In 2015 over 15,000 Western Australian drivers dodged fines and demerit points for various driving offences because they were in vehicles registered to companies and organisations who failed to identify the drivers to police.
In response, WA Police and the Road Safety Commission are considering cracking down on employers who are avoiding their duty to identify offending drivers with fines of up to $25,000. Another solution, proposed by Stephen Moir, CEO of the Motor Trades Association (WA), is to impound company vehicles for 28 days to discourage employers from protecting offending drivers.
WHAT PENALTIES DO COMPANIES CURRENTLY FACE FOR NOT IDENTIFYING OFFENDING DRIVERS?
Under the Road Traffic (Administration) Act 2008 (WA), a person or company in whose name a vehicle is licensed has a duty to identify any driver who is alleged to have offended any law of which driving the vehicle is an element.
If a company vehicle is, for example, caught on camera speeding or running a red light, the company will be required to complete a Notice Requesting Information and either supply the name and address of the offending driver or make a statutory declaration that they do not know, and could not reasonably ascertain, the name and address of the offending driver.
When a company makes a statutory declaration that it cannot identify the driver, the company is charged double the fine, but the driver escapes the demerit points.
Any company that does not take reasonable measures to comply with a Notice Requesting Information or gives false information in response to such a request commits an offence and is subject to a $5000 fine.
WHY WOULD AN EMPLOYER HELP ITS EMPLOYEES DODGE DEMERITS?
If employers have to pay double the fine when they cannot identify an offending driver, why would they intentionally fail to do so?
Some companies do not intentionally avoid identifying offending drivers, but they have failed to implement a system to closely monitor which staff drive their cars when.
However, there are many businesses who rely on employees to hold a valid driver’s license. In such cases it may seem that an employee losing their license will be a greater cost to the business than accepting double the fine (which often the employee pays back to the company anyway, but avoids demerit points or a suspended license).
PROTECTING EMPLOYEES HAS GREATER CONSEQUENCES THAN DOUBLE THE FINE
The consequences of helping employees dodge demerit points are more far reaching than a fine. ‘Protecting’ employees who have been caught speeding or running red lights has longer term workplace health and safety consequences. Such an approach does not promote driver safety or respect for the law, but rather encourages reckless driving. The human resources costs to businesses becomes far greater when employees realise that they can get away with reckless driving and putting their lives, and the lives of others, in danger.
As well as implementing driver safety policies to reduce fines incurred by employees and to promote driver safety, employers should be, and have a duty to, closely monitor and maintain adequate records of which employees are driving their cars when and holding the employees responsible for any fines incurred.
If you or anyone you know has any problems with traffic offences, please do not hesitate to give us a call and make an appointment, as we have a wealth of experience in dealing with traffic law matters.
About the author:
This article has been authored by Claudia Giovannini at Lynn & Brown Lawyers. Claudia is currently studying law at UWA and hopes to be admitted as a Perth lawyer in or about 2018.