Double demerit points will be in force in New South Wales, Western Australia and the ACT during Australia’s National Day of Mourning for Queen Elizabeth II – a decision which has been slammed as “heavy handed” by a breakfast radio host.
Transport for New South Wales on Monday announced it would apply double demerits to road offenses from 12am on Wednesday September 21 until 11:59pm on Sunday September 25.
Motorists will lose twice the number of demerit points if they are caught speeding, using their mobile phones, or caught without a seatbelt or motorcycle helmet.
But the decision wasn’t taken lightly by some, including 2GB’s Ben Fordham, who questioned the need for such a penalty.
“Why would they be slapping double demerits on a day which is dedicated to respecting Queen Elizabeth II? Her national day of mourning?” he said on Monday.
“I’m not sure that that’s what the Prime Minister meant when he said we were going to observe a national day of mourning for Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II… to say ‘let’s also find an excuse or a way for motorists to be hit with double demerits if they drive a few kilometres over the speed limit’.
“That seems heavy-handed to me.”
Transport for NSW Deputy Secretary for Safety, Environment and Regulation Tara McCarthy said although it was a sombre occasion, there was “still likely to be more people out on the roads”.
“So it is important we all take extra care,” Ms McCarthy said.
“The last thing we want to see over this period is an increase in road trauma, which is why double-demerits will be in place like they would for any other public holiday to deter people from doing the wrong thing and putting lives at risk,” she said in a statement.
“Drivers are reminded that this period includes some school days and it is especially important to slow down and take care in school zones at school times – even if you cannot see children near the road.”
Double demerit points automatically apply over a long weekend when a public holiday falls on a Thursday or Friday, or a Monday or Tuesday.
The ACT will follow NSW in implementing double demerits from 12am on Wednesday September 21 until 11:59pm on Sunday September 25.
Western Australia will enforce double demerits from 12:01pm on Friday September 23 until 11:59pm on Monday September 26 for the state’s Queen’s Birthday long weekend.
Victoria, Tasmania, South Australia and the Northern Territory do not currently have double demerits in place for the public holiday.
Double demerits will apply year round for a second offense in Queensland.