Stronger road safety laws to protect road users from harm

The ACT Government has today introduced new legislation to strengthen penalties for road users who inflict harm on others. This will make our roads safer for all users – including cyclists and pedestrians – as we work towards Vision Zero of no deaths or serious injuries on Canberra’s roads.

“Negligent driving can kill or cause serious injury. Everyone needs to exercise care and responsibility to keep other road users safe, including those who don’t have the protection of a vehicle around them,” said Minister for Transport and City Services Chris Steel.

“That’s why the Government will strengthen the existing hierarchy of offences for negligent driving by adding a new offence for actual bodily harm.

“This offence would apply in circumstances where someone has suffered injuries as a result of negligence on our roads, such as a black eye, lacerations or bruising. These are the kinds of injuries that disproportionately affect vulnerable road users, but our bill will strengthen protections for all road users in the process.”

The new offence will be inserted into the offence hierarchy as an additional step between negligent driving occasioning grievous bodily harm and negligent driving in any other case, closing a current gap in the protections for road users.

Proposed amendments include:

  1. introducing a new negligent driving offence for conduct that occasions actual bodily harm;
  2. increasing the infringement notice penalty for negligent driving that does not occasion death, grievous bodily harm or actual bodily harm;
  3. increasing the minimum automatic licence disqualification periods for culpable driving, negligent driving that occasions death and negligent driving that occasions grievous bodily harm; and
  4. introducing two new strict liability offences to address unsafe behaviours on transport modes other than motor vehicles.

“By introducing real and serious penalties for harming other road users, we want to help create a stronger culture of care for all users on our roads,” said Minister Steel.

“The reforms will also support ACT Policing to address negligent driving and improper use of other transport modes to make our road network safer for everyone.”

The bill addresses the rise in popularity of e-scooters and similar devices, by including a requirement for users of personal mobility devices such as e-scooters, e-skateboards and segway‑like devices to remain in proper control at all times.

This updates existing provisions requiring a cyclist to have proper control of their bicycle and a driver to have proper control of their motor vehicle.

It will also give police officers new powers to address the unsafe use of personal mobility devices and other alternative modes of transport by people who are under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

“We want to encourage more Canberrans to choose active travel, public transport and other alternatives to the car. Ensuring everyone feels safe on our roads and is properly protected by other road users is an important step to support this.”

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