Speed cameras still allow tolerance, except in Siġġiewi, LESA says
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Speed cameras still allow tolerance, except in Siġġiewi, LESA says

Motorists fume as fines are dished out for the slightest of speed margins

The zero tolerance policy means that a fine would apply even for the slightest infringement above the speed limit. Photo: Mark Zammit Cordina

The zero tolerance policy means that a fine would apply even for the slightest infringement above the speed limit. Photo: Mark Zammit Cordina

Updated 6.42pm - Speed cameras have and will retain speed tolerance, except for the new one in Siġġiewi bypass, the Local Enforcement System Agency (LESA) said this afternoon. 

It was belatedly replying to Times of Malta questions after the newspaper reported that motorists exceeding the speed limit by the slightest amount were being fined, as a speed camera tolerance mechanism meant to compensate for speedometer inaccuracies was no longer being applied. The questions were sent to the agency before the story was published.

"There are 21 speed cameras in Malta which have a speed limit which varies from 50KPH to 80KPH," the agency said this afternoon.

"All speed cameras have and will retain speed tolerance, except for the one in Siggiewi bypass (speed limit: 60KPH) which has been installed a month ago following a request by the Siggiewi Local Council and approvals by the relevant authorities," LESA said. 

Sources close to the agency had told the Times of Malta that a few weeks ago a decision was taken to adopt  a zero tolerance speeding policy.

Under the tolerence system motorists caught speeding by up to 10 per cent of the respective speed limit were not being fined, as this was considered to be within the vehicle’s speedometer margin of error.

READ: No more fines for some traffic contraventions

Thus for example, in a 60km/h zone, a fine would only be issued in case the detected speed would be at least 67km/h.

Times of Malta has received a  barrage of complaints from motorists claiming there was no tolerance at all.

In some cases, a fine was issued for driving at 61.5km/h in a 60km/h zone at the recently installed Siġġiewi bypass camera.

A fine was issued for driving at 61.5km/h in a 60km/h zone

According to the Traffic Regulations Ordinance, there is a two-tier penalty system depending on the speed. A fine of €34.94 applies in cases where the limit is exceeded by up to 15km/h, but if the margin is bigger this would be doubled.

Sources said the Petitions Board within Lesa, through which aggrieved motorists can contest a traffic ticket, has been recently notified via e-mail that the 10 per cent tolerance rule was no longer in force. 

In a Facebook post uploaded a few days ago, Opposition spokesman Jason Azzopardi accused the law enforcement agency of taking this decision behind people’s back.

Though in Malta there was never a legal requirement to adopt such practice, this tolerance limit had nevertheless been introduced about a decade ago by former transport minister Austin Gatt.

In 2009, the issue had been even raised by the then Opposition leader Joseph Muscat, prompting the government to issue a statement. Back then, the transport ministry had confirmed that in Malta the tolerance rate in line with the EU average. 

Last month, Lesa announced a permanent relaxation in the enforcement of "minor" traffic contraventions, whereby a warning is being given instead of a fine. The system applies for certain parking illegalities, vehicle lights not in order, damaged lights glass, licence not affixed, a defective silencer and for missing body parts such as side mirrors, mudguards and the front grille.

The warning system only applies once, and a second similar offence would result in a fine.

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