The RAC calls for speeding fines to be doubled during holiday periods
According to an independent review, DOUBLE-DEMERIT penalties in Western Australia have NOT cut road deaths.
In fact the figures show fatal car crashes have jumped almost 50 per cent on holidays and long weekends since double-demerit points came into force in 2002.
The revelations have sparked calls from the RAC for fines – not just demerit points – to be doubled to send motorists a “sharp message”.
That would mean the fine for not wearing a seat belt would jump from $500 to $1000 and the penalty for exceeding the speed limit by 15km/h would rise from $150 to $300 during double-demerit periods.
A report by independent researcher Synovate showed the average number of fatal crashes during double-demerit times was 0.71 a day in 2008 compared with 0.48 a day in 2002 – an increase of 48 per cent.
The report also showed the average number of crashes causing injury during double-demerit periods had increased by nearly two a day between 2004 and 2008, rising from 15.31 to 17.02.
WA has about 40 double-demerit days each year, including the Easter and Christmas breaks.
RAC spokesman Matt Brown said stiffer penalties should be considered to reinforce the impact of double demerits.
“We think the Government should look at whether financial penalties should be doubled on holiday periods as well, to send an even sharper message to people,” he said.
“These are the most dangerous times on our roads and you have to accept a higher responsibility to act safely during those times.”
Mr Brown said more cars on the road at holiday time had contributed to the increasing toll, but he called for a review of the demerits policy to ensure the scheme was having an impact.
“The double-demerits system has a good awareness level and strong support in the community, but that doesn’t mean the system we introduced all those years ago doesn’t need to evolve,” he said.
Mr Brown also wants double demerits for drivers using mobile phones without a hands-free set. Currently only speeding, drink-driving and seatbelt offences attract double demerits.
Opposition road safety spokeswoman Margaret Quirk agreed stiffer fines and penalties should be considered, but Police Minister Rob Johnson said existing double-demerits legislation was reducing the total number of crashes on WA roads. He said the Government had no plans to double fines.
Office of Road Safety executive director Iain Cameron said the increase in holiday fatalities between 2001and 2008 was significantly lower than fatal crashes in non-holiday periods.