NSW’s demerit system will be overhauled to give motorists more points, while for some offences points will be reduced or scrapped altogether in a rare piece of good news for the state’s drivers.
NSW Premier Kristina Keneally on Monday said cabinet had agreed to the sweeping demerit point reforms, as well as changes to how the controversial mobile speed cameras are marked.
Under the government proposal, unrestricted drivers would get an additional point, from 12 to 13.
Professional drivers, such as couriers and taxi drivers, would get two additional points, from 12 to 14.
Demerit points for 22 offences would also be reduced or deleted, Ms Keneally said.
“(These changes) recognise that most drivers in NSW do the right thing and they deserve a break, they deserve a fair go,” she said.
“This scheme deserves to be continually reviewed in light of the community expectations and in light of our changing application of road safety and road enforcement.
“What that does is recognise that there are a range of offences which attract demerit points.
“It is about recognising that we are moving to a system where people could too easily lose their licence for what were not the most serious of offences.”
Ms Keneally said the unpopular mobile speed cameras would also be more clearly marked, including warning signs placed at least 50 metres before the camera vehicles.
The cars will also be clearly signposted and marked in bright colours, she said.
“Mobile speed cameras are on the road to make people slow down – we’ve said that from the start,” she said.
“However, the reality is the majority of drivers do the right thing.
“We’ve heard community concerns about mobile speed cameras loud and clear and we are responding.”
The mobile speed cameras, run by private operate Redflex, were introduced in August.
The initial rollout included only six cars, but under an expansion of the scheme 40 more will be added to the state’s roads next year.
The government has faced accusations the cameras – which were unmarked under an earlier trial – were more about revenue raising than road safety, a claim Ms Keneally admitted had “frustrated” her.
The changes will be introduced into parliament this week, she said.
NRMA Motoring and Services president Wendy Machin said the reforms were a “big win” for motorists.
“We wanted to see the demerit system made fairer, without sacrificing safety,” she said in a statement, adding plans to introduce warning signs 50 metres in front of mobile speed cameras would significantly reduce community angst.
“These warning signs will go a long way to building community confidence that these cameras are not about revenue raising but keeping our roads safe.”
However, opposition roads spokesman Andrew Stoner accused the government of a pre-election stunt.
“This is last-minute policy on the run, by a government that is admitting failure in terms of its mobile speed camera rollout,” he said.