Legal Obligations for those in Accidents and Regulations for Public Vehicles

PUBLISHED 19 Jun 2017

This article has a twofold purpose. It will discuss legal obligations for those persons involved in car accidents. The latter part of the article will deal with the special rules of the road for public vehicles.

Any driver of a vehicle involved in an accident must 1) immediately stop at the scene of the accident and 2) give to the other driver involved in the accident, to any person injured (or their representative), or to the owner of any property that has been damaged, their name and address, the name and address of the vehicle’s owner, and the vehicle’s registration number (or any other information that can be used to identify the vehicle).

In addition, the driver must also report this same information to the police within 24 hours, if any of the following situations apply:

  • If anybody is injured or killed in the accident
  • If you have not given your information to each person listed above
  • If the driver of the other vehicle has not given  you his information
  • If a vehicle is carried away or towed by another vehicle
  • If a reasonable estimate of the cost of repairing damage to property (other than to your own vehicle) is $3,000 or more

However, even if these conditions do not apply in your situation, it is still advised that you report the accident to the police—the reason being that insurers usually ask drivers for a police report number. Remember that when arriving at the cost of repairing damages, this includes damage to any other property as well as to the other vehicle(s) involved.

In addition, if someone is injured or killed, the driver of each vehicle involved must:

  • Stop at the scene of the accident
  • Render any possible assistance
  • Present themselves to a police officer to give the details of the accident and submit to any test for alcohol or drugs within 90 minutes of the accident

Also, as soon as it is possible after any accident, the driver needs to contact the approved CTP insurer of the vehicle. It should be noted that it is an offense not to provide a written notice of the accident to the insurer. The penalty for this offense is a fine of up to $1,250 or imprisonment for up to three months.

There are certain road rules affecting public vehicles. These rules pertain to rules of the road, not responsibilities during accidents.

In particular, for a police vehicle, a provision of the Australian road rules does not apply 1) if the driver is taking reasonable care and 2) if the vehicle is moving and displaying a blue or red flashing light or sounding an alarm. This same provision applies to drivers of other emergency vehicles. There is also a stopping and parking exemption for police and emergency vehicles if the driver is taking reasonable care. There are also exemptions for police officers and emergency workers on foot.

For tram drivers, drivers of a tram recovery vehicle, or a public bus driving along tram tracks, there are exemptions to road rules when it comes to left turns, left and right turn signs, no turns signs, traffic lane arrows, keep left and keep right signs, no entry signs, roundabouts, keeping left and overtaking, and restrictions on stopping and parking.

There are also exemptions for road workers if sufficient warning of the roadworks has been given to other road users. These exemptions involve stopping and giving away at a stop sign or stop line at an intersection without traffic lights or other places; giving way at a give-way sign at an intersection, bridge or length of narrow road; low clearance or load limit signs; keeping left and overtaking; restrictions on stopping and parking; using horns and similar warning devices; wearing of seatbelts; driving on a path, nature strip or traffic island; towing another vehicle; driving in reverse; the requirement to have a clear view of the surrounding road and traffic; and driving with a person in a trailer. Speed limits do not apply to drivers in a snow-clearing vehicle involved in snow clearing or driving a mother vehicle involved in speed zoning tests.

Should you have an issue or problem in this area, please take advantage of a free consultation with Gerard Malouf and Partners, who have over 30 years of experience in automobile accident, insurance, and negligence compensation claims. They pride themselves on their “Triple C” attitude of “Compassion, Commitment, and Competence”.

Call us now on 1800 004 878 to book a free appointment with one of my compensation experts, or email your enquiry.