Our system of roads have been designed primarily for cars and other 4-wheeled vehicles. Little attention in the past has been given to the safety of 2-wheeled vehicles such as motorcycles and bicycles and also with pedestrians. These members of the public are now being seen as vulnerable road users that need extra protection to ensure their safety on the roads. Legislation is being passed in Australia to provide that extra protection.
Henry Carus is here today to talk to us about these vulnerable road users. Henry, thanks for being here today.
Henry: It’s my pleasure, Cindy.
Cindy: Henry, who is included within this definition of vulnerable road users?
Henry: The definition right now is being used by the Australian Capital Territory in legislation that is about to be passed and it’s the first time that definition is being used in Australia in legislation and the term is being used to cover pedestrians, cyclist, motorcyclist, people on scooters, people on farm vehicles. So it’s a very broad term that’s being used to cover I would say anyone not in a 4-wheeled vehicle or better yet someone who is at risk if they ever were to be engaged in any type of collision with a 4-wheeled vehicle.
Cindy: And why do you think the law is changing in this direction?
Henry: My view on it is that we’re slowly seeing an evolution occurring in Australia from a society that was once driven by the need to have a car to travel long distances from one place to another so therefore the mindset of most people is, I’m in a car, I have the right of way, everyone should be aware that I’m in my car. Australia is changing. Cities are now becoming more and more an urban environment. People are migrating into the cities to live. The largest areas for growth in terms of housing in places like Melbourne right now are apartments. We’re seeing a population that is becoming more and more urban, more and more on their own 2 feet where the modes of transport will be scooters, motorcycles, bicycles.
Cindy: And that’s coming to fruition you’re starting to see it. Do you think, Henry, these laws will change the behavior of drivers on the roads?
Henry: I’m really hoping so, Cindy. I’m really hoping so. I had the most lovely experience as I was getting into my car today to drive to work and I live in a residential area not far from the center of Melbourne and as I was getting into my car I watch these two bicyclists come by and lots of people think, okay, bicycles are out there for sport, bicycles are just, you know, ride to maybe get a bit of exercise. These were two 72-year-old men with their little backpacks on the back of their bicycles probably riding to go visit someone and I was just in glee absolutely so happy to see that because if our society drifts that way then the laws will drift to protect them. We’re not looking at the extreme members of society, the sports people or the high athletes, we’re looking at the average person and those are the people that vote and those are the people that pay taxes and those are the people who want protection from having an accident with a car.
Cindy: That’s great. Do you think it will help those injured to receive compensation as they make changes to the law?
Henry: Massively. I deal with people who are injured in bicycles and pedestrians on a regular basis and I have to tell them I start especially over the last 10 years I have to tell them quite regularly they’re in the dark spot because most people still favor vehicles when it comes to any accident between a pedestrian and a car. They still think the pedestrian has probably done something wrong but as more and more people sitting in that jury box, more and more people are getting to that position of having to make that decision between a car and a pedestrian are primarily pedestrians they will see the accident differently. They’ll understand the fear factor of being a pedestrian, they’ll understand the risk factor of crossing a road, they’ll understand what they would think would be the higher obligation to person driving to protect the person on the road.
Cindy: I agree. If someone has specific questions, how can they reach you?
Henry: We have a website, hcalawyers.com.au. We have a phone number, 900-1-1318. If you put in the name of our firm on internet on Google, Henry Carus and Associates you’ll find us. We’re open 24 hours a day you can contact us by email or by phone we’ll get back to you if you need us.
Cindy: Henry, thank you for your time today.
Henry: It’s my pleasure, Cindy. Take care.
Cindy: Until next time. This is Cindy Speaker for Victoria Law TV.