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Riders bear brunt of ‘vague’ road rules

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NSW Police helmet with camera

Every motorcycle helmet in use in Australia breaks federal or state rules, yet riders are the only ones being penalised for breaches, a Senate inquiry will be told tomorrow.

The Senate Select Committee Inquiry into Road Safety meets on Friday, August 13, 2015, to hear a number of submissions from various groups.

In its submission to the inquiry, Australian Motorcycle Council Helmets Committee Chairman Guy Stanford says the intent of many road rules is unclear, requiring “uncertain and often contradictory interpretation”.

He particularly cites Road Rule 270 regarding approved helmets.

“No two versions of this rule are in agreement as to what is an ‘approved’ helmet for use,” he writes. “The only consistency is that none of the definitions of an approved helmet for use is consistent with a helmet allowable for sale under Australian Consumer Law.

“It is impossible for a helmet to remain in compliance with requirements of road rules once it is put into use.

“That is, every motorcycle helmet in use in Australia breaks either or both Commonwealth law or a State law. None are completely legal. Yet it is only consumers who are being penalised for breaches of law for a non-compliant helmet.”

He says many road rules are so vague that they are ignored by road users and enforcement agencies. “Yet some rules are pursued with robotic assiduity,” he says.

“For example, it is an offence under Road Rule 245 for a bicycle rider failing to remain sitting during an uphill climb, rather than standing on the pedals to maximise power. This may surprise our Prime Minister.

Tony Abbott cycling
PM pedals

“Road Rule 271 has a similar requirement for motorcycle riders. Yet every rider training organisation, as well as Police, encourages riders to stand on the footpegs when negotiating rough, sandy or corrugated roads. Not doing so could result in serious injury or death. Unlike bicycle riders, motorcycle riders are issued infringement notices for this ‘offence’.

“Attempts to have the wording changed from ‘remain seated’ to ‘remain astride’ have vanished into a black hole.”

In Queensland, the offence was dropped in February when a new set of motorcycle control guidelines was introduced.


senate inquiry into road safety
NSW Police take a stand

He also points out that Road Rule 217 for fog lamps is not applied in all jurisdictions.

“Some states have written their own version, such as NSW RR 218-1. Yet these appear to not be enforced and as a result, glare is common on winding and undulating roads. The message delivered to road users is that allowing glare is acceptable as long as the vehicle is below the speed limit.”

Guy calls for some common sense and simplicity in the road rules as well as uniformity across state boundaries.

“Generally, it appears that Road Rules are not concerned with the safety of road users, but instead create a list of offences under which road users can be penalised.,” he writes.

  1. Guy is absolutely correct that the rules leave riders at risk of fines and poor policing

    Changes to the Australian Road Rules for the States to implement are out for public discussion now, they include changes to rules 270 and 271.

    You can find them at the National Transport Commission

    Australian Road Rules 11th Amendment Package

    The rule 271 changes address the standing on the pegs absurdity

    The changes to rule 270 regarding moving a motorcycle without a helmet on however do not go far enough and will still leave riders at risk of fines when moving a bike in a service station or in a roadside emergency situation as they do not allow the engine to be started

    Riders have been fined for moving machines in a Servo without a helmet on

    It seems the people drafting the rules have never tried moving a large capacity touring machine loaded with luggage or been in a road side emergency situation with a flat rear tyre and need to move the machine to a safer location to effect a repair

    In typical fashion the NTC public discussion document states it is a draft for public discussion and comment but fails to even tell people how to make submissions

  2. Please note the tinted visor in the first photo.
    Illegal, but, but, BUT…… it is Police issue, so above the law. Not so for us. So whatever advantage the tint provide to police is off limits to us? Or if I may rephrase, the tinted visor is unsafe for whatever reason, but not for police as they don’t ride on the same planet.
    Ditto for cameras.

  3. If tinted visors are not allowed – Why do NSW Police have tinted visors?
    Have a look at the pictures of Police Helmets you have in this edition of Motorbikewriter’s story “Riders bear brunt of ‘vague’ road rules” the first picture is a Police Helmet with a TINTED VISOR.

    I did ride the Wall to Wall (Police Remembrance) ride on 12th September. I do support the Police doing a difficult job. I don’t support a double standard where Police can have tinted visors or whatever and others can’t.

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