Common sense sought by authorities

For a number of years, some of NSW’s road rules have been behind the rest of Australia. Whether through the inconsistencies of previous governments or other states improving their legislation ahead of NSW, some motorists have found themselves on the wrong side of law simply because they have crossed the border.

From 1 September, however, 15 minor amendments will come into force and there will be greater consistency between all the Australian states and territories. Many of the amendments have been described as common sense as in the past there have been small loopholes in the system.

There was one common theme that runs through a number of the small amendments, with many made to improve child safety.

Centre for Road Safety General Manager, Marg Prendergast, explained that clarifications were needed to ensure safety on the roads.

“The changes will also rectify the current problem where tow trucks without approved restraints can’t transport children under one year of age from a crash or breakdown site.”

“Given the need to safely relocate all people involved in a crash or breakdown away from the road, one of the changes will allow these children to ride on another passenger’s lap in a tow truck when no suitable child restraint is available.”

Other child-related changes include ensuring children aged younger than seven are properly restrained in slow-moving vehicles such as delivery vans and garbage collection trucks. In addition, booster seats must now be used with a lap-and-sash seat belt in some situations.

Supplementary amendments

Authorities are consistently working towards streamlined road rules, but with that still years away, it is important to get them as close as possible.

Ms Prendergast said the laws must be easy to understand and remember.

“If you’re driving from Byron Bay to Brisbane or Wagga to Wodonga, we want to ensure it’s as easy as possible to ensure you’re following the rules when you cross the border,” she explained.

One example of this is for drivers approaching a chicane, single lane bridge or narrow roadway with a ‘Give Way’ sign. Drivers must now give way to any oncoming vehicle that is on the narrow stretch or approaching it.

As well as this, drivers can now cross two parallel broken wide centre lines. This following the recent trial of wide centre lines on the Newell Highway.

Call for safety on our roads

While these amendments have been made with common sense in mind, police are suggesting drivers need to demonstrate this more themselves after two recent incidents as part of Operation Saturation.

Police highlighted a 26-year-old female P-plater who was caught driving at 151km/hr on the Hume Highway. Her licence was suspended for six months and she was issued an infringement notice for driving more than 45km/hr over the legal speed limit.

Later that day, a 24-year-old Victorian man was pulled over for driving at 160km/hr in the same area. He was travelling on a provisional licence which was suspended for six months and he was given an infringement notice as well.

He told police he would be picked up at the location, as he was forbidden to drive. However, police caught the man speeding twice more in the same area. He was arrested.

Traffic and Highway Patrol Assistant Commissioner, John Hartley, explained the importance of common sense especially in poor conditions.

“Operation Saturation will see more police on our roads targeting poor driver behaviour such as this to help ensure the safety of all drivers and road users,” he said.

“The two drivers today are lucky they got away with their licence suspended and fines, as their reckless behaviour could have easily ended up in a serious crash.”

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