NRMA Policy Team

About NRMA Policy Team

The Government Relations and Public Policy Team carries out most of NRMA’s advocacy work to improve issues affecting motorists, such as safer roads, safer drivers, safer vehicles, transport economics and sustainable transport. The team also supports the NRMA Board in lobbying governments and organisations on behalf of our Members.

Double the high and still getting off

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Alarming drug driving statistics released last week by the NSW Police highlights the need to crack down hard on people caught driving high.

According to NSW Police, since January 1, random drug-testing operations have seen 29,500 drivers tested and 1,160 return positive results for drugs in their system, compared to 729 drivers out of 34,280 in 2013.

More than one-in-10 (11%) NSW road fatalities involved a motorist or motorcyclist who had illicit drugs in their system. Forty per cent of drug driving offences and fatal crashes involved a driver under the age of 30.

Analysis undertaken by NRMA earlier this year, showed that almost one-in-three drivers (488) convicted of a first offence for drug driving in NSW from 2010 to 2012 walked free after receiving a Section 10, were convicted without penalty, or had no conviction recorded.

NRMA President Kyle Loades said the number of people caught driving with drugs in their system had doubled and it was clear that some drivers were not getting the message that this type of anti-social behaviour was not on.

“The vast majority of drivers appreciate how stupid and dangerous this behaviour is, now magistrates need to do their job and get these offenders off our roads,” Mr Loades said.

“NRMA welcomes the announcement of the package of measures to combat drug driving,” Mr Loades said.

“The party season is just around the corner and it is critical that these measures are implemented as soon as possible.

“NRMA will work with the NSW Government to develop and communicate this important message.”

“NSW Police is doing a great job but it cannot do this alone, all arms of the NSW Government need to work together if we are to tackle this growing threat.”

“No one wants to share the road with a drug driver,” Mr Loades said.

Does drug driving on our roads concern you? How should the police crack down on this behavior?

$1.28 helps NSW take out petrol State of Origin: NRMA/RACQ

STATE v STATE: The NRMA and RACQ have conducted the state versus state analysis for the first time to highlight the discrepancies in petrol prices across states.

STATE v STATE: The NRMA and RACQ have conducted the state versus state analysis for the first time to highlight the discrepancies in petrol prices across states.

The inaugural state versus state petrol analysis for 2014 conducted by the National Roads & Motorists’ Association and RACQ has revealed that NSW had the cheapest petrol price for the year, with a low of 127.9 cents per litre for regular unleaded fuel recorded in Sydney.

In true State of Origin fashion, the contest was extremely tight, with Queensland’s cheapest price for the year recorded at 128.9 cents per litre in Brisbane.

The average price in NSW for regular unleaded fuel for the period from 1 January 2014 to 16 November 2014 was 147.7 cents per litre. By contrast, QLD’s average was 151.6 cents per litre. Alarmingly, Queensland’s highest average price of 165.5 cents per litre broke the record, exceeding the previous record in 2008.

The NRMA and RACQ have conducted the state versus state analysis for the first time to highlight the discrepancies in petrol prices across states. As families prepare to travel for the summer holidays, it is hoped the data will add insight into petrol price movements and give information to motorists before filling up.

The state versus state analysis found:

  • The cheapest centre in QLD for average prices was the Sunshine Coast 149.3 cents per litre
  • The cheapest centre in NSW was Sydney: 148.1 cents per litre
  • The most expensive centre in QLD was Weipa: 178.8 cents per litre
  • The most expensive in NSW was Tumut:  164.2 cents per litre

NRMA President Kyle Loades said the NRMA/RACQ analysis would hopefully shed some light on petrol prices in the two states.

“This is the first time our two clubs have conducted this sort of research and it is about helping to give our Members in both states more information about their local petrol prices,” Mr Loades said.

“NSW had to wait nine years to reclaim the State of Origin, however with more independents south of the border we are not surprised that NSW petrol prices are slightly lower. Regardless of which state you live in, the presence of independents means more competition and lower prices.”

RACQ spokesperson Renee Smith said fluctuating petrol prices in both states meant it was more important than ever for motorists to shop around.

