Changes to road rules banning riders from stretching their legs or standing up now appear to have the support of the top Queensland traffic cop. The move is hoped to spark action across the nation for changes to national road Rule 271.
“We believe there is scope for that legislation to be reviewed,” says Michael Keating – not the actor who played Batman, but the Queensland Police Acting Assistant Commissioner and senior officer in charge of the new Road Policing Command. He was speaking at a meeting last night of concerned motoring enthusiasts at Lakeside Raceway. It was convened by the Queensland Motorised Sports Council and Michael was answering a question on notice from Aussie racing legend and keen rider Kevin Bartlett who calls the motorcycle rule “stupid”.
Keating suggests the motorcycle rule should be changed to a “three points of contact” rule where a rider has to have three of their two hands and feet in contact with the bike at any time the bike is moving. “There are no doubt moments when people can legitimately stretch their legs or remove a hand,” he says. “I’ve spoken to Main Roads and we will get some traction in due course. It seems to me that with a redraft we could come down to a reasonable position.”
As a follow-up question, KB asked the top traffic cop whether he could instruct officers to use some common sense and discretion to judge the intent of the rider’s actions rather than ruling by the letter of the law while the rule was under a cloud.
Michael admitted that he had recently devoted a whole day to the issue of Rule 271 after a police motorcycle officer was filmed stretching his leg in the wake of media coverage of a rider being fined for the same offence. “I regularly talk to officers about the use of discretion and ask them to consider it,” he told the meeting. “However, while I can direct them to an activity, I can’t direct their enforcement.” He also endorsed the actions of the officer who fined the rider on the Logan Motorway for stretching his legs, blaming the media for not reporting the full details of the event. “The officer used their discretion. I’m not going into trial by media, but the full circumstances (of the incident) were not reported.”
KB says the meeting was helpful. “I understand the QPS can’t reinterpret or change a law, but if their officers could be briefed on the intent of the law not the letter of the law, that’s a first step,” he says. “I’m also happy with the response (from Michael) because they can see that it is flawed. That’s now on record.” KB also believes a change in the motorcycle rule in Queensland could flow through to other states and the National Transport Commission.
Other interesting comments from the top traffic cop include:
- The police do not keep records of rider interceptions and therefore cannot verify that they intercepted a rider 21 times as he claimed. The rider posted the incident on YouTube, attracting more than half a million views in a week. WATCH THE VIDEO BELOW
- Speed tolerances for camera detection in Queensland have been coming down in steps from a 10% leeway to the fourth and final step at Easter. While he won’t reveal the final speed tolerance, he says it will be within the scope of Australian Design Rule 18/03 which allows a 4% deviation.
- Police are “not targeting car enthusiasts” under the anti-hooning crackdown. He cited the fact that of 7504 type 2 offences, only 124 or 0.7% were for illegal modifications to a vehicle.
- He confirms that the ban on handheld mobile phones means you cannot hold a phone while driving or riding, but you can touch it if it is in a cradle. He also says emergency services and police are exempt from the rule, “but only in emergencies”.
- He advises that from March 31, Queensland drivers and riders will be allowed to cross double lines to pass cyclists so long as they leave a 1m gap in a 60km/h zone and 1.6m in higher speed zones. However, cyclists passing slow-moving or stationary cars do not have to leave a minimum gap.