Alan Carpenter

Alan Carpenter

Premier; Minister for Federal-State Relations; Trade; Innovation; Science; Public Sector Management

John Kobelke

John Kobelke

Minister for Police and Emergency Services; Community Safety; Water Resources; Sport and Recreation

Hoons and speeding drivers to face tough new penalties

3/02/2008 10:02 AM

Hoons, speeding drivers and people not wearing seatbelts will face some of the harshest penalties in the country under new road safety measures announced by the State Government today.

Premier Alan Carpenter said the new measures were in direct response to last year’s horror road toll and community outrage at the continued poor and inexcusable behaviour of some drivers on Western Australian roads.

“When people get behind the wheel of a car, they have to take responsibility for their own actions,” Mr Carpenter said.

“Most drivers in WA already abide by the law and have nothing to fear from these new penalties.

“However, there are still drivers who have failed to take the road safety message seriously and act responsibly, who endanger the lives of themselves, their passengers and other road users, so they can now expect to face tougher penalties.

“We have continued to see hoons terrorising our suburban streets and roadways, with more than 1,900 drivers having had their vehicles impounded since the Labor Government introduced laws in 2004.

“Under the State Government’s changes, police will be given the power to automatically impound vehicles involved in hooning offences for seven days for the first offence, a dramatic increase from the current 48-hour period.

“For second and subsequent offences, police will be able to impound vehicles for 28 days.”

The Premier said seatbelt penalties were also increasing.

“We increased seatbelt penalties in April last year and always said that we would look at increasing them again if we believed it necessary,” he said.

“Last year’s horror road toll of 235 deaths included 63 people dying on WA roads, where failure to wear a seatbelt was deemed to be a major contributing factor.

“Currently, the driver is only responsible for passengers under the age of 16 not wearing seatbelts.

“We are creating a new offence that now makes a driver responsible for ensuring all passengers are wearing seatbelts - regardless of the passenger’s age.

“So under the new changes, drivers who have passengers not wearing seatbelts will be fined and lose demerit points. Passengers over the age of 16 who are not wearing seatbelts will continue to receive their own penalty of $500.”

Mr Carpenter also announced penalty increases for drivers using hand-held mobile phones.

“Last year, we announced the doubling of fines for people using hand-held mobile phones while driving and said we would have no hesitation in increasing penalties if people failed to act,” he said.

“Unfortunately, there are people who have continued to ignore the dangers and the penalty will be increased from $100 and three demerit points to $250 and three demerit points.”

Penalties will also be increased for drivers who continue to speed on the State’s roads by more than 20kmh.

“There is absolutely no excuse for people doing more than 20kmh over the speed limit and those who choose to recklessly endanger themselves and others will now pay even more,” the Premier said.

The changes also include increased court-imposed penalties for reckless driving, further enhancements to the State’s Driver Reviver Program and the expansion of the regional road safety message signage program.

Community Safety Minister John Kobelke said the new measures would be further enhanced by the State’s new road safety strategy, currently being finalised by the Road Safety Council and due for release later this year.

“The new road safety strategy looks to the long-term, however there are things that need to be done now, hence the changes we are announcing today,” Mr Kobelke said.

“These changes should be a strong warning to all WA road users that there are responsibilities directly connected to driving and they must adhere to them.”

The seatbelt, speeding and mobile phone penalties are expected to come into effect within the next month.

The new hoon and road rage measures, and the increased court-imposed penalties for reckless driving, will require legislative changes and will be introduced into Parliament when it resumes in February. The Premier urged the Liberal and National parties to pass the legislation without delay.

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Office of the Premier - 9222 9475
Office of the Minister for Community Safety - 9222 9211