“Support those service stations keeping their prices down, and if you live in Sydney or Brisbane where what you pay is impacted by the petrol price cycle, purchase at the bottom of the cycle when fuel is cheapest,” Ms Smith said.

“While NSW may’ve taken out the battle at the bowser this year, we hope strong competition in parts of QLD such as the Sunshine Coast gets us over the line in 2015.”

Casualties plummet on upgraded Princes Highway

The NRMA's latest review of the Princes Highway, covering almost 430 kilometres from Dapto to the Victorian border, tells "a tale of two roads".

The NRMA’s latest review of the Princes Highway, covering almost 430 kilometres from Dapto to the Victorian border, tells “a tale of two roads”.

Injury crashes have plummeted by as much as 90 per cent as a result of upgrades to the Princes Highway to the north of Jervis Bay, according to the National Roads & Motorists’ Association’s latest review of the Princes Highway.

The NRMA review compared the most recent five year data provided by the NSW Centre for Road Safety with the previous five years data. It assessed 428 km of the Highway from Dapto to the NSW/Victorian border. It tells a tale of two roads, with almost 300 km of the Highway south of Jervis Bay Road classed as high risk, compared with just over 30 km in the northern section.

It also reveals the huge benefits from investing in safer roads, with injury crashes plummeting by as much as 90 per cent as a result of recent Highway upgrades.

The review found that re-routing and upgrading the Highway to a dual lane divided carriageway between Oak Flats and Kiama slashed injury crashes by 48 over the five year period to 2012.

In contrast, there are 16 sections of the Highway to the south of Jervis Bay Road that continue to be rated a high risk for motorists. Together these 16 sections resulted in 523 injury crashes and 22 fatal crashes in the same period.

Key findings of the audit include:

  • From 2008-2012 there were 1,014 casualty crashes resulting in 45 deaths and 1,401 injuries (2003-2007 there were 1,015 casualty crashes, 64 deaths; 1,441 injuries);
  • Three-quarters (75%) of all injury crashes occurred on undivided sections of the Highway, rising to almost 90 per cent (89%) in rural sections
  • Upgrades to the Highway mean that nearly one-fifth (18%) of the Highway is now rated by the Australian Roads Assessment Program (AusRAP) as low or medium-low risk, almost double the amount from the previous five years (9%)
  • The proportion of the Highway that is now classed as high risk has increased to 77% (64% 2003-2007) reflecting an increase in traffic and risk on those sections that have still not been upgraded
  • The cost of injury crashes on the Princes Highway through lost productivity and the provision of emergency, health and welfare services has fallen to $483 million (2003-07: $610 million).

NRMA local Director Alan Evans said the Princes Highway Audit painted a clear contrast of the broad benefits achieved when Government invested in the road network.

“Sections of the Princes Highway that have been upgraded have seen a dramatic fall in fatalities and injuries and reduced congestion – as well as delivering economic benefits to local businesses,” Mr Evans said.

“The fact that injury crashes fell by almost 90 per cent along certain upgraded sections highlights the enormous benefits that can be achieved when we invest in fixing dangerous roads.

“By contrast, sections of the Highway – particularly south of Jervis Bay – that haven’t been upgraded continue to claim innocent lives at an alarming rate.”

The NRMA review identifies a possible staged approach to the Albion Park Bypass that would help to keep people moving in the short term before the full bypass is constructed.

It also suggests ways to improve the approach to the North Kiama exit ramp, which would reduce confusion for motorists and reduce the risk of rear-end collisions and traffic congestion.

The audit also revealed that while traffic volumes south of Jervis Bay may not justify the complete upgrade to dual lane divided carriageway, two-by-one lane upgrades divided by crash barriers and greater use of wire rope crash barriers would considerably reduce crash rates and save lives.

“This report provides the Government with clear measures to build on the good work undertaken in recent years to make the Princes Highway safer, less congested and a better asset for local communities and businesses along the South Coast,” Mr Evans said.

“The Pacific Highway has taken too long to upgrade and as a result too many lives have been lost – we don’t want to repeat these mistakes with the Princes Highway.”

Do you agree that the upgraded sections of the Princes Highway are safer to drive on?

Should disability parking offenders face demerit points?

