New road rule involving cyclists could see drivers cop hefty fine

Josh Dutton
News Reporter

There could be a new fine for Victorian drivers overtaking cyclists on roads incorrectly if a proposal from a major motoring body is taken on board.

The Royal Automobile Club of Victoria (RACV) said in a statement released on Wednesday it wants the state government to trial a new passing law to ensure the safety of cyclists.

“The trial would legally require motorists to leave at least one metre of space between themselves and cyclists when overtaking on roads less than 60km/h and 1.5m when overtaking on roads with speeds over 60 km/h, reflecting similar legislation in other states,” the statement reads.

A law proposed by the RACV could see motorists fined for not allowing more than a metre between them when passing cyclists in Victoria. Source: WA Road Safety Commission (file pic)

RACV’s Peter Kartsidimas said “Victoria is behind the rest of the country”.

“Since the Safety Road Rules 2009 (Overtaking Bicycles) Bill 2015 was first tabled in the Victorian Parliament, every other Australian state and territory has passed legislation for a minimum passing distance rule,” he said.

“TAC (Transport and Accident Commission) figures show that cyclist death and injury are only increasing. The government needs to do more and that’s why we are calling for a trial of a minimum passing distance rule for motorists when overtaking cyclists.”

Citing TAC figures, the RACV said 47 cyclists have died and more than 2100 were injured on Victorian roads in the five years between 2015 and 2019.

Likely fines for overtaking cyclists incorrectly

While the RACV hasn’t outlined exactly what the penalties would be, that’s a matter for the government to decide, presumably it would see similar penalties to ones enforced in other states.

In NSW, the law is the same as the one proposed by the RACV and it too was trialled for two years before it became legislation in 2018. The penalty is $344 and two demerit points but it can attract a maximum fine in court of $2200.

States across Australia issue different fines for the law. Source: Getty Images (file pic)

Queensland comes down harder on drivers who don’t follow the rule, with the same distances as dictated by the NSW legislation, with a $400 fine and three demerit points. Offenders can also be hit with a maximum $5300 fine in court.

It’s a four demerit point fine in WA and a $400 fine, while in South Australia it’s a $320 fine and two demerit points.

Reaction to proposed law on overtaking cyclists

RACV shared news of its proposal on Facebook and it didn’t prove to be popular.

One man wrote not only should cyclists be taught to stay in bike lanes. he recommended registration plates.

Another man asked if the RACV had changed its name to the “RBCV” - presumably meaning the “Royal Bicyclist Club of Victoria”.

“Are you sure you still want cars on the road? These cyclists are beyond a joke. Most of them ride on the road as if cars don't exist. I'm sick to the teeth with them,” one woman wrote.

Cyclists using the road in Australia has always led to heated debate. Source: Getty Images (file pic)

However, some showed support for the proposal and believe it could work.

“I'm not a cyclist and there's a few that are reckless but I think it's a good option. Maybe as road users we can all take others into consideration and be a bit more courteous,” one woman wrote.

Another man added he’s never had any problem with cyclists as a driver.

“I think those that do and complain loudly on these posts are probably poor drivers that struggle with spatial perception and/or have low processing speeds,” he wrote. 

NSW Roads and Maritime Services said the law appears to work citing statistics from when it trialled the law for two years.

The department claims 10 months in from the start of the trial in 2016 saw a 15 per cent drop in “casualty crashes”.

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