Demerits for speed cameras

May 12th, 2011 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Matthew Dearnaley in the Herald reports:

Speedsters snapped by police cameras face demerit points on their licences under road safety proposals being investigated by the Government. …

Under present law, motorists caught by are only fined, but Transport Minister Steven Joyce has raised the prospect of demerit points as a tougher penalty.

Mr Joyce thought that would have a greater impact on high-risk drivers such as boy racers, with whom there was a problem with fines accumulating to a point where they could not be paid.

“If we can get to a position where the two things they covet most, which is their licence and their vehicles, are at risk, then I think that will improve behaviour of a group of high-risk drivers that are causing a lot of the carnage on our roads.”

I think one is better to target their vehicles than their licenses, as they will probably simply then just drive without a licence. If someone has significant unpaid fines, then impound and sell their car to help cover them.

Demerits do provide an incentive not to speed. If you get pulled over by the Police and get demerits, you do tend to take greater care that you are not exceeding the speed limit until the demerits expire.

But the problem I have with extending these to speed cameras is that you may not even know that you have been “snapped” and it is quite possible that you could be snapped three times in one day, and lose your licence without even realising it.

But there is a possible solution to that problem. You could have a rule that says if you get snapped by a speed camera within say 7 – 14 days (enough time for you to have been sent the ticket) of a previous speed camera infringement, then you only have demerits apply for the first infringement. You still get fined for both, but only demerited once.

The principle is similiar to the new regime for copyright infringement. You can only get a second strike after you have clearly been warned about your first strike.

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24 Responses to “Demerits for speed cameras”

  1. thedavincimode (6,890 comments) says:

    I’ve said it before … and I’ll say it again. Why not just disqualify for unpaid fines? Easy. No money? No drivey and no car!

    And as usual, these rules get rolled out to target the lowest common denominator, and everyone else suffers. Someone gets killed in a car doing 170 kph, or is clocked at 112 khp in a 50 kph, so we come down like a town of bricks on someone who momentarily accelerates to get past someone doing 75 kph.

    And what are we doing about the people doing 75kph in 1 100 kph zone?

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  2. ciaron (1,448 comments) says:

    I was under the impression that demerits were not issued for camera infringements because the driver could not be positively identified.

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  3. Brian Smaller (3,966 comments) says:

    How about impounding cars BEFORE there are significant amounts of unpaid fines. If someone isn’t making regular payment on fines then take their car until fines are paid. If they continue to rack up fines while still paying existing ones, impound and crush.

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  4. aquataur (59 comments) says:

    The smart and rich will get around this immediately – just register your vehicle in the name of a company or trust, and have the entity pay the fine. No demerits on any licence.

    From my experience, the plods don’t follow up on company owned vehicles – I have seen an appaliing instance of dangerous driving recently and reported the company vehicle – on inquiring later to the police about what had happened, they said the company couldn’t be certain who was driving the vehicle at the time and it was too much bother to take the matter any further. If they won’t do that for dangerous driving, can’t see them doing it for a speed camera offence

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  5. immigant (950 comments) says:

    What if it was not me but my wife driving? How do they know who was behind the wheel? This is a very very bad Idea.

    Disco for unpaid fines is a much better idea.

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  6. James Stephenson (2,266 comments) says:

    What if it was not me but my wife driving? How do they know who was behind the wheel? This is a very very bad Idea

    Being a pommie sales rep, I knew several people who had grandparents “admit” to driving their cars and cop the points on their licences.

    The UK runs a system where the registered owner receives the infringement notice and has to dob in the driver or be demerited themselved. There was a challenge to the system through the European courts at one point based on a group of drivers standing on their right to silence and their right not to be forced to incriminate themselves – it resulted in a law change.

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  7. ciaron (1,448 comments) says:

    @ aquataur; call the company involved, give them time, place and rego if you can. Then tell them you’ll send pictures to that Cameron Slater guy, he loves publishing stuff like that.

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  8. david (2,194 comments) says:

    Compay vehicles – if they won’t name the driver inside 21 days, demerit the most senior manager or one of the directors.

