Demerit-dodging loophole needs to be dropped

A loophole that lets Victorian drivers get away with speeding and breaking road rules needs to be closed so that dangerous drivers can be taken off the road.

Companies in Victoria are able to pay a fine on behalf of a driver without actually naming them when a company vehicle has been caught breaking a road rule. The driver therefore also avoids demerit points, as well as the financial cost.

The Herald Sun reported that between July 2016 and June 2018 more than 50,000 driving fines of $3,000 each were paid by businesses without nominating which employee was driving the vehicle.

Some individual vehicles were booked more than five times, and more than 4,000 offences would usually result in automatic loss of licence.

It is believed the loophole exists because some businesses with company cars may not know who was driving when an offence occurred.

While the $3,000 fine businesses can pay is larger than typical traffic fines, some companies seem happy to pay this – many companies regularly choose to pay the larger fines rather than name their offending staff member.

Bicycle Network fears that companies may be accepting dangerous driving and protecting employees who should lose their licence.

Companies should have to prove they genuinely don't know who was driving a vehicle when it was caught breaking a road rule and that they took reasonable precautions to try and make sure they know who drives their cars. Penalties for bosses could also be considered.

Premier Daniel Andrews said that a review would be done and a fix to the loophole found.

“It’s difficult to justify how someone with deep pockets can avoid being accountable for the way they drive."

“We will look very closely at the finding put forward as to whether it is suitable for us to continue this arrangement where companies pay a higher amount and not have the offence, demerit points of consequences held to the individual license holder," said Premier Andrews.

Wider licence reform needed

Bicycle Network believes that Dan Andrews' fix should also be matched with other changes to driver licencing rules.

At the moment it is too easy for drivers to have their licence reinstated after being suspended, while you can also extend your demerit point period and 'gamble' your licence.

Making it harder for reckless drivers and serial offenders to get their licence is an important part of making our roads safer for vulnerable users like bike riders.

Click here to read more about Bicycle Network's proposed changes to driver licence rules

Click here to read a Herald Sun report about fine loopholes for businesses

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