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Road reward plan gets mixed reaction
By Jimmy Ellingham • 30/06/2015
Rewarding good driving through "merit points" has received a thumbs up from motorist groups, although an academic has dismissed the idea.
Merit points could come under scrutiny as part of research commissioned by transport authorities into NZ's demerit system, where drivers rack up points for offences such as speeding and using a cellphone.
Drivers who get 100 points within two years can lose their licence for three months.
The research, which the NZ Transport Agency has put a tender out for, could look at other countries' systems, including those that reward clean driving records. It could also examine the idea of imposing demerits for offending caught by fixed speed cameras.
Mike Noon of the NZ Automobile Association said the AA would support merit points if they worked like an example he recently heard about from a driver in Australia.
The driver, who had a clean record, didn't see a speed-limit sign and was caught going too fast. But the driver was let off with a warning, albeit one that clearly stated such tolerance would wane should he or she transgress again.
Surveys among the AA membership highlighted no clear majority of opinion about introducing demerits for fixed-speed camera offending and it appeared people would only tolerate such an idea if drivers were caught 20km/h over the limit, Mr Noon said. Other counties with such systems didn't hide their cameras and had clear signage explaining the lawful speed - unlike in NZ.
He also suggested including more information for drivers posted tickets about why they were snapped, such as being in high-risk areas.
The Road Transport Forum represents commercial drivers and its chief executive Ken Shirley was also positive about merit points.
If introduced he would like to see them take into account kilometres travelled on the road, rather than time spent driving.
But Lincoln University professor Chris Kissling disagreed. "How can you build up credit and do something stupid and get off because you have already got credit? It seems we don't do that with other sorts of laws so what's the point? Will it encourage better driving all the time?"