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Tuesday, 19 August 1980
Page: 455

Mr Morris asked the Minister for Transport, upon notice, on 22 May 1 980:

Was advice (a) sought and (b) obtained by the Australian Transport Advisory Committee in regard to the legal implications for (i) the motorcyclist and (ii) other motorists of its recommendation for compulsory headlights on legislation for motorcyclists; if so, what was the (A) nature and (B) source of advice.

Mr Hunt - The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

The Australian Transport Advisory Council is advised by its Advisory Committee on Road User Performance and Traffic Codes (ACRUPTC) on provisions contained in the National Road Traffic Code, including the requirement for compulsory daytime use of motorcycle headlights.

Advice on the legal implications for motorcyclists and other motorists of the above provisions was sought and obtained by ACRUPTC from the State and Territory constituent bodies of the Law Council of Australia; and by the Office of Road Safety, on behalf of ACRUPTC, from the Highway Safety Research Centre at the University of North Carolina, that State having had legislation requiring motorcyclists to use their headlights in daytime since 1973.

The general consensus of the legal profession in Australia is that non-compliance with a traffic provision does not automatically become evidence of contributory negligence, the question of which ought to be left to the courts. Moreover, ACRUPTC received legal opinion that in a situation where a motorcyclist is suing for damages and the other party raises contributory negligence by the motorcyclist in failing to haVe his headlights illuminated, the onus of proving that the motorcyclist was guilty of contributory negligence rests on that other party to prove that, for whatever reason, the motorcyclist was guilty of contributory negligence.

So far as the situation in the United States is concerned, the Highway Safety Research Centre reported that the issue had never been raised in regard to the North Carolina legislation.

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