Should drivers have to prove they were not at fault in collisions?

Recent evidence suggests that road deaths involving cyclists are down, but there has been a significant increase in serious injuries of cyclists.

It is suggested that the burden of proof in car and cyclist accidents where liability is disputed should shift to motor vehicle drivers as research suggests that motor vehicle drivers are at fault more than 70% of the time.

This reverse onus would mean that motor vehicle drivers would automatically be considered at fault unless they can provide evidence to the contrary.

Due to the perceived danger associated with cycling, many are opting out of cycling as a means of enjoyment, exercise, and transport. As a side effect of the decline in cycling, there will be more congestion on the roads and more pollution.

By shifting the burden of proof, more people may be inclined to take up cycling as they would feel safer and protected by the law. In other countries, the reverse onus has been successfully implemented and has achieved positive results.

Therefore, it is suggested that Australia should implement new laws which presume liability of motor vehicle drivers when they are involved in accidents with cyclists and liability is disputed.

In NSW, it is important to note that cyclists are already protected under the Blameless Accident provisions of the Motor Accidents Compensation Act 1999. This provision enables the cyclist to obtain compensation for accidents where the driver is not at fault. This means that the cyclist is almost always able to make a claim for compensation under the Act no matter who is at fault.

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