Request callback





Blog

Get A Free Case EvaluationHave a legal issue?

Submit your inquiry to speak to a Senior Lawyer






Bus stop splash

Weird Laws: Is it Illegal for Drivers to Splash Mud on People Waiting at a Bus Stop?

Picture this: you’re waiting for the bus in the rain. Luckily, you’re keeping dry under an umbrella, or maybe the roof of the bus stop. The bus is arriving soon and you can’t wait to get on in your dry clothes.

Next thing you know a car whizzes past. The vehicle’s tyres roll into a puddle and a wave of muddy water rushes towards you, drenching your previously dry clothes.

Annoying? Yes.

Frustrating? Of course.

But is it illegal? The answer may surprise you.

Strange Laws: Splashing a Bus Passenger with Mud in NSW

After being splashed by a passing car, most people would probably mutter a few expletives to themselves and then move on, thinking that there was nothing that could be done.

But prior to November 2019, if you caught the offending vehicle’s number plate and reported them to the Roads and Maritime Service or Police, they could be faced with a hefty fine.

That is because up till that point, the Road Rules 2014 required drivers to exercise “due care” to not splash mud on a person entering or leaving a bus, or any person waiting at a bus stop.

Incredibly, there was no equivalent rule against splashing people waiting at any other location.

What is the Penalty For a Driver Splashing Mud On Bus Passengers At a Bus Stop NSW?

The infringement was set out in Rule 291-3 Road Rules 2014 (NSW) which required a motorist to take due care to avoid splashing mud:

  1. on anyone waiting at a bus stop;
  2. on anyone entering or leaving a stationary bus;
  3. anyone in or on a bus if the bus is being used for public passengers or if the bus stop is a stop used for public passengers.

‘Due care’ is not explicitly defined in the Rules. However, on a plain reading of the legislation it would seem to require avoiding any puddles which were likely to splash mud on persons at the bus stop.

Alternatively, slowing down to such a degree that mud would not splash on bus patrons would satisfy the requirement.

Most offenders would receive an on-the-spot fine or penalty notice of $187. There were however no demerit points associated with the infringement.

No doubt there were few persons who elected to take the fine to Court. There are a number of good reasons not to do this including:

  1. There are no demerit points incurred so there is no risk of a loss of licence;
  2. The cost of the fine is quite minimal compared to the cost of retaining a lawyer to defend the fine;
  3. The maximum penalty available to the Court was $2,200.

If you did decide to take the fine to Court, you could either plead guilty and seek leniency or plead ‘not guilty’ and dispute it.

If you pleaded guilty, you may have been able to avoid any penalty altogether if the Magistrate was persuaded to grant you a Section 10 dismissal.

The Repeal of the Law: So, Splashing Mud on People Waiting at a Bus Stop is Legal?

The Law against Splashing Mud on People Waiting at a Bus Stop was repealed in 2020 and is no longer in force.

But this doesn’t mean that it’s open season on splashing bus passengers.

There is an argument that driving in a manner that splashes mud on a person would fall into the definition of Negligent Driving pursuant to Section 117(1) of the Road Transport Act 1900 (NSW).

In order to establish a charge of Negligent Driving, the prosecution must prove, beyond reasonable doubt that an Accused:

  1. drove a vehicle; and
  2. failed to take proper care and attention that a reasonably prudent driver would have exercised in the circumstances.

In assessing whether a person was negligent, the Court is required to look at the factors detailed in Section 117(3) of the Road Transport Act 2013:

“(a) the nature, condition and use of the road on which the offence is alleged to have been committed,

(b) the amount of traffic that actually is at the time, or which might reasonably be expected to be, on the road,

(c) any obstructions or hazards on the road (including, for example, broken down or crashed vehicles, fallen loads and accident or emergency scenes).”

There are also defences available to this charge. The most obvious one for splashing a person with mud would be identification.

The prosecution would need to prove which vehicle was responsible for the splashing. Even if they could prove this, they would then need to prove who was driving that vehicle.

An experienced Negligent Driving Lawyer would likely be able to prepare a defence and have the charge dismissed.

The maximum penalty for Negligent Driving is $1,100.

In Conclusion…

While the law against splashing mud on bus passengers is now repealed, there are other laws that could be used to penalise drivers who engage in this type of behaviour.

If you are driving and you think there is a risk of splashing mud on a person, you would be wise to slow down or avoid the puddle. Otherwise, you could be on the wrong end of a fine and in need of a Sydney traffic lawyer.

Comments are closed.