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Disclaimer: This information is general in nature only. While Budget Direct has endeavoured to ensure the information we’ve relied on is accurate and current, we do not guarantee it. Budget Direct accepts no liability for this information.

Whether you travel by car, motorbike, bicycle or on foot, we all have a shared responsibility to our fellow travellers.

While drivers are protected by airbags, seatbelts, and the body of their car, cyclists and pedestrians are highly exposed, making them more susceptible to serious injuries and even fatality.

Pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists combined accounted for over 33% of the total number of fatalities that took place on Australian roads in 2017 [1].

Of the 1,225 deaths recorded in 2017, 38 of these were people who lost their lives while riding a bike [2]. And every person who dies in a bike fatality is already one too many.

Cyclists and pedestrians hold the same rights as drivers do while on the road. Here are a few tips to help you share the road and ensure that non-motorists stay just as safe.

See all of Budget Direct's road-safety guides.

Keep a safe distance

Non-motorists are vulnerable and highly susceptible to injury in the absence of protection.

83% of cyclist casualties involve another vehicle, usually a car [2]. A minor incident for a vehicle occupant may result in a major accident for a cyclist or pedestrian.

As drivers, it is important to recognise this vulnerability by maintaining an appropriate distance between your vehicle and non-motorists on the road.

Under current law in most Australian states, it is required that vehicles remain at least one metre away from bicycles on the road, and 1.5 metres away in areas with a speed limit over 60km/h.

The fine for breaching this is $319, plus the deduction of two demerit points.

While this law is currently only applicable to bicycle riders, it can be a great indicator for the distance you should maintain with other non-motorists, including pedestrians and motorbikes.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, motorcycles accounted for only 4.5% of vehicle registrations in 2017, but considering that they account for over 17% of fatalities, it is clear they are much more likely to be affected on the road than other vehicles [3].

Check those blind spots

Watch carefully for cyclists and motorcycles. They tend to ride in blindspots.

Whether it’s a bicycle, motorbike or pedestrian, non-motorists are much smaller than the size of your car and can at times seem invisible — particularly in blind spots.

Be aware when turning

Don't depend solely on your mirrors when turning or changing lanes. Be sure to look over your shoulder.

Checking your blind spots through constant mirror and head checks is a good way to keep everyone safe when sharing the road. It’s also important to check when you have parked and are ready to open the door. This will help to avoid pedestrians or cyclists being struck, or what’s also known as being ‘doored’.

Turning right

When turning right in your car, cyclists and motorcyclists can come from the opposite direction and straight through the upcoming intersection.

There is a common misconception that non-motorists don’t move at the same speed as a car. The reality is; cyclists can easily get up to 25-30km/h, especially on a downward incline.

With their speed increasing exponentially, it’s important that you’re mindful when turning right and start turning only when there is a least a substantial gap, as you would with a car.

Turning left

On the other hand, turning left poses a different set of risks. When you’re looking to turn left, non-motorists will travel on your left so that they can continue driving straight ahead. In this situation, it is much safer to slow down, head check for potential blind spots, and let them pass.

Choosing to speed ahead and cutting the non-motorist off, could lead to a loss of control or collisions.

It’s also important to be mindful of the smallest and least-protected travellers on the road — pedestrians. When turning right or left, look out for those who may be about to cross the street, are walking a pet or those who are walking or running on the footpath.

Slow down and be patient

In the face of frustration, try to slow down and remain patient around cyclists and other non-motorists, particularly when driving through areas that are close to schools, shopping centres and parks.

As a driver, you can ensure your safety while on the road. It’s important that you recognise your own contribution to the safety and comfort of non-motorists: cyclists, motorcyclists and pedestrians on the road.

See all of Budget Direct's road-safety guides.

Sources