Traffic Accidents (Qld)
The Transport Operations (Road Use Management) Act 1995 governs the behaviour of drivers involved in a traffic accident. This article outlines their duties and penalties for non-compliance.
A traffic accident is called a ‘traffic incident’ in Queensland law. Section 92 of the Act states the duties of a driver of any “vehicle tram or animal” who is involved in an incident that results in the injury or death of a person. It requires the driver to:
- immediately stop the vehicle, tram or animal;
- remain at the scene and help the other driver as much as possible;
- seek medical or other help for the injured person;
- if a person is dead:
- remain at or near the scene of the incident;
- show proper respect for the body and take reasonable action to have the body removed to an appropriate place.
An exception can be made for a driver to leave the scene if they are obtaining medical or other help for an injured person, or if they are arranging for the removal of a dead person’s body to an appropriate place.
Reporting the incident
If a person has been involved in a road incident, they may need to report it to police, depending on the severity. Reporting may be needed if:
- the driver suspects the other driver is under the influence of alcohol or drugs;
- the other driver is disabled or impaired;
- the other driver does not provide their details as required;
- a vehicle needs to be towed; or
- the incident has caused a traffic hazard such as a road blockage or a fuel spill.
Section 92 of the Act also makes it an offence for someone to make a false incident report to police, with a maximum penalty of 40 penalty units ($5338) or imprisonment for 6 months.
The maximum penalty for contravening section 92 of the Act if the incident results in the death of or grievous bodily harm to a person is 120 penalty units ($16,014) or imprisonment for 3 years; or otherwise 20 penalty units ($2669) or imprisonment for 1 year.
If a driver is convicted, their licence must also be suspended for at least six months, whether or not any other sentence is imposed.
The Act states that in assessing an offence, if the court is satisfied that the driver showed a “callous disregard” for the needs of a person injured in the incident, the court should impose a period of imprisonment, as a whole or part of a sentence.
It also allows for a court to order that a driver be disqualified absolutely from holding or obtaining a driver licence, if the driver is subsequently convicted of an indictable offence linked to the same road incident.
The towing of damaged vehicles from the scene of an incident is regulated by the Tow Truck Act 1973. This is to ensure a crash site is cleared in an orderly, safe and controlled way. If a tow truck is required after an incident, drivers should be aware of their rights, including the signing of a towing authority before a vehicle is moved.
Under the Tow Truck Regulation 2009, the maximum charge for “standard tow” of a damaged vehicle is $375.95 for the first 50km and $7.45 for each kilometre over 50km. Fees such as call-out fees and vehicle access fees cannot be charged. A “standard tow” includes:
- 60 minutes working time at the crash scene for tasks such as loading the vehicle on the truck and cleaning up debris;
- transport of the vehicle to the agreed destination;
- 72 hours storage in a holding yard.
Traffic incident management
Queensland’s Department of Transport and Main Roads, in conjunction with other agencies, has several services that deal with traffic incidents in south-east Queensland. These include Traffic Response Units and the Brisbane Metropolitan Traffic Management Centre.
Traffic Response Units
TRUs are roaming vehicles that provide quick-response clearance action at road incidents. The units offer basic breakdown assistance, incident clearance and traffic control. TRU Max vehicles are fitted with a vacuum pump to remove from the road spills and debris such as broken glass, gravel and fuel. TRUs are recognisable by their high-visibility blue and yellow chevron markings.
Brisbane Metropolitan Traffic Management Centre
The BMTMC co-ordinates traffic/incident response services across the Brisbane metropolitan area, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, in order to keep traffic moving. The centre co-ordinates the 13 19 40 hotline and a website which provides traffic and travel information for road users. It also requests equipment and staff for incident/ traffic responses from the department’s RoadTek division, which provides emergency services such as truck-mounted attenuators (“crash cushions”), emergency supervisors and emergency crews with barrier trucks and signage.
For advice or representation in any legal matter, please contact Armstrong Legal.