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Driving rules were made to be broken

ANDREW WEST

SMH/Sun-Herald 20 December 2009

MOTORISTS are flouting traffic laws by blocking intersections and pedestrian crossings, not obeying stop signs and covering the number plates on their cars - and they are likely to get away with it, new data reveals.

The figures, released under freedom-of-information legislation to the Pedestrian Council of Australia, show that in the past five years some laws have not been enforced at all.

"The Government now boasts that it has 3000 vehicles at its disposal to enforce traffic laws but it appears that no one ever gets booked," council chief executive Harold Scruby said.

The revelations came as the StaySafe Committee of NSW used its December report to recommend reintroducing mobile speed cameras.

"One of the more controversial recommendations is the implementation and deployment of random, covert speed cameras throughout NSW," said the committee chairman, Labor MP Geoff Corrigan.

"Evidence from Victoria indicates that the cameras reduced pedestrian fatalities significantly The use of covert cameras in NSW will benefit all road user groups, particularly pedestrians."

Mr Scruby said not only did the Queensland and Victorian governments support such cameras, their motoring organisations did, too.

According to the data obtained by Mr Scruby, no drivers were booked for entering a "blocked children's crossing/marked foot crossing/pedestrian crossing".

Only 63 people were booked in 2008-09 for entering a blocked intersection or road, and 44 were booked for the same offence in 2007-08.

Just one driver was booked in 2008-09 for driving on a footpath in a school zone - an offence Mr Scruby said was common - and only 27 people for driving on nature strips, a frequent ploy of drivers avoiding choked traffic, he said.

Just one motorist was penalised for not giving way to a pedestrian in a shared zone, and only three people were booked for not giving way to pedestrians or other vehicles in a school zone.

In 2008-09 police booked 5807 drivers for not stopping at a stop sign or line, and 4217 people for not stopping at an intersection without lights. "But that amounts, on average, to just over four tickets a year for each officer," Mr Scruby said.

In one category, dealing with the covering of number plates, often by bull-bars and tow bars, the figures reveal police booked just 61 drivers last year.

Mr Scruby also said the data showed that, over the past five years, a similar number of drivers had been booked for the same offence, such as disobeying signs instructing drivers to keep left unless overtaking. For that breach the number of penalty notices averaged about 250 a year. "There seems to be a quota and when the police reach it they don't seem to book any more offenders," Mr Scruby said