Sydney Morning Herald - Wednesday 9 February 2005

Speeding fine takes a holiday in poorly publicised zone 
By Joseph Kerr, Transport Editor

A motorist allegedly caught driving at 70kmh in a 40kmh school zone escaped the charge after a court found there had not been enough information published about school holidays, his lawyers said yesterday.

McMahons National Lawyers said in a statement that the motorist was allegedly travelling at more than 70kmh on a main road during school zone hours, resulting in an automatic licence disqualification for three months.

School zone signs show a lower speed limit of 40 kmh during certain hours.
But the lawyers said there had been insufficient public warning about which days were school days for government schools.

McMahons said that a Campbelltown District Court judge found "there was no sufficient evidence of public notification of the days declared as holidays for government schools and this finding alone was sufficient" to reduce the charge to a lesser offence.

Barrister Ken Earl said the result of the finding was that the speed limit on the stretch of road reverted to 60kmh, reducing the scale of the man's speeding.

Instead of being more than 30kmh over, the driver was travelling at less than 15kmh over of the limit.  

Mr Earl said the court recorded no conviction against the man.  

The chairman of the Pedestrian Council of Australia, Harold Scruby, said the judgement endorsed his campaign to get solar-powered, flashing lights at every school zone in NSW. The lights would flash during school zone times, alerting motorists of the lower speed limit. "Simplicity and clarity will save lives," he said.

The Roads and Traffic Authority said that a motorist caught speeding at more than 30kmh above the legal limit by police or a speed camera faced a penalty of four demerit points and a fine of $579, or up to $2200 if convicted by a court. The police or speed camera fine for a motorist caught speeding at less than 15kmh above the limit was two demerit points and $130.

Mr Earl said: "The judge's decision will hopefully ensure that action is taken to make the signs more comprehensible to all motorists so they can devote their concentration to driving safely rather than be forced to be looking at their watches and checking their diaries."

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