Drivers who behave for a year to be reimbursed licence demerit point under NSW Labor plan | New South Wales politics

Well-behaved NSW drivers will be able to have a demerit point removed from their licence in 12 months if Labor wins government in March.

The state’s opposition announced on Tuesday its support for a 12-month trial that would see drivers who remain infringement-free for a year rewarded with the removal of a demerit point. No changes would be made to existing punishments for drivers caught misbehaving.

John Graham, the NSW shadow minister for roads, said: “It is time to use the carrot, as well as the stick, when it comes to speeding.”

Drivers on unrestricted licences can currently accumulate 13 demerit points before having their licence suspended. It takes three years for demerit points to expire.

Labor’s leader, Chris Minns, said the new scheme would give motorists a boost after the removal of speed camera warning signs led to a major uptick in speeding fines.

The number of mobile digital speed camera fines issued when the speed limit was exceeded by 10km/h or less increased from 3,222 in October 2020 to 27,855 by February 2021, Revenue NSW data shows.

“It’s time we put safety back at the centre of our road rules, not revenue raising,” Minns said.

“Under Labor the rules are simple – drive safely, get a point back.”

Metropolitan Roads Minister Natalie Ward criticised Labor’s plan, telling Sydney radio 2GB it was designed to win votes and was not concerned with safety.

“There’s no such thing as low level safe speeding,” Ms Ward said.

“Two-thirds of speeding drivers involved in fatal crashes over the last five years were travelling less than 10 kilometres over the speed limit.

“We know that speed kills.

“This is a policy that overlooks victims and families.”

Late last year, former NSW roads minister Duncan Gay told a parliamentary inquiry the signs had been removed in good faith but it was the wrong decision.

The government reversed the unpopular signs policy last year, saying it had listened to the community.

It has since emerged about one-third of mobile speed cameras are not back on the roads, as the vehicles are too small to hold the signs.

“The advice from the vendors is that 47 of their vehicles in their updated fleet don’t have the capacity to take those signs or will require significant modification, which includes potentially removing seats,” Transport for NSW deputy secretary Tara McCarthy told a budget estimates hearing last year.

The government had received feedback that cameras were being concealed behind trees and poles and were not effective in getting drivers to slow down.

Graham said removing the cameras had not achieved results, with the community viewing it as a revenue-raising exercise.

“Some motorists told me they had never received a traffic infringement until the NSW Liberals’ hidden speed camera scheme,” he said.

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