A number of new penalty point offences came into effect on August 1. Penalty points for speeding, holding a mobile phone while driving and not wearing a seat belt or not using child restraints have increased from two points to three, provided the fixed charge is paid within the stipulated period. For those who do not pay the fixed charge and are subsequently convicted in court, the points have increase from four to five.
As these offences are major contributory factors to road traffic collisions, increases in these areas are being introduced first. Further increases in penalty points for other road traffic offences will be introduced before the end of the year.
A new category of novice driver has also come into effect. The new measures mean that people who receive a first full licence after August 1 are considered as novice drivers for their first two years. Novices will be required to display an N plate during that time. Under the terms of the act, novices now face disqualification from driving for six months if they reach seven penalty points, as opposed to the current 12.
The seven-point limit also applies to people who get their first learner permit on or after August 1. A person who was already a learner will remain on the 12-point limit while they are a learner and when they become a novice. Likewise, a person who was already in their first two years of a full licence before August 1 will not be required to display an N plate and will not be subject to the seven-point limit.
Novice drivers, like learners, are now subject to lower alcohol limits. And they may not now act as accompanying drivers for learners during the period they are novices.
These are important road safety measures that form part of the Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL ) system, aimed at improving how we train, test, and licence learner and novice drivers, who are among our most vulnerable road users.