Do some municipalities use traffic cams and fines as revenue generating tools rather than for promoting road safety? It’s a difficult question to answer (and the municipalities will always deny it) but the good folks over at open data advocacy outfit Code4SA plunged into the publicly released figures to see if any towns’ income streams look suspcious – with startling results.
“In the financial year ending June 2014, R1bn in revenue from fines was reported by municipalities. I suspect that this is actual money received by municipalities rather than fines issued. Nationwide, fines represent less than half a percent of municipal revenues. The monthly per capita revenue from fines is R1.65. Those numbers seem pretty reasonable to me,” writes Code4SA’s Adi Eyal.
Eyal adjusted the figures to work out how much money per person living in a municipality enforcement agencies are taking in over the course of a year, and then allowing for the fact that some low-population areas experience high traffic volumes (ie where a highway passing through a rural area) looked for outliers.
One in particular stood out.
For the complete report and some really cool infographics, click here. The point, as Ayal makes clear, is not that traffic cameras and fines are per se a bad thing, but that the reason for their use must be first and foremost about road safety. In countries such as the UK (where there were just 3.5 people killed on the roads per 100 000 population in 2010) cameras are painted yellow and must be highly visible. South Africa (31.9 traffic fatalities per 100 000 people in 2010) no such regulations apply.
“We need to make our roads safer and reduce the number of horrific accidents that are reported in the news every holiday season. If fines are seen as revenue streams, municipalities are likely to set speed traps in the wrong places,” Eyal added.[Image – CC by 2.o/Axel Bührmann]