The South Australian Government has proposed tough new laws in an attempt to increase road safety along the South Eastern Freeway, according to Transport and Infrastructure Minister, Stephen Mullighan.
Under the proposed laws, heavy-vehicle drivers who do not use low gear or observe the speed limit will automatically lose their licences for at least six months and be fined almost $1,000 for a first offence.
For a second offence, an automatic 12-month loss of licence will apply, with a three-year loss of licence for third and subsequent offences.
Courts will have the ability to impose more serious penalties including a 12-month licence disqualification for a first offence and three years for second or subsequent offences as well as imprisonment for up to two years.
To remove unsafe drivers from our roads, the penalty for a company that fails to nominate a driver will increase from $300 to $25,000, while a court will be able to impose a maximum penalty of $50,000.
These new offences will only apply to heavy vehicles on a prescribed area of the South Eastern Freeway descent into Adelaide.
Safety cameras along the South Eastern Freeway will receive a technology upgrade to greatly enhance their heavy vehicle detection capabilities including the ability to identify heavy vehicle combination, length, number of axles and automatic number plate recognition.
The State Government will also introduce a mandatory inspection scheme for high-risk heavy-vehicles.
The changes will require amendments to the Motor Vehicle Act and the Road Traffic Act and will be accompanied by an extensive education campaign.
“The State Government took decisive action on an unprecedented scale to improve the safety of the road, the drivers who use it every day and of the roadworthiness of the heavy-vehicles which rely on the transport route, to ensure that such devastating incidents are never again repeated,” said Mullighan.
“Using low gear and sticking to the 60km/h speed limit are fundamental to ensuring heavy-vehicles can safely navigate the steep descent between Crafers and the Tollgate.
“While the vast majority of heavy vehicle drivers on the freeway do the right thing, these penalties are designed to send a clear message to those who continue to risk the lives of other drivers by flouting these laws. Ignorance is not a defence.
“The massive increase in fines for body corporates is about stopping companies from protecting unsafe drivers.”