Victoria Police assistant commissioner Doug Fryer has refuted suggestions that road fines are about revenue raising, and insists they’re about “community education”.
Speaking at a press conference in Melbourne this afternoon, Fryer said: “[There’s an] inference it’s around revenue raising. I’d be more than happy that no one in Victoria get a fine for speeding. If they didn’t speed,” he claimed.
“So this is around community education, and it’s not around raising revenue, it is simply around assisting the community in changing their driver behaviour and culture.
“If we could find out a way nobody in Victoria ever sped, myself and government would have no issue with no penalties getting issued. But until drivers change their behaviour it’s the system we’ll have."
Fryer was speaking in response to a proposal just put forward by Victoria's peak motoring body, the RACV, to lower speeding fines but increase demerit point penalties.
Such a policy, says the RACV, would be fairer for low income earners and would help quell the idea that traffic cameras were just revenue raisers.
But Fryer said double demerit periods used in other states hadn’t been overly effective, and that increased point penalties weren’t sufficient to change driver behaviour.
“There’s been some media this morning in relation to lowering speeding fines and increasing demerit points. I’d like to highlight that Victoria is the safest state in our nation when it comes to lives lost [proportionally],” Fryer insisted.
“We know that we have the balance right here in Victoria. When it comes to both demerit points and fines, the balance in relation with both leads us to show that we have it just and right.
“Since the intro of safety cameras in the 80s, we have lowered lives lost in Victoria by double, and that is a significant number.”
The state road toll is 234 this year, compared with 235 last year.
Fryer’s comments come the same day as Victoria's Road Safety Camera Commissioner Gordon Lewis hit out at the "overpaid bureaucrats" at the RACV to radio station 3AW.
Fryer did not mention the great strides made in vehicle safety over that period, which are seeing more people walking away from serious incidents.
“We know that the blended methods of both fines and demerit points are working and that is one of the reasons why Victoria is the safest state in the nation,” he said.
“Proportionate fines and demerits do work as a deterrent. It isn’t around revenue raising, this is around community education.”
Commenting on the idea of implementing so-called double demerit periods, Fryer said Victoria Police has studied it and found no evidence of its efficacy.
He cited an example of a P-Plater with six points, caught going through a red light on a double-demerit period, who would lose his/her license on the spot were such a system enacted.
“It is our view that it would be too harsh to immediately remove a license [there],” Fryer said.
Fryer ended by again insisting that Victoria Police was all about improving safety, though the margins for error to get a low-level speeding fine are incredibly low here by world standards — an issue we at CarAdvice have taken repeated issue with.
“Any initiative put forward that improves safety on our road, all road safety partners are happy to have that discussion.
“For too long we’ve been telling the community they’re “bloody idiots”, for too long we’ve been critical of the drivers only. What we need to do is start having the conversation with those around the drivers, the loved ones who are seeing reckless driving.
“We know roads are much safer, penalties are adequate and just, but we still have driver behaviour that’s reckless.
We make no secret where safety cameras are. Everyone knows where they are. 99 per cent don’t speed through cameras. All of this is around community education. Reduce the speeds, get off the phone, put seatbelts on, and don’t use drugs and drive.”
Would you support a reduction in fines alongside an increase in demerit point penalties?