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Pedestrian Council of Australia
Safety – Amenity – Access – Health

 

Media Release

Wednesday 4 January 2006
 
 FoI Reveals over $10 million of Speed Camera Fines Escaped Demerit Points
 

The Chairman of the Pedestrian Council, Mr Harold Scruby today released the results of the PCA’s Freedom of Information application to the Infringement Processing Bureau.  The FoI revealed that between September 2003 and July 2005, RTA Static Speed Cameras detected 71,164 speeding offences worth $10,353, 418.  But the RTA was unable to attribute even one Demerit Point to the drivers of these vehicles due to a serious rort, to which the RTA has been turning a blind eye for years.

Mr Scruby said:  “The rort generally 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 said.

Mr Scruby added: “Demerit Points are a vital part of our Road Safety system.  Demerit Points allow the authorities to quickly identify bad and dangerous drivers and get them off our roads.  We agree with the NRMA position of March 2003, which states; ‘All safety-related offences should incur demerit points.  Penalties should be reviewed to ensure that offences which are more likely to endanger the community carry higher penalties’.  We call on NSW Roads Minister Joe Tripodi to immediately fix this long-standing anomaly which encourages the widespread flouting of the law.”

 

 

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

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