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NSW ups fines to weed out lead-foot drivers

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By Brad Gardner | April 4, 2012

Trucking operators that fail to identify drivers caught speeding will risk being fined up to $16,500 under changes to road transport law in NSW.

The state’s government has introduced a bill to significantly increase fines under the Road Transport (General) Act in a bid to stop companies from copping fines on behalf of their drivers.

Liberal MP Melanie Gibbons says traffic offences cannot be assigned unless a company nominates the person.

“In many cases, to avoid someone losing demerit points or to avoid a driving record, the company foots the bill and cops the fine. In essence, it is able to shield the offender. This amendment will further deter companies from taking that option,” Gibbons says.

Under the The Road Transport Legislation Amendment (Offender Nomination) Bill currently being debated in the state’s parliament, a fine for failing to declare an offender will increase five-fold.

“If a heavy vehicle is found travelling at more than 45km/h over the limit, a failure to nominate will attract a maximum penalty of $16,500,” MP Kevin Conolly says.

Companies with heavy vehicles caught travelling at that speed currently face a maximum fine of $3300. The Bill will also introduce a maximum fine of $11,000 for all other camera-detected offences, replacing the current figure of $2200.

Companies can avoid being stung if they disclose the driver’s identity, including their licence, date of birth, work address, phone number and email address.

Labor has backed the change, with MP Guy Zangari saying heavier fines will act as a disincentive to companies shielding drivers.

“It will ensure that drivers who break the law and the companies that protect them are held accountable and receive a fine that is more reflective of their lack of respect for the law and the lives of our citizens,” he says.

“For companies to continue to shield bad driver behaviour is not acceptable because the offending driver will not be deterred from behaving badly on our roads and will run the risk of causing major accidents or even death to themselves, innocent motorists, passengers or pedestrians.”

Christopher Gulaptis says there is no reason why companies cannot put in place systems to identify who was driving a vehicle at any time. He says maintaining a record of a vehicle’s use will ensure companies can avoid paying hefty fines.

“It is time that companies who continue to shield their employees from fines, face greater consequences for their actions,” Gibbons says.

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