Parking Rage

The Daily Telegraph Friday 24 September 2004 Page 1


Motorists face losing licences for parking


By STAVRO SOFIOS State Political Reporter


DRIVERS will be hit with new traffic fines and increased penalties in the biggest shake-up of the NSW demerit points system in 40 years.


For the first time, motorists will lose their driver's licence for repeated parking offences, in a safety push.


The reforms announced yesterday come into effect on February 1. And despite the worthy safety message, controversial aspects of the crackdown are expected to spark anger among some.


Little rules many motorists bend like parking in bus zones will attract a $225 fine, up from $93.


Offenders will also get two demerit points.


The fine for double parking almost doubles to $175 and two points while stopping in a bus or transit lane will see motorists slugged $175.


But motorists especially parents who park too close to school pedestrian crossings will be hit hardest, in a bid to stop the dangerous habit.


Parking near or on a pedestrian or children's crossing will attract a $225 fine and three demerit points.


"I know mums and dads every morning and afternoon are busy, rushing to drop their kids off and rushing to pick them up, but they have to do it in a way that is safe," Roads Minister Carl Scully said yesterday.


"They need to be reminded if they insist on doing it [parking near pedestrian crossings] . . . they will lose their licences."


The fine restructure comes after bungling by the Carr Government over fine collections.


NSW taxpayers have lost more than $50 million because of problems with the Infringement Processing Bureau.

The fines for 642 traffic offences will increase, while penalties for 760 offences will fall.


The Government said the new fines system would be "revenue neutral.


But Opposition roads spokesman Don Page said that while he agreed with the need for reform he believed the new system was a revenue grab.


"The net effect of those fine changes will be a huge windfall for the Carr Government," Mr Page said.


"Fines are going up by substantial amounts and those that are going down are only going down by small amounts."


Late-night shoppers at Bondi Junction last night were divided over whether the safety benefits would override being slugged in the hip pocket.



Angry Coogee personal assistant Sarah Kite, 28, described the fines increase as "ridiculous revenue raising".


She added: "Demerit points for parking what else are they going to take points for next?"


The NRMA said it welcomed the introduction of demerit points for parking offences because drivers generally supported the demerit point system.


However, it called for a comprehensive education campaign to ensure drivers knew of the new rules before being slapped by fines from February.


Mr Scully said figures showed 75 per cent of NSW motorists had lost no demerit points in the past three years. But drivers who had lost at least three points were more likely to be involved in accidents.


The majority of drivers involved in fatal accident had also lost demerit points, he said.


Mr Scully said the existing system needed to be reformed to achieve a "fairer, more safety-focused outcome".


He praised lobbying Pedestrian Council chairman Harold Scruby for his "persistence on being heard" about the implementation of the new penalties.


"It's taken seven years but NSW will have the best demerit system in the country," Mr Scruby told The Daily Telegraph.


"Demerit points treat everyone equally, we went through every offence, it took months and months of work. Pedestrians have been at the bottom of the food chain for too long."


Mr Scruby said the changes would improve safety out- side schools.