A Qld lot owner is concerned about the need for speed limits on common property. Do the general road rules apply? How do we enforce breaches? Frank Higginson, Hynes Legal provides the following response.
Question: Are speed limit signs mandatory on private roads (within our scheme) and how do we set a reasonable limit? Also, how is road safety enforced and policed?
What are the requirements for road signage in community titles schemes and do the road traffic laws apply on private property as well as public roads?
For instance, are speed limit signs mandatory and what process should be followed in setting a speed limit?
We have under 20 lots with detached housing and no common building. Access is via a narrow single lane circuit road with a short cul-de-sac section.
Pedestrians need to walk on the road. A verbal request has been made to the Secretary of the committee asking for speed limit signs to be installed. This will hopefully improve road safety and ensure that residents and visitors are aware of acceptable speed.
The current Chairman of the committee regularly drives at excessive speed resulting in several instances of closes calls. One has been reported to Police.
Although speed limits may not solve the problem, it would at least set the benchmark for enforcement.
Also, it would seem logical that the Body Corporate has a duty of care to ensure safety on common property.
This brings about the issue of enforcement. How do we go about recording speeds and then enforcing the speed limits/breaches?
Your suggestions in this matter would be most appreciated.
Answer: Limits would be advisory only and not able to be strictly enforced.
A body corporate can erect road usage signs (for example, displaying speed limits) on the common property, however, adjudicators have previously determined that any signposted speed limits would be advisory only and not able to be strictly enforced. In Canterbury & Westminster  QBCCMCmr 234, the adjudicator relevantly reasoned:
“I am of the view that any specific ‘speed limit’ which the Body Corporate may set would be advisory only and not able to be strictly enforced. However, if the speed or any other aspect of the manner of a person’s driving on common property was dangerous or otherwise could be shown to cause an unreasonable interference to the lawful use of the common property, that activity would amount to a breach of [the] Act.
However, the respondent, along with any other owners and occupiers should bear in mind that they should not drive cars on common property in such a way that interferes unreasonably with others’ use or enjoyment of common property or represents a nuisance or hazard.”
Where the body corporate has obtained a health and safety report that recommends a speed limit be enforced, it may be reasonable to include a speed limit in the by-laws. In those circumstances, a speed limit would be an enforceable by-law.
From a practical perspective though, there are evidential issues in proving someone is driving above a speed limit without a radar gun. In Prosperity Drive  QBCCMCmr 518, the body corporate proved that an owner was speeding by timing the owner on three separate occasions over a known distance with a stopwatch and taking an average reading of the owner’s speed. This was further corroborated with a number of high calibre of witness statements, one by a former police officer, and a former member of the NSW highway patrol.
Regardless of there being any speed limit imposed in the scheme if the speed or any other aspect of the manner of a person’s driving on common property was causing a hazard or otherwise could be shown to cause an unreasonable interference to the lawful use of the common property, that activity would amount to a breach of section 167 of the Body Corporate and Community Management Act 1997. The best way to prove such a contravention would be with a video recording or credible witness statements.
Aside from dealing with dangerous driving behaviour through body corporate legislation, the body corporate may also look at installing speed bumps to encourage owners to comply with any signposted speed limit.
This post appears in Strata News #239.
How do you manage speed limits in your strata scheme? Have a question or something to add to the article? Leave a comment below.
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