October 30th, 2008


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.