Seat belt penalties

Submitted: Monday, Sep 02, 2013 at 02:13
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G'day all - Just a quick heads up regarding seat belt penalties, in particular as regards W.A.

W.A. now leads the nation in the size of the seat belt infringement penalty - $500 - as a visiting Pommy friend found out recently to his dismay. Apparently the Pommy seatbelt penalties are relatively small.

The penalty was increased about a couple of years ago, and I'd forgotten how sharply the penalty had been increased. It was increased as result of a sharp rise in road deaths (particularly in rural and remote W.A.) that was sheeted directly home to a failure to wear seatbelts.

The following is a quick rundown on seatbelt infringement penalties around the nation.

W.A. - 10 Penalty Units (1 PU in W.A. is $50 - thus 10 PU = $500) (Plus 4 demerit points).

S.A. - $324 (3 points).

N.S.W. - $298 (3 points).

QLD. - $330 (3 demerit points).

VIC. - 2 Penalty Units (1 PU in VIC is currently $140.84 - thus 2 PU = $281.68)
Unrestrained passengers under 16, means the drivers penalty goes to 2.25 PU's.

Note also the demerit points are pretty savage - with W.A. leading at 4 demerit points, and most other States on 3 demerit points.
In VIC, I understand that additional demerit points are applied to each unrestrained passenger, as well.
Furthermore, QLD appears to have system of an additional 3 demerit points added, if there's more than one seatbelt offence within 12 mths. All States appear to have double demerit points on major public holidays.

In most Eastern States it appears that unrestrained passengers holding a drivers licence can also have penalties and demerit points applied. I'm not sure that this applies in W.A. - I can't find any reference to it.

However, the message from the authorities is now loud and clear - BELT UP - and also ensure that ALL your passengers are restrained at all times, too - unless you want to wear some considerable monetary (and points) loss.
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Reply By: Notso - Monday, Sep 02, 2013 at 09:11

Monday, Sep 02, 2013 at 09:11
You missed the most important penalty of all mate!
AnswerID: 517506

Follow Up By: Ron N - Monday, Sep 02, 2013 at 11:59

Monday, Sep 02, 2013 at 11:59
Notso - Yes, the ultimate penalty is the one you can't get out of, with the assistance of a lawyer.

The brother and SIL were travelling home to the wheatbelt around 1967 or '68, through the Gleneagle State Forest, late at night.
The roads were pretty quiet and just one car came up behind them in about 70 kms once out of Perth.
The car overtook them and vanished into the distance.

About 15 mins later, as they neared the end of the forest and the start of the farmland at Dale River, they spotted a set of headlights in the bush, about 80M off the road.
They pulled up and saw the car that had passed them only 15 mins before, on its side. It had run off the road, rolled on its side and slid into a sizeable tree, that was directly in line with the windscreen.

They had a look inside and found that the driver (the sole occupant) was dead - killed instantly by a broken neck, when he was thrown forward and hit the tree.

This was just before seatbelts became mandatory. This bloke was only one of hundreds of people that would still be here today if seatbelts had been introduced earlier.
Interestingly, a number of Fords had seatbelts as standard from the early 1960's but few people used them.

I also lost a top young employee in 1992 when he didn't wear his seatbelt.
Young John was 20 and a real go-getter - and on the day, he was instructed to take one of our dual cab 4x4 Hiluxes from our yard in Kalgoorlie out to the Celebration minesite about 35kms out on the Kambalda Road.
He roared off and about 2 hrs later we got notification there had been an accident involving one of our vehicles.

We got to the accident site and found our Hilux rolled and written off and young John was dead.

It appeared that John, despite being trained and advised to wear a seatbelt at all times, had failed to fasten his seatbelt.

The events involving the accident were incredible. It appeared that John had drifted off the edge of the bitumen (wide, 2-lane highway, perfect conditions), either through inattention - perhaps he'd been consuming a snack - or he'd dropped something and tried to pick it up.

He hit a small wooden white guide post (75x35mm), with the LHS front wheel, that was flattened - and which broke in half as it was run over by the front wheel.

As the top half of the broken guide post came out from under the front wheel, it stood up at 45 degrees to the ground, and made contact with the LHS rear tyre at 90 degrees to the tread.
The post totally penetrated the tread, and effectively cut the tread belt in half. The tyre deflated instantly (this was a Bridgestone, too, I might add).

As John swung the steering wheel to the right to get back on the bitumen, he was unaware the LHS rear tyre was totally deflated.

The Hilux promptly broadsided at 110 kmh with the totally deflated LHS rear tyre acting as a skid. The Hilux rolled twice and John was catapulted out the passenger side window and hit the road head first, breaking his neck instantly.

