Speed Trap (& Parking) Subterfuge

Edit: New readers to the topic can join it as of November 2023 by clicking here.

Whilst driving from Cairns to the Sunshine Coast hinterland on the 10th & 11th of December and home again on the 26th & 27th of December via Charters Towers and Emerald, we never saw a single highway patrol police vehicle or speed trap.

On 25th December, I drove to Gympie and Noosa and saw one speed trap on the side of the road between Nambour and the highway, another one hiding under an overpass on the highway and a third one hiding in the median strip on the highway. No highway patrol vehicles whatsoever.

As usual, none of them were displaying the signs that they are supposed to place near the vehicles, and unless anyone happened to glance sideways to see the signage on the side of the vehicles, many motorists would not have been aware of their presence.

Of course, the daytime running lights are a bit of a giveaway as the engines are always left running for the air-conditioning.

When I drove to the Cairns airport yesterday morning to pick a mate up, I saw a speed trap beside the highway near our residence.

There was no sign of course but the left-hand indicator had been left on to try to create the impression that a motorist had temporarily pulled over to the side of the road.

The indicator was still on when we returned from the airport almost an hour later.

Every holiday period the authorities spruik their usual propaganda that every available officer will be on the roads and that every area will be patrolled whilst the reality is there are virtually no highway patrols operating, just the hidden speed traps which achieve absolutely nothing except revenue raising.



The police often use unmarked police cars to carry out both speed enforcement and road patrols. I understand that their use is increasing as they are less noticed by the wider community and therefore less likely to be brought to the attention of other drivers (e.g. flashing lights or CB announcements).

We saw several in use and only new they were unmarked police cars when they were pulling over vehicles as they had flashing blues in the rear and front windows. If these were not going, they would have been very hard to identify as police vehicles.

In relation to signage for speed camera vans, there is no legislative requirement to display such signs. This link indicates why the signs may be used, but maybe these signs are also displayed to reduce the number of complaints to police/local authority for inappropriately parked vehicles.

I wouldn’t call them revenue raising as in a perfect world they wouldn’t raise anything. If you don’t speed, then they shouldn’t be an issue and one won’t be supplementing the States coffers.


I agree that signage should be up to actually encourage people to slow down. Having said that it never bothers me if people who can’t follow basic road rules pay extra taxes for it.


When marked police vehicles are visible on highways, it has an effect on motorists’ driving behaviour.

Unmarked police vehicles have no effect on drivers’ behaviour, and even if they pull over an occasional offender, it is a drop in the ocean as everyone who did not witness it will continue as usual.

It is one thing to appear in the media with the usual propaganda claiming that every available officer will be on the road and that no area will be left uncovered, but another entirely to actually do so.

Hiding in the bushes does not help prevent accidents or fatalities.

On 25 December, I witnessed some inconsiderate idiot in a large cargo van drive continuously for around 20 km in the right-hand lane on the highway between Gympie and Nambour as if it was his private road, and only finally got into another lane when another vehicle was in the way.

No police patrols to pull him over and give him a Xmas present.


Why should the presence of a police car affect ones behaviour. One should be driving responsibility to the conditions and in accordance with the law at all times.

If one chooses to alter ones behaviour only because they see a marked police car, then they possibly deserve to face the full consequences of the law when caught flouting road rules. Many road rules, while I necessarily may not agree with them all, have a purpose to protect drivers and their passengers.

Yes it does as one doesn’t know where a speed camera is and may think twice about breaking the law by speeding.

Excessive speed has been shown to result in accidents and fatalities. One just needs to see the statistics and causes of accidents to see how speed plays a role in these accidents.


I am not here to provide psychological advice regarding what motorists are thinking but I am merely expressing my knowledge of their behaviour based on my driving experiences of over 50 years.

It would appear that you consider hidden speed traps are somehow a deterrent when they are nothing of the sort.

What is the point of an offender receiving a fine in the mail a week or so later when they may not have even noticed the hidden speed trap, and may not have even been the driver of the vehicle involved?

And if the vehicle photographed continues on speeding, thus resulting in a fatality or fatalities, just how has this improved road safety?

Trying to defend hidden speed traps as a viable alternative for real policing is flawed logic.


The presence of marked police cars only deters those in it’s presence so by that logic of reducing bad behaviour by increasing police presence on the road you would need a police car about every 5 km at least (an impossible task to achieve). I think it is better to catch the offenders by if needed hiding the cameras and vehicles and if the offenders accrue enough fines and penalty points their licenses will be removed and one less bad driver to worry about for each one who thus suffers.

