Drivers nabbed for low level driving offences would have the option to undergo a retraining program in lieu of demerit points under a program proposed by NSW Labor to improve road safety.
Currently, driving retraining courses are typically completed by more serious offenders who have been referred by the courts. The offences to be covered by the scheme would be determined in consultation with NSW Police and the Centre for Road Safety.
Labor’s proposal is based on the UK’s National Driver Offender Retraining Scheme (NDORS) which has received international accolades for road safety. In 2012 NDORS received the Premier Award at the Prince Michael International Road Safety Awards.
The need for new ways to promote safe driving is evident by the higher death toll on our roads. The latest figures released in the Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics (BITRE) monthly bulletin on Road Deaths in Australia shows the number of deaths in February 2016 more than doubling compared to the same month last year – from 16 deaths to 34.
Figures for fatalities on our roads are higher again this year – with 79 people having lost their lives since January 1.
The retraining program would only be available for a motorist once every three years to stop repeat offenders from returning to the course time and time again. The program would be aimed at reeducating drivers and changing behavior rather than simply fining them.
The course would be funded through the fines motorists would ordinarily pay for their offence. If a motorist chose not to undertake the course they would still pay the fine and lose demerit points. Labor is concerned that the Baird Government’s efforts to improve road safety are simply not working as speed camera revenue continues to rise year on year.
Similarly troubling is the recent discovery by Labor, that despite a Liberal election commitment, road safety expenditure is not rising in line with the increase in speed camera revenue.
Information obtained by the Opposition under Government Information Public Access Laws (GIPA) shows more than $13.9 million in fine revenue in 2014/15 was pocketed by the government and not reinvested in safety programs.
Quotes attributable to Shadow Minister for Roads Jodi McKay “The Government has put all of its efforts into raising revenue through speed cameras. What they should be doing is focusing on changing driver behaviour.
“Driver retraining programs have been incredibly effective around the world.
“It’s time NSW caught up with the rest of the world in addressing speeding offences in particular with education and retraining.