Road traffic (helmets) amendment bill
Adjourned debate on second reading.
(Continued from 22 June 2017.)
Mr TRELOAR (Flinders) (10:42): I rise to make a contribution to this private member’s bill, and I congratulate the shadow minister, the member for Schubert, on the work he has done thus far in bringing the bill to the house. It is a very important bill; in fact, it is a simple amendment that seeks to clarify that, as long as the structure of a helmet is not compromised, such as by using screws, then cameras attached to helmets via a sticker or mount are acceptable to the Road Rules.
As we know, bicycle helmets have been compulsory in this state for a number of years now, and for good reason. Cycling is certainly becoming a more and more popular pastime, and not just a pastime but also a mode of transport. At the moment, there is some confusion in the motorcycle and bicycling community with regard to the legality of wearing cameras on motorcycle and bicycle helmets. We are talking generally about what is commonly known as a GoPro, I think.
I am not especially familiar with a GoPro, but my young adult children certainly are and use them quite a bit on all sorts of adventures all over the world. In fact, my youngest son used one to record footage as part of his year 12 research project. Because of that confusion, there has been some angst brought up in the motorcycle forums regarding the legal status of these types of mounts. In a situation in Victoria, where a court case was eventually dropped on appeal, the issue was raised that the attachment of a camera to the helmet rendered the helmet noncompliant, so this needs clarification. Certainly, there was some commentary on that court case. One important piece to take away from that was, and I quote:
There is however no statement in any of the legislations that any such modifications render a helmet to not be an approved bicycle helmet under the rules.
What this all means is that in South Australia, for a helmet to be approved under the law, it needs to comply with the Australian Standard at the time of sale, and affixing a light or camera following that time does not render it outside the definition of an approved bicycle helmet. That is really important commentary on this particular bill.
Of course, I think it is good idea, as well, for cyclists to wear a light on their helmet. Like many others in this place, I have driven home on a cold, dark and wet winter’s night and come across cyclists who are using the road lawfully but who are very difficult to see. They often wear dark clothes with not much more than one little reflector on the tail and certainly no lights. I find that a very dangerous situation for both the cyclist and the motorist. Anything that improves the safety of those cycling on our roads would be a good thing. For them to be comfortable and know that they are within the law, fixing a light to their helmet, as well is a GoPro, would be a good thing.
Unfortunately, without explicit instruction, confusion will continue to reign until a test case is brought before the courts in South Australia. It seems to me that most of the other states have made this change or are at least considering it, and I spoke earlier about Victoria. In Victoria, in what was shaping up to be a test case, police had alleged that a gentleman had breached Australian Standards by fixing a GoPro—a 20-centimetre camera, in fact—above the top of his helmet and had another 10 centimetres of that protruding to the left. It must have been a sizeable piece of equipment.
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Size does matter!
Mr TRELOAR: I missed that, Deputy Speaker. Unfortunately, in March 2014 this gentleman, after being pulled over by police in Frankston, in Melbourne’s south-east, was fined $289 and lost three demerit points (I feel for him) for failing to wear an approved helmet. During the appeal, it was argued that standards apply only to manufacturers and not customers—a very good point raised. When riders are injured in road accidents, video from helmet cameras is some of the best evidence you can have, especially if you are in a collision. So there is an upside, even to a collision: if you are wearing a GoPro and have footage of that, there is no doubt then who is in the wrong in that particular situation.
Footage from cameras will not only provide evidence of an incident but should also encourage compliance to the Road Rules by both riders and drivers. This type of evidence will also help to reduce spurious or vexatious claims of road rule offending. Police are also beginning to roll out body-worn cameras. There is commentary most weeks in the media about how those body-worn cameras are assisting police in their work, particularly when evidence is needed and prosecution is made. In fact, police are also beginning to use helmet-mounted cameras for the same purpose.
It seems to me that the bill will bring South Australia into the 21st century. It is always a challenge for legislators to keep up with what is going on out in the broader community. I cannot see any risk with this legislation whatsoever. As I mentioned before, cycling is becoming more and more popular. There has been a revival, in fact. I am going back a few years now, but when I was a boy to own a bicycle was really to have freedom, the freedom to roam far and wide. Of course, we lived out in the country, a long way from town and our neighbours were far away.
Mr Gardner: How long did it take you to ride into town?
Mr TRELOAR: To ride to town? I only did it once, member for Morialta, and I think it took me more than an hour.
Mr Gardner: That’s a long walk then.
Mr TRELOAR: It was a long walk. More importantly, particularly when those who were living on neighbouring properties who were of a similar age also had bicycles, then the weekends, and particularly Sundays, became ours to ride, to meet, to have adventures together. I will never forget the excitement of being given my first bike one Christmas when I guess I was about six years old. It had trainer wheels on the sides, and eventually I mastered the art of riding a bicycle. I had two brothers, and my brother Michael and I received new second-hand bikes for Christmas, which a neighbour had done up.
I had a 28-inch Malvern Star with a sprung saddle. It was pretty hard to top. I think I saved up for a while and eventually got a bell to fix to the handlebars. As I said, it gave us freedom. I have only recently disposed of that bike. I resurrected it from the front of the shed a little while ago, thinking that I would get some new tyres and new tubes and could once again ride my 28-inch Malvern Star, but I discovered that 28-inch tyres and tubes are no longer produced or sold. I could not believe it. Apparently they are all 27-inch now, which was not any good to me so, sadly, the bike had to go.
This bill is particularly about bike helmets. I remember that, when the legislation came in, not everybody was happy about being forced to wear a bike helmet. I know that one elderly neighbour of ours decided that that was the end of his cycling; he was not going to wear a helmet at all. I remember one famous day when a World War II immigrant who lived in Edillilie (that is a bit closer) was pulled over by the police on North Terrace, Edillilie, and prosecuted for cycling without wearing a bike helmet. He was fined and was most distraught.
Mr Pederick: It was a slow day in Edillilie.
Mr TRELOAR: It was a slow day in Edillilie. There are not many fast days in Edillilie, member for Hammond. The member for Colton knows that, too. I think you were there on a busy day.
The Hon. P. Caica: I was.
Mr TRELOAR: This fellow was an elderly, postwar eastern European immigrant who had worked dutifully on the railways for his whole career and who had worked hard, saved up and owned a few acres. He had been simply cycling down to his property. Not to be outdone, the next time I saw this fellow he was wearing a helmet of sorts. He was wearing an ice-cream bucket on his head, and he was hoping that that would suffice as a bike helmet. Needless to say, he did not ever manage to fit a GoPro to that helmet, but there would have been some interesting footage had he done so.
Anyway, it is always good to reminisce in this place, but I congratulate our shadow minister on bringing this to the house and on all the good work he has done. I hope that the government find their way clear to support this.