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Hoverboards and other wheeled vehicles

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March 29, 2016

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We have reached 2016, so it is only natural that ‘hoverboards’ are gliding down every street. Indeed, one of the big ticket items this past Christmas Season was the ‘Revo Glider’. If you are lucky enough to be the owner of one of these contraptions, you might be surprised to find out that your use of such a product is governed quite heavily by NSW traffic law. You might have already noted that most retailer’s websites include a short warning in relation to the legality of using the ‘Revo Glider’ on the streets.

The NSW Police run many visible operations throughout the year, in an attempt to enforce road rules, spread education of said rules and ultimately ensure greater public safety on the roads. It is safe to say that each and every one of us will use the roads every day: as a driver; a commuter; or a pedestrian. Road safety then is, and always has been, a critical issue for the NSW Government. Because I work solely in criminal and traffic law, I see, day in and day out, how severely regulated our road usage is.

Though this has not yet been tested or ruled on in the Courts, in my view there is a good possibility that the ‘Revo Glider’ and similar products will be found to be a ‘motor vehicle’ under current NSW road transport legislation. That definition, contained in the Road Transport Act, is drafted broadly, stating: “a vehicle that is built to be propelled by a motor that forms part of the vehicle.”

Should that be the case, all rules and regulations governing motor vehicles would apply to these products. That leaves the user open to charges such as PCA charges (driving with prescribed concentration of alcohol in your system) or driving whilst licence suspended or disqualified. It may result in some absurd charges being brought before the courts.

Alternatively, there are provisions within the Road Rules 2014 that govern the use of “wheeled recreational devices” and “wheeled toys.” These are defined as devices built for ‘creation’ or ‘play’ and not used as a mode of transportation, and must only be powered by human power or gravity. Examples of these are rollerblades, skateboards or scooters. A ‘wheeled toy’ must be one that is solely used by children under the age of 12.

What many people do not realise, however, is that there are many provisions in the Road Rules that govern the use of these products also. For example, if you are using one of the above devices, you must: –

  • Keep left on the footpath;
  • Give way to pedestrians on a footpath;
  • Travel on a road as far to the left as practicable;
  • Not travel alongside a vehicle on the road;
  • Not travel on roads with a diving lane or median strip;
  • Not travel on a road on which the speed limit is greater than 50km/hr
  • Not travel on a road at night.

If you fail to do any of the above, the Courts or Roads and Maritime Service can order that you pay a fine of up to $2,200.

Certainly, the amount of legislation in this area makes it difficult at times to abide by all the road rules. However, it is important that every member of the community educates themselves as to their obligations on the roads. Ignorance of the law, is no defence.

About the Author

John is partner of Armstrong Legal and head of the Criminal Law Division. The experience John possesses, being a high quality mix of defence and prosecution skills, together with his team at Armstrong Legal, mean you can be certain of accurate, dependable and practical advice on how your matter can dealt with.

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