Implications of Recent Legislation for Statutory Road Safety Authorities: A Case Study in Intelligent Speed Control Measures
Submission Date: 2002
Statutory highway authorities owe a duty of care to provide a safe road environment for operators of motor vehicles. This duty of care is judged against what should be provided by a ?reasonable statutory authority?, given the identification of a hazardous situation, and encompasses 1) a decision to act, and 2) the taking of appropriate action. Until recently, while a statutory authority could be held responsible for misfeasance (acting carelessly), it could not be held responsible for nonfeasance (a pure failure to act). However with the recent abolition of the nonfeasance rule in Victoria, the implications are that statutory authorities must take a more proactive approach in the prevention of dangerous actions occurring. This paper examines the implications of this amendment in the law when dealing with high-risk crash sites where excessive vehicle speed is a known contributory factor. A ?case study? is used to illustrate that in such an instance the failure to enact known intelligent speed mitigation measures such as policing and speed cameras could potentially render a violation of the duty of care under the nonfeasance ruling. This could have serious implications for the future provision of road safety measures.