A NUMBER of new road rules for the safety of drivers, bicycle riders and pedestrians will come into force on our roads from March 1.
On average, 11 bicycle riders are killed and 1500 seriously injured in NSW each year.
From March 1, drivers who pass a bicycle rider must allow a distance of at least one metre when the speed limit is 60km/h or less and 1.5m when the speed limit is more than 60km/h
If drivers cannot pass a bicycle rider safely, they should slow down and wait until it is safe to pass the rider, leaving the minimum distance.
To help drivers provide the minimum distance, some exemptions to the road rules will apply. Drivers will be exempt from the following rules, as long as it is safe to pass the bicycle rider with at least a metre of space and they have a clear view of approaching traffic - Keep to the left of the centre of the road (two-way road with no dividing line); keep to the left of the centre of a dividing line - broken and unbroken lines; keep off a dividing strip; keep off a painted island; driving within a single marked lane or line of traffic; moving from one marked lane to another across a continuous line separating the lanes.
Drivers caught not allowing the minimum distance when passing a bicycle rider face a $319 fine and a penalty of two demerit points.
From March 1, all bicycle riders aged 18 and over must carry the required photo identification to help riders be identified in an emergency.
NSW Police will also be able to ask for identification if they believe a bicycle rider has broken the road rules.
Bicycle riders will have 12 months to adjust to the new law and from March 1, 2017, riders stopped by police for breaking the road rules could face a $106 fine if they do not have the required photo ID.
The required photo ID includes a driver licence or a NSW Photo Card. A five-year NSW Photo Card costs $51 and is issued free of charge for eligible concession holders, people who receive a Centrelink Carer Allowance and NSW Seniors Card holders.
New penalties also apply to riders who behave dangerously and break the law, with fines for five increasing, with riders to receive the same fines as motorists for high risk behaviour.
Increased penalties will apply to bicycle riders who are caught:
Not wearing a helmet (up from $71 to $319).
Running a red light (up from $71 to $425).
Riding dangerously (up from $71 to $425).
Holding on to a moving vehicle (up from $71 to $319).
Not stopping at children's/pedestrian crossings (up from $71 to $425).
Penalties for other bicycle rider offences will also increase from $71 to $106, including riding at night without lights.
Bicycle riders should also provide pedestrians with a metre of space on shared paths.
The government has also raised demerit points for drivers caught using mobile phones.
For the first time over Christmas and New Year, the government included mobile phone offences in the double-demerit penalty period and people caught talking on a mobile phone or texting while driving lost six points.
The standard penalty for mobile phone offences now increases from three to four demerit points and will jump to eight points during the double-demerit period.
WHILE a number of new road rules will come into force from March 1, there are still a few odd NSW and interstate road rules in place.
Did you know about some of these?
- You must not splash bus passengers with mud: One of the strangest road rules to come out of NSW is the one that states you must not splash a bus passenger with mud after driving through a puddle. Yet if you splash any other pedestrian it is perfectly legal. The fine for breaking this offence is $165.
2. All body parts must stay within the vehicle: In several states, it is illegal for you or your passengers to have any body parts outside of the vehicle, except for very few exceptional circumstances. That means it’s actually an offence to wind down the window and wave goodbye to a friend, or lean your elbow on the window on a hot day. The fines are quite high too. In Victoria, you can be fined $141 and in Queensland it’s even higher at $298.
3. Tooting the horn: In most states, a toot of the horn for anything other than to warn someone is considered “illegal use of a warning device”. So tooting the horn to wave at someone could cost you up to $298 in fines.
4. Displaying “L” or “P” plates when not required: In Queensland and Victoria, when the driver is fully licenced, it is actually an offence to drive around with an “L” or “P” plate on the car. So if you forget to take off your teenagers’ plates on that quick trip down to the shops, you could be fined $141. It’s apparently okay in NSW.
5. Window gaps: In Queensland and Victoria, not only is it illegal for you to leave your car unlocked if you are more than three meters away from it, but your windows must be wound up with a gap of no more than five centimetres. These laws are in place to help keep the number of car thefts down, and results in a $40 fine in Queensland and a $117 fine in Victoria. If the case goes before a magistrate in Victoria, the fine can be increased to $360.
6. NSW: No paint allowed over train crossings: We bet you’ve broken this strange road rule quite a few times. According to NSW law it is illegal to cross train tracks if you are carrying “flammable, explosive or dangerous goods” that includes paint, lighters, batteries and barbeque gas bottles. So if train tracks are between you and the hardware store, it might be a long renovation.