This was a very sad day for all concerned - not only because John was a decent, well behaved, and top class employee - but because it was all due to a few moments carelessness, as regards fastening a seat belt.
FollowupID: 797196

Reply By: Member - Rod N (QLD) - Monday, Sep 02, 2013 at 09:28

Monday, Sep 02, 2013 at 09:28
Every one should know by now that seat belts should be worn. If you do there are no penalties, if you don't you deserve the penalties.
A couple of young ones in Qld just paid the ultimate penalty for not wearing seat belts.
AnswerID: 517508

Follow Up By: NTVRX - Monday, Sep 02, 2013 at 10:03

Monday, Sep 02, 2013 at 10:03
timely warning especially to those who are visiting BIRDSVILLE!! The cops riding trail bikes and do so "Standing" so that they can see drivers more they are no standing on "the pegs" because they have sore bums!!!...they are looking for unfastened s/belts. Also.....don't think because you are on a bush track you are safe.....under the Road Rules have a look at the definition of Highway....and part of the road rules states...a "HIGHWAY"...."used by the public as the public may for the passage of vehicles" even a servo driveway is classified as a highway. Whilst I am on my soap box...did you know that there is no mention of "a highway" in the drink drive exceed blood alcohol limit provisions.....therefore the offence can happen ANYWHERE!!
FollowupID: 797187

Follow Up By: Ron N - Monday, Sep 02, 2013 at 12:21

Monday, Sep 02, 2013 at 12:21
NTVRX - Yes, I posted this warning because country cops are generally bored witless, constantly looking for a "kill" - and they target seatbelts mercilessly.

The definition of a "road" in W.A. many years ago, used to be a "gazetted" road. That is, a road that had been surveyed and then named and declared a public road in the Govt Gazette.

There are a lot of roads in W.A. that have been surveyed, never actually formed up with a grader, and never gazetted as public roads.
Yet, often, these "ungazetted" roads are in use, as people drive between the trees and form their own track.
There are also many tracks pushed through Crown Land, that have never ever been surveyed, let alone gazetted.

However, the W.A. Road Traffic Act of 1974 clearly states the definition of "road" was widened to include any driveway, track, or road, that is accessible to, and used by, the general public - and which is not private property.

[Road Traffic Act (W.A.) 1974, "definitions":

"road" means any highway, road or street open to, or used by, the public and includes every carriageway, footway, reservation, median strip and traffic island thereon.]

Thus, you can have a fatal car accident on private property and it is not included in the road toll, as it's deemed an accident not associated with a public road.
FollowupID: 797201

Reply By: The Bantam - Monday, Sep 02, 2013 at 09:33

Monday, Sep 02, 2013 at 09:33
I remain surprised at the attitude of some to seat belts.

A simple measure that is little or no inconvienience whatsoever yet people fail to treat it as a priority.

surely it is not too hard to put the seat belt on as soon as you put ya bum in the seat......the first priority when getting in the vehicle....that is what I was taught, that is the habit I am glad to have.

But all to often we see people get into the vehicle, fiddle with stuff, light a ciggy, start the car and drive off..then perhaps reach for the seat belt.

All too often you see them only put the seat belt on at the last minute when leaving private see it in parking lots, building sites and private yards every day.

People driving down the road fishing for the seat belt...serioulsy how much of a hurry can you be in.

It seems these people consider the seat belt to be a government impost rather than a sensible and very effective measure that reduces injury and prevents death in most cases.

For goodness sakes, put ya seat belt on its not that hard.

AnswerID: 517509

Follow Up By: AlanTH - Monday, Sep 02, 2013 at 10:58

Monday, Sep 02, 2013 at 10:58
It's been completely automatic for me since '72 when I got off the plane at Tullarmarine and my elder bro told me to "belt up". When I owned a cab in Perth I had passengers reckon they didn't feel safe with me as I obviously had no confidence in my own driving by wearing the belt. How stupid is that?
That may have stemmed from the rule that cab drivers in Perth (only at night from what's left of my memory) didn't have to wear them if they had male passengers in the cab.
I personally felt more at risk from the lunatic behaviour of other drivers than from most of my customers as I operated on the basis that if they looked bad types they didn't get in in the first place.:-)
FollowupID: 797191

Reply By: Barbera72 - Monday, Sep 02, 2013 at 10:02

Monday, Sep 02, 2013 at 10:02
That's it. Wearing a seat belt should be automatic routine as putting the key in the ignition.
But then doesn't worry me if other drivers wear or not seat belts. It worries me when I see a large amount of drivers text messaging while driving for example. The campaign targeting seat belts and deaths on the road convinces me, but only to a certain degree.
AnswerID: 517510

Reply By: Member - John (Vic) - Monday, Sep 02, 2013 at 17:42

Monday, Sep 02, 2013 at 17:42
Many years ago I was in the front passenger seat of a car when we were hit from the rear by another car, shunting us off the road, hitting a tree and rolling.
I suffered a couple of cracked ribs, a mate of mine back then said to me in a conversation several days later upon hearing of my injuries, "that's why I won't wear a seatbelt, too dangerous" my reply was without the seatbelt it was likely I would have been dead.
A few cracked ribs was a small price to pay.

