New minimum passing rules for drivers overtaking cyclists in Western Australia are to be introduced as a partial modification of the state’s Road Traffic Code. The new regulations are due to take effect in Western Australia as part of the state’s traffic law from the 30th of November 2017.
New minimum passing rules in WA: what do the rules say?
Under these new minimum passing rules, drivers in Western Australia will be liable to pay a $400.00 fine and lose four demerit points on their driver’s licence should they fail to leave a minimum gap when they’re overtaking cyclists. It will be illegal to leave a gap of less than one metre when a driver is overtaking a cyclist at a speed under 60 kilometres per hour, and less than 1.5 metres when overtaking at a speed faster than 60 kilometres per hour.
In addition, under the new rules, drivers will be allowed to cross centre-lane markings on roads to ensure the appropriate passing distance, including double white lines. However, it must be safe for the driver to do so, and the driver must also be able to clearly see any approaching traffic while doing so.
As for the minimum safe passing distance for the purposes of the rules, this will be calculated in the following way. It will be measured as the distance from the furthest point on the left of a driver’s vehicle to the furthest point to the right of the bicycle of the cyclist being overtaken.
New minimum passing rules part of an election commitment by Labor in WA
The new rules were announced by WA Police and Road Safety Minister Michelle Roberts in an official WA Government media statement on the 28th of October 2017. They were part of an election promise by the WA Labor government going into the last state election, and will be consistent with similar minimum safe passing rules that already exist in Queensland, New South Wales, South Australia and Tasmania. The rules are being introduced on an initial test basis of two years, after which the WA Road Safety Commission will provide a report to Mrs Roberts.
Intention of the new minimum passing rules in WA
Overall, the rules are “designed to help motorists and cyclists share the roads together safely”, according to the official WA Government media statement. The rules are also intended to reduce the number of related deaths and serious injuries on WA roads, where seven cyclists have been killed in road accidents so far this year.
As well as acting as a deterrent, the rules are also intended to remove any ambiguity as to proper behaviour on the roads when it comes to drivers overtaking cyclists. In this respect, there will be an associated campaign of public awareness, and police will be enforcing sanctions against any clear and evident breaches of the rules. This will follow on from the WA Road Safety Commission’s ‘Might Be A Mate’ advertising campaign that was launched earlier this year, with the aim of increasing empathy between drivers and cyclists.