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Pedestrian Council of Australia

Safety – Amenity – Access – Health

 

Media Release

Wednesday 17 August 2005

DEMERIT POINTS RORT

Drivers Avoiding Demerit Points by Registering Vehicles in Company Names


The Chairman of the Pedestrian Council, Mr Harold Scruby said today that recent investigations conducted by the PCA have uncovered a major rort in NSW (and probably in other states of Australia), where drivers are “getting off” Demerit Points.

 

Mr Scruby said:  “The rort works like this: Where a vehicle is photographed either by speed or red-light camera and it is registered in a company name, the RTA sends the company a Traffic Infringement Notice along with a Statutory Declaration for the ‘owner’ to sign, stating the name and details of the driver at the time, so the Demerit Points can be properly assigned.

 

“The director of the company simply ignores the notice and waits for the penalty to be transferred to the State Debt Recovery Office (SDRO).  Then the fine is paid and the additional $50 penalty and the Demerit Points simply evaporate: The SDRO’s prime concern being the collection of money.


“The primary issue is that there is no requirement to nominate a ‘responsible driver’ when registering a vehicle in a company name.  Therefore, under owner-onus legislation, the owner and responsible driver becomes a corporation.  And Demerit Points can't be awarded against corporations.

 

The PCA has spoken to senior officers at both the Infringement Processing Bureau (IPB) and the RTA.  Both officers have said they were concerned about the problem and were ‘working through it’, but were concerned that if it became public knowledge it would get far worse.

 

Mr Scruby said:  “There are very simple solutions:

 

1.       Require ALL corporations owning any vehicles to nominate a ‘responsible driver’ who will automatically receive the DPs unless he/she provides a Statutory Declaration nominating the offending driver.

2.       Require that the $ fines go up by 5 times if the driver is not nominated by a certain date and/or the fines go to State Debt Recovery Office (this is the case in the ACT and Queensland)

3.       De-register all vehicles including the entire fleet if someone does not accept the DPs within a given period of time.  The legislation already provides for this to occur if the $ penalties aren't paid after a certain time at State Debt Recovery.  It could even include the automatic loss of licence for the ‘responsible driver’.

4.       Remove the cumbersome paper-work and make the system far more efficient allowing ‘responsible drivers’ to nominate the actual driver on-line etc..  As stated by a senior officer at the IPB:  ‘Statutory Declarations mean nothing to people any more.  It's not like 25 years ago.  When was the last time you heard of someone going to jail for providing a false Stat Dec?’

 

“It is also believed that many companies are paying traffic fines on behalf of employees.  They should carefully note:

 

1.       The fines are not a tax deductible expense.

2.       FBT must be paid on behalf of the employee receiving the benefit.

3.       If there is potential for harm attached to the offence and this is normal company practice, directors and those responsible leave themselves wide open to significant damages claims.  The courts have even been known to award substantial punitive damages for behaviour where it can be demonstrated there has been ‘contumelious disregard’ for the safety of others.” Mr Scruby added.

 

 

 

CONTACT:  Harold Scruby - Tel:  (0418) 110-011 or Pedestrian Council on (02) 9968-4555

Email: walking@walk.com.au  Internet:  www.walk.com.au