Reporting minimum passing distance breach

Reporting drivers who breach the minimum passing distance laws isn’t a simple process, which is why we’ve produced a guide with Tasmania Police.

The guide came about when one of our members let us know he had received inconsistent advice from different officers at his local police station.

Bicycle Network approached Tasmania Police about the matter, and the result is the collaborative guide: MINIMUM PASSING DISTANCE LAWS Making a complaint to Tasmania Police.

While most drivers do the right thing and give riders a wide berth when passing, a small number drive way too close, posing a risk to riders’ lives.

Because a breach of the minimum passing distance laws is a criminal offence, the evidence required to charge drivers must prove beyond reasonable doubt that they were well within the 1 metre or 1.5 metre passing distance.

If you want to report a driver, you must make a written statement of complaint at a police station.

Making a complaint

You will need to provide police with:

  1. Date, time and exact location of the incident, including travelling direction.
  2. Vehicle make and registration.
  3. Description of the driver – Tasmania Police may issue a driver demand notice for the identity of the person driving, if the rider is not able to provide this evidence.
  4. Speed limit at the location.
  5. Witness names and contact details.
  6. Video or photographic evidence.
  7. Evidence as to the distance the vehicle passed the rider.

Any video or photographic evidence is strong support for your complaint, but you must ensure that it shows the distance at the time of passing, which may require footage or stills from more than one camera or recorder.

You’ll also need to provide evidence to the police of the exact position of cameras and recorders on your bicycle or your person.

Determining the distance at which the vehicle passed the rider is crucial for a successful prosecution.

Once you have made a complaint it will be sent to Police Prosecution to decide whether to charge the driver. This will only happen if all the required evidence is provided and they believe the driver was obviously posing a serious danger to the rider.

If Police Prosecution does decide to charge the driver you’ll need to be prepared to appear in the Magistrates Court to give evidence in person if the driver disputes the offence.

The Mercury reported last month that Tasmania Police have fined 13 drivers and charged 4 with breaches of the minimum passing distance laws in the first year of their operation. Tasmania Police has since notified the Road Safety Advisory Council that five traffic infringement notices have been issued and seven cautions. 

The guide is also downloadable from the Road Safety Advisory Council website