Rear view cameras in highway patrol vehicles and the so-called “2 km rule”
Several matters heard recently in the local courts have featured the rear view in-car video (ICV) taken from a highway patrol vehicle. Two matters were similar and of interest.
In both of these matters, the ICV footage showed the police vehicle travelling in the centre of three lanes going north on the M1 (or “the river of gold” as Consolidated Revenue affectionately calls it).
Driver charged with driving in right lane even though no other drivers inconvenienced
The camera in the first case monitored a vehicle in the lane closest to the dividing strip. The police camera showed a steady 110 km/h, with the monitored vehicle travelling about 100 metres behind the police car, maintaining the same speed. There were no vehicles behind the monitored vehicle until a few seconds before the video ended, when three vehicles were seen catching up, two of them in the same lane as the monitored vehicle.
The driver was charged under Rule 130 (1)(a)&(2) of the General driving offences, “Drive in right lane on road with speed limit over 80 km/h”. He had pleaded guilty. The penalty was $325 and two demerit points off his licence.
The driver told the magistrate that he did not think he had to move left until another vehicle wanted to overtake him. The ICV footage was played in court. The driver said that when the police stopped him, they told him about the “2 km rule”. The police said that they had observed him driving in the right lane for two kilometres without moving over to the left hand lane.
The magistrate said that this “2 km rule” was not part of the road rules, that there was no speeding, that no driver had been inconvenienced and that the drivers of the vehicles catching up with the monitored vehicle to overtake it were clearly exceeding the speed limit. The magistrate fined the driver $50. He danced out of court a happy man.
Driver in 80 km/h zone charged under “2 km rule”
The second case was similar. In this case the driver was in an 80 km/h zone. Again the “2 km rule” was raised. It seems that this is the approximate distance that highway patrols allow for a move into the left lane.
In the first case, at 110 km/h, there was about one minute of ICV footage. In the second case, at 80 km/h, the footage was a bit longer. Again there were no overtakers in range and again the magistrate imposed a $50 fine.
Drivers should be aware of the 2 km rule
Both drivers had cruise control on. Both drivers said they saw the marked highway patrol vehicle ahead (you will notice they are heavily marked at the rear but almost invisible when behind you). Both drivers said they had maintained speed and lane because they saw the police vehicle in front of them.
The message for drivers is to be aware of the 2 km rule, which is not actually part of the road rules but which, curiously, is nevertheless invoked by police as a basis for issuing fines and demerit points.
Rear view cameras in highway patrol vehicles will be used increasingly as a revenue raising measure. Moving left at the first opportunity regardless of following traffic is the solution. If you are stopped and fined and the 2 km aspect is raised, speak to a lawyer.