EVALUATION OF THE TRIAL PERIOD FOR DOUBLE DEMERITS LEGISLATION IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA
The WA State Government endorsed the implementation of a trial period in which driver demerit points for offences relating to speeding, drink driving and the non-use of restraints are doubled during prescribed holiday periods. The approach was based on a successful program that has operated in New South Wales since 1997.
The Road Safety Council, over the past few years, has been very successful in raising awareness among the general community about the key factors contributing to road trauma, namely speed, drink driving, the non-use of restraints and fatigue. Public education, combined with active enforcement of speed, drink driving and restraint use can be very effective in reducing road trauma where the penalty levels act as a sufficient deterrent.
In deciding to trial the Double Demerits initiative, it was hoped that the initiative would enhance the deterrent effect of these key factor penalties by focusing on those times of the year when the greater volume of traffic increases the risk of crashes. The single focus "Big Three" double demerits message (ie. with the emphasis on speeding, drink driving and non-use of restraints) was designed to complement WA Police Service operations during these long weekend and holiday times.
The primary objective of the evaluation was to examine the impact and effectiveness of the Double Demerits initiative in changing road user behaviour, and thereby (as a consequence of improved behaviour), reducing the number and / or severity of road crash events.
The aim of this paper is twofold firstly, to present the methodology used to evaluate the trial of double demerits legislation in Western Australia, and secondly, the paper will present the outcomes of the evaluation and will draw conclusions in terms of the effectiveness of Double Demerits legislation in reducing road trauma in Western Australia during critical long weekend and holiday periods.