New Traffic Laws Introduce Cycling Reforms.
Queensland has new traffic laws following the introductions of the Transport Legislation and Another Regulation Amendment Regulation (No. 1) 2014. These new traffic laws are primarily aimed at addressing the road safety of cyclists by introducing a new minimum distance of up to 1.5 metres between any vehicle and a cyclist. The offence is set to carry a maximum penalty of 40 penalty units and the loss of three (3) demerit points.
The new traffic laws follow the Parliamentary Transport, Housing and Local Government Committee report “A new direction for cycling in Queensland”. The report, released in November 2013, outlined recommendations designed to improve the interactions between cyclists and other road users.
To increase safety for cyclists, the report recommended that a minimum overtaking distance should be introduced. The Committee noted a number of studies in Australia and in other jurisdictions have identified passing too closely (or side-swiping) as a frequent and significant factor in incidents resulting in death or serious injury to cyclists. This amendment regulation introduces a minimum passing distance for motorists passing a cyclist.
This regulation amends the Queensland Road Rules to provide that:
Motorists must leave a minimum distance of 1 metre between their vehicle and any cyclist they are overtaking on a road where the speed limit is 60 km/h or below and at least 1.5 metres where the speed limit is more than 60 km/h.
To facilitate these minimum passing distances, the amendments provide that a driver may straddle lane lines, drive to the right of the centre of the road (including crossing dividing lines) or drive on a painted island or dividing strip that is the same level as the road provided the driver has a clear view of any approaching traffic and it is safe to do so.
A breach of the new minimum passing distance requirement will carry a maximum court penalty of 40 penalty units.
If police issue an infringement notice roadside the Infringement Notice is a fine of three penalty units and three (3) demerit points. This is a consistent penalty to offences of a similar risk including, for example, disobeying a red traffic light, failing to wear a motorbike helmet and entering a level crossing when a train is approaching.
In its report, the Committee noted that “the current imbalance between cyclists and other vehicle drivers in relation to infringement penalties warrants review”. It commented that there is significant potential for cyclists to endanger other vulnerable road users and do harm to themselves. It recommended that the penalties for road rules offences for cyclists should be increased to the level that applies to motorists where the potential to endanger other road users is greatest (Recommendation 31).
This amendment regulation implements and, for simplicity, extends that recommendation by providing that:
- where cyclists currently receive a lower infringement notice fine than motorists for any road rules offence, the fine for cyclists will be increased to the level that applies to motorists; and
- where the offence can only be committed by a cyclist and the current infringement notice fine is less than one penalty unit, the fine will be increased to one penalty unit.
Loss of licence.
If you have lost your licence through an accumulation of demerit points and will suffer special hardship as a consequence of these new traffic laws, you may be eligible for a Special Hardship Order. To find out more about a special hardship order, read on further in the traffic law section of our website, or contact our experienced traffic lawyers for advice.
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