There are always thrillseekers looking to find new ways of livening up their experiences on the road and riding in the back of a ute is one of the easiest adrenaline rushes anyone can try.
Unsurprisingly though, anyone caught trying this finds themselves at risk of getting penalised by the police whether they try in the bush or on a suburban road.
Most of the time, it’s the drivers who face punishment for letting their mates try this dangerous act with substantial penalties waiting just around the corner. So is the rush really worth the trouble?
A restrained approach
Rule 298 of the Australian Road Rules outlaws anyone riding unrestrained in a trailer or on the back of a ute where there is sizeable cargo space.
It’s a logical rule that speaks for itself and is something that has been adopted by all states across Australia no matter how rural or urban someone may be driving.
There are a couple of small exceptions made for some commercial vehicles on the roads with the rules allowing someone ride freely if:
The vehicle is being used for maintenance or construction purposes
A tractor is towing the trailer or cargo at a speed of under 25km/h
With these exceptions being quite rare, most people caught trying to ride in the back of a ute won’t be able to escape punishment using these loopholes.
Bearing the brunt
No matter who is riding unrestrained in the trailer, it will be the driver who will bear the brunt of the punishments as they are deemed responsible for the vehicle.
Some states offer extremely harsh penalties for anyone caught riding in a trailer by police threatening both demerit points and fines to offending drivers. These states include:
NSW: In New South Wales, drivers caught letting people ride in trailers face a fine of $349 and three demerit points being added to their licence.
QLD: Anyone in Queensland caught letting people ride in the back of their ute will be slapped with a $238 fine as well as three demerit points for their troubles.
SA: South Australian drivers won’t get any leniency from police as they will be given three demerit points and a combined fine of $355 if anyone is riding unrestrained in a trailer.
WA: The harshest penalties for letting anyone get a ride in the back of your ute are in Western Australia where drivers will get four demerit points and a minimum fine of $550.
NT: Drivers also face harsh penalties for trying this act in the Northern Territory where offenders will be hit with three demerit points and a $500 fine from the authorities.
Some states have opted for a slightly lighter approach as they won’t offer demerit points to drivers letting people ride freely in a trailer. However, there are some harsh fines still lurking with some penalties including:
VIC: In Victoria, drivers caught by police with passengers in a trailer are looking at a fine of $363.
ACT: Anyone brave enough to try this act while driving around Canberra will look forward to a fine of $205 if they are caught by the cops.
TAS: If anyone tries riding in a trailer in Tasmania, the driver could be fined $173 if they are caught by the cops.
Some states are also willing to hit offending passengers with big fines for riding in the trailer of a ute with the authorities in WA charging unrestrained passengers with a fine of $550 while there's a $500 fine for individuals in the Northern Territory.
With authorities always taking a strict stance towards road safety, drivers should know that it’s them and not the offending passengers who come off worst should they get caught letting anyone hitch a ride in their ute.
Knowing this then makes it much easier to shut down the idea next time a daring mate suggests it for a bit of fun late on a Friday night.
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