Media Release

Pedestrian Crossing Penalties Unenforceable

PCA Calls on Minister Scully to Fix Blunder

Tuesday 1 May 2001
The Chairman of the PCA, Mr Harold Scruby, today called on the NSW Minister for Roads and Transport, Mr Carl Scully, to immediately fix a bureaucratic blunder, which has rendered his $206 penalty for stopping on or near children’s crossings, pedestrian crossings or marked foot crossings, unenforceable.

Mr Scruby said: "In April 1997 (four years ago), we had a meeting with Mr Scully. We pointed out that nearly all the pedestrian crossings/zones in NSW had been incorrectly sign-posted with No Standing signs which in effect invited motorists to set down or pick up passengers in these zones. Other legislation made it illegal to stop in such zones. To his credit, Mr Scully immediately instructed the RTA to ensure all No Standing signs be replaced with the correct and appropriate No Stopping signs (see attached copy of his letter of 4 July 1997).

"At the same time, Mr Scully confirmed that the RTA’s Inter-Departmental Committee on Traffic Penalties had supported in principle, the PCA’s requests calling for the allocation of demerit points for vehicles parked on marked foot crossings (see attached copy of his letter of 4 July 1997).

"The PCA then approached the NRMA, which in September 1998, ‘resolved to support the introduction of 3 demerit points for stopping on pedestrian crossings’ (see attached copy of letter dated 11 September 1998).

"Again to his credit, Mr Scully put the demerit point proposal before Cabinet, which, in spite of the expert advice and support, was rejected. However, Mr Scully was successful in raising the penalty from the $138 penalty for stopping in a No Stopping zone to $206 for stopping on or near children’s, pedestrian and marked foot crossings (see attached excerpt from the NSW Fixed Penalty Handbook).

"In September last year, by chance, the PCA discovered that Parking Patrol Officers were only issuing the $138 PINs (Parking Infringement Notices) for stopping or parking in or on pedestrian crossings and zones. We approached Sgt Ron Dorrough of the NSW Police Service, Traffic Services Branch who confirmed the anomaly that the $206 penalty could not be issued if No Stopping signs were in place.

"Last week, we had this confirmed in writing by Mr Graham Scala of the NSW Infringement Processing Bureau (see attached copy of his email) – quote: `Australian Road Rule 332 sets out that a parking control sign applies to a length of road i.e. from sign to sign and hence takes precedence over any statutory provision. Accordingly if a driver stops on a pedestrian crossing which is located between no stopping signs they are infringed for no stopping.’

Mr Scruby added: "But it doesn’t stop there. Four years later, not only do we have no demerit points for stopping in pedestrian crossings and zones, not only is the $206 regulation unenforceable, but most of the penalties for parking and driving offences in NSW are in such a mess, they are so inequitable, so unjust and so anomalous, that there should be an immediate and independent review of every offence, penalty and demerit point in the Australian Road Rules.

"And it also appears that both the IPB and the TSB have done absolutely nothing about having the anomaly corrected, although it would appear they have known of the problem for a long time.

"To demonstrate the almost unbelievable anomalies which currently exist in our road rules, would any logical person agree that there should be a $348 penalty for displaying an article/thing which falsely resembles a parking ticket (see attached excerpt from the NSW Fixed Penalty Handbook) and $138 (even $206 if it were enforceable) for Stopping on a children’s crossing? The former offence compromises nobody’s safety – the latter can result in the death of a child," Mr Scruby said.

"The recently released Ministerial Road Safety Task Force found (quote): `Significant numbers of offenders are repeat offenders. It appears from insurance data that demerit points are an indicator of future crashes. Conclude that these people are less likely than average to respond to advertising and suggest heavier penalties or other specific countermeasures.’

Mr Scruby concluded: "Practically every taxi driver in Sydney treats pedestrian crossings as if they were taxi ranks. Many parents stop and park their vehicles, including large, opaque 4WDs in children’s school crossings. The practice is extremely dangerous as it obstructs the vision of pedestrians and motorists alike. And it is out of control. Significant change will not occur until the penalties and demerit points reflect the potential injury and death caused by such risky and dangerous behaviour.

"The PCA calls on Mr Scully to:

1 Immediately correct the anomaly affecting the penalties for parking and stopping on and in pedestrian crossings and zones and consider making penalty at least the same as that for displaying an article/thing which falsely resembles a parking ticket.

2 Legislate so that there are at least 3 demerit points for stopping in or on pedestrian crossings and zones.

3 Commence an immediate and independent review of every penalty under the Australian Road Rules.

4 Ensure that each and every driving and parking offence which compromises the safety of any person attracts demerit points relevant to the seriousness of that offence.

Contact: Harold Scruby – Chairman/CEO (0418) 110-011 or (02) 9968-4555