Cycling organisations have applauded news that the NSW government will be keeping a minimum passing distance rule following a successful two-year trial.
Under law, drivers must leave at least one metre of space between their vehicle and a bicycle they are attempting to overtake when the speed limit is 60 kilometres per hour (km/h) or less. The minimum passing distance increases to 1.5 metres when the speed limit is above 60 km/h.
Drivers who breach these conditions could receive a $330 fine and the loss of two demerit points. Motorists are advised they must slow down and wait for an opportunity to pass cyclists if they are unable to create enough distance.
Steve Drake, Cycling Australia CEO, said the changes had been a long time coming, with Victoria now the only state in the country that hasn't implemented similar measures permanently.
"This legislation reduces the risk of crashes when drivers pass cyclists and improves safety for all cyclists, and all road users, across Australia," he explained.
Minister for Roads, Maritime and Freight Melinda Pavey said an independent evaluation performed during the trial period showed a 15 per cent reduction in crashes between cyclists and drivers.
"Cycling is an increasingly popular mode of transport and recreational activity, and this rule will help ensure the safety of all road users," she stated.
Bicycle NSW has worked with the state government to cement the minimum passing distance rule, but the organisation feels enforcement remains an issue.
Only 70 motorists have been charged during the two-year trial, yet Bicycle NSW said it receives at least one call every day from a member who claims they have had a close pass.
The organisation called on the police to take these offences more seriously, especially as recent statistics published in the journal Accident Analysis and Prevention showed 16 per cent of motorists drive too close cyclists.
"Bicycle NSW is taking action. We are talking to the police to raise awareness about this particular law and how to actually charge and/or fine," the organisation stated in a media release.
Unfortunately, despite tougher laws against dangerous driving, cyclists are still injured in collisions with vehicles every day. When these accidents occur, victims may be able to claim damages.
Gerard Malouf & Partners Compensation, Medical Negligence & Will Dispute Lawyers provides a no-win, no-fee service for people who have suffered a personal injury in car crashes and a range of other circumstances. Contact us today to begin your claim.