Strict speed limits could 'impair ability to detect hazards'
POLICE launched one of their biggest speeding crackdowns of the year over the October long weekend, issuing 6043 speeding infringements over the four days - up 685 on the previous year.
Operation Slowdown also targeted drink drivers, with 104,075 breath tests resulting in 191 charges.
One driver was caught allegedly travelling at 209kmh, with another nabbed at 171kmh on a public road.
Traffic and Highway Patrol Commander Acting Assistant Commissioner David Driver said drivers could expect more hard-line policing of road rules.
"Speeding is one of the biggest killers on the road in NSW, and despite repeated warnings and advice, some road users insist on not only breaking the law, but also putting themselves and others at great risk," he said.
"To have one such driver travel at 209kmh on a public road is appalling and beyond comprehension.
"There is no margin for error if there was a rock, an animal on the road or a merging vehicle.
"Driving is a privilege, not a right, and if you're caught risking your life or the lives of others, you will be stopped."
The NSW Speed Camera Strategy has set a target of reducing road deaths and serious injuries by 30% between 2012 and 2020.
It stated a performance audit of all fixed, mobile and red light speed cameras revealed 70% of all licence holders in NSW had no demerit points and 99% who drive past a speed camera do not receive a fine.
"This reflects the broad level of compliance with speed limits at camera locations and the often over-inflated perception that speed cameras are infringing a large proportion of NSW drivers," it said.
But new research from the University of Western Australia's School of Psychology suggests strictly enforced speed limits could have a detrimental effect on road safety.
Researchers used a driving simulator to test whether lowering speed enforcement thresholds would impact on a driver's mental and visual abilities.
Eighty-four young adult participants drove under conditions where they could be fined for travelling one, six, or 11 kmh over a 50 kmh speed limit.
"Our overall finding was that stricter speed enforcement may impair a driver's ability to detect hazards, especially those on the side of the road, because drivers are dedicating more attention to monitoring their speed," study co-author Dr Vanessa Bowden said.
"In reality the effects of strictly enforced speed limits could be even greater than in our study, with real-world drivers experiencing greater pressures to drive at or above the posted speed limit."