News.com.au - Thursday 17 August 2005

Review demerits laws, lobby urges

From: AAP



THE New South Wales Government should review demerits laws to ensure drivers of company cars booked for traffic offences collected demerit points, the Pedestrian Council of Australia (PCA) says.

A loophole in state laws allowed drivers booked for speeding or running red lights in company cars to escape demerit points, council chairman Harold Scruby said.

"Where a vehicle is photographed either by speed or red-light camera and it is registered in a company name, the Roads and Traffic Authority 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," Mr Scruby said.

"The director of the company simply ignores the notice and waits for the penalty to be transferred to the State Debt Recovery Office.

"Then the fine is paid ... and the demerit points simply evaporate."

The Government should require all corporations to nominate a responsible driver for company vehicles, who would automatically receive demerit points unless an alternative driver was nominated, Mr Scruby said.

Fines should also increase five-fold if a driver was not nominated by a certain date, as was the case in the ACT and Queensland, he said.

Deregistration of vehicles and automatic loss of licence for the nominated responsible driver would also address the issue, Mr Scruby said.

Mr Scruby condemned companies that paid traffic fines on behalf of employees.

"If there is potential for harm and this is normal company practice, directors and those responsible leave themselves wide open to significant damages claims," he said.

Comment was being sought from the Government.