More than 1.2 million driver’s licence holders in New South Wales have had a demerit point removed from their record, following the first year of a trial intended to encourage safer driving habits amid a rising road toll in the state.

    Introduced as an election promise, New South Wales motorists who previously had demerit points added to their record were told they would have one point wiped – provided they didn’t have any infringements recorded between January 17, 2023 and January 16, 2024.

    In New South Wales, demerit points technically aren’t ever removed, though offences older than 40 months can’t count towards a licence suspension.

    This 40-month period begins when an offence is finalised, i.e. you pay your fine or you appeal but the court finds against you.

    While 1.2 million motorists benefitted from the trial and have subsequently had a demerit point wiped, the New South Wales Government hasn’t published data about how many motorists continued to gain demerit points throughout the 12-month period.

    It’s also unclear how much of an effect the trial had on driving habits for motorists that had previously received demerit points.

    It’s also worth noting the New South Wales road death toll went up in 2023, with the 351 road users killed between January 1 and December 31 representing a 24.9 per cent increase on the year prior.

    This not only meant New South Wales had more deaths than any other jurisdiction, but it also recorded the second-highest year-on-year increase of any jurisdiction, behind only the tragic 64.8 per cent rise in South Australia.

    Despite this, the demerit point reward trial has been extended for another year, and is being celebrated by the State Government as a win for its road safety ambitions.

    “People are used to the stick of enforcement and double demerits but this is the carrot of reward for good behaviour,” New South Wales Minister for Roads John Graham said.

    “Every demerit point wiped from a licence under this trial is the result of a full 12 months of safe driving by a motorist on NSW roads.

    “This is what we need at a time when fatalities on our roads have been rising just as they are in all other states and territories.”

    Earlier this month, the Federal Government announced it will require states and territories to provide previously withheld safety data if they want to receive road funding.

    The new five-year funding deal – known as the National Partnership Agreement on Land Transport Infrastructure Projects – is due to take effect on July 1, 2024 and will include a $21.2 million investment in the National Road Safety Data Hub, announced in last week’s Federal Budget.

    As yet, Queensland is the only jurisdiction to announce it will share data on car crashes, traffic policing and road conditions with the Federal Government.

    Jordan Mulach

    Born and raised in Canberra, Jordan has worked as a full-time automotive journalist since 2021, being one of the most-published automotive news writers in Australia before joining CarExpert in 2024.

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