New data on deadly impacts of driver distraction prompts renewed calls for Presumed Liability Laws
Bicycle Queensland has called on the Queensland Government to introduce Presumed Liability Laws, following the release of new data revealing 75 per cent of Queensland drivers admit to using mobile phones while driving, and 27 road fatalities were caused by driver distraction in 2017.
Bicycle Queensland CEO, Anne Savage, said more needed to be done to protect vulnerable road users.
“Evidence suggests drivers are at fault in at least 80% of road crashes involving a cyclist and a motor vehicle.
“Presumed Liability Laws would reduce dangerous driving, save costs on consumers, and increase uptake of active transport.
“Under current Queensland laws, cyclists and other vulnerable road users must lodge a claim against the motorist to be compensated under compulsory third-party insurance. If the insurance company rejects the claim, the cyclist or pedestrian is forced to file a costly, distressing, and time-consuming civil claim.
“Most claims drag on for months, many remain unsettled for years – we need to change this and create stronger deterrents against dangerous driving.”
Under Presumed Liability Laws, the driver’s liability would automatically be covered in accordance with Queensland’s compulsory third-party insurance scheme.
“In the event of an accident involving a motor vehicle and a vulnerable road user, such as a cyclist, the driver’s liability would automatically be covered by compulsory third-party insurance, and drivers would need to demonstrate that they were not responsible for the accident to avoid liability,” Ms Savage said.
“Our existing fault-based system favours the more powerful and not the most vulnerable.
“Under Presumed Liability Laws, carriage of the law would be improved by recognising that the driver is at fault in the overwhelming majority of road crashes involving cyclists and pedestrians.
“In the event of an accident, the cyclist would submit a claim for compensation with the car driver’s insurer.
“Unless the driver can prove they were not at fault, the claim for compensation would be settled quickly and easily, avoiding the distress that both parties commonly experience.
“In all accidents, the police should be called to the scene to investigate.”
Presumed Liability Laws are currently working effectively in other international jurisdictions, with strong community-wide support.
“Presumed Liability Laws are in practice in most western European countries and in other countries around the world including New Zealand, India, and China. In Europe, France has had Presumed Liability Laws since 1985, Denmark since the mid-1980s, the Netherlands since the early 1990s, and Italy since 1996,” Ms Savage said.
“There are four key reasons to introduce Presumed Liability Laws in Queensland:
- Compensation claims would be resolved more quickly and easily, aligning with Queensland’s compulsory third-party insurance scheme, reducing costs on taxpayers, and easing demand on the court system.
- With awareness of Presumed Liability Laws, drivers would exercise greater care and drive more carefully, reducing accidents and making our roads safer.
- People would feel safer to walk and cycle more often – international evidence shows a strong link between Presumed Liability Laws and active transport.
- Litigation and insurance costs would fall, due to swift and fair compensation – saving individuals, insurers, and the community much-needed time and money.
“As a community we must do more to protect our most vulnerable road users and end the tragic death toll of road crashes.”