"30 June 2009. The recent extension of dangerous and careless driving rules to bike riders (see earlier story Serious legal pain for irresponsible riders) has aroused interest in the legal definition of 'dangerous'.
Lawyers Maurice Blackburn explain:
Under the Road Safety Act 1986 the offence of dangerous driving for drivers of motor vehicles is set out under Section 64. The recent Road Legislation Amendment Act 2009 introduces the following new section to the Road Safety Act 1986 that is intended to apply to cyclists:
Section 64 Dangerous driving:
(2A)“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.”
What constitutes ‘dangerous driving’ as interpreted by the High Court over time was very recently discussed in the Victorian Supreme Court by Justice Kaye in R v Scholl (Ruling No 1)  VSC 198 (22 May 2009). It was discussed in the context of the offence of dangerous driving causing serious injury or death under the Crimes Act 1958.
In his ruling, Justice Kaye made the following comments:
- The test is whether an ordinary person, when looking at the way the vehicle is being driven, recognises the manner of driving as dangerous.
- For the driving to be dangerous, it must put the public at some risk over and above the risks ordinarily associated with being on or near a highway. This would include risks created by people driving with less than reasonable care and skill. The driving must be a real danger to the members of the public who may be upon or in the vicinity of the roadway on which the driving is taking place.
- The conduct of the wrongdoer must create a real danger to the public and not merely a speculative danger.
Further, the High Court has previously stated the following:
- Manner of driving can include all matters connected with the management and control of the vehicle by a driver when it is being driven. It includes (but is not limited to) starting and stopping, signalling and failing to signal, sounding or failing to sound a warning, as well as any other matter affecting the speed at which and the course in which the vehicle is driven. (R v Coventry  59 CLR 633)
- Circumstances of the case may include but are not limited to the amount and nature of the (expected) traffic, the speed of the motor vehicle, the observance of traffic signals, the character and condition of the roadway and the condition of the driver’s vehicle. (R v Coventry  59 CLR 633)
- If the driver is in a condition while driving which makes the mere fact of his driving a real danger to the public, then his driving in that condition may amount to driving in a dangerous manner. (Giorgianni v The Queen HCA 29; (1985) 156 CLR 473.)
- Driving a motor vehicle that is in a seriously defective condition may amount to driving in a manner dangerous to the public (Giorgianni v The Queen HCA 29; (1985) 156 CLR 473.)"
Each state has different road rules and road user handbooks, but in the vast majority of materially aspects the rules and handbooks mirror each other.
With regard to the afore-mentioned "that is intended to apply to cyclists" can be easily understood by the below regulations for NSW Road Rules 2008:
• Regulation 15 of NSW Road Rules 2008 “What is a vehicle” states that a bicycle is a vehicle.
• Regulation 19 “References to driver includes rider etc” outlines that in the context of the road rules reference to drivers includes riders unless otherwise expressly stated.