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Home | 2GB Q & A on new Motor Vehicle Laws

Turner Freeman

New Motor Vehicle Laws

Gaius Whiffin

22 MARCH 2016

And now legal matters with Turner Freeman Lawyers, great people great results:

Chris:     Yes Turner Freeman our legal segment and today something different, something we haven’t done before you may be interested in asking a question or two or not up to your entirely 131873 is the telephone number.  We today want to talk about these new laws starting this month where motorists now have to give cyclists at least a metre of space when passing them.  Queensland was the first to trial these new laws two years ago but everyone in NSW is still adjusting to them and Gaius Whiffin from Turner Freeman is in the studio with us this afternoon. Gaius thank you very much for coming in.

GW:       Yeh thanks Chris.

Chris:     And I should make the point if we do get some calls on this issue we do have a $100 Westfield voucher to give away to the caller who asks the most relevant question of the day 131873 is the telephone number.  Now tell me about this one metre space.  At what speeds are we talking about and is it actually one metre or is it 1.5 metres.

GW:       Well it depends what speed you are going.  Basically if you are in a speed zone at 60 kilometres an hour or under its one metre anything about that its 1.5 metres, one and half.  It’s like an arc. An arc around the cyclist that you can’t infringe.

Chris:     So who makes this space for this does the cyclist make that space or does the motorist make the space.

GW:       The motorist makes the space.

Chris:     The motorist must make the space.

GW:       The motorist is allowed to cross centre lines if necessary and if it’s safe to do so but otherwise the motorist has to wait until it’s safe to driver around the cyclist leaving that arc of 1.5 metres if it’s over 60 kilometres an hour speed zone.

Chris:     No exemptions for any of this.

GW:       No.

Chris:     Okay what roads will driver’s be exempt from when passing a cyclist though.

GW:       Well there isn’t any specific roads.  I mean if it’s under 60 kilometres it just means that you can I guess get a bit closer. Certainly if you are going at a higher speed you’ve got to give 1.5 metres.

Chris:     So what about if we have a two lane road with a dividing line a double yellow line in the middle.  It’s very difficult to give a 1.5 metre space over 60 kms an hour without crossing the double yellow line.

GW:       You are allowed to do that if it is safe to do so.  So if there is traffic coming the other way obviously you don’t but if it’s safe to cross over those lines you can do so as long as you leave that arc of either one metre or 1.5.

Chris:     Right what is the penalty for not abiding by this particular road rule.

GW:       Its $319.00 this fine and 2 demerit points.

Chris:     Two demerit points as well.  $319 and two demerit points.  Now Queensland was the first state to implement what’s called a minimum overtaking distance trial in April last year.  Does this rule apply in Queensland as well?

GW:       Yes in Queensland.  Queensland was the first state to bring in these types of rules and they did that in April 2014 and since then South Australia, the ACT have developed very, very, very similar rules and the trial is still proceeding in Queensland and from all reports going very effectively.

Chris:     Okay casual cyclists.  All casual cyclists may not know but they must have a photo ID with them from now on.

GW:       At the moment it’s not being enforced apparently.  The press release said it would be enforced from about May next year I think the date was but yes the idea is all cyclists should be carrying ID

Chris:     Over eighteen

GW:       Over eighteen.

Chris:     And the fine if they don’t have an ID on them photo ID.

GW:       Just let me check that. I don’t

Chris:     Its a $100 something I think.

GW:       Yes it’s where are we here…….$106 is the general fine.

Chris:     Okay if I don’t have a helmet.

GW:       That’s gone up.

Chris:     That’s gone up to $300 something hasn’t it.

GW:       It’s gone up to $350 I think.

Chris:     Alright running a red light, running a red light that’s also gone up by about $71 to $425.

GW:       Yeh it’s the same as if you are in car.

Chris:     What about this holding onto a moving vehicle which I’ve seen a lot.

