I treat speeding fines as a purely optional tax. I know some people seem to see them us unavoidable (notably one guy I knew who worked in car insurance), but really, nobody has to speed. Nothing’s compelling you to press down harder on that accelerator. Those people zooming past me or tailgating might remember that next time they get a ticket.
Here in Victoria in the past couple of years they’ve changed the default speed (for side streets, in other words) from 60kmh to 50kmh. That was a good idea. There’s no way the driving conditions on a narrow side street match those of an average suburban main road with lines and traffic lights. In fact I found it had me better separating the two in my mind, and driving in a manner more suited to each.
Then they put in school zones — lower speeds around schools. Again, I have no problem with this, though its implementation has been trouble prone. Typically the road in front of the school gets the lower speed, but this is not necessarily the only road that lots of students may use to get to the school. And while they said roads with a 60 limit would get only a school time 40 limit, I know of at least one (Farnsworth Avenue in Footscray) which is permanently 40. That doesn’t make sense.
I don’t necessarily see lower speed limits as a magical solution to road accidents. Sure, excessive speed is a factor in some crashes, but it seems to me the emphasis is on speed because it’s something the government can catch people for en masse with minimal effort. Speed cameras, mobile and fixed, catch motorists out cheaply. Not me though, at least not yet. But what it means is that other types of stupid driving don’t seem to get caught so much.
Governments continue to agonise about ways of reducing the road toll, through speeds, more police, double demerit points, more advertising. One thing they seem to have not considered is reducing it through reducing car usage.