    The biggest problem would be Bob Jones’ dog. The NZP would go barking mad getting a confession from Rover.

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  9. Chris2 (775 comments) says:

    Marcus Einfeld, a former Australian Federal Court judge is currently serving three years imprisonment for perjury after he lied on three occasions about who was driving his car in Sydney when it was photographed by a speed camera.

    He was worried the accompanying demerit points would see him on the verge of losing his licence so he swore out affidavits three times claiming he had lent his car to a visiting US academic who had subsequently returned to America. The trouble was, she had been killed in a hit-and-run car accident two years earlier.

    http://www.verify.co.nz/news-cvfraudos.php#cvfraudos20090320

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  10. F E Smith (3,307 comments) says:

    I think Enfield is now out of prison, Chris2, but your point is well made. The Environment Secretary in the UK, Chris Huhne, is also in all sorts of bother over just this allegation.

    The money spent to put Enfield behind bars was far in excess of the fines he would have paid, but because of the demerits he was willing to risk imprisonment, as will people in NZ if the MoT brings this in.

    I am all for demerits for speeding, in fact I think we should abolish infringement fines almost completely and have just demerits for most infringement offences. However, when it comes to speed cameras I say abolish, but if you won’t then stick with fines.

    And on the confiscation issue, most of those who owe a lot of fines are low paid young men, the sort who own a $500 or $1000 car. They see confiscation as an inconvenience only and seem to pop up with a new $500 car very quickly. In fact, I have had some clients who purposely drive sub$500 cars because when they get impounded (which they always do) they don’t bother to claim the car, which leads to the police getting the impound fees that are always far in excess of what the car is worth. So I don’t support confiscation as it will only deter those drives most likely to be deterred by loss of licence anyway.

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  11. Pascal (1,187 comments) says:

    But the problem I have with extending these to speed cameras is that you may not even know that you have been “snapped” and it is quite possible that you could be snapped three times in one day, and lose your licence without even realising it.

    But there is a possible solution to that problem. You could have a rule that says if you get snapped by a speed camera within say 7 – 14 days (enough time for you to have been sent the ticket) of a previous speed camera infringement, then you only have demerits apply for the first infringement. You still get fined for both, but only demerited once.

    The alternative, of course, to obey the law and not speed. Then you wouldn’t need to worry about being caught multiple times in one day and not knowing about getting demerits.

    I understand that sometimes the speed limit is bollocks. But irrespective of that, it is in our current laws. We do not get to choose which laws we obey and which ones we ignore.

    If you want a change to the speed limits, take it to your MP and see democracy at work.

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  12. peterwn (3,333 comments) says:

    There needs to be a bit of caution here.
    The first issue is how much ‘bad feeling’ exists in the community with respect to traffic enforcement. This comes from a rather noisy group. Labour ignored them, perhaps polling etc indicated it was not ‘on the radar’. Interestingly Simon Power flew a kite on this one but quickly seemed to pull it back in. Erection of dummy speed cameras at Taupo, Palmerston (South) and Ophir by concerned locals indicate community support for enforcement, so does people taking tea and scones out to police officers operatin speed cameras. So possibly it will ot be too much of an election issue.

    Secondly, publicity and enforcement methods need to be properly thought out – a heavy handed punitive system can backfire badly (witness IRD’s penaly regime set up in the 1990’s by National – it was so harsh Labour had to trim it back). Bureaucrats will happily recommend a punitive regime – they need not worry about a political backlash. In particular disqualifications need to be minimised – this both minimises resentment that can be felt politically and the economic loss to society resulting from disqualification (eg being made unemployer, advers impact on families, etc).

    One particular aspect needs careful consideration and this can start today. The most ‘lucrative’ speed camera (and ‘snake’ sites) sould be assessed to try and determine why there is excessive speeding delinquency. Additional signage including electonic speed indicator signs may be the answer. Downhill runs (Taihape north, Ngauranga Gorge, Adelaide Rd (Wellington) and SH1 Cavisham (Dunedin) ) could benefit from extra signage. GPS advances should soon allow speed limits to be displayed to drivers with an audible indication hen the limit is exceeded. This would eliminate cases of accidental speeding. The use of ‘long run’ speed camera systems (checking average speed over several kilometres) would also target deliberate as distinct from accidental speedsters – the tolerances on these can be zero as the long distance ensures a very accurate average speed measurement.

