They’re the bane of drivers’ existence, but cyclists have just been given a big advantage on the road. Motorists in New South Wales who travel too close to cyclists will be fined $330 and lose two demerit points under new laws introduced by the State Government.
The rule requires motorists passing a cyclist in the same direction to leave a distance of at least one metre when the speed limit is 60kph or lower. When the speed limit is above 60kph, they must leave a 1.5m gap.
An independent review of the two-year trial estimated a 15 per cent reduction in bicycle-to-vehicle-crashes, Minister for Roads Melinda Pavey said on Wednesday.
“Cycling is an increasingly popular mode of transport and recreational activity, and this rule will help ensure the safety of all road users,” she said.
Drivers who break the law face a penalty of $330 and two demerit points. Similar laws exist in Western Australia and Queensland.
The new law comes after Qld drivers were told to brush up on their road-rule knowledge, even the most obscure ones. That’s because over a 12-month period to October, hundreds of people were fined for breaking rules that few drivers were likely aware of, the drivers’ organisation said.
In the 12-month period, 170 drivers were fined for letting their pet get a little too close to the wheel. And don’t drive with an arm or leg outside of a vehicle – the RACQ data revealed more than 400 Qld drivers were fined $128.
Cyclists were also stung by lesser-known rules as 66 cyclists were issued with an infringement notice of $126 for riding a bike without a bell and 52 drivers received a $75 fine for improperly honking their horn.
“Obviously, there are many motorists copping fines for breaking rules they may not be aware of,” RACQ spokesperson Laura Ritchie said.
“These road rules may seem insignificant to some but they’re in place to keep all road users safe.”
It’s not just Queensland, either. In New South Wales, the NRMA says many drivers may be unaware that it’s illegal to park an unregistered vehicle on the street. The no-pets-on-the-lap rule also goes for NSW, and you can’t lead a tethered animal behind a vehicle either.
In Victoria, it’s illegal to leave your car unlocked if you are more than three meters away, and windows must have a gap of no more than five centimetres either if they’re left down while you’re away from the car, according to Smiths Lawyers.