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Loophole needs closing

Yesterday there was a major crash on the Princes Highway, with 8 people being injured.

It was only a single car accident, and all eight people were in the one car, a Mitsubishi Lancer. Yes, you heard that right, all eight people were in a little five person car. Sheer stupidity.

The most stupid part? Eight people in the car isn't illegal.

Due to a loophole in the way the law is structured you can legally have as many people as you want in the car as long as the seatbelts are used. This means that if you have 2 people in a 5 seat car, you use 2 seatbelts; if you have 5 people in a 5 seat cat, you use 5 seatbelts; if you have 8 people in a 5 seat car, it's perfectly legal as long as all 5 seatbelts are being worn.

I had a bit of a think about this and have actually worked out why this law is in place. Seatbelts became compulsory in all new cars in Australia in the 1970's, however the law didn't blanket cover all the existing cars on the road as this would be far too prohibitive in cost to install four or five seatbelts in every car. The law was made to say that the driver must wear a seatbelt, and passengers must wear a seatbelt if there is one for them to wear.

In 1994 the law was changed too make all new car registrations must include as many seatbelts as there are "seats" in the car. However, this doesn't apply to a registration renewal, just new cars or older cars that aren't registered and then re-registered.

As a result, the old law is still in place to cover those old cars that are still on the road (and yes, they are still on the road). This means that of those eight people in the car, the driver must wear a seatbelt, and four of the seven passengers must wear a seatbelt, but the other three don't have to be there. There are no road rules governing the number of people allowed in a private vehicle (thought there are plenty covering the number of people in a public vehicle, eg a bus).

That loophole needs to be closed.

Comments

( 10 comments — Leave a comment )
paradigmshifty
Oct. 30th, 2008 03:31 am (UTC)
You left out the most startling piece of stupidity in that accident story - the driver of a car with 8 people in it was a learner...

I'd consider it evolution in action, though who I'd consider more stupid, the driver or the passengers, is up for debate.
aeduna
Oct. 30th, 2008 03:38 am (UTC)
I don't think it does.

They were a) speeding. b) driving with a Learner and no supervising driver. There's no need to add more, hard to enforce law when there are already laws in place to punish them for being 'tards.

I've driven with more people in the car than belts - 4 skinny people in the back in one case, and a bench seat with no seat belts in the back.

Kneejerk laws to single incidents do no one any good, and the current state government should *not* be encouraged in this, because they have a tendency to do so as it is. See "man gets hand chopped off with machete, so we ban swords" for an example
paradigmshifty
Oct. 30th, 2008 03:41 am (UTC)
I knew about the learner driver, but not that there was no actual licensed driver either!

It's people like them wot cause unrest...
aeduna
Oct. 30th, 2008 03:46 am (UTC)
I should qualify that with "I have been led to believe"... :)

The problem lies in a lack of sufficient consequences I think...
paradigmshifty
Oct. 30th, 2008 03:49 am (UTC)
I haven't heard any official announcements regarding speed/alcohol etc - they're all 'still under investigation'. But considering that 6 of the 8 passengers were Sudanese, I would surmise that they were international students and thus unlikely to have full licenses.

Personally, I would consider instant death or ongoing painful disability to be sufficient consequence. But then I'm not a complete moron (some parts are missing).
travisjhall
Oct. 30th, 2008 07:34 am (UTC)

There's also, "A driver must not drive a vehicle unless the driver has proper control of the vehicle." Yeah, like the driver of that car had proper control with seven other people crammed in around her. Probably also violated, "A driver must not drive a motor vehicle unless the driver has a clear view of the road, and traffic, ahead, behind and to each side of the driver."

Yeah, I don't think more laws would have made any difference in a case like this.

That said, there might be a minor loophole, but I'm not sure it really relates to the number of seatbelts. If a new law is needed, I think it needs to specify that passengers must occupy passenger seating positions. It need not reference seat belts at all. We do currently have a law stating, "A person must not travel in or on a part of a motor vehicle that is not a part designed primarily for the carriage of passengers or goods." There's another law further restricting passengers travelling "in or on a part of a motor vehicle that is a part designed primarily for the carriage of goods". (Interestingly, you must have a seat belt if you are travelling in the goods section.) You could easily add a law specifying that passengers must be "seated in a properly constructed and secure seat appropriate for the
size and weight of the occupant" (to steal the wording from an existing clause).

But when you get down to it, that's a pretty minor loophole, and closing it won't prevent further stupidity. Anyone with the brains to follow the law in the first place has the brains not to pack eight kids into a two-door Lancer.

delwyn
Oct. 30th, 2008 04:28 am (UTC)
Personally, I think we shouldn't be legislating against stupidity (and that's really what the cause of the incident was - speeding, with a learner behind the wheel) as once you start, where do you stop?

The consequences for being involved in a collision in an overloaded vehicle far outweigh any punishment that the legal system might apply, so it's really unnecessary.
towkarn
Oct. 30th, 2008 11:07 pm (UTC)
Outlawing people with IQs under 100?

Well, there's goes America!
aphephobia
Oct. 30th, 2008 04:39 am (UTC)
It was only a single car accident, and all eight people were in the one car, a Mitsubishi Lancer. Yes, you heard that right, all eight people were in a little five person car. Sheer stupidity.


I know. My first thought: clown cars. YOu know the liottle Beetles at circuses which have about twenty clowns packed in there? Yeah.

There are no road rules governing the number of people allowed in a private vehicle (thought there are plenty covering the number of people in a public vehicle, eg a bus).

Isn't that because of public liability stuff? *sighs* Then again, taxis have 'em, too, and as far as I know, taxi companies are privately owned unlike how the transport services used to be...

Either way, it's horrible and sad. I heard about it on the news at around 6am, and my instant thought was for several of my clients who aren't in right now, and who live in that area and every so often do crazy shit in cars. Since then, I've heard there were older people involved, too: my fingers are stil crossed that it isn't any of the kids I've worked with.
gothtigger
Oct. 30th, 2008 07:05 am (UTC)
Actually I agree with Random. I always assumed there there *were* laws in place re: number of people to number of belts in a new car. Just remembering some of the stupid shenanigans my mates and I did when we were L platers {shakes head} It could have been so much worse if we knew it was LEGAL to fit more people in .....

The more passengers, the more distraction, especially for a new driver! Alcohol and speeding, and then you add in too many passengers, distracting the driver, perhaps jogging their elbow ....

Not a good scenario .....

Especially now everybody knows the legality of the situation (well minus the alcohol and speeding of course)
( 10 comments — Leave a comment )

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