Drivers need to be aware that with the privilege of driving on our roads comes a responsibility to fellow road users.
In 2004 a small boy riding a bicycle died in a terrible collision where the driver of the car involved did not stop. Thanks to a long campaign by his father an offence of failing to stop (attracting much heavier penalties) was introduced to the Crimes Act 1900 to recognise his death and society's attitude.
From Monday, 13 February 2006, the Crimes Amendment (Road Accidents) (Brendan’s Law) Act 2005 increased the maximum penalty for drivers who fail to stop after a vehicle impact to 10 years imprisonment where a person has been killed and up to seven years in the case of grievous bodily harm. Lengthy periods of licence disqualification also apply.
The legislation requires a driver to stop and give any assistance that may be necessary and that is in their power to give if the driver knows, or ought reasonably to know, that the vehicle impact has resulted in death or grievous bodily harm to a person.
These maximum penalties are the same as those for dangerous driving occasioning death and dangerous driving occasioning grievous bodily harm in section 52A of the Crimes Act 1900. As a result there will be no advantage for a driver who flees an accident and knows, or ought reasonably to have known, that death or grievous bodily harm was caused by the impact.
Section 70 of the Road Transport (Safety and Traffic Management) Act 1999 has also been amended to include the requirement for a driver to stop where the driver knows, or ought reasonably to have known that the vehicle impact has resulted in either the death of or any physical injury to another person.
A vehicle impact can mean a collision between a vehicle and another vehicle, a vehicle and an object or an object on another vehicle, a vehicle and an object that has fallen from another vehicle or a person falling or being thrown from a vehicle.
Who does Brendan's law apply to?
Any person who drives a vehicle – irrespective of age or whether they hold a driver licence.
What are your responsibilities?
Under Brendan's law a driver involved in an accident must stop and assist directly or contact police or emergency services. It does not mean that people must perform first aid when they are not qualified to do so, or rescue someone in dangerous circumstances.
Where can I view Brendan's law?
To view the legislation, go to www.legislation.nsw.gov.au and use the Search In Force or Browse A-Z In Force functions to look up the Crimes Amendment (Road Accidents) (Brendan’s Law) Act 2005.