We try and be fair and not single out individuals when there is a problem, but when it comes to roadside enforcement and unfair punishments being meted out, why is it always NSW we have to talk about?
Another of these unreasonable and blatantly unfair actions by the Roads and Maritime Services of our Premier State has come to light with a report by NatRoad this week. Not only are the offences petty, in the main, the punishment is worse for the interstate offender than is for the New South Welsh-person.
What are we talking about? Well, it’s that old chestnut, the positioning of the number plate on the vehicle. This has proved to be a rich vein for the more pedantic of our roadside enforcement officers over the years and the tradition is being continued with an added twist.
If you are a truck from outside of NSW and your number plate is not in the correct position to meet NSW requirements, you are deemed to be ‘driving while unregistered’. A quirk in the way the NSW law is written means the only way they can ping you is to up the ante to unregistered.
In my truck driving experience, both in Australia and Europe, there is no limit to the lengths an element of roadside enforcement will go to get you for something, just because they can. Well, in this case, it seems they can!
The results of this stretching of the law to ramp up fines are not good for the interstater. Driving while unregistered can get you a $1449 fine and four demerit points. At the same time a NSW truck with similarly slightly misplaced number plate is going to be done for using a vehicle with incorrectly displayed number plates, which ‘only’ attracts a fine of $786 and just three demerit points.
The way the NSW authorities have got here is quite convoluted. The law in NSW says that all trucks must be registered in NSW, but there is an exemption for those from interstate, which are deemed to be vehicles temporarily in NSW.
One of the conditions of this deeming to be a visitor is that the vehicle has to comply to its own state number plate positioning rules. However, if it does not comply, the visitor exemption is withdrawn. If it is withdrawn, then, bingo, the truck should be registered in NSW, and, guess what? It isn’t.
We have to admire the inquiring minds, which are working in these agencies, for their ingenuity in finding ways to make the trucking industry’s life even more difficult that it already is. They deserve an award!