The introduction of the Road Traffic (Amendment) Bill in Parliament this week tackles the issue of road safety and behaviour on several fronts. The Bill, among other things, proposes increased penalties for individuals who promote or take part in illegal speed trials, and seeks to introduce conditions for the forfeiture of vehicles involved in such events. If passed into law, the proposals will give the courts more leeway to disqualify motorists from driving if they are convicted in road rage cases. Individuals who obstruct, prevent or defeat the course of justice for road traffic incidents will also be penalised. The sanction covers those who mislead the police by facing penalties on behalf of someone else, as well as those who mislead by asking someone else to face penalties on their behalf. Traffic laws will also make it an offence for riders of e-bikes, also known as power-assisted bicycles, to be on the road without having passed a theory test. Other planned changes will require companies to designate someone sufficiently senior to make a report when their vehicles have been used to commit traffic offences, or face penalties. Firms would also have to keep records for a longer period.
Clearly, the common intent of this wide range of proposals is to preserve the status of roads as common space that is safe for use by all. The primary distinction made on roads - between vehicles and pedestrians - is difficult enough to maintain when some drivers are careless or when some people cross roads unsafely or jaywalk. Newer forms of mobility have created a host of additional problems, such as the sharing of space itself between those who walk and those who use personal mobility devices whose weight and speed affect the safety of pedestrians potentially.