Australia has often presented itself as the laid back land of larrikins, living by the “she’ll be right, mate” code. Reality has always been quite different, with the rule-obsessed society always ready to crack down on fun. A perfect example is this recent effort by Victoria Police, who impounded a motorized cooler this week.
Police say they observed a 25-year-old man driving a “motorized esky” on the sidewalk in Kerang, a rural town about 280 kilometers northwest of Melbourne. Police “intercepted” the man, who reportedly never had a driver’s license. The cooler was classified as an unregistered motor vehicle, and the guy should be given a subpoena for the offenses of driving the “illegal” car without a license.
Notably, the man returned a negative result on a road breathalyzer test, although police impounded the vehicle for 30 days. The sight of a small cooler in the back of a local towing platform is fun and maybe the best thing to come out of this story.
The police post on Facebook cites a regulation regarding “motorized personal mobility devices” which mainly concerns Segways, hoverboards and other self-balancing devices. Regulations similar to Victoria also exist for scooters. All electric scooters are prohibited on the roads and trails unless they have a top speed of less than 10 kilometers per hour and a power of 200 watts or less.
Neither definition clearly describes the four-wheel gas cooler, which powers a small 2.5-horsepower Lifan engine. But, under Victorian law, since the cooler is not in a special exempt category like low powered scooters and e-bikes, it is classified as a motor vehicle. For this reason, the cooler is then illegal to use on the trails. However, it also cannot be used on the road, as it does not meet Australian Design Rules (ADR), as well as the lack of lights, mirrors and road registration.
So, for the heinous crime of riding an Esky on a trail, a young Australian was plunged into the court system. It might not sound like the Australian way, but as someone who has lived here for decades, I can promise you it always has been. The country that invented the smoko and the sick is also where you will be fined for drinking beer on the beach.
Since no one was injured in the “incident”, questions could arise regarding the time and resources spent enforcing these laws. Others will say that such regulations are necessary to avoid turning our trails into a race track. Either way, a 25-year-old man is apparently paying top dollar for an afternoon cruise through the shops.
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