GW:       Well there’s no specific rule in relation to that but if you do something like that you can be.  There is a general offence of dangerous riding for example and that can attract a fine too.  But there is no specific rule saying you can’t … its just common sense.

Chris:     Okay I’ve got Gaius Whiffin from Turner Freeman who is happy to take your calls.  We’ve got a few on the board.  Let’s take your questions in our legal matters segment brought to you by Turner Freeman, Gaius Whiffin is in the studio to hear what you’ve got to say.  Margaret go right ahead Gaius is listening.

Margaret:         Oh hello Chris I am just wondering has there been any stipulation about how close or far away from the kerb that the cyclist has to be?  I mean if he is one and half or two metres away from the kerb you’ve got a semi trailer up on your right hand side what do you do.  I mean is some responsibility due to the cyclist.  Why has this all got to be on the motorist?

GW:       Yell well there’s no stipulation as to how close the cyclist.

Margaret:         Well what happens if he is taking up most of the you know.  He is only.

GW:       Well theoretically you are going to have to wait until he provides the room for you to pass.  Now the problem and that’s the problem with these provisions in themselves but I think the main reason that they are there is to just try and create both from the cyclist and from the driver a degree of awareness of where the cyclist is and where the driver needs to go so.

Chris:     But it will be one metre or one and half metres from where the cyclist puts him or herself.  Margaret makes a very good point.  Peter go right ahead.

Peter:     Hi guys I’ve just got a question about the cyclist just on motorways. When they are riding and we are doing like 110 the M4 motorway and you can’t get over on your right lane because it’s pretty full you come up to a bike rider that’s doing just 20 to 30 kms are you supposed to slow down to that on the motorway.  Isn’t it like against the law the law to drive under a certain speed on the motorways?

GW:       Well I think you according to these laws you’re in the same situation you do have to not go within that sort of arc of or on a motorway of 1.5 metres from that cyclist.

Peter:     So you have got to stay behind them until you can pass them safely.  If you slow down on a motorway your driving like 20 kms on a motorway can’t you be fined for that. Can’t you be fined for doing that anyway.

GW:       I don’t think you well unless it’s particularly dangerous driving then and look it very well may be in certain circumstances as may be cyclist.

Peter:     So you could be booked for driving too slow if you’re driving too slow on the motorway and not sticking to the left lane you can be booked for that and that’s just what I am thinking.  It’s kind of weird on 110 if you’ve got to slow down to 20 kms. Yeh.

GW:       I think just like you’re allowed to cross double yellow lines if it’s safe to do so, again you are not going to be booked for going 20 kms an hour on a motorway because you can’t overtake a cyclist.

Chris:     They will seek your assistance if they do book you anyway.  Geoff go right ahead.

Geoff:    Yeh that guy just stole my thunder basically.  I was about to say the same thing. I drive a truck and if I am driving along a road at about 100 kms an hour one lane each way and I come across a cyclist doing 25 or 30 km an hour I have got to brake hard so I don’t go to the wrong side of the road.  That is very dangerous for the cars behind me because they are unsighted because I am a truck.  They don’t know why I’ve hit the brakes they just know I’ve gone from 100 kms down to 30 quickly.

GW:       Yeh look there is a lot of teething issues with this the one thing I can say is that it does seem to have worked reasonably well in Queensland in terms of firstly reducing accidents and secondly there don’t seem to be these issues that have arisen in the two year sort of trial that they have had so far.

Chris:     Yeh Geoff you make a very good point. I want to give you the $100 Westfield voucher.  Can I do that Geoffrey.

Geoff:    Of course you can.

Chris:     Okay done.  Stay right there we will put you through to Gabriella Robert a question for Gaius.

Robert:  Oh good day guys how are you.

GW:       Good day.

Robert:  Um yeh just curious I ride a lot down near Brighton along the beach there.  It’s a designated footpath for bike riders and pedestrians. I never ride on the road at all I stay away from the traffic just along the beach there.  Am I allowed not to wear a helmet.

GW:       No you have to wear a helmet.

