And Bracks thinks he will get re-elected!!
90,000 on brink of losing licence
By Darren Gray
July 12 2003
Almost 90,000 Victorian motorists are on the brink of losing their licence because of repeated driving offences.
New VicRoads statistics, prepared for The Age, show that 76,063 motorists have accumulated nine or more demerit points in the past three years. Their licences could be suspended for at least three months if police nab them for not wearing a seatbelt, using a mobile phone while driving or failing to give way - all three-point offences.
A further 10,000 drivers are on an even sharper knife edge. They have already accrued 12 points and must drive for 12 months without further offence, or they face an automatic suspension of at least six months.
Overall, 1.54 million of the state's 3.32 million licensed vehicle users, including motorcyclists, had incurred demerit points at July 3. On top of the points, the 1.54 million motorists have paid hundreds of millions of dollars to the State Government in fines.
The demerit points system gives motorists a choice once they incur 12 points in three years. They can accept a three-month suspension and the points are wiped. Or they can keep their licence intact - but if they commit a demerit point offence in the next year they automatically lose their licence for six months.
The demerit regime was toughened significantly seven months ago. From mid-December motorists caught using a hand-held mobile phone while driving are penalised three demerit points and pay a $135 fine. Demerit point penalties on speeding motorists also rose, and points were introduced for motorists caught driving with obscured number plates.
The changes hit motorists immediately. By late June, 8757 motorists had accrued three demerit points for using a mobile phone while at the wheel.
About half of all motorists who accrue 12 points opt for the three-month licence suspension. The rest choose to try to maintain an unblemished record over the next 12 months.
VicRoads general manager of road safety, Eric Howard, urged motorists on nine points or more to abide by road rules. "You really are at risk of losing your licence; you are in danger territory once you get there," he said.
Recent demerit point statistics show the system has modified driver behaviour, he said. Over the past year 28,464 people hit 12 demerit points. Of the half who decided to keep their licence intact and abide by the law for the next year, 70 per cent went through the period without a demerit point infringement, he said.
"It's just that ability to discourage ongoing repeat offenders, that's the strength of it (the system). And we think it's really important to have it available," Mr Howard said.
Demerit points could affect a driver's mobility in a way a fine system for offences alone could not, he said.
Transport Minister Peter Batchelor said that while the 76,000 motorists on nine or more points sounded like a big number, it was only a fraction of the total of licensed drivers.
Mr Batchelor denied that traffic infringement fines were about revenue raising. "You pay the fine and you bear the pain at the time: the demerit points are intended to be a lingering reminder to do the right thing. The fines are directed towards a more immediate response, where the demerit points form part of a process of long-term change," he said.
VicRoads surveys of traffic flows had showed average traffic flow speeds had dropped in recent times, he said.
The RACV's general manager of public policy, Ken Ogden, said: "We support it (the demerit system) because we think that it's an effective deterrent. These figures can only serve to remind people that if they have demerit points they should drive more carefully."
But Dr Ogden called on the Bracks Government to abolish fines for minor speeding offences. "For low-level speeding offences it should be fully demerit points and not fines," he said.
"The community increasingly sees enforcement as being about revenue and not about road safety."
This story was found at: http://www.theage.com.au/articles/20...783356195.html