Australia: How do our speeding penalties compare to other countries?

A friend of mine got caught speeding recently in Newcastle, NSW. He was doing 63km/h in a 60km/h zone and was fined $114. I myself have been caught speeding a number of times, though not for a few years now. The last time was in 2013, which cost me about $250 for 14km/h over the limit, and I remember thinking that the penalty seemed a bit steep. This reflection, and my friend’s recent brush with the law got me wondering – how expensive is it to speed in Australia compared with the rest of the world?

policeAustralia’s system of issuing speeding infringements is complicated by the fact that speeding fines are based on state and territory regulations. For example, speeding fines in NSW (which appears to have the most punitive financial penalties) range from $114 ­- $3562, while in Queensland it ranges from $162 – $1137. Tasmania was by far the most lenient state with speeding fines ranging from a low of $80 to a maximum of $900. So, speeding in Australia could cost you anywhere from $80 to $3562. How does this compare to the rest of the world?

Given Germany’s strong  driving culture and history with cars, it makes sense to consider its approach to speeding fines. In Germany, speeding fines range from 10 EUR (approx. $14) to 680 EUR ($935) depending on how far over the speed limit you are, and whether you are driving in a town or a rural area. Interestingly, the maximum speeding category in Germany is for more than 75km/h over the limit. In NSW it is more than 45km/h over the limit, and this is what can attract the gargantuan $3562 fine. In Germany, being caught at 45km/h over the limit will cost you 160 – 200 EUR ($220-$275), a very big difference.

Finland is particularly interesting as its system of speeding fines is based on the offender’s income. Assuming you’re an average joe and not earning the big bucks, you will be fined between 170 – 728 EUR ($234-$1001) for speeding up to 47km/h over the limit. If you go faster than this, and happen to be on a high income, your financial liability can quickly skyrocket and fines of more than 50,000 EUR are not unheard of.

In Belgium, fines range between 50 – 2750 EUR ($69 – $3780), though the maximum fine is reduced to 300 EUR if it is paid on-the-spot. And France ranges between 68 – 1500 EUR ($93 – $2062) for first offences. Second offences appear to double the fine.

The United States, like Australia, has a state based system for issuing speeding fines. With too many states to go through in any great detail, it is worth mentioning North Dakota, where fines can be as low as 10 USD ($13), and Virginia where fines can be 2,500 USD ($3256) (this was the highest I could find in the U.S – please correct me if I’m wrong).

Speeding in Japan will cost you between 9000 – 60000 YEN ($102 – $683), while going fast in Malaysia is an absolute bargain, costing RM80-RM300 ($23 – $88).

While the list is nowhere near exhaustive, of the countries above, Australia compares as one of the most expensive places to speed. Only Belgium (and France for second offences) had higher standardised fines (i.e. not dependent on income) than could be found in Australia. Tasmania, with the lowest fines in Australia is actually most comparable to the range of fines observed in Europe. Of course, these numbers don’t take into account other penalties that often come with the fines, such as demerit points, loss of licence and potential jail time.

Nonetheless, I think this comparison raise an interesting question. If speeding fines are put in place to ‘save lives’, then how can different countries put such different values on speeding? How can Germany, for example, consider speeding to be such a minor infringement, while Australia punishes motorists for traveling as little as 1 or 2km/h over the limit, even in rural and remote areas? And within Australia, how can the states and territories justify such large variances in their penalties? Do these different approaches to fines result in lower casualties on the road, or do they merely reflect the extent to which various governments see speeding fines as a potential revenue raiser? I think I’ll save that controversial discussion for a future post.

Happy driving 🙂

Are there other countries you know of with harsh or lenient speeding fines? Mention them in the comments section below.

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