Sydney Morning Herald - Wednesday 16 February 2005

Cut in speed camera fines but increase in demerit points

By Jonathan Pearlman
Speed camera fines for offences up to 15 kmh above the speed limit will be cut from $130 to $75 under a proposed overhaul of the state's road rules.

The State Government will introduce the changes at the end of March to quell concerns that the fines are primarily a revenue-raising exercise. The offence will instead incur an extra demerit point.

The Minister for Roads, Michael Costa, said last night he also planned to host a summit in March to review the state's road rules.

The summit is likely to embarrass Mr Costa's predecessor, Carl Scully, who conducted a comprehensive review of road rules last year. Mr Scully's proposals were due to take effect on March 1.

"Changes to the fines and demerit system announced by the previous Minister for Roads, Carl Scully, will be deferred pending the outcome of the road users summit," Mr Costa said.

He said the summit would consider improving traffic flows on major roads, 40 kmh zones outside schools, the consistency of speed limits across zones, the operation of speed cameras and penalties for offences that cause frustration such as drivers hogging lanes.

The chairman of the Pedestrian Council of Australia, Harold Scruby, said Mr Scully's summit had examined every penalty in the state and another review was unnecessary.

"This has all been done before," he said. "It's been through an arduous process with every stakeholder in NSW. This is totally unnecessary and lives and limbs will suffer as a result."

But Mr Scruby supported the proposed changes to speeding fines.

"I endorse the view that demerit points should come before fines," he said.

"It's a more equitable way of fining people and ensuring road safety because it doesn't favour the rich. Dollars are quickly forgotten but points make you think every time you drive because you could lose your licence."

Speeding fines for offences above 15 kmh will not be changed. About two-thirds of speeding fines are in the 0 to 15 kmh category. Under the changes, the fines will incur three points rather than two.

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