Driving offences: Revenue assessed

In Australia, drivers who break certain road rules are penalised, in the form of monetary fines, demerit points and/or loss of licencei. For more serious offences, it may also lead to an appearance in court or even time behind barsii. While penalties are introduced to deter the general public from breaking road rulesiii, monetary fines also contribute to the revenue of State and Territory governments.

How much are we paying in fines?

The amount of revenue collected from traffic fines is not always clearly discernible from other non-traffic statutory and court fines in State/Territory budgets. In NSW, $339 million in revenue was collected from fines during 2011-12iv. In Queensland, the government is expecting to raise $300 million in revenue from fines and forfeitures in 2011-2012v. In Victoria, it was revealed that road safety camera fines, police on-the-spot fines and toll road evasion fines generated $256.9 million, $125.7 million and $109.7 million in revenue respectively, in 2011-12vi.

Going over the speed limit can cost you in fines and demerit points.

Although a breakdown of fine revenues by offence are harder to come by, specific information for speeding and red light offences is more readily available. Speeding fines are awarded for driving at a speed that exceeds the speed limit for that roadvii, and drivers are punished for failing to stop at a traffic light showing redviii.

In New South Wales (NSW) between July 2011 and June 2012, $89 million in revenue was raised from fixed-camera-captured speed and red light traffic offences aloneix. During FY2010/11, the Victorian government received nearly $250 million dollars ($249,716,864) in revenue from fixed and mobile speed and red light camerasx. Western Australians also felt the impact of mobile and fixed camera fines, and in 2011, paid $105.28 millionxi in fines - for approximately 800,000 speeding fines and over 16,000 red-light finesxi. This is an increase of $33.7 million since 2010xi.

Fines to increase

Traffic fines in NSW are set to increase by 12.5 per cent from the 1st of July 2012xii. The fine increase is expected to raise annual revenue by $45 millionxiii. The NSW Government also expects revenue growth over the coming four years from increasing vehicle numbers and previously announced enforcement measures, including additional mobile speed camerasxiii.

The Victorian budget reveals something similar, with an increase in fines revenue contributed to by a 12.5 per cent increase in the value of penalty units, implementation of new road safety initiatives and CPI indexationxiv. The Victorian Government anticipates revenue to increase in the coming year for road safety camera, police on-the-spot, and toll road evasion fines. Fines from road safety camera fines are expected to increase by $49 million, from $256.9 million in 2011-12 to $305.9 million in 2012-13xiv. Police on-the-spot and toll road evasion fines are expected to increase by $33.8 million and $15.8 million respectively, in 2012-13xiv.

Meanwhile, the South Australian police also expect to collect $101 million in the FY2011/12 based on higher fine values (introduced on July 1, 2011), the set-up of more fixed traffic cameras targeting red light and speed offences, and indexationxv.

Speeding and running through red lights is dangerous, costly and will put you at greater risk of injury and death.

Speeding can make you part with a sum of money in fines. More importantly, it can put you and others at risk of injury or death - speeding is a factor in for one third of deaths on the roadxvi. And speeding can result in damage to your car and other property if you are involved in an accident. WA Road Safety Council Chairman D'Arcy Holman recently said that driving just 5 km per hour over the speed limit doubles the risk of having a crashxi.

If you're a driver, you can manage your risks of incurring a penalty, injury or accidents by driving with care and adhering to the road rules. But when things don't go to plan on the road, comprehensive car insurance can help. Comprehensive car insurance will provide financial assistance in the event of theft or damage to your car or to third party property. Contact Allianz today for a quote in just two minutes.

i National Road Transport Commission, 1998, Australian Road Rules, p. vi

ii Government of South Australia, 2011, Driving laws, offences and penalties, http://www.sa.gov.au/subject/Transport,+travel+and+motoring/Motoring/Drivers+and+licences/Driving+offences+and+penalties/Driving+laws,+offences+and+penalties

iii Curtin- Monash Accident Research Centre, 2011, Strategies for managing recidivist speeding, http://c-marc.curtin.edu.au/local/docs/CMARC_Fact_Sheet_10_Recidivist_speeding.pdf

iv NSW Government, 2012, Budget 2012-13, http://www.budget.nsw.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0008/18296/bp2_Ch5.pdf, Table 5.12, p. 20

v Queensland government, 2012, State Budget 2011-12: Budget Paper 2, http://www.budget.qld.gov.au/budget-papers/2011-12/bp2-4-2011-12.pdf, p.94

vi Treasurer of the State of Victoria, 2012, Statement of Finances: Budget paper no.5 2012-13, http://www.budget.vic.gov.au/CA2579B200132B63/WebObj/BP52012-13/$File/BP52012-13.pdf, p.172

vii Australian Road Rules, 1999, part 3

viii Australian Road Rules, 1999, part 6 (s59)

ix NSW Government Office of State Revenue, 2012, Number of red light and speeding infringements detected by a camera by financial year, http://www.osr.nsw.gov.au/about/corporate/statistics/

x State Government Victoria, 2011, Fines by Camera and System financial year 2010-11, http://www.camerassavelives.vic.gov.au/home/statistics/fines+by+camera/fines+by+camera+and+system/

xi Knowles, G., 2012, The West Australian, Speeding fines income up $33 million, 31 March 2012, http://au.news.yahoo.com/thewest/a/-/newshome/13310807/speeding-fines-income-up-33m/

xii NSW Government, 2012, Budget 2012-13, http://www.budget.nsw.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0008/18296/bp2_Ch5.pdf, p.3

xiii NSW Government, 2012, Budget 2012-13, http://www.budget.nsw.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0008/18296/bp2_Ch5.pdf, p.19

xiv Treasurer of the State of Victoria, 2012, Statement of Finances: Budget paper no.5 2012-13, http://www.budget.vic.gov.au/CA2579B200132B63/WebObj/BP52012-13/$File/BP52012-13.pdf, p.172

xv Hyde, B., 2011, Traffic fines set to rise $25m in one year, Adelaide Now, 15 December 2011, http://www.adelaidenow.com.au/traffic-fines-set-to-rise-25m-in-one-year/story-e6frea6u-1226222334052

xvi Western Australia Police, 2012, Cameras work and why, http://www.police.wa.gov.au/Traffic/CamerasCutCrashes/Camerasworkwhy/tabid/1761/Default.aspx