HEFTIER fines and wheel clamping are being considered by the State Government in a bid to close a loophole that allows thousands of drivers every year to dodge demerit point penalties.
The proposed changes are aimed at discouraging bosses from refusing to identify an offending driver.
The Sunday Times revealed last year that nearly 63,000 drivers of company cars avoided demerit points for speeding or running a red light between 2012 and 2015 because they were not identified — which averaged about 15,750 penalties escaped each year.
Police Minister Michelle Roberts refused to say how much the new fines would be. But WA Police and the Road Safety Commission have previously considered slapping unhelpful employers with maximum penalties of $25,000. Ms Roberts said police had highlighted deficiencies in the Road Traffic Act.
“It is not good enough that some individuals and companies continue to think they can try and dodge penalties,” she said.
“I am working with Transport Minister (Rita) Saffioti on a range of measures, which would provide disincentives for companies or individuals not to identify a driver. This includes significantly increasing the multiplier for fines to create a greater disincentive. We’ll also look at what occurs in other jurisdictions.
“Consideration will be given to wheel clamping an individual’s vehicle on the owner’s property to encourage a company or body corporate to reveal who the driver is.”
Speed camera attack
If a business fails to identify a driver to police, it is forced to pay double the fine but the demerit points are unallocated. A person or company can be charged for failing to take “reasonable measures” to obey a driver identity request, with fines up to $1200 for individuals and $5000 for companies.
Motor Trades Association of WA chief executive Stephen Moir welcomed the proposed changes, urging the Government not to waste any more time in addressing the “massive” problem.
“It’s ridiculous. Companies and those employees who are using company cars need to be accountable,” he said. “(A fine of up to $25,000) would send a very big message.”
Mr Moir said anecdotally he had heard of deals being done within workplaces in which the offending employee could switch with a colleague who was willing to take the blame for them and accept the demerit points.
He said he did not believe some companies were simply unable to identify a driver in a work car.
“I’ve got a fleet of 20 cars and I know exactly who is driving those cars and when they’re driving them. I just don’t buy that excuse,” Mr Moir said.
A WA Police spokeswoman said police supported “strengthening owner onus provisions for drivers and bodies corporate”.