South Australian drivers will be forced to leave a gap of at least one-metre between their vehicle and road cyclists when overtaking.
The new legislation, to be introduced to state parliament in February, follows a Citizens’ Jury report aimed at improving road safety and easing tensions between drivers and cyclists, recommended to Premier Jay Weatherill last November.
Along with Weatherill, prominent Liberals, Greens and the Amy Gillett Foundation have thrown their support behind the road safety initiative.
The Amy Gillett Foundation, a charity established in honour of the Australian cyclist killed when hit by a car during a training ride in Germany in 2005, has thanked the government for joining Queensland which committed to the one-metre legislation in April last year and the ACT which has also pledged to do so this year.
“My heart is filled with pure joy with the government’s commitment to implement safe passing distance laws in Amy’s home state. It’s such a watershed moment 10 years after her death,” her mother Mary Safe said on behalf of the foundation.
“It is a win-win for both cyclists and motorists. It will reduce the incidence of death and injury for cyclists, and will result in less motorists living with the grief that they injured or, at the very worst, killed a cyclist. That kind of grief never goes away.
“I ask South Australians to embrace this new law so we have a legacy of respect for all who share our roads.”
According to the foundations research, 45 people lost their lives last year while riding a bike on Australian roads. Being hit from behind by a motor vehicle travelling in the same direction ranked as the most common fatality crash type.
Along with the one-metre rule, Weatherill said the government would also adopt the report’s recommendations to allow cyclists to ride on footpaths when there is no safe alternative by June this year.
In most European countries, apart from the UK, “strict liability” law is enforced to protect cyclists and pedestrians on the roads.
The law finds that all drivers on the road are responsible for an accident with a pedestrian or cyclist, unless the vehicle was stationary when the incident occurred, according to I Pay Road Tax.com.
Strict liability entitles a crash victim to compensation unless the driver can prove the cyclist or pedestrian was at fault, encouraging a more careful approach on the roads by both motorists and cyclists.
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