Page under development...
- 1 Penalties
- 2 Enforcement - incidents
- 3 Better reporting systems in other jurisdictions
- 4 How could enforcement be improved to make cycling safer?
- 5 Enforcement - bicycle offences
What are the penalties for breaking road rules? RMS General Driving Offences (pdf) shows the fines and demerit points for road rule offences. Most of the bicycle related offences are on page 6.
Note that there is a fine associated with an infringement notice, which can be paid. Beware there is also a much higher maximum fine which can then be imposed by the court if you fight it in court. Most drivers fighting any traffic or parking fine in court get let off with a "Section 10" (no offence recorded and no penalty), because, well, it's understandable drivers breaking the law. Bicycle related cases can be quite different, depending on the magistrate, because bicycle riders are an out group.
Enforcement - incidents
Tips for reporting close pass incidents to police
Close passes are also known as Minimum Passing Distance (MPD) breaches.
Bicycle NSW have developed resources that bike riders can use: Report the Driver to the Police using our Step By Step Guide on how to report an MPD breach
Tips for reporting other traffic incidents to police
At the scene of a crash, you should try to: • remember you and others can be in shock and may not be completely with it • make sure the scene is safe, assist any injured person, call police & ambulance if necessary • exchange details with other vehicle drivers/riders and witnesses
For an incident you want to report to police, record: registration number and description of vehicle (colour, make); description of driver (and occupants) if possible; and contact details of any witnesses.
Record the rego by keying the number into your mobile, writing on your hand (always carry a pen in your outer backpack/pannier pocket), or using a rock on the pavement – don’t rely on memory.
Reporting it to police
Go to any police station to report the incident as soon as you can and within 24 hours (“after work” might be ok but it will count against you if you leave it too long). Tell them that you want to report a traffic incident or dangerous driver behaviour or whatever, and use the magic words: “I want to make a statement and I’d be prepared to go to court if necessary” (see police manual page 454 to see why). Without this, they won’t want their time wasted and will usually try to turn you away. It may help if you can tell them what offence has been committed (see Road Rules).
If it is just “your word against theirs” then the officer will often tell you “nothing can be done”. While it is true such a prosecution is unlikely to succeed in court, it is still possible for them to take a statement from the driver. Doing so might lead to self-incrimination (eg. “But I swerved at the cyclist because he shouldn’t be on the road”) or at least the driver thinking twice about doing the same again to someone else. You may need to insist. Repeat the magic words. Failing that, ask to speak to the Local Area Commander (the officer in charge of the station).
You may be told that your friend/training buddies or the motor vehicle’s other occupants are not “independent witnesses”. This is not true. It is not necessary for a witness to be ‘independent’; it will be up to the magistrate to later weigh up the evidence from that witness taking any connection into account.
What happens next?
1. The police officer should take your statement, either in their notebook or directly onto the computer. You will be asked to sign the statement, including a bit that you are prepared to go to court as a witness if necessary.
2. The officer will verify that the registration number matches the colour and make or description you gave. If not, it will not proceed.
3. Once entered in the computer system (“COPS”) you can be told the COPS “event number”.
4. The officer will serve a “form of demand” on the owner of the vehicle, requiring them to identify who was driving at the time.
5. The officer will arrange to take a statement from the driver, or, if the driver lives outside the area, for an officer from the driver’s local police station to take their statement.
6. Similarly, statements from any witnesses will be taken and entered into COPS.
7. The officer will normally refer the event to the Traffic Sergeant at the regional traffic services command. The Traffic Sergeant decides what to “breach the driver” with.
There are a number of “proofs” required for each breach. The decision will often be quite a conservative one, since more severe charges are more onerous to prove and more likely to be dismissed by the courts (and you can’t come back later with a lesser charge). If you genuinely think that the wrong decision may have been made, you might be able to discuss it directly with the Traffic Sergeant.
Follow up is crucial! Police are busy people and following up on traffic matters is often their least favourite thing. Call the officer handling your event at least once a week to ask them about progress; otherwise don’t expect anything to happen. Keeping notes of progress makes it easier to complain if it’s not been properly handled.
If you are not satisfied with the way police handled the incident you can contact the Local Area Commander, who is in charge of that police station. It might be useful to be clear on what action you want taken. You can also contact your local state member of parliament (MP) - find them here. Click “View District Profile” to find the current local MP’s name. Then find their contact details here. If you write a letter to your MP, they may take up your case with the Police Minister.
What can you expect from police? The NSW Police Force Handbook (pdf) can be a useful reference for knowing what procedures should be followed. Here are a few police procedures that could be of interest:
Investigation of serious driving complaints When in receipt of a complaint from a member of the public regarding a serious driving offence, police will, when the complainant is prepared to provide a statement and attend Court as a witness, thoroughly investigate the matter and take appropriate action against any offender/s identified. (page 454)
Warnings and cautions Where appropriate, issue 'on the spot' warnings and cautions. As a guide, restrict these for minor offences. Only in extenuating circumstances, issue a caution for offences involving loss of points. In all instances where a warning or caution is extended, make a brief record in your notebook of the time, date and place, nature of the offence and include the offender's full name, address, licence and vehicle registration numbers. Do not issue cautions for crashes. (page 455)
Hazardous road conditions Take steps to remove, or have removed, any hazard you detect or are made aware of. If this is not possible, minimise the hazard. (page 453)
Getting a copy of the police report
Once police have finished investigating your traffic incident, you may wish to get a copy of the police report. Insurance companies regularly request this information when they are processing a claim.
An NSW Police Incident Information Request currently costs $89.20. Download the form, complete and post to Insurance Services Unit, Locked Bag 5102, PARRAMATTA NSW 2124.
It may also be possible to get the information via the GIPA (Government Information Public Access) Act, formerly known as Freedom of Information. More information here - click on the first arrow - Access Applications (Access Application form). Maybe someone can try (or has tried) this and can verify and update this section of the wiki.
Better reporting systems in other jurisdictions
How could enforcement be improved to make cycling safer?
UK safe passing enforcement example Overcoming police bias - what we can learn from past similar cases Overcoming police concerns about use of resources, particularly if courts are too lenient