Chris:     Yeh there’s only one answer to that.  You must wear a helmet and if you don’t wear a helmet you are going to be fined $319 that’s the law at the moment.   We’ve got so many calls on this can you stay for just another 10 minutes.  Straight after the news back to Gaius Whiffin from Turner Freeman.

We begin our third hour extending our Turner Freeman legal matters segment because we are talking about these new bicycle laws that are still being trialled in Queensland and are now in effect in New South Wales.  Just before we get back to or Turner Freeman expert a police operation is underway in Narrabeen.  That’s all I’ve got.  This is what 9 News Sydney has tweeted. There’s a police operation underway in Narrabeen.  Gaius Whiffin is from Turner Freeman we are talking about these new bicycle laws and Craig has got a really good question for you Gaius.  Go ahead Craig.

Craig:     Hi Chris I was just wonder I know cyclists they get the fine if they go through the red light but if they also hold a driver’s licence do they lose demerit points off the licence. I think they should.

GW:       Yeh well they don’t. They don’t know it doesn’t affect their driving record.

Craig:     Why no.

Chris:     See that’s No you’re exactly right Craig because when I am on my motorcycle and I go through a red light and I haven’t as yet but if I do it comes off my licence which is jointly run in conjunction with my driver’s licence.

Craig:     I think it will stop them running red lights.

Chris:     It might do exactly that.  That could be one for the minister. The Roads Minister down the track.  Good on you Craig.

Craig:     Do I get a voucher.

Chris:     No I’ve only got one $100 voucher but is a very good question.  If I got it a little earlier I would have given you it.  Ken from Campbelltown my brother-in-law rides a bicycle everywhere.  He doesn’t have a driver’s licence and to my knowledge has no form of photo ID.  He is 80 years of age and very fit.  How does he get away with the new laws.  He can’t can he.

GW:       Well he can’t the law says photo identification.  Now that’s again something which I think has to be taken up with the Department and so forth because at the end of the day there are a lot of people that do not have a driver’s licence.  Some have some form of photo identification but there are a lot of people out there that don’t have any form of photo identification at all.

Chris:     Very true alright Geoff Go right ahead. Gaius is listening.

Geoff:    Yeh Chris ah Chris you know what I think driver’s are really getting fed up with all this nonsense.  You know we are expected year by year more and more increased charges on our registration, CTP and on our insurance and these clowns want more of the road and pay nothing for it.  It’s about time somebody just woke up to themselves and said excuse me you poor little pet move over and let paying public those who pay for the road use the road as it should be used instead of causing traffic jam. I mean for goodness sake expressways you have to come down 20 kms that could cause massive accidents left right and centre.

Chris:     Well the truth is Geoff there are places around the world where cyclists aren’t allowed to use the roads and I would have thought if there is a roadway where you are allowed to go anything over 80 kms why should cyclists be allowed to use them?

Geoff:    Its common sense why aren’t we using it here in Australia.  Or do our politicians just sit there and bang their heads up against the wall and say I just don’t think that’s right?  I mean come on.

Chris:     Yeh Geoff your right.  They get in under pressure by the cyclist brigade that group of people who are very tech savvy and will get out in social media and bag politicians if they get in the way of cyclists and they are afraid of all of that.  That’s my view of it anyway.  Thank you Geoff appreciate that.  John go ahead.

John:      Yeh and example how well the bike laws work the one metre law works in Queensland is that I live in inner city Brisbane travel to the CBD.  Since these laws have come in my travel time which is only 5 km has gone from 20 minutes to 45 minutes.  Most of the time you are spent getting around a bike rider who no longer are required to use the dedicated bike lane. My fuel bill is now tripled each week and also to when your traffic is slowed or coming to red lights the bike riders you managed to get past then come up on the inside they are not one metre away from you. I’ve got dints, scratches broken rear vision mirrors from bikes getting through riding through red lights that you then have to come across again.  You can’t identify them, you can’t claim it on insurance otherwise you pay the full excess.

