The road rule only one council enforces

A little-known road rule that applies nationwide is being enforced it seems by just one city council to write tickets and fine motorists $150 a time.

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Many councils don’t enforce the particular law and it’s not part of the WOF inspection. Source: Fair Go

Hutt City Council tickets the owners of utes with flat decks that fail to have a rear-facing marker light switched on at night when the vehicle is parked on the roadside. The rule doesn’t apply to utes with a wellside -  a factory installed moulded tray and tailgate. 

HCC says this is a safety and compliance issue, but the fine has left one motorist wondering if it’s fair.

Paul Everitt was street-parked in Lower Hutt, picking up his daughters Bella and Sunny from kapa haka practice when he found the ticket and the fine.

"Sunny read out to me that it was $150. I was like, what?" says Paul.

Paul was not happy. He’d paid more than $5000 for a custom flat deck to be fitted to his ute. He was puzzled by the fine and what seemed like an obscure rule HCC was applying.

"Apparently you’re supposed to have a light on the back of your car to shine out for people who aren't watching the road. Stops them running into the back of you. It's a law but it's not under the warrant system," says Paul.

Hutt City Council says if its officers are duty bound to protect public safety by enforcing the legislation once they see an issue with a vehicle that is non-compliant with the regulations.

In this case, that refers to Land Transport (Road User) Rule 2004 8.7 (2) - you can look it up for yourself.

The rule is part of a nationwide law, but the New Zealand Transport Agency says enforcement is at the discretion of the road controlling authority – in this case Hutt City Council.

Fair Go inquiries show no other council appears to enforce it.

NZTA says it’s not part of Wof inspections because, “in the legal sense they are not a vehicle equipment requirement, rather they're a requirement relating to the vehicle's use (in this case, parking the vehicle on the side of the road)."

So, a safety matter that isn’t part of the WoF, a nationwide rule that ute owners are just supposed to know about and that only one council enforces.

"They're a great council, they're awesome, but I don't know what they're doing on this. It’s not working for me," says Paul.

He is weighing up what’s easier; fitting a light for $300 and applying to see if they will waive the fine or not street-parking in his hometown at night.