Page 1181 - Week 03 - Thursday, 31 March 2011

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motorcyclists are over-represented, and it is tragic to see that motorcyclists are disproportionately represented. Something is obviously wrong here, but we need to question where the problem lies. The government has focused on providing better training to motorcyclists in order for them to obtain a licence and there is no doubt that this is a very good thing, but it is not the only issue that needs to change.

The Greens have raised in question time this year the issue of training for other road users specifically about vulnerable road users—that is, cyclists, motorcyclists and pedestrians. By this we mean those who are the most sensitive to road injury. The term “vulnerable road users” recognises the inherent vulnerability of humans who use roads without protection from a steel shell, such as a car. This idea should be clear to all of us. We have all been exposed to traffic and we all know how one-sided a collision is between a car, truck or bus and a pedestrian, cyclist or motorcyclist.

The Greens believe the ACT’s licensing, training and testing requirements should require training for all drivers about vulnerable road users. I believe this training will translate into important safety outcomes and is part of a shift in philosophy towards the vision zero approach. I think we would all admit that the car is currently very much at the centre of road planning in Australia and certainly in Canberra. We have argued for this for a while, and hopefully Mr Stanhope remembers that we recommended vulnerable road users training last year in the active transport plan that was released by the Greens.

The vulnerable road users training for drivers will focus on the presence, needs and intentions of vulnerable road users, as well as about responsibility towards vulnerable road users. This training also fits in perfectly with the types of changes that the government is now investigating, such as shared spaces and slower 40-kilometre-per-hour zones. The infrastructure changes will be complemented by changes in road user training. I would recommend also extending this training to road and network planners and engineers.

I would urge the government to look abroad for how this training can be very successful, particularly to northern European countries. Vulnerable road users training has been so successful there that they have been able to change the liability laws governing road users. They now operate a system that places a burden of responsibility with the bigger, more dangerous vehicles, as they are classified.

Under this system, for example, a car would be strictly liable in a crash with a cyclist, and a cyclist would be strictly liable in a crash with a pedestrian. The more dangerous vehicle would need to show that they were not negligent. There are different ways to deal with a situation where the more vulnerable party contributed to the accident. For example, in Denmark, property damage compensation can be reduced, but not injury compensation. In the Netherlands, if the vulnerable road user is a child then the liability remains with the more dangerous vehicle.

What is the result of this scheme? Everyone must travel around in a way that maximises the care and safety of the most vulnerable travellers. Drivers must take extra care in places where there are vulnerable road users. For example, people will look out for children, walkers and riders. Embedding this structure of liability in our

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