Chris:     Yeh they are gone they’ve vanished.  John very good point.  You’ve raised it and I am not sure whether you meant to raise it but if there is a dedicated bicycle lane surely cyclists should be.

John:      Not in Queensland Chris.

Chris:     Legally enforced to use that bicycle lane and not part of the roadway.

John:      Not in Queensland.

Chris;     Well it’s not here I don’t think it’s here is it Gaius?

GW;       It isn’t just because there is a dedicated lane there its common sense to use the dedicated lane.

John:      Yeh but they don’t Gaius what they do because they are dedicated lanes they will take up the whole lane.  Close to my home there is a hill which would normally you would travel at 50 km.  We are now down to 10 km because you’ve got to sit behind bike riders.

Chris:     We get your point you’re not alone, you’re not alone.  It would not be the case just in Brisbane either.  It would be the case in Sydney too.

John:      Well the pollution that’s occurring with people using three times the amount of fuel they used to use.

Chris;     Alright John excellent point thank you very much for that.  Steven go ahead.

Steven:  Oh yeh I would just like to know why they are actually changing the road rules and creating these dangerous situations for a vehicle or a potential vehicle that doesn’t actually have personal CTP insurance because the rest of us paying motorists have a massive fine for not having insurance these people on the bikes are in a lot more precarious situation for injury than what we are.

Chris:     Well you can’t get your rego without a greenslip.

Steven:  And why should there be people on the roads in these dangerous situations actually being uninsured.

Chris;     Its  not a question for Gaius.

GW;       Well what happened is basically the rules came about through an organisation in Queensland the Amy Gillett Foundation. She was the Australian I think she was an Olympian cyclist that was killed by a car in Germany.  In Queensland they started these laws they arranged for these laws to occur three years ago. Now the one thing that they look at is while the number of deaths from motor vehicle accidents is going down quite significantly in Australia over many years.  The number of cyclists killed has increased.  That’s the statistics I think I’ve got one here 45 deaths from cyclists in 2014 and that’s an increase I am not sure of the exact percentage increase while all other accidents are going down that was being raise and so it’s a trial system it’s a trial system in Queensland that’s been going now for quite a period of time obviously and its now been introduced in NSW so I think it’s one thing that’s very very difficult to be able to enforce because.

Chris;     Well that’s the other question I wanted to ask you too.  How do you enforce it.  Who determines whether someone is only .8 of a metre away from the cyclist or 1 metre.

GW:       I think that’s a good point I am not aware of any cases of any fines that have been introduced yet. I am sure there probably is some.

Chris:     Tough ruling for coppers to make.

GW:       its a very tough ruling for police.

Chris;     Mike go right ahead.

Mike:     Yeh mate listen I have been in transport for 30 years. I was on Mount Crosby Road the other day in truck at the weekend.  A cyclist was coming towards me.  The woman behind cross the double line to give him enough room now I had to drop the wheels of the edge.  Now if I had been further up where the trees were I would have killed granny and she has crossed the double lines so as far as I am concerned she’s dead.  They are worried about 45 cyclists there are 100s of truckies die every year and we’ve got to protect these uninsured bloody speed bumps in history.

Chris:     Mike you make a good point which is why people are so angry about it we’ve run out of time some really good calls there.

GW;       Certainly was.

Chris;     A lot of anger and I am just you know at the end of the day this rule well there’s no existent rule about cyclists using cycle lanes but if having a cyclist and a car in the one lane is like oil and water why don’t we reduce the amount of times we have oil and water together and have a rule a law that says if there’s a cycle lane there you’ve got to go in it.  Makes sense to me.  Anyway Gaius thank you so much.  A very very controversial issue and no doubt we will do it again in the not too distant future.  Once people start to get the idea or what they are there has got to be awareness out there.  Good on you thank you for that.  Gaius Whiffin from Turner Freeman Lawyers very interesting segment this afternoon we do this every Tuesday on a different topic but we will get Gaius back in to revisit these bicycle laws.

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