Double time for dangerous drivers

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The ACT cycling community has welcomed increased penalties that could see dangerous drivers who target bike riders given two-year gaol terms.

New legislation, introduced into the ACT Legislative Assembly yesterday, adds to the existing offense of furious, reckless or dangerous driving. Essentially it means that drivers convicted of the offence who also risked the safety of a vulnerable road user – including cyclists – may find they spend twice as long in prison, automatic disqualification from driving for at least 12 months and double the penalty points.

Pedal Power’s Executive Officer, John Armstrong, hopes the new legislation will see a decline in the number of ‘road rage’ incidents against cyclists in the ACT.

“The vast majority of drivers respect all road users, including those who ride a bike, but there are some motorists who pose a real danger. We’re hoping this new legislation will make them think twice before doing something that could cause harm or, worse, take a person’s life,” said Armstrong.

In introducing the new legislation, Attorney-General, Simon Corbell said:

“This Bill targets high-risk driving behaviour that has the potential to have catastrophic consequences.  The increased penalties reflect how seriously the community regards anti-social behaviour that puts other road users at risk.”

It’s the first step in what Pedal Power says should be a multi-pronged approach to improve the safety of cyclists and other vulnerable road users.  It was one of five recommendations the lobby group made to the ACT Government’s Vulnerable Road Users Inquiry, calling for action on speed limits, safe passing distances, road safety campaigns, greater legal protection for bike riders and improved cycling infrastructure.

With the findings of the inquiry due to be handed down next month, John Armstrong said the ACT’s bike riders are looking for real and lasting change.

“There is so much potential for many more cycling journeys if riding a bike were safer in Canberra. The ACT Government must make tough political and financial decisions and invest in infrastructure, enforcement, education and training.”

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