5 August 2021

Tougher e-scooter, driving penalties flagged to improve road safety

| Dominic Giannini
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New laws have been introduced to target irresponsible e-scooter use. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

Police will have more power to deal with Canberrans driving e-scooters under the influence of drugs or alcohol through new legislation that increases penalties for road users who injure others.

The bill, introduced by Transport Minister Chris Steel on Thursday (5 August), will require drivers to remain “in proper control” of mobility devices like e-scooters, e-skateboards and Segways at all times.

Police will be able to issue infringement notices of $154, or fines up to $3200 could apply if the matter goes to court.

People will face the same fine if a police officer directs them to get off, or not get on, a bike, mobility device or animal, defined as a horse, cattle or sheep.

A new negligent driving offence will also be introduced for incidents that result in actual bodily harm, covering incidents that do not reach the threshold of grievous bodily harm.

Minister Steel said the new offence would cover injuries like black eyes, lacerations and bruising.

“These are the kinds of injuries that disproportionately affect vulnerable road users, but our bill will strengthen protections for all road users in the process,” he said.

Chris Steel on an e-scooter

Transport Minister Chris Steel has introduced new laws to give police more power to address intoxicated e-scooter riders. Photo: Dominic Giannini.

Penalties will also be increased for negligent driving that does not result in death or grievous or actual bodily harm, and automatic disqualification periods will also be increased for negligent driving that causes death, culpable driving and negligent driving that results in grievous bodily harm.

Negligent drivers will face fines of up to $8000 or six months in prison if the offence results in bodily harm.

The new laws also include a one-year automatic licence suspension for first time culpable drivers and a two-year automatic suspension for repeat offenders.

READ ALSO Government needs to recharge e-scooter rules as careless behaviour drains community goodwill

Automatic suspensions for driving offences resulting in death will be nine months for a first-time offender and 18 months for a repeat offender. This is reduced to an automatic suspension of six months for first offenders and a year for repeat offenders if the offence results in grievous bodily harm.

Mr Steel said the reforms would help create a stronger culture of safety for road users.

“We want to encourage more Canberrans to choose active travel, public transport and other alternatives to the car,” he said.

“Ensuring everyone feels safe on our roads and is properly protected by other road users is an important step to support this.”

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