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Fining Drivers Won’t Make Our Roads Any Safer

Media Release 13 August 2003

Fining Drivers Won’t Make Our Roads Any Safer

The Government’s appetite for fines revenue is in danger of discrediting road safety the Automobile Association warned today.

“The Government’s proposed ‘get tough’ approach to traffic policing simply amounts to lowering the threshold at which police will be able to hand out infringement notices. All it means is that more and more normally law abiding people will receive tickets for relatively minor offences.”, AA Public Affairs Director George Fairbairn said.

The Minister of Transport, Paul Swain indicated at the Local Authority Traffic Institute’s annual conference yesterday that the Government was looking at introducing hidden speed cameras, adding demerits to speed camera tickets, reducing the blood alcohol limit and reducing the speed limit threshold.

Mr Fairbairn said while visible Police presence on the roads makes a difference which has been clearly shown by the operation of the Highway Patrol, covert operations must be questioned and are more likely to be viewed by many as a means of revenue collecting. Traffic fines revenues have increased from $151 million in 1999-2000 to $198 million with $262 million uncollected.

“Until late last year there was general acknowledgement by government agencies that the only way the road toll would come down to the 2010 target of 300 would be if the Government spent more on making our roads safer. The Government now seems to believe that it can fine drivers into safety while increasing revenue in the process. This will in the Association’s view threaten to erode public good will and destroy public support for road safety enforcement.” Mr Fairbairn said.

The Association called for the Government to ‘get tough’ on the worst offenders by increasing existing penalties for higher level offences instead of lowering thresholds to create a catch-all situation that would alienate public support. It also reiterated its calls for the Government to ‘get real’ on spending for safer roads.

“People make mistakes, and people make mistakes while driving, this is inevitable. What is not inevitable is that the consequences of making mistakes should be death or serious injury. That can be prevented by improving vehicle standards and making roads more failsafe. The Government has already improved vehicle standards but even while increasing taxes and fines revenue much more has to be done to remedy the deficiencies on our roading network. Without that level of funding on road engineering, any significant gains in the road toll figure are unlikely.” Mr Fairbairn said.

ENDS

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