    One up-side of more demerits, less fines – it bluntens the ‘revenue gathering’ argumnt.

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  13. rouppe (983 comments) says:

    But the problem I have with extending these to speed cameras is that you may not even know that you have been “snapped” and it is quite possible that you could be snapped three times in one day, and lose your licence without even realising it.

    Rubbish David. You lose your licence after accumulating 100 demerits. If you did that in three speeding offences you would have to accrue over 30 demerits each time. This means you will have had to be going more than 20kph over the speed limit. If you don’t know you are going that fast over the limit you shouldn’t be driving.

    Unless you subscribe to the Helen Clark speeding defence…. “I didn’t know the car was doing 170kph officer…”

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  14. Jim (358 comments) says:

    The speed camera operations in NZ do seem to be geared more towards catching people unaware than actually reducing speed.

    I recall reading comments from someone involved in traffic enforcement in another country that a speed camera that catches lots of drivers is doing a poor job – and one that catches almost none is obviously working well.

    I have been living outside NZ for 10 years and have been snapped by a camera only once in that time – 69kph in a 50kph zone. About 1km further down the road the limit is 70kph and I was unaware of the limit on the stretch I was driving. Nevertheless I did not need to complain: the notice I received in the mail detailed the fine, the demerits, and then stated that this was a warning only. Don’t do it again, etc. The result is that I’m now very aware of the speed limit on that road – and also happy.

    Contrast with NZ. The last time I visited I had two tickets for 60kph in the space of a week. Both on main roads with 50kph speed limits where you’d need to ride the brakes and watch your speedometer and not your surroundings. The downhill stretch of Onewa Rd, Northcote and another one somewhere around Rotorua. The impression I got was that these are ‘traps’ more than they are trying to warn people to slow down. Both were not obvious to an outsider.

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  15. Sonny Blount (1,809 comments) says:

    It will be interesting to observe the allocation of police resources if the system is changed to demerits.

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  16. side show bob (3,410 comments) says:

    I don’t get it. The IRD can take money out of peoples accounts without there say so, especially if one has employees that have giving the finger to the system. Why can’t the justice system do the same and none of this $5 a week bullshit. If someone is on the dole take 50% of their weekly benefit. I’m sure a new respect for the law wouldn’t take long to be reestablished.

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  17. Sonny Blount (1,809 comments) says:

    As Pascal above suggest though, any reform should include a plan to modernise our speed limits from the current limits established in 1969.

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  18. Viking2 (11,672 comments) says:

    This means you will have had to be going more than 20kph over the speed limit. If you don’t know you are going that fast over the limit you shouldn’t be driving.

    What rot.
    Got pinged for just that traveling on the new Taupo by pass on a nice sunny day, light traffic and in my car its just like doing the hundred.

    If Europeans can travel safely at up to 150 kph why can’t we handle 110? – 120 in the right conditions on the right roads?.
    The problem is not the speed but the attention required to do and the ability to drive that fast.
    With todays cars the speed and ability of the car is not the issue.
    Its getting to the point where the nazi’s will have us all traveling at 40kph. No fucking wonder NZ has low productivity.

    Until we see some good accurate full stats. on driving issues everything regurgitated by the Police and Ltsa should be treated with contempt.
    How many of this years road deaths are motor cyclists? One a week at a guess.
    How many are full of booze or drugs. 60%

    How many boy racer reports have you seen this year? eh none I reckon.
    How many truck drivers had gone off the road this year? plenty.
    What time of day do boy racers supposedly fly around. Daytime, nighttime.

    Neither the police nor LTSA collect adequate stats for any type of constructive debate.

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  19. Rex Widerstrom (5,013 comments) says:

    thedavincimode says:

    Why not just disqualify for unpaid fines? Easy. No money? No drivey and no car!

    Bceause politicians are politicians and police are police. They do that in Australia – disqualification for fines enforcement. Sounded great when introduced… why should you tear round at, say, 140km/h and not pay the fine?

