Demerits for speed cameras

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 speed cameras 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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