You seek our advice in relation to your forthcoming activities in this state. In particular you have asked us to advise as to the laws in NSW relevant to vehicles.
Your instructions to us include details of a ‘flight’ you intend making late on 24 December to undertake multiple deliveries to homes in NSW and you have told us that in order to make the deliveries your sleigh lands on roof tops where possible or gardens if there is no available and appropriate roof top. You have also indicated that there will be times when you have had to land in a driveway or car park and there are even instances where you have had to traverse footpaths and other public places including caravan parks, camping grounds and roads.
You have told us that you travel at speed during your trips and that you are provided with sustenance at the locations where you deliver goods and this may include alcoholic beverages.
I understand that you are currently using and operating a sleigh, which is powered by eight reindeer with a ninth (Rudolph) whose nose is an important safety feature of the sleigh.
In accordance with NSW Road Rule 15, your sleigh is a ‘vehicle’ but it is highly unlikely that this vehicle could be construed as a ‘motor vehicle’ within the meaning of the Road Transport Act. However, as it is by no means clear to us the mechanism by which the vehicle is propelled into the sky we cannot categorically state it is not a motor vehicle. To avoid all doubt, we suggest you, as the owner of the sleigh, approach a Service NSW office and check whether the sleigh is a motor vehicle and whether it needs to be registered in order to lawfully operate on roads and road related areas in NSW. If Service NSW indicates your sleigh is a registerable vehicle, you will need to obtain compulsory third-party (CTP) insurance before registration will be possible. CTP insurance will protect you from any claims made by anyone you might injure while using or operating your vehicle and it will also provide you with 26 weeks of income support and treatment benefits if you are injured in a motor accident in NSW. In NSW CTP insurance is privately underwritten but you can obtain comparison pricing from SIRA by ringing 1300 656 919 or go online at www.greenslips.nsw.gov.au.
Under Road Rule 17 you, as the operator of the sleigh are a ‘rider’ of the vehicle and the road rules relevant to drivers apply to riders.
NSW Police will be out in force this holiday period and double demerit points will be applied for the breach of many of our Road Rules. You should therefore familiarise yourself with the Road Rules before entering NSW and should note in particular:
- You must obey the speed limit whilst on or near the ground paying particular attention to the many speed zones in major cities (some as low as 40kmph);
- Follow all traffic signs including traffic lights, give way and stop signs;
- Minimise the consumption of alcoholic beverages noting there is a 0.05 blood alcohol limit (you should consider purchasing a portable breathalyser to ensure you stay under the limit – remember drink driving is a crime);
- Abstain from using your mobile phone or portable electronic devices (consider installing the latest hands-free satellite navigation system and pre-programming your destinations before you leave the North Pole);
- Road Rule 302 requires you to give way to pedestrians if your sleigh is using a public footpath and generally you have a duty to keep a proper lookout and to avoid causing accidents;
- Your sleigh may need to be fitted with a seat belt but under Road Rule 267 you are probably exempt from wearing it as you are engaged in door-to-door delivery with frequent stopping;
- Keep your vehicle well maintained in particular ensure Rudolph’s nose is shiny and bright and operating as a warning to other road users.
You may need to consult relevant local councils in relation to parking your sleigh (if not on the rooftops) and note there are special event clearways and tow away zones operating during the festive season.
Finally, you may need to consult federal government authorities and obtain appropriate permits to fly within Australian (including NSW) airspace.
With kind regards to you and Mrs Claus from all at Stacks Goudkamp
Written by Belinda Cassidy.
Belinda Cassidy holds the position of Special Counsel at Stacks Goudkamp. She had previously held the position of Principal Claims Assessor at the State Insurance Regulatory Authority (SIRA) for 18 years, and currently holds an appointment as a Claims Assessor under the Motor Accidents Compensation Act.