SA-BEST moves to amend “harsh and ill-considered” traffic laws

17 October 2019

SA-BEST today attempted to amend “harsh and ill-considered” tough new laws introduced by the State Government as part of a crackdown on speeding truck and bus drivers on the notorious South Eastern Freeway.

SA-BEST MLC and Transport and Infrastructure spokesperson, Frank Pangallo, introduced a serious of amendments to stamp out a number of “unintended consequences” of the new road rules which came into operation earlier this year.

The tough penalties - including automatic licence suspension - were introduced to stop trucks and buses speeding on the dangerous downtrack stretch of the South Eastern Freeway from Crafers to the intersection of Portrush, Cross and Glen Osmond roads.

Truck and bus drivers caught exceeding the 60km/h speed limit on that section of road are now being hit with fines of $1036, a loss of six demerit points and an automatic six-month licence disqualification for a first offence.

If the driver elects to fight the case in court and loses, the licence disqualification can be doubled to 12 months.

Frank said the new laws are too broad and have nabbed hundreds of motorists who otherwise should not have been fined in the first instance.

“Regrettably, these harsh and ill-considered new laws have a number of unintended consequences that has hit the hip-pocket of hundreds of motorists,” Frank said.

“They were designed as a deterrent against full-time, professional drivers of commercial-sized trucks and buses – and SA-BEST supports these intended measures,” he said.

“Yet they are also catching hundreds of motorists going about their normal driving duties who wouldn’t normally be caught.

“Firstly, they are nabbing drivers of trucks with a gross vehicle mass (GVM) of 4.5 tonnes and under – trucks you can drive without needing a special truck licence.

“Secondly, they are also catching drivers of buses with a seat limit of 12 – again, a vehicle that can be driven on a normal driver’s licence. 

“And thirdly, the automatic six-month licence suspension for a first offence is too harsh.”

Frank’s proposed amendments would change the new laws so they:

  • Only apply to truck and buses over 8 GVM; 
  • Automatic license disqualification would not apply for a first offence, and; 
  • For drivers that elect to be prosecuted, the loss of licence penalty does not double for a second, or further offences.

Frank said he hoped common sense would prevail and his amendments would be passed by State Parliament.

In the meantime, he has written to Transport Minister, Stephan Knoll, requesting all current prosecutions imposed under the South East Freeway downtrack weight and seat restricted speeding laws be suspended and a moratorium be imposed on the issuing of new fines while the government conducts a review of the legislation.

“The new laws are costing many drivers their jobs, livelihood and their independence – and that’s simply not fair,” Frank said.

“Volunteers driving mini-buses for the aged and drivers of vehicles like tow trucks and large utes of over 4.5 tonnes are being penalised by an instant loss of licence - which potentially doubles if they elect to be prosecuted,” he said

“I have become aware that SAPOL has started to withdraw expiation notices from drivers of wrongly registered or categorised vehicles, which is a good start

“But I also have many constituents - many of them with a completely unblemished driving record - who have been unable or unwilling to prosecute the matter in court due to the disincentive of the additional penalty applying.

“Although basic information was sent to the registered vehicle owners, driver education and signage have been completely inadequate for this roll out.

“I am sure that like myself, most South Australians have no idea that there is a new law applicable to certain vehicles on a very specific section of down track of the South East Expressway.

“Until this mess is sorted out it is entirely reasonable for the government suspend all current prosecutions and impose a moratorium on the issuing of new fines.”

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