The West

8500 WA drivers on the brink
Restrictions: Safety experts want the tough rules for P-Platers extend to cover more drivers. Picture: Bil Hatto/The West Australian

More than 41,000 WA drivers are on the brink of losing their licence, prompting calls for a rethink of the demerit-point penalty system.

Department of Transport figures show nearly 8500 drivers have just one demerit point left, about 16,000 are clinging to two and close to another 16,500 will be hit with a three-month demerit ban for an offence such as using a mobile phone or running a red light.

More than 24,000 motorists, including 1100 novice drivers, have been banned this year for exceeding their demerit limit.

Curtin-Monash Accident Research Centre research fellow Peter Palamara said the figures showed drivers were not getting the message and the Government should consider tougher penalties for those who repeatedly flouted the law.

"I don't think we should allow drivers to continue on their merry way for three years until they lose 12 points," he said. "I think they need to come to our attention and be managed earlier."

Almost 40 per cent of WA's 1,888,517 registered drivers, including P-platers and those with learner's permits, have demerit points.

Mr Palamara said drivers who accrued four points in a year could receive a 25 per cent penalty loading for subsequent dangerous offences. Those nearing their demerit limit could have their driving hours restricted.

He said novice drivers had tighter restrictions so that system could also be used for full licence-holders.

Novice drivers can accrue only four demerit points in their first year of having a licence and second-year novice drivers have an eight-point limit.

Mr Palamara said authorities had been too tolerant for too long on offences that increased the risk of crashes and injury.

He said it was worrying that a third of full-licence holders who had demerit points at the end of April had at least five points.

"Some could have committed one offence during double demerits but it's likely some are repeat offenders, so clearly the demerit point system is not as effective as it could be," Mr Palamara said.

He believed that if penalty loading was introduced, it should be limited to dangerous offences that increased crash risk, not ones such as having a broken tail light.

Road Safety and Police Minister Liza Harvey declined to comment.

The West Australian

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