The Minimum Passing Distance Rule in NSW

By Sahar Adatia and Jimmy Singh.

 

According to Transport for NSW, each year on average, nine bicycle riders are killed and more than 1900 end up seriously injured across NSW.

Of the total road deaths in the state, cyclists represent approximately 2.5 percent and about 16 percent of serious injuries.

For this reason, the minimum passing distances are in place to ensure motorists safely pass bicycle riders and do not risk crashing into them, injuring them, or even causing their death.

While all drivers are required to comply with these distances and leave a safe gap when passing or overtaking any person on a bicycle, this is not always the case.

In fact, we recently saw another incident of a driver failing to adhere to the required road rules.

In turn, this resulted in the death of the eighth bike rider in NSW for 2020.

 

Cyclist Dies in Hospital After Being Hit by Ute North of Coffs Harbour

On 15 April 2020, a cyclist was riding in an area about 20km north of Coffs Harbour when a ute turning into a driveway swiftly advanced leaving little passing distance and struck the man on the bike.

According to a statement released by NSW Police, the incident took place just before 6:45am on Central Bucca Road at Bucca, soon after which officers from Coffs-Clarence Police District arrived.

Emergency services were also called to the scene following reports of the cyclist being in a grave condition as a result of the collision with the ute.

The man, aged 47, was examined at the scene with numerous injuries.

In a critical condition, he was quickly airlifted to Gold Coast University Hospital.

Tragically, the man did not survive.

In morning of 17 April, he died from his injuries.

The driver of the ute – a 63-year-old man – was transported to Coffs Harbour Health Campus for mandatory testing.

He returned a negative result.

He was not injured.

 

Cyclist’s Fatality Marks Eight Death of a Bicycle Rider in NSW for 2020

Sadly, the 47-year-old rider’s fatality marks the eighth death of bike rider in NSW for 2020.

Addressing the tragedy, General Manager of Public Affairs, Bastien Wallace, expressed anger of road safety messages not getting through to the public.

“This is terrible news,” Mr Wallace said.

“We feel angry and sad that road safety messages don’t seem to be getting through.”

He continued with a plea to motorists to drive in a safer manner on the roads, particularly with more bicycle riders on the road in response to COVID-19.

“COVID-19 measures mean more people are riding bikes to commute, access good and services or to exercise. We urgently need drivers to slow down and look out for bikes,” Mr Wallace said.

Meanwhile, the incident was described as a “terrible shame” and an “awful accident” by members of the community.

What You Need to Know About the Minimum Passing Distance Rule in NSW

In NSW, the Minimum Passing Distance Rule is a law put in place for the protection and safety of bicycle riders as they share the road with other motorists.

The Minimum Passing Distance Rule makes itself known in rule 144-1 of the Road Rules 2014 (NSW) which advises that when drivers pass a bicycle, it is the drivers’ responsibility to allow a distance of at least one metre when the speed limit is 60km/h or less, or 1.5 metres when the speed limit is more than 60km/h.

When applied, these minimum distances work to prevent the risk of a crash between a driver and a bicycle rider.

Moreover, with a safe distance in place, riders can also be protected in the circumstances where a vehicle approaching them from behind may not be visible.

Here, a driver is required by law to overtake the bicycle rider as they would any other vehicle, namely, to wait until it is safe and then pass through.

Breach of this rule attracts a $337 on-the-spot fine and two demerit points. In the event a person who receives this fine decides to elect to take it to court, the court then gets the discretion to impose the maximum fine of $2,200- unless a section 10 non-conviction sentence is imposed, or the person is found ‘not guilty’.

Click here for a complete guide on the rules around riding a bicycle in Australia

 

Follow the Rules to Stay Safe

Like drivers, most of the time, bicycle riders have safety in the forefront of their mind.

As a driver, by being responsible and obeying the road rules, traffic lights, stop signs and give way signs, cyclists can move around in a predictable manner.

In turn, this can help other road users avoid needing to suddenly react to unexpected movements – and thereby avoid collisions and injuries.

Equally, if you are a bicycle rider, it is important to wear an approved helmet that is properly fitted and fastened,

By doing so, riders can reduce their chances of head injuries in the case of a crash with a motor vehicle.

Have a question around traffic law and penalties? Call us to speak to experienced traffic lawyers in Sydney today.

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