Well it would be if that was the only thing the police forces did but as it isn’t then your argument is flawed as in yours you seem to not allow the use of any necessary means to defeat the bad behaviour. Economically we can’t afford the number of police officers and vehicles to do the entire work and nor is the unmarked/hidden usage what @phb indicated was the only way, but they did indicate it was a useful tool.

My dad before he died had spent about 70 years of driving on the roads and always supported the fact of unmarked vehicles, unmarked speed cameras and similar to catch the ones who offend when they think no one is around to catch them. Just because anyone has an amount of driving experience on roads does not make any point they put forward less or more valid unless it is backed up by the figures…speed kills and maims as does inattentive driving, using mobile phones and similar, too much alcohol or the inappropriate use of other drugs, driving through red lights, ignoring road signs, ignoring boom gates and flashing lights, travelling too close together, driving while tired and so the list goes.

As @phb notes


Not unusual for that road @Fred123.

Also not unusual to drive for an hour on it and only see the occasional roo, emu or brolga, or worse unfenced cattle. I have seen drivers pulled over with a marked police car nearby more than once.

I used to drive on that stretch nearly every week. While every second driver on that stretch seemed to have a 120kph minimum speed limit, it’s a very unforgiving road and lonely place to die. Unless one counts Belyando Crossing as closer to heaven? :innocent:

I’ve also more recently noted unmarked cars on the stretch including Emerald to Injune and the Rocky Emerald run. No doubt you were driving safely and would not have been made aware you had just passed one? :wink:

P.s. since the roads out there have limited mobile coverage, you might assume that texting is not a distraction. Hopefully drivers don’t play Jewelmania to pass the time?


That is at least one more vehicle deterred than none since the cameras are hidden and the perp goes about his/her business. Is it not?

Would you think this youngster would have possibly done some harm excepting that he was apparently intercepted, or would it have been as good if he received his ticket in the mail two weeks later?

This topic is somewhat religious between ‘law and order’ and ‘thinking about it’. Penalties after the fact are not the same as those at the time. The ones after the fact allow the bad driving to continue, those at the time have immediate effect.

Introducing fear of hidden cameras results in drivers paying more attention to their speedos than the road for many. Cameras seem to make sense for the hard edged law and order crowd, and much less sense for those who look to the root causes of bad driving and how penalties relate to an offence, time-wise as well as penalty-wise.

those work as they catch the perp in the act.

edit: a patrol whether marked or unmarked witnesses bad driving of all sorts whereas a camera, especially a hidden camera, fines speed, not bad driving, whether it was a momentary lapse quickly corrected or a ‘long distance’ speeder, eg not just a few km over for a few seconds to make that point.

If you want revenue the camera is your choice. If you want to encourage better driving and less speeding a patrol car wins hands down from my view. To wit, a single marked patrol car on the highway usually sets the speed, eg who passes it if the patrol car is on the limit? So if the real goal on the highway is to reduce speeding that works. Point to point cameras also work on the highway, are not hidden and do not catch the odd inattention span.

They certainly get revenue from scofflaws, but did they cause the perp to slow down or drive more carefully for those 2-3 weeks between being photographed and receipt of the ticket in the post?

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Probably not, however it still adds one more strategy to the mix. We still need all the strategies possible. We are not all perfect drivers and share that risk. We don’t pressure and psychologically test every driver ever year or two to be selective about who we trust to drive a vehicle within community expectations.

It would be much more effective to fit all road vehicles with speed limiters set to 100kph or intelligently based on GPS. With little imagination a vehicle GPS tracking app tied to a personalised digital license could detect a large range of at risk behaviours. From fatigue to speeding! Suitable corrective training might follow or for some, no drive no more!

Yes it’s big brother utopia, but it is a good if possibly unpopular option if we don’t continue to significantly improve how we share the roads we have. Road safety is a about a lot more than speed (which hidden cameras are limited to at present)?

Noted WA road fatality stats for 2018 suggest fatigue and driver distraction are now considered more significant factors in their road toll.

P.s. If there was no road toll there would be no need for speed cameras, marked or hidden!


While they may not all have an immediate effect any good means that removes bad drivers from roads is worth looking at, inattentive speed abuse is still an offence and the maximum posted limit is just that ie the maximum but for most a small overspeed of a kmh an hour or two is very unlikely to be fined. The accrual of fines and points leads to a removal of licence if the abuse continues. When a marked car stops the bad behaviour of one driver it is only for a small amount of time. The same can be said of obvious speed radar traps, the effect is transitory and if the person behaves while the trap or police are evident no real outcome beyond that small intervention occurs. I would rather that the system may take a bit longer to remove the bad apples than allow the bad ones to continue avoiding the risk of losing their driving privileges. But sure I would really like a police car every 5 km or less on every stretch of public road to see and stop bad driving but it isn’t reality so unmarked cars (and for years that unmarked car scenario was listed by some in the public as unfair and revenue raising), speed cameras, red light cameras, video monitoring are all tools in that fight.