Seatbelt fines never worry me as only bleep s get them for not wearing a belt.
Regardless of the circumstances, when in a vehicle wear the belt, it may save your life...simples!!

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AnswerID: 517539

Follow Up By: SDG - Monday, Sep 02, 2013 at 19:37

Monday, Sep 02, 2013 at 19:37
Sounds like a few in my family, but then their brother (my uncle) was killed with the seat belt crushing his chest, from a supposedly minor accident. This was early 70's so an older, less refined vehicle than that availble now.
My old man swears being able to throw himself to the floor of a truck during a roll over was what saved him.

Many stories for and against. Mostly for, for obvious reasons. Safer with them on.
FollowupID: 797229

Follow Up By: Echucan Bob - Friday, Sep 06, 2013 at 15:43

Friday, Sep 06, 2013 at 15:43

its strange how people like to blame someone, something, anyone for untoward events. I reckon if he was travelling so fast that the seat belt crushed his chest, he would have hit the steering wheel/dash board hard enough to kill him if he hadn't been wearing the seat belt.

FollowupID: 797464

Follow Up By: get outmore - Saturday, Sep 07, 2013 at 18:43

Saturday, Sep 07, 2013 at 18:43
its stupid stories like that people use to justify not wearing a seatbelt.

If he was killed with a seatbelt on then he would have had no hope with it off.
yes it hurts even after being in a fairly minor prang - but that just reminds you how much force is involved in even a small prang and makes you glad you were wearing it if thats the case.

I find not wearing seatbelts is rife in the country (just one of the many reasons fatalitys happen more to country people on country roads )

when i mention most of them know a mate whos auntys uncles best mates son crashed into a dam and drowned because they couldnt get the seatbelt undone
FollowupID: 797513

Reply By: Sandman - Monday, Sep 02, 2013 at 18:40

Monday, Sep 02, 2013 at 18:40
I got busted when I was 22 not thinking....a 500m drive from a mates place to mine....I'm 50 and since that moment have ALWAYS put on the seatbelt before I start the engine...
AnswerID: 517546

Reply By: allein m - Tuesday, Sep 03, 2013 at 14:52

Tuesday, Sep 03, 2013 at 14:52
Did and one see SA news the other day the government may ban mobile phone use in car any where in SA

they have had a massive blitz and book a huge amount of people and they have said if they cannot control its use they may just ban phone use by a the driver

I rarely use mine so no problem to me but I can see so many who cannot live with out a mobile phone any where there go
AnswerID: 517576

Follow Up By: disco driver - Tuesday, Sep 03, 2013 at 16:05

Tuesday, Sep 03, 2013 at 16:05
Using a mobile phone while driving is already illegal in WA, though you would never know it.
Chicky birds, gen Y'ers, tradies and truckies are often noticed with mobiles plugged into their ears while driving. No so many old farts like me though, I have enough difficulty with the phone when standing still, let alone while driving.

FollowupID: 797284

Follow Up By: allein m - Tuesday, Sep 03, 2013 at 20:43

Tuesday, Sep 03, 2013 at 20:43
i was watching a tv show RPA based on the Sydney hospital they had one guy come in they put some hot wax stuff in his ear to make one of those hands free phones and stuffed the job up lol

much easier to turn it off and chick it in the glove box and concentrate on the road
FollowupID: 797302

Follow Up By: SDG - Tuesday, Sep 03, 2013 at 21:45

Tuesday, Sep 03, 2013 at 21:45
I don't even like passengers using them in my car, so as it's my car, they are banned.
I don't even own one.
FollowupID: 797309

Reply By: ExplorOz Team - Michelle - Wednesday, Sep 04, 2013 at 11:49

Wednesday, Sep 04, 2013 at 11:49
Thanks for posting this comparison on fines across the country. Any idea what it is for NT, ACT, Tas?