    Then it gets applied to someone doing 105 km/h. Oh, hang on… but too late, it’s on the books, and when was the last time a law got repealed – specially one giving the police more power?

    Now it applies to parking tickets and, since the cops patrol the trains, people fined for fare evasion. I copped a “fare evasion” fine because I was used, in NZ, to asking for a “10 trip concession”. Over here “concession” means you’re on a benefit. I politely explained my mistake, showed evidence I was from NZ and hadn’t been here long (it wa my first ten trip ticket), offered to pay the difference and destroy the ticket, invalidating the remaining rides… no go, the friendly little fascist fined me.

    So I refused to pay. Shortly after the time to pay expired I’m baled up by two cops at a gas station, told I’m “driving without a licence” and if they see me again I’ll go to jail. So I had to officially fight that ticket rather than ignore it. Won, of course, thus endearing me even further to my friends in the police.

    There were no demerits on my licence (still aren’t, 10 years on – and they do give them for speed camera tickets in excess of 10 km/h over the limit). But I’m again in the same situation, this time over a parking ticket for “not parking completely within the lines” because some ass had left his 4WD hanging over the edge of my parking space.

    Give a politician or a police officer a small power and they’ll systematically abuse it. So let’s not.

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  20. Rex Widerstrom (5,013 comments) says:

    Viking2 suggests:

    Its getting to the point where the nazi’s will have us all traveling at 40kph.

    Lest anyone think Viking2 is being melodramatic, take a listen to this:

    Interview with Harold Scruby, Chairman of the Pedestrian Council of Australia about Main Roads being in discussion with the City of Perth about introducing a 40km speed limit in the Perth CBD as part of a push to boost pedestrian safety. Scruby discusses the issue, saying Govt’s all over Australia are doing this. Scurby explains that motorists will not get to their destination any later if they travel 40km in areas of high traffic level…

    Riiiiight… so driving slower doesn’t affect the time it takes to get from deparature point to destination. Not if you’re travelling by flying fucking pig, maybe. Fascists indeed. Lying fascists, what’s more. And you can bet some wowser will be promoting this in NZ quicker than you can say “catching up to Australia”.

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  21. Viking2 (11,672 comments) says:

    Ha, thanks Rex.

    Of course all this is because of the spectacular failure of Crusher Collins car crushing scheme for boy racers cars.
    Cars crushed NIL in 2.5 years.

    Boy racers were a CHCH issue but of course the earthquake has fixed that. No roads suitable anymore.

    And, there were more people killed in unsafe buildings in CHCH. in a few minutes than have been killed by boy racers in years.

    Where were the building police? eh

    One policeman in CHCH has killed more people with his hand gun than 99% of boy racers.

    Beware there is only a sliver of difference between a facist and a socialist and both can justify removing all our freedoms in the name of some expediency or other.

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  22. dion (95 comments) says:

    > If Europeans can travel safely at up to 150 kph why can’t we handle 110?

    Because it’d be political suicide to do so. New Zealand has a tiny population – and therefore a small number of car accidents, and as a result a small change in the number of car accidents represents a large percentage change in the road toll.

    That percentage change would then be plastered across the evening news – who for some reason consider it their moral duty to educate us all on road safety whenever there’s a public holiday or a slow news day.

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  23. immigant (950 comments) says:

    > If Europeans can travel safely at up to 150 kph why can’t we handle 110?

    Because roads in NZ windy, narrow and generaly shit. At weird fucking cambers. Have you ever driven in Europe matie?

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  24. Pascal (1,187 comments) says:

    Got pinged for just that traveling on the new Taupo by pass on a nice sunny day, light traffic and in my car its just like doing the hundred.

    It may very well be just like traveling a 100km/h. And in South Africa with wide open spaces, long straight roads the limit is 120km/h. Different laws in different countries.

    I would suggest thought that it is not your choice on which laws to obey and which ones not to. That way lies total anarchy. As long as you abide in this country you should abide by the laws of New Zealand.

    If you do not like the laws, use our democracy to agitate for a change.

    YOU do not get to choose what laws apply to YOU and which laws don’t.

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