Each is a cog in a large machine to reduce road tolls, improve driver behaviour, and as such all have a place no matter whether people call it revenue raising or not. If a person does not break the rules then the outcome is that they can continue to drive without any penalty or the removal of that privilege of driving.

From an article with answers by Bundaberg Sergeant Marty Arnold (https://www.news-mail.com.au/news/bundaberg-police-bust-road-myths/2368771/)

This is a contentious issue and police often get criticized for revenue raising.

There is clear evidence that crashes are caused by drivers who do the wrong thing on the roads.

The one thing that keeps a large portion of drivers doing the right thing is fear of fines and loss of their license through demerit points.

It’s simple if you have this revenue raising view you’re entitled to your opinion no matter how wrong I think it is.

The contribution of your hard earned money is voluntary, do the right thing and you won’t have to contribute."


I will accept I appear to be in a minority who disagrees that hidden cameras are primarily for safety rather than revenue. I recognise ‘published’ (visible) cameras should reduce bad driving, as would marked patrol cars and to a lesser extent unmarked cars where ‘justice’ is timely on the spot.

My parting comment focuses on hidden camera catching speeders at a point in time and has no bearing on their quality of driving, or whether it was a momentary lapse or their norm. Both are treated the same because it is a digital/binary switch. 5km over in an 80 zone for the wrong 3 seconds is treated like going 5km over 100% of the time.

Disclaimer: I have not had a moving violation since roughly 1990, and that being in the USA in a school zone radar trap at the end of the school zone about 1 minute before the zone ended. I did not have an atomic clock time piece then. Tell me how much safer that made the school zone and there was no revenue raising in the equation.



Those comments were not mine but the police officer’s who supplied the article’s information. I agree with their thrust and so linked to it but I also like the officer agree you have an entitlement to a view that is/maybe contrary to mine.


This Xmas holiday season started off with the usual propaganda including statements “that all available officers will be on patrol, “it will not be a matter of what roads we will be patrolling, but when we are patrolling them” and the “fatal five”.

Whilst this sort of propaganda serves to frighten the easily intimidated, who probably would not be breaking the road rules anyway, it does nothing to deter the ones who do, and they treat it with a grain of salt.

At least the authorities could try some truth in their advertising and issue something more appropriate such as:

“In keeping with the spirit of the silly season, we have reduced the ‘fatal five’ to the ‘one and only’.

We will only be targeting speeding but only if we can find somewhere to hide in the bushes or under a nice shady overpass.

We wish drink and/or drug drivers a safe trip, if you make it to your destination alive.

Tired drivers can simply try having a few microsleeps instead of the inconvenience of being pulled over.

Don’t worry about your seatbelt. We don’t want you feeling uncomfortable after eating all that festive food.

Using your mobile phone whilst driving? Why not take a selfie of yourself and your passengers and post it on our Facebook page?

And as for the rest of you driving unregistered, uninsured and/or unroadworthy vehicles, failing to indicate (if you even know what that is), hogging the right-hand lane for 20 minutes in a 110 km/h zone, driving below the speed limit in the right-hand lane in zones over 80 km/h, etc, etc, etc, have a great holiday”.

Meanwhile, the high-visibility highway patrol vehicles which have been paid for by the Qld taxpayers are parked up and gathering dust.

I was not caught out by any of these speed traps as I was not speeding.

If anyone seriously believes that hidden speed traps do anything for road safety, then I have this world-famous bridge for sale. Just send me $2,000 via Western Union to my account in Lagos and it is all yours.


In 1993, we took our son, aged 16, and our daughters, aged 14 and 10, on what was then a holiday of a lifetime, and we travelled in our new SS Commodore to Brisbane, Melbourne, Tasmania, Melbourne, Sydney, Lismore and Brisbane before returning home to Cairns.

We spent a fortnight travelling and staying around Tasmania, and when we were heading from Launceston to the Tasman Peninsula, we saw a police speed trap under an overpass using the handheld radar guns and they were doing a brisk business on a perfect section of the road.

Further down the highway to Hobart, there had been a fatal accident on a curved sloping section of the old road.