This is my bug bear - in fact, I would like to take this opportunity to tell you about a little incident with a friend in my car recently. A very conscientious "good" mother sits in the passenger seat of my 4WD with her 5 yr old child and my 2 kids. We are going on a little day trip away from our camp travelling over corrugated roads doing about 70km/hr. I'm driving, no convoy, no men in the car. All is fine when we head off all wearing seat belts. We stop for a toilet break, but then she gets back in without her seat belt on. The kids notice instantly and harass her to put it on but she responds with a rebuttal, "I'm an adult, don't tell me what to do".... "we always did this on our farm" or something to that effect. I am shocked!! I don't trust my own driving well enough to think she is safe (LOL), so I give it a minute to compose what to say... eventually I say, "Yes, we have a rule in my car - belts on before we drive on". And with that, she sulks and puts it on but was not very happy to have been told off. Too bad I think, that's just terrible.

I don't care about the rules, or the fines. I know that if I have an accident, everyone has a better chance of living if they have a seat belt on. It's a no-brainer for me and like others have said - make it a habit from a young age and its instinctive.

I have another rule - no one unclips their seat-belt until I have the car in park/handbrake on/ignition off. We know a young family who recently ran over their own child's foot - she got out of the car too early! 6 weeks in a cast. Happened in their own driveway and the kids was 10 years old.
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AnswerID: 517613

Follow Up By: Rockape - Wednesday, Sep 04, 2013 at 15:18

Wednesday, Sep 04, 2013 at 15:18
Maybe this says it all.

LINK to Yeppoon accident
FollowupID: 797333

Follow Up By: Echucan Bob - Friday, Sep 06, 2013 at 15:54

Friday, Sep 06, 2013 at 15:54

a couple of years ago I raised the subject of the fines for having an unregistered trailer. I was flamed mercilessly by a whole bunch of very self righteous, holier than thou people who had clearly never ever done anything wrong in their lives. I was also accused of wasting time etc
So it is nice to see that either the flamers have left the forum, or have matured a bit. Discussing fines, road safety, differences between states etc is highly relevant material, and I also welcome this thread.


PS your use of the term "no brainer" is more apt than you probably intended!
FollowupID: 797465

Follow Up By: Member - John (Vic) - Friday, Sep 06, 2013 at 15:57

Friday, Sep 06, 2013 at 15:57
That's bloody awful RA, so easily to have worn a seatbelt and it may have made all the difference.

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FollowupID: 797467

Reply By: Ron N - Wednesday, Sep 04, 2013 at 21:58

Wednesday, Sep 04, 2013 at 21:58
Michelle, you sound like a very sensible and safe driver and you have raised a couple of very pertinent points.

1. As the driver of the vehicle, you are legally and rightfully entitled to control all the passengers in your vehicle, and to instruct them to belt up, behave, keep their body parts inside the vehicle, or otherwise obey your instructions.

2. Advanced driving courses have instructors acting the part of "passengers" playing up. They will turn up the radio full bore, undo their seatbelts, hang out the window, yell, grab the wheel, and even pull on the handbrake.
These are all acts that interfere with your concentration on your driving and handling of the vehicle - and the instructors show you how to deal with these problems - firmly and forcefully, by exercising control over your passengers - even if it means stopping to do so.

3. Running over a child is one of the most dreadful things you can do - and I have personal knowledge of that.
4WD's are noted for relatively poor visibility close to or behind the vehicle (unless you're lucky enough to have a reversing camera - and even then you must exercise great caution when children are in the vicinity). As a result, you're wise to instruct children to stay put and stay belted up until you have stopped the vehicle.

Many years ago, I owned a 4WD F100 - and I took it from town one Sunday afternoon, with my SIL and 9 yr old nephew as passengers, out to a farmers paddock where I'd been doing some work with one of our 'dozers.
Phil, my nephew was a real little go-getter, full of dash and wanting to do everything - and he wanted to open and shut the paddock gate. He dashed out, opened the gate, I drove through, he shut it, and then tried to climb back in.

His Mum was sitting in the centre of the bench seat, and she was always full of mischief, so she playfully stopped him from getting in. This was fun for a minute, and I decided to play along with the game by slowly moving forward.
Phil tried several times to jump in, and several times his Mum pushed him out. I moved forward as she pushed him out - and then next thing, the F100 jumped up, as the rear wheel ran over Phil!

I can tell you, I aged 40 yrs in 10 seconds, as I flew out of the seat, and around to the LH rear wheel. Unbelievably, Phil was up and walking around, rubbing his legs, and unhurt!
I had run over his legs with the rear wheel - but because the F100 was unloaded, and had big wide tyres on it - and it was sandy ground - Phil had survived the F100 rear wheel running over his legs absolutely unscathed!

I can tell you we were a very subdued couple of adults as we returned home - and as we contemplated what could have been - all because of a bit of skylarking.
Since that day, I've often been accused of being a "safety nazi" - but I can tell you this much, it only takes one wake-up call to make you realise what the dreadful and far-reaching consequences are, of any relaxing of safety rules and systems.
AnswerID: 517655

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