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MAKE THE POINT: Figures from the Office of State Revenue show about 16,000 fines are issued for disabled zone parking breaches each year. About 800,000 people around Australia have a disability parking permit.

In 2012, the NRMA argued for the introduction of demerit point penalties for people who illegally park in spaces reserved for disabled permit holders.

That’s why we were pleased to read in yesterday’s Daily Telegraph that NSW Roads Minister ­Duncan Gay has asked his ­department to look at adding the offence to the state’s ­demerit points list.

Although all types of misuse should be addressed, we believe it is important to tackle the highest level of misuse – knowingly using someone else’s permit without the presence of the permit holder. While we understand that detecting this offence is a difficult process, NRMA continues to believe that the current penalty for repeat offenders does not act as a sufficient deterrent.

NRMA believes that for non-permit holders, harsher penalties should apply for second or subsequent offences such as a substantial increase of the monetary fine and loss of demerit points. An education campaign promoting the heavy penalties, in conjunction with enforcement activities is also needed to ensure that people comply.

The availability of disability parking spaces should also be addressed. As the population ages, the demand for these disabled parking spaces will grow. The NSW Government must make sure that there are parking spaces to meet this demand.

So, the NRMA will be in touch with the Government to see how we can implement this policy as quickly as possible.

Do you agree that those who rort the disability parking scheme should face demerit points? 

Half the Excise Duty is needed to fix up local roads

POT LUCK: The problem in regional NSW is even worse than Sydney with almost $3 billion needed.

POT LUCK: The problem in regional NSW is even worse than Sydney with almost $3 billion needed.

We renew calls for the Australian Government to return half of the fuel excise to fix roads. A $3.87 billion funding backlog is needed to bring NSW council roads up to a ‘satisfactory condition’.

The definition of ‘satisfactory condition’ is council’s estimated cost to bring the road to an acceptable standard. It does not include any planned enhancements to existing roads. It’s for the basics including fixing pot holes, repainting faded lines and gutters.

The NRMA report, Funding Local Roads used figures submitted by 152 NSW local councils to the NSW Government as part of their annual reporting obligations that summarised the money needed to fix local roads.

In metropolitan Sydney, councils have stated that $911 million was needed for road works while regional NSW councils needed $2.96 billion in funding.

Sydney metropolitan councils requiring the most money to bring their local roads up to a satisfactory condition were:

  • Liverpool – $149.6 million;
  • Ku-Ring-Gai – $110.3 million;
  • Sutherland – $67.9 million;
  • Hawkesbury – $62.6 million; and
  • Blacktown – $60.4 million.

NRMA President Wendy Machin said some local councils would take years to clear their backlog of roadworks at current funding levels.

“Some councils have no choice but to let bad roads get worse – the money is simply not there for them to fix roads within their boundaries,” Ms Machin said.

“It’s not the local councils who are to blame as the money they’re requesting isn’t for glitz and glamour – it’s for the basics including fixing pot holes, repainting faded lines and gutters.

“The problem in regional NSW is even worse than Sydney with almost $3 billion needed. Heavy rain can deteriorate local roads and this is why many regional councils are simply allowing previously sealed roads to turn to dirt.

“Fixing local roads also benefits the community as the cost of crashes to the NSW economy amounts to $2 billion each year.”

Funding Local Roads explores options to help clear the $4 billion needed to bring local council roads up to a satisfactory condition. These include a greater return to councils from the Australian Government’s fuel excise tax, increasing the NSW Government’s Local Infrastructure Backlog Fund and lower interest lending to councils.

Currently, $15 billion is collected by the Australian Government for all road users, from the fuel excise levy at a rate of 38.143 cents per litre for unleaded and diesel fuel purchases. Only 10 cents out of 38.143 cents collected from Australian motorists is returned to the road network.

Ms Machin said annual Australian Government investment in the NSW road network has varied between $3.6 billion and $6.2 billion over the past six years but more was needed.

“We are calling on the Australian Government to return at least half of the fuel excise tax collected into road funding and for a pre-determined allocation to go directly to local councils to help ease the $4 billion black hole that NSW councils are facing,” Ms Machin said.

What do you think? Do your local roads need investment?

Speak out!