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Saturday, May 25, 2024

ACT Government passes legislation to stop dangerous driving

The ACT Government has passed the Road Safety Legislation Amendment Bill 2022 to stamp out dangerous driving, following Canberra’s worst yearly road toll in a decade (18 deaths) in 2022. 

“Dangerous driving was a significant contributor to this increased road toll in the ACT last year, so we are implementing a series of significant reforms to crack down on this behaviour,” Chris Steel, ACT Minister for Transport and City Services, said.

“New legislation will give ACT Police the power to immediately remove dangerous drivers and repeat offenders from the Territory’s roads in the interests of public safety.”

If an offender exceeds a posted speed limit by more than 45 kilometres per hour, police will now immediately suspend their licence. 

In an ACT first, police will also be granted the power to seize and impound a vehicle caught speeding more than 45 kilometres over the limit. 

People who repeatedly race and hoon could face a court-imposed penalty of up to $16,000, or a 12-month prison sentence. 

First-time offenders could face the same penalty if the behaviour is aggravated (for example, if they have a minor in the car).

“The ACT Government is committed to ongoing education, awareness and safety initiatives to keep our local roads safe,” Mr Steel said. “This has included an ongoing review of the road transport penalties framework. 

“Throughout this process we have heard substantial feedback from key stakeholders, including community members and advocates, ACT Policing, and the Australian Federal Police Association (AFPA).

“All parties involved in this reform agree that road safety is everyone’s responsibility as we strive for Vision Zero, which is no deaths or serious injuries on Canberra’s roads,” Mr Steel said.

“When we get behind the wheel, we take responsibility for the lives of everyone, including our passengers and other people on the road.” 

Medical practitioners will be required to report information relating to a person’s fitness to drive to the road transport authority (RTA). This implements a recommendation from the Coronial Inquiry into the death of Blake Corney.

The ACT Government will work with stakeholders to consider the detail of the medical practitioner requirements, and ensure that any regulatory changes are compliant with the Human Rights Act. These changes will not occur for 12 months.

Later this year, the ACT Government will roll out a community education and awareness campaign focused on dangerous driving behaviours.

“The campaign will highlight the Government’s zero tolerance stand on dangerous driving, and make the community aware of the potential penalties they will face,” Mr Steel said.

The other provisions relating to dangerous driving offences will begin in the coming days, once notified on the ACT Legislation Register. 

The AFPA said Mr Steel’s announcement was excellent. “The Association is grateful to have been involved in the consultation informing the new laws.”

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