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Lesson learned: Slow down, look up or the cost could be much worse than a fine

Opinion

The money from speeding tickets goes to improving roads. But safer roads also need safer drivers, writes Rebecca Levingston.

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“What should I write my column about?” I ask.

“Getting a speeding ticket,” suggests my husband.

“But I haven’t have one for years.”

He looks at me. I look at him.

“58 in a 50 kilometre zone.”

Snapped. Fined. Bugger.

Firstly, I know, I did the wrong thing. I’m sorry. Secondly, what a waste of money.

The fine is $183 and one demerit point.

I immediately start calculating what would’ve been a more useful way to spend that money.

So many things. A couple of ugly Christmas rashies. Piano lessons. Those sparkly sneakers I decided were too expensive. Fluffy towels. A PCR COVID test in case I want to leave Queensland – or is the Commonwealth paying for that now?

Maybe it’ll help if I think of it as a $183 donation to the Queensland Government coffers. Wonder what they’ll spend it on? By law, all money from camera-detected offences must be reinvested in road safety. Top idea.

“Bloody revenue raising,” I’ve heard people say. I never understood that cranky logic. I figure it’s pretty clear. Here’s a number, the speed limit, and if you go over it you’ll get stung. Fair enough.

I remember the first time I got a speeding ticket. It was 1994 on the Bruce Highway heading south when I was about 17. My parents were in the car and we were driving from Townsville to Brisbane.

A long straight stretch of road lay in front of me, the bitumen in the distance shimmering at times. I drifted over the limit. I got pulled over by a firm but friendly police officer who cruised up behind me and flashed his red and blue lights.

It made my heart jump into my throat. I trembled as he explained the fine. He drove off and I got into the backseat of the car and cried. Dad drove the rest of the way.

Of course I shouldn’t be speeding because it’s dangerous. I’m ashamed. And I’ll be more careful now. Just like I was when I was a teenager. For me, fines work. Until I get busy or careless. And stupid. I hope I get smarter.

Wonder if the 1,782 people caught by Queensland’s new covert cameras this month will learn from their mistakes. 1,504 people got pinged for mobile phone offences and 278 people weren’t wearing seatbelts. 57 drivers were caught two or more times in the first four days the cameras were clicking.

If you break the mobile phone laws while you’re behind the wheel you’ll get fined $1,033 and lose four demerit points. Anyone not wearing a seatbelt will cop a $423 fine and lose three demerit points. Ouch.

Here’s another number to consider. 56.

56 people are killed and 317 are seriously injured on Queensland road each year as a result of speed related crashes.

Slow down. Spend your $183 on something better.

Even better, be safe.

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