AUSTRALIA’S MOST OBSCURE ROAD RULES
July 19, 2019
After decades of work, in 1999 the first Australian Road Rules were published in an effort to bring all states and territories in line with one set of road laws. However many of us are unknowingly committing driving offences every day.
So we are here to help clear up a few myths and let you know about some of Australia’s most obscure road rules. These apply Australia wide, not just in Perth, Western Australia.
Body out of Windows
You cannot have any part of your body hanging out of the vehicle. This means no waving out of the sunroof or a window or you could cop a fine.
However, sticking your arm out of the window is not illegal all the time, if your vehicle was built without stop or indicator lights or your modern vehicle’s stop lights or indicators have failed or are not clearly visible then in QLD, NSW, VIC, SA and NT, you’re free to use hand signals to indicate a right turn or if you’re stopping.
Hand signals are also allowed in WA, but only if you’re driving an old vehicle built without stop or indicator lights.
If you’re parallel-parked on the side of the road or on the median strip and are about to join a line of traffic, most of us will indicate as we move into the gap. This is actually illegal in QLD, NSW, VIC, SA and WA.
You need to indicate for five seconds before joining the traffic flow so drivers aren’t wondering if you’re just going to launch into their road space.
No People or Animals on Your Lap
This rule is pretty obvious with children, but make sure you are never tempted to get behind the wheel with your pet cat or dog on your lap.
You will be fined as children must sit in a proper child restraint or seat, and pets must be beside the driver or on the floor of the vehicle.
You can learn more about correct child seats and restraints here.
Number Plate Lights
Your registration plate needs to be visible at all times, including night time or in hazardous weather. So if you’re number plate light isn’t working you could be fined by police for not obeying the road rules.
Fog lights must only be used in fog or rain, or when conditions such as smoke and dust limit your vision. But you cannot drive with both headlights and fog lights at the same time.
It is a legal requirement that once conditions improve and you can see more clearly, the fog lights are switched off.
Watch out for Red Boxes
We bet you didn’t know this one! Fines could apply for stopping within 3 metres of a public post office box, unless you are quickly picking up or dropping off a passenger or mail.
A driver must not stop within 1 metre of a fire hydrant, fire hydrant indicator or fire plug indicator.
Flashing your headlights is a very Australian way to warn oncoming drivers that there is a Police vehicle or speed camera up ahead, but this could get you a fine.
It is illegal to have your high beams on when there is an oncoming vehicle within 200 metres. You most dip your headlights to low beam.
It is also an offence to use a separate light from within your car to dazzle oncoming drivers.
Traffic Jams are frustrating but don’t use your horn to vent your anger. Not only will it get you nowhere, it could land you with a fine.
It is an offence to use your horn or any other warning device unless you need to warn other road users your vehicle is approaching, to warn animals to get off the road or the horn is part of an antitheft or alcohol interlock device in your vehicle.
Don’t Cross the Train Tracks – NSW only
This is a strange road rule and we bet you’ve broken it quite a few times. According to NSW law, it is illegal to cross train tracks if you are carrying flammable, explosive or dangerous goods. That includes paint, lighters, batteries and barbeque gas bottles. So if train tracks are between you and the hardware store, it could be a long trip home!
The Window Gap – QLD & VIC only
Under Queensland and Victorian law, if you are more than 3 metres from your car, the vehicle must be secured or locked with the engine off, hand brake applied, key removed and windows up with a gap no more than 5cm.
In NSW, the 3 metres rule insists if there is no one in the vehicle, you must have removed the ignition key and locked all doors and windows.
This is to help combat theft.
Bus Passengers – NSW only
This has to be the strangest road rule of all. You cannot splash anyone who is in or on a bus, entering or leaving a bus or waiting at a bus stop with mud after driving through a puddle. Yet if you splash any other pedestrian it is perfectly legal.