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.
“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.
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.