New laws proposed would see further emphasis on drivers on the road.
New laws proposed would see further emphasis on drivers on the road. Troy Kippen

CYCLING: Drivers to be presumed guilty under proposed laws

SHOULD drivers be presumed at fault for incidents involving cyclists?

Bicycle Queensland prompted the Queensland Government to introduce Presumed Liability Laws, requiring drivers to prove their innocence when involved in a crash between a car and cyclist.

Local cyclist Robert Partington hoped the laws would make a difference.

"Everything helps. Personally, I don't think it will make a big impact on me," Mr Partington said.

"Hopefully all road users are aware, not only for cyclists. There are runners who have been passed very closely.

"People on mobile phones, I don't think they are going to stop just because of legislation."

RACQ spokesman Paul Stewart said the move served to further increase the gap between cyclists and motorists.

"I'm disappointed by this approach. We've worked closely with groups to end the divide, but this doesn't help anyone," he said.

"It has nothing to do with road safety. This is a return to old-school divisive campaigns. It pits motorists against cyclists.

"If a cyclist hits a pedestrian, are they immediately guilty?"

Mr Stewart said the current legal model was a more appropriate way of dealing with incidents.

"We believe determining fault should be based on facts," he said.

"(The new laws would say) if I ride I bike I am one person, then if I jump in the car, I'm a different person."

Bicycle Queensland CEO Anne Savage said the change would allow for quicker settlement, and that statistics backed claims for the proposed move.

"In the event of an accident, the cyclist would submit a claim for compensation with the car driver's insurer," she said.

"Unless the driver can prove they were not at fault, the claim for compensation would be settled quickly and easily, avoiding the distress that both parties commonly experience.

"More needs to be done to protect vulnerable road users.

"Evidence suggests drivers are at fault in at least 80 per cent of road crashes involving a cyclist and a motor vehicle.

"Presumed liability laws would reduce dangerous driving, save costs on taxpayers, and increase uptake of active transport.

"The default position of motor vehicle insurance companies in any accident is to deny liability, so we can understand the RACQ's rejection of presumed liability laws.

"With all due respect to the RACQ, we would welcome sensible discussion about presumed liability laws and how these laws could benefit all Queenslanders.

"Many other advanced countries have successfully introduced presumed liability laws - they are worthy of our consideration and would go a long way to improving road safety and ending the tragic death toll of road crashes."

Just last month, Warwick Magistrates Court found truck driver Geoffrey Joseph Sleba guilty of killing cyclist Martin Pearson on Anzac Day of 2014 on Inglewood-Milmerran Rd.



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