ACT Bill Introduced to Strengthen Dangerous Driving Laws

Friday 20 August 2021 @ 8.11 a.m. | Crime | Legal Research | Torts, Damages & Civil Liability

The Road Transport Legislation Amendment Bill 2021 (ACT) ('the Bill') was introduced into the ACT Legislative Assembly on 5 August 2021 by Minister for Transport and City Services Chris Steel ('the Minister').

The Bill proposes amendments to various road transport legislation to improve road safety by strengthening the regulatory framework dealing with dangerous driving and other unsafe road behaviours. The Bill aims to create safer roads for all users, and seeks to work towards a goal of zero deaths and serious injuries on Canberra roads.

The Bill proposes amendments to the following legislation:

  •  Road Transport (Safety and Traffic Management) Act 1999 (ACT) 
  •  Road Transport (General) Act 1999 (ACT)
  •  Road Transport (Road Rules) Regulation 2017 (ACT).

Proposed Amendments

The Bill's explanatory statement summarises that the Bill proposes to:

a) establish a new offence for negligent driving that occasions actual bodily harm;

b) increase existing minimum automatic licence disqualification periods for the offences culpable driving and negligent driving to support a road transport penalties framework that is commensurate with the associated road safety risks, deters behaviour and supports behavioural change

c) establishes two new offences to address unsafe behaviours of other transport modes.

In his August Media Release, the Minister comments:

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

The Minister further commented in his Media Release that the proposed new negligent driving 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.”

This new offence would sit in between negligent driving occasioning grievous bodily harm and any other case of negligent driving in terms of severity. The introduction of this new offence seeks to close an identified gap in the protections for road users.

The Bill also contains amendments that aim to address unsafe behaviours on other transport modes. The proposed reforms include a requirement for users of personal mobility devices such as escooters, e-skateboards, and segway-like devices to remain in proper control at all times. The Bill also contains further amendments to give police officers new powers to address the unsafe behaviour involving individuals who use personal mobility devices (or other alternative modes of transport) whilst under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

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Road Transport Legislation Amendment Bill 2021 (ACT) and explanatory materials available on TimeBase's LawOne Service.

Media Release: Stronger road safety laws to protect road users from harm (Minister for Transport and City Services, 5 August 2021)

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