Truckies’ $1200 shock in mail after driving through this outback town


Scores of truck drivers have received a nasty surprise in the mail in the form of a $1200 fine with the loss of six demerit points after a hidden camera detected they were speeding through the outback Queensland town of Torrens Creek.

The bill can be up to six times higher when a company pays on the driver’s behalf, as one operator told us he’s now doing for several staff caught in the sleepy town’s speed trap.

Torrens Creek is situated on the Flinders Highway, 160km from Charters Towers and 100km from Hughenden in the opposite direction.

Most of the infringements have been when a camera allegedly recorded them doing well over the speed limit, which is between 60km/h and 80km/h, according to signs in the main street.

Torrens Creek has a population of just 70 and it is understood that some locals wanted cameras in place after reporting that motorists and heavy vehicles were regularly speeding through town.

Many trucks, including quads, triples, doubles and rigids, travel through Torrens Creek along the Flinders Highway which is the main road link between coastal Townsville and Mount Isa.

One NSW driver contacted Big Rigs and said he was clocked at 92km/h by a camera as he drove along the main street.

“There is no way I was doing that speed and I got a real shock when the ticket came in the mail advising I had to pay a $1200 fine and would lose six points which was devastating,” he said.

“The distance between the signs is about 300m and there is no way driving a road train I could have been doing that speed. I had turned onto the Flinders Highway just before the 60km/h sign from the Aramac Road and wouldn’t have had time to reach that speed.”

Initially the owner-operator said he was going to contest the matter in court.

But when the prohibitive cost of defending it in court was taken into account he took it on the chin and paid the fine.

He also received advice that it would be very difficult to “beat the matter in court”.

Big Rigs knows of another truck driver who delivers refrigerated goods out west and travels through Torrens Creek who has been infringed twice.

This truckie now faces loss of his licence and probably his job unless he can appeal to a court to allow him to drive for work purposes only.

To be fair to authorities, there is a ‘reduce speed’ warning just before the 60km/h sign.

But Big Rigs has heard that around 50 Hughenden residents, who are all well aware of the speed limit, have also received fines, some have even lost their licence, adding weight to locals’ theory there is a fault with the camera’s calibration.

“These yellow cameras are obviously incorrect and the fines would be illegal because it is giving a wrong reading,” one woman told Big Rigs.

Big Rigs travelled to Torrens Creek late last month and spoke to many people including truck drivers about the cameras.

Everybody we spoke to has either been infringed or knew somebody who has but they were all reluctant to be named.

The general consensus of opinion was that the cameras are “revenue raisers” which boost the state government’s consolidated revenue by a “huge amount”.

“The bloody cameras are only a few hundred metres apart and I can’t see how these drivers are getting such excessive fines,” one man said.

A woman who works at the local hotel said she had been infringed for travelling at a lesser speed and paid the fine.

“I did go over the speed limit so I was guilty and just paid up,” she said.

Another man said that cameras had been in place around Torrens Creek and surrounds for about a year.

“They are moved around but now most people here know where they are,” he said.

There is a speed limit of 20km/h on the one lane narrow bridge.

However, that is not the case for unsuspecting truckies many of whom travel the highway at night.

One camera which also records many speed infringements is often located at the Warrigal Creek Bridge just out of Torrens Creek.

There is a speed limit of 20km/h on the one lane narrow bridge and many motorists travel well above that when no other traffic is in sight.

A give-way sign at each end ensures that only one vehicle can cross at a time.

Long-time Townsville-based industry advocate and former operator Barbara Anderson told us she’s heard of many local motorists and truckies who have been fined due to what she believes are faulty cameras.

She even told us of one truckie who had submitted photographic proof that he wasn’t travelling at the speed the cameras alleged he was doing and had the fine withdrawn.

“All have said there is no way they could have been doing that speed. Especially when they were doing 60km/h through the town and then [supposedly] clocked at doing 108km/h on the bridge,” Anderson said.

Anderson, a former NatRoad board member, has now lobbied Kennedy MP Bob Katter in the hope he’ll start an investigation into the cameras which arrive intermittently, for up to two weeks, and are sometimes placed so drivers can’t see them.

“Because it’s over 100km/h and 40km/h over the speed limit, if they pay their fine they automatically lose their licence for six months,” said Anderson who now runs a driver training business.

“They think that because they got a fine in the mail with the loss of demerit points, that’s all that happens.”

Anderson has heard that the 20km/h limit at the bridge is due to supposed safety concerns around weight limits.

“But would you really take that chance and still let these big trucks across if you didn’t think the bridge was safe,” she said.

“There is the issue of revenue, and there is safety. It’s basically a revenue thing, that’s all it is. Truck drivers only have 12 points, and if they lose points, that’s their livelihood. The last thing they need to be doing is going to work and losing points.”

Cameras tested independently

TMR says that all cameras have been calibrated independently from the camera vendor, with a number of checks to ensure their accuracy:

·            Firstly, the cameras must be independently calibrated.

·            When the trailer is setup, the speed of vehicles recorded from the trailer is reviewed by using a different speed camera device to ensure they are both measuring the same speeds. The trailer will not go into enforcement mode until after this verification.

·            All offences detected are verified using a secondary verification method where two images of the vehicle taken are reviewed to check their speed, using time over distance calculations. Only offences supported by the secondary verification are sent for adjudication.

When Big Rigs asked why TMR decided to put speed cameras in the town, the department told us that in 2022 there were 88 fatalities involving speeding drivers/riders in this general location.

“When a motorist exceeds the legal speed limit, they are endangering themselves and other innocent road users. The Queensland Government is working to prevent any serious injuries and deaths from occurring on Queensland roads and the speed camera program is a vital tool to enable us to achieve this goal.”

TMR added that research undertaken in 2023 by the Monash University Accident Research Centre also found that in 2021, a total of 1191 casualty crashes were avoided due to the use of speed cameras.

“This independent research clearly demonstrates the effectiveness of the Queensland Camera Detected Offence Program in reducing road trauma.”

TMR says that the Torrens Creek location has shown excessive amounts of speeding.

“Infringement numbers are not available but approximately 3000 offences were detected for speeding prior to the verification and adjudication process.”

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