A GOLD Coast lawyer has called for light rail lawbreakers to attend a compulsory traffic offenders program after driver inattention resulted in another smash involving a car and a G:link tram earlier this week.
On Tuesday, a 22-year-old Southport woman was fined $88 for colliding with a tram after attempting an illegal U-turn at a busy intersection on Queen Street, Southport.
It was the second accident involving the $1.2 billion light rail system since testing on Gold Coast streets began last year.
GoldLinQ produced and launched a Gold Coast light rail safety video to the community to educate locals and visitors on how to safely interact with the light rail system. (featured video)
City lawyer Bruce Simmonds said the latest accident involving a car and the light rail would likely be the first of many as motorists adjust to sharing the road with the big yellow and blue trams.
He says road rule breakers needed a strong lesson to avoid more serious accidents in the future and has called for a compulsory traffic offenders program to be introduced for ‘inconsiderate or stupid drivers’.
At present, these are only voluntary and used for drink drivers.
“They should be made compulsory for drivers unable or unwilling to adapt to the changed conditions here with cars sharing the roads with light rail trams,” Mr Simmonds said.
Mr Simmonds said there was still considerable confusion around road rules and issues of legal liability over cars colliding with the light rail trams or pedestrians being struck by the trams.
“Confusion is not a legal defence because ultimately trams have the right of way on our streets. The traffic lights govern when you can and cannot drive when the light rail is operating,” he said.
“The one certainty is we are going to have collisions and accidents in the months ahead. If you collide with the tram while running a light, make an illegal U-turn or park on the tracks, it will be your fault,” Mr Simmonds said.
“You could face charges such as not stopping when directed, not driving with due care, failure to follow lawful direct and unsafe operation of a motor vehicle which could leave you facing a jail sentence if injury is caused.
“The state government should explore a grace period in enforcing laws on car/ light rail conflict,” he added.
Mr Simmonds said the unfamiliarity and silence of light rail trams on the Gold Coast could also be a trap for tourists already unfamiliar with the city’s road network.
Passengers will board the GoldLinQ trams for the first time in June.