"Road Legislation Amendment Bill 2009
1 June 2009.
Stiff new penalties await riders convicted of serious traffic offences such as dangerous and careless riding.
The Road Legislation Amendment Bill 2009, now going through Parliament, introduces new requirements for bike riders involved in serious collisions.
The legislation also expands the definition of some inappropriate behaviours to include bike riders.
Serious collisions (14, 16)
Bike riders involved in a serious collision that damages property or injures someone will, like drivers, need to ‘render assistance’, exchange names and addresses with the other parties and report the incident at a police station.
The penalty for failing to stop and render assistance is up to five years in prison and 600 penalty units (currently $68,000).
The penalty for failure to provide information to the police is 20 penalty units. (currently $2,268).
In addition if someone is killed or injured the first offence penalties are 40 penalty units ($4,536) and up to 4 months in prison. A subsequent offence is 120 units and from 2 to 12 months in prison.
If no one is killed or injured then the first offence is 2·5 penalty units ($227) and up to 7 days in prison. This doubles for a second offence.
Dangerous and careless riding (18, 19)
The changes to the rules also include provisions that allow police to charge a rider with:
* Dangerous riding ‘A person must not drive a vehicle, other than a motor vehicle, at a speed or in a manner that is dangerous to the public, having regard to all the circumstances of the case.’ 120 penalty units
or imprisonment for 12 months or both
* Careless riding ‘A person must not drive a vehicle, other than a motor vehicle, on a highway carelessly.’ 6 penalty units (currently $680.52), second offence 12 penalty units
These changes to the regulations are endorsed as they are consistent with Bicycle Victoria's long standing support for responsible behaviour on the roads.
The themes behind the new legislation mirror the concerns brought to the attention of the government about driver behaviour over many years.
Failure to stop and render assistance is legalese for ‘hit and run’. In 2005 the Victorian Government announced the introduction of a new law covering people who leave the scene of a crash, increasing the penalty to ten years. This followed the hit-and-run crash that killed a rider on Plenty Rd.
Bicycle Victoria is a strong supporters of the provisions in the Crimes Act that cover culpable driving. In 2001 a driver fell asleep and drove into a group of riders on Beach Road killing one of them. Bicycle Victoria and others took this up with the Government which in 2004 introduced new definitions for culpable driving.
With Bicycle Victoria support the existing criteria of speed and alcohol were widened to include driving while fatigued, driving while under the influence of drugs and driving while using a mobile phone. The Government also introduced random drug testing of drivers.
The Bill currently before Parliament is a response to the incident in 2006 when a rider on Beach Road failed to stop at a pedestrian signal, collided with a pedestrian, James Gould, and killed him. The rider was fined for failing to stop at a red light – the only charge that could be applied."