Later whilst we were driving down the Tasman Peninsular towards Port Arthur and were negotiating a series of blind bends, an idiot in a bright coloured Volvo 244 sedan came speeding around a corner, not only over the double white lines, but halfway across the south-bound lane.

I managed to take corrective action and avoided a head-on collision which would most likely have been fatal.

We never saw any police on the highway after the speed trap in Launceston all the way to Port Arthur and back to Hobart.

Since that time, I have treated hidden speed traps with the total contempt that they so richly deserve.

I also strongly suspect that the idiot driving the Volvo was Martin Bryant. Helen Harvey bought more than 30 vehicles for him, and he was suspected of causing the vehicle accident in which she was killed on 20.10.1992.

He was reported to have driven to Port Arthur a number of times between her death and the Port Arthur massacre.

Whether the idiot driving the Volvo was or wasn’t Martin Bryant, we fortunately avoided an accident, no thanks to the police.

The current tit-for-tat government in the NT took away derestricted speed zones because the previous government reintroduced them after the one before that had previously taken them away. Of course there wasn’t a single speed related fatality in the zones in the couple of years they were in place, even though some of us made ample use of the faster transit times and significantly lowered fatigue.

Now that the derestricted speed zones are gone, it seems the NT is the most likely place in the country to die on the roads -

“The NT crashed into the new year with a final road toll of 50 deaths for 2018, making it, per capita, the deadliest patch in Australia.”

It’s not really surprising the article still mentions speed as a major factor, even though the real factors are clearly stated and unpalatable in politically correct times … that, and the huge opportunity for statistical b/s considering tourism here each year is something like ten times our population, and most of them seem to drive campers/bagos/etc, not counting the caravan armed nomads, who I’m sure don’t appear on tourism stats effectively.

Even the RAA took time out from marketing European holidays to post this article …

And a couple more articles I’ve stumbled across on the subject … here, here and another one on where I believe complacency on the governments thirst for revenue will lead us all.

This is my view only - I’m not here for a debate :slight_smile: I firmly believe enforcement and cameras is all about revenue and saving face or being seen to do something. I’ve long wondered why we don’t have ongoing (effective) education, ongoing driver testing and safer roads so the people who are capable of operating the machine are allowed to do so and the police can get back to doing real police work and let the ATO collect tax. I’m not suggesting it is ok to flaunt the law, but I am suggesting it is ok to call out aspects of the law that are a crock.

As an aside, an accomplice and I drove a shade over 1600 kilometres yesterday, a smidgen of our 5500 kilometre Christmas jaunt - I’ve driven the suburbs and 50k/60k doesn’t concern me, driving according to environment and conditions is exactly about that, but adding hours to a long distance trip for no good reason other than lowest-common-denominator does nobody any good. Yesterday we saw a handful of revenue cameras for the first 300 kilometres (South Australia labels them as ‘Safety Cameras’ in what appears to be some bad pythonesque joke) then nothing other than the big brother cameras near the northern border … and not a single marked police car on the entire journey (and no covert fuzz either at our best assessment …). Oddly enough, we saw only good behaviour on the road - and we didn’t die … There was probably >50% of yesterdays trip where exceeding 110 in SA, and even 130 in the NT would have been perfectly safe and significantly reduce our travel time - but luckily we had the big signs to say have a break every two hours, maybe those signs saved us … There were parts of the trip where we dipped under the posted limit, by a lot, to drive to conditions (sheep, roos, cattle, mice …).


Here is a perfect example of speed trap subterfuge I witnessed on 07.08.2016.

Whilst I was driving south on the highway prior to turning off to go home, I noticed a Commodore sedan down in the drain between the highway and the service road which appeared to have run off the road.

I drove around to the service road to see if there had been a recent accident as the daytime running lights were still on, but as I turned around and drove back, I saw that the fold out sun visor had been placed across most of the windscreen, with just a clear portion left on the driver’s side.

Just another speed trap hiding in the drain behind the bushes on a perfectly safe straight stretch of 3 lane highway.

Before the introduction of speed cameras in Victoria people would get upset because the person in front was doing 60 in a 60 zone instead of 65/70 now the majority of drivers try to stick to the limit as it’s just not worth the fine and loss of points. but i do agree that we need more police on the roads to get the idiots who break the other laws
Note that in Vic we now have hidden rego cameras as well as speed cameras


… another French revolution? at some point people say ‘enough’ …


With some recent low cost airfares to Paris is now a good time to enjoy a French wine or macaroons and coffee, and to hire a really fast car for a few days? :smiley::champagne: