A new initiative by the New South Wales Government means that unrestricted and professional driver licence holders who incur no further demerit points for a year from 17 January 2023 will ‘get back’ one point.
The scheme was scheduled to commence on 17 July of this year, but the Minns government has decided to start the click ticking 6 months earlier, with a view to rewarding safe driver behaviour.
It is estimated the scheme will apply to 1.7 million drivers and hoped it will encourage drivers to comply with the road rules in our state.
The scheme is being managed by Transport for NSW which has taken a ‘snapshot’ of the demerit point register as of 17 January 2023, and says that if these drivers continue to remain ‘offence-free’ for a full 12 month period, then one demerit point will be removed from their record.
How demerit points work in New South Wales
It normally takes three years plus an ‘administrative period’ of around four months to get your demerit points back after they have been accrued. of active demerit points.
That being so, the initiative could make a very real difference to drivers who are teetering on the brink of their demerit point allocation, which can result in automatic licence suspension.
The demerit system is a national system “designed to encourage safe and responsible driving” via a point system that accompanies financial penalties, and the new initiative seeks to promote this objective.
“Reducing the road toll and rewarding safe driving across the state is the aim of this trial and we hope it gives drivers that little bit of extra incentive to achieve a spotless record”, Premier Minns told the media.
“It’s time we put safety back at the centre of our road rules, not revenue raising.”
“This is an appropriate way for good drivers to earn a point back.”
“Our message couldn’t be clearer: drive safely and you’ll get a point scrubbed from your licence. The more people who qualify for a point, the safer our roads.”
Check your demerit points in New South Wales
A New South Wales driver begins with no demerit points, and points are ‘added’ to an individual’s licence record when a driver is found to have broken the road rules. During peak holiday periods, double-demerits apply for some offences.
Different demerit points thresholds apply to the various types of licences.
- A regular unrestricted licence holder has a limit of 13 points.
- A professional driver’s limit is 14.
- A provisional P2 plater’s limit is 7 points,
- P1 plater’s have a limit of 4 points
- Learner drivers have a limit of 4 points.
You can check your demerit points at any time via the Services NSW website.
Reward versus Punishment
For now, the scheme is still being described as a trial, but if successful, it could be more effective than a ‘punitive approach’. The current system punishes poor drivers, and has been criticised heavily as an avenue for ‘revenue raising’ but it may well prove to be more effective to reward good driver behaviour.
Learner and P-Plate holders will not included in the trial given they are subject to strict conditions of the Graduated Licensing Scheme, which is the fancy name given to the progression a learner goes through in New South Wales from obtaining a learning permit through to the provisional licence stage which is all about building confidence, experience and on-road knowledge and testing, preparing young drivers for earning a ‘regular, unrestricted’ license.
Drivers who make it through and are rewarded with a ‘point back’ won’t see the effect on their record until about mid-April 2024, and the trial will be closely examined to assess its impact on road safety and the effectiveness of the demerit point changes.
The ‘Fatal Five’
Road safety has been a hot topic in recent months with some horrific tragedies, some involving young drivers, and while the government wants to ensure that young, less experienced drivers are equipped to be on the road, there are still also too many deaths related to the ‘Fatal Five’:
- Speeding offences, which are the cause of about a third of fatal accidents on Australian roads.
- Driving with a prescribed concentration of alcohol (drink driving) or with the presence of an illicit drug (drug driving).
- Failure to wear seatbelts.
- Fatigue –being too tired to drive.
- Distraction – mobile phones, music, noisy passengers – anything that can cause a driver to take attention off the road.
Statistics show that road rage too, is becoming an increasing factor in road accidents.
With this in mind, the NSW government is also keen to consider measures which include preventative measures, such as more extensive education requirements for learners and more ‘refresher courses’ as people get older, and potentially pick up bad driving habits.
Since the start of this year there have been 261 fatalities on our roads – 127 drivers, 48 passengers, 37 motorcyclists, 40 pedestrians and 9 cyclists.