Debate persisting over South Australia's hefty fines on traffic speed: for revenue or safety?
South Australia's speeding fines were partially reduced in 2012 after a public backlash but demerit points were increased.
A 2016 report on South Australia's traffic fine system called it “unfair” and suggested adopting Finland's approach by fining people based on their income.
Compiled by the Australia Institute, the report found SA Police issued the country's highest average traffic fines during 2014-15 at $410. South Australian fines per vehicles were 10 times as high as they are in Tasmania, the lowest state, and twice as high as New South Wales, which ranked second.
Revenue raised through speeding fines was $174 million – $103 per person – during that period.
The report found some common traffic fines rose between 66% and 160% between the 2000 and 2012, despite inflation justifying only a 41% rise.
Fines hit the poorest hardest. The report found low-income earners found it very hard to pay the fines, while affluent people had little incentive to drive more safely.
The report proposed adopting a Finnish model that issued fines based on income. The current fine of $769 for exceeding the speed limit by more than 20km/h hour would drop to $161 for the lowest income earners but increase to more than $1,000 for SA's highest earners.
A fine of $219 for exceeding the limit by up to 9km/h would drop from $219 to $37 for low-income earners but rise to $237 for SA's highest earners. Revenue from fines would drop from $174 million to $128 million but a model that decreased and increased fines by differing rates would not affect overall revenue.
South Australian traffic infringements are inflated by a $60 Victims of Crime levy.
SA's speeding fines were partially reduced in 2012 after a public backlash but demerit points were increased.