford it and know that we broke the law pay other people to take the rap. The rest of us, like the writer here, blame traffic legislation, display some futile worldliness about other nations’ laws and even conduct our own field sleuthing in an attempt to save face, without admitting whether we had in fact been speeding or not. It’s like you got fined for littering and complained to the officer about the lack of warning signs in the vicinity, or better still, for ambushing you from behind a pillar and violating your right to litter freely and not get caught.
Some would argue that instead of reducing accidents, making speed cameras VISIBLE and bright orange would actually wreck havoc on the roads when motorists jam brakes after spotting the box at the last minute. The same could happen to oblivious drivers who fail to pay attention to road signs telling you there’s a speed trap ahead. Yet, all the speed cameras, bush-raiders and signs in the world won’t help if you don’t even know what the speed limit is (up to 70% of road users). Maybe if a certain Ferrari driver had been snooped by hidden speed cameras and deprived of his licence earlier, a horrible accident could have been prevented.
In the 60’s we had human speed detectors in the form of the traffic police instead of ‘third-party devices’, who were believed to be constantly lurking behind trees or bushes stalking their prey, their motorbike wheel or side of helmet sticking our ridiculously behind a trunk. But it’s not just victims behind the wheel getting ‘punked’. You could be caught unawares jaywalking, smoking in a non-smoking area, or jerking off alone in a cinema. And it doesn’t matter if the one exposing you is a mysterious overhanging box, a squealer, someone with an invisible cloak or an undercover cop dressed as the usher. You lucked out, that is all.
Drivers will generally agree that there should be deterrents to road hazards; it’s only when they get their demerit points when they decide to blame the police for sneaky tactics and lament the lack of ‘transparency’. I mean, why not just do away with ‘undercover’ jobs altogether and put CCTV signs EVERYWHERE so that we’ll rid this country of all forms of shady dealings and misdemeanours altogether? Anyone who speeds and risks hurting another being deserves the full penalty of the law, whether you felt that the snare was unfair to you or not. Anyone who complains to the public about traffic injustice without addressing road safety or personal responsibility ALL the more deserves a ticket too.