As more and more people across Australia are choosing to cycle as part of their everyday lives, drivers are needing to pay more attention to bikes whenever they are out on the road.
Passing bikes in the lane in front of you can be tricky, but road laws are pretty clear on the minimum distance required for motorists to give cyclists when overtaking them.
Designed to improve safety for cyclists on the roads, drivers caught flouting the relatively new rules could find themselves getting slapped with hefty fines and demerit points added to their licences.
So just how much could it cost you?
Maintain your distance
These cycling rules exist in most Australian states and mandate specific distances required for passing cyclists on the roads.
Rule 144 of the Australian Road Rules states that drivers must maintain a minimum distance of one metre when passing cyclists at a maximum speed of 60km/h.
If you are in areas where the speeds are higher than 60km/h, the gap increases to a minimum distance of 1.5 metres when overtaking a cyclist.
Drivers are given leeway to ensure that they can follow these rules.
For example, you can pull out into the middle of the road and into the opposite lane to overtake if there isn’t enough space to get past safely.
These rules are designed to provide safety for both drivers and cyclists and to minimise the risk of collisions on the roads.
Keeping an eye out
Should anyone risk getting too close to cyclists when passing them, the penalties are very strict with the authorities able to impose fines and dish out demerit points as well.
The rules are still being implemented in some states but have become increasingly common across Australia. Some of the areas where the rules are already in force include:
NSW: For drivers in New South Wales, anyone caught getting too close to cyclists will find themselves getting hit with a $349 fine and given two demerit points for their troubles.
VIC: The newest road rule to be introduced in Victoria, drivers face a fine of $330 and two demerit points should they put cyclists at risk when passing them.
QLD: Drivers in Queensland face big penalties if they get caught overtaking cyclists at an unsafe distance. The penalties for offenders in The Sunshine State is a fine of $413 and three demerit points added to their licence.
SA: In South Australia, bicycles are classed as vehicles on the road with the same distances implemented as other laws in the country. The penalties for overtaking too closely are a $424 fine and two demerit points added to your licence.
WA: Western Australia has extremely strict laws in regards to overtaking cyclists safely. The penalties for not doing this are whopping four demerit points to your licence and a $400 fine.
NT: In the Northern Territory, failing to overtake at a safe distance is classed as a general offence and is punished with a fine of one penalty unit which currently is worth $157.
At the moment, drivers in both Tasmania and ACT are not susceptible to these rules as these states have not implemented them into their road regulations.
With the use of bikes on our roads growing annually, it is not surprising to see these laws get introduced in more states and territories throughout the country to ensure that everybody is safe when out and about.
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