Page 492 - Week 02 - Wednesday, 23 March 2022

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Early intervention is key to preventing injuries and deaths on our road network, and the bill introduces a new power to allow a police officer to direct a person to get off or not to get on an animal, personal mobility device, bicycle or an animal-drawn vehicle if the person is under the influence of alcohol or a drug. Where a direction issued by a police officer is ignored, the below penalties will apply. These new offences will carry a maximum court penalty of 20 penalty units, around $3,200 for a court ordered penalty, or an infringement notice penalty of $154 for personal mobility device riders and cyclists. For drivers of other vehicles, the infringement penalty is $301 to reflect the greater risk that these vehicles pose to other road users. We anticipate that, for these offences, infringement notices are more likely to be used than the higher court ordered penalty, but the penalty remains available to deal with more serious behaviour.

The next rung in the hierarchy is new and strengthened laws relating to maintaining proper control of a vehicle or a personal mobility device. The new offence of failing to have proper control of a personal mobility device mirrors existing provisions that require a cyclist to have proper control of their bicycle. This will most likely be used in situations where someone has injured themselves or caused a crash through not having proper control of their device.

The community expects that people will be safe and in control on our road network, regardless of what they are driving or riding. This is important for the safety of others on footpaths and shared paths. This offence is proposed to carry a maximum penalty of 20 penalty units, again, or an infringement notice penalty of $154, which is consistent with existing penalties for similar offences. It is intended that the infringement notice penalty will act as a deterrent to some of the isolated unsafe behaviour that we have seen on e-scooters since their introduction in Canberra, and encourage behaviour change. The government amendments also increase the infringement notice penalty amount for the existing offence that requires drivers to maintain proper control of a vehicle. This will rise from $301 to $398 to support an effective hierarchy of dangerous driving penalties once we slot in the first-rung offence of driving without due care and attention.

We then move into the next and more serious rung of road offences, which relate to negligent driving. The bill increases the infringement notice penalty for negligent driving in instances that do not lead to an injury or death, from $398 to $598. This reflects the need to address dangerous negligent behaviours which make our roads less safe and lead to accidents or near misses. With more and more dashcam and helmet-cam footage available these days, police are increasingly able to pinpoint the causes of accidents and follow up bad behaviour that puts other road users at risk.

We want to ensure that when these matters come to police attention they are appropriately penalised. The bill seeks to insert an entirely new offence into the negligent driving hierarchy. We have recognised that there is a gap between the penalties for the existing offence of negligent driving occasioning grievous bodily harm and that of negligent driving in any other case. This means that, currently, drivers can receive a relatively minor penalty for injuring another road user where it does not amount to grievous bodily harm. The amendments address this by introducing a new offence of negligent driving occasioning actual bodily harm.

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