Windscreen washers, only in Canberra

Next time you are stopped at an intersection and waiting for the lights to change, you may be approached by a windscreen washer wielding a squeegee. Yet, walking into the road to wash somebody’s windscreen is an offence everywhere in Australia – except in Canberra.

Ban on windscreen washers

ACT Road Rules allow people to wash your windscreen at traffic light intersections. But in NSW, this is one of the myriad of road offences and carries a $71 fine.

A Labour government lifted the ban on window washers in 2004. Then two years later, the ACT coroner recommended it be reinstated. A woman had died, partly because she was distracted by having her windscreen cleaned at an intersection.

Many others have called for the ban on windscreen washing in ACT to be returned. For example, Harold Scruby of the Australian Pedestrian Council thinks it is one of the worst pieces of road safety legislation in 25 years. He claims:

“These are the sort of things you see in Asia, where the death toll is two and three times greater than Australia, and that’s why… because it’s dangerous.”

Harassing practice

Police in Australia are regularly called to take action on donation collectors and windscreen washers at traffic lights. Some motorists find these practices not only dangerous, but harassing and intimidating.

Curiously the current ACT government does not know why the law outlawing window washers was lifted. Even so, there are no plans to change that law.

In NSW, rule 236(4) of National Transport Commission (Road Transport Legislation — Australian Road Rules) Regulations 2006 says a pedestrian must not stand on, or move onto, a road to get employment or business from someone in a car, hitchhike, display an ad, or sell something or: “wash or clean, or offer to wash or clean, the windscreen of a vehicle”.

So if somebody is offering to wash your windscreen now, remember it breaks the road rules in NSW.

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