Fact or fiction? These popular Australian road rule myths busted

Do you think you know the road rules like the back of your hand? You could be in for a
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Do you think you know the road rules like the back of your hand? You could be in for a surprise!

Ask anyone who drives if they’re a good driver and the majority of them will say they are. Ask the same person a question about the road rules and they’ll swear blind they know the rules, even if it turns out to be wrong!

It can be difficult to know who’s right! So to put any of those common myths to bed, we decided to find out the truth and debunk them once and for all.

Myth #1: I don’t need to go the reduced speed limit if there’s no visible road works

This one is a big no-no: in actual fact, road work speed limits apply even if there aren’t any workers present. When the signs are displayed the relevant speed limit is in force as there may be loose gravel, unmarked lines or changes in the road configuration.

Myth #2: It’s okay to use my phone as long as I don’t make a call

Incorrect: Touching or picking up a phone in any manner while on the road is an offence. This includes music, texting, social media or using your phone as a GPS, even if you’re stopped at a light. If you need to use your phone, you must be pulled over and out of traffic.

Myth #3: It’s legal to drive at 80 on the highway

It’s actually illegal and according to QPS, you can be charged with failing to show due care and consideration. They suggest pulling over if you’re going too slow, i.e. there are four or five cards behind you.

Myth #4: If I’m in a slip lane and it ends, I have the right of way

Not true. Law dictates that if your lane comes to an end with dotted lines you must give way to the traffic you are moving into. But if there isn’t a dotted line, then the vehicle behind must give way to the vehicle in front.

Myth #5: I need to indicate right when I enter a roundabout, unless I’m turning left

That’s just a myth, you don’t need to indicate right if you’re going straight, but need to if you’re going right or doing a U-turn. You can indicate left out of the roundabout.

Myth #6: My licence plate doesn’t need to be visible, just attached

Nope, in fact, if your number plate isn’t visible from 20 metres away, that’s illegal. It cannot be covered by bull bars, towbars, driving lights or be faded or obscured. In Queensland, you can receive a $227 fine if your plate/s are not legible.

Myth #7: My dog or cat can sit in my lap when I drive

Nope! This is illegal and any animal in the car must be restrained. This is for the safety of yourself, your passengers and other road users if you become distracted.

Myth #8: I can warn other drivers that there’s a police car by flashing my lights

The old Australian custom of flashing your lights to warn oncoming vehicles of a police car up the road could get you fined up to $60 – it’s called dazzling your headlights. This follows on from a well-known law that you must dip your headlights to low beam when a vehicle coming toward you is within 200 metres.

 

Did any of these laws/road rules surprise you? What’s another question you have that you and your friends can’t decide on?

  1. Wendy Taylor

    Myth #4 oops! Wasn’t sure on that one.
    Myth #8 flashing head lights has always been annoying.

  2. Barbara Easthope

    My pet hate is drivers who drive in the right lane of a multilane highway when not overtaking or when there is no congestion. If the speed limit is over 80 they are breaking the law as well as being a pain in the proverbial as they box other cars in behind slower moving traffic. I thought this was just an SA behaviour but saw it on the Hume highway a couple of weeks ago. I suspect if it is illegal here in SA it probably is in the Eastern states too as there was a concerted effort made to standardise road rules across Australia.

    • Trevor Salmon

      If you are travelling in the right hand lane at the posted limit then you cannot be legally overtaken, anybody who desires to go faster than the limit is the offender.

    • Barbara Easthope

      If you are travelling in the right hand lane and not overtaking a car on your left, moving from behind a car indicating it is turning left or there is a high level of traffic on the road necessitating all lanes are used you are breaking the law. That you are in the right lane doing the speed limit is irrelevant and sure if I zoom past on the left above the speed limit I am breaking the law too. It is section 130 of the SA Road Rules there are other conditions too. I gather a lot of people don’t know this rule as I observe people driving for miles in the right lane when there is no reason too.

    • Barbara Easthope

      Trevor If you are travelling in the right hand lane and not overtaking a car on your left, moving from behind a car indicating it is turning left or there is a high level of traffic on the road necessitating all lanes are used you are breaking the law. That you are in the right lane doing the speed limit is irrelevant and sure if I zoom past on the left above the speed limit I am breaking the law too. It is section 130 of the SA Road Rules there are other conditions too. I gather a lot of people don’t know this rule as I observe people driving for miles in the right lane when there is no reason too.

    • Ruth Hourigan

      Barbara Easthope
      You are correct. The road rules state that you can only drive on the inside lane if overtaking. You can be charged and fined for driving in the inside lane if you are causing a blockage in the traffic.

    • Nick Croft

      In NSW and I assume it is the same in other states the rule for multi-lane road with a speed limit of 90 kilometres or more is that you must drive in the left hand lane unless you are overtaking another motor vehicle. Many freeways in NSW have large signs advising drivers of this rule. So if a driver on a freeway is forced to overtake on the left hand side then the driver being overtaken is also breaking the law.

    • Glenda Draper

      If there are two or three lanes you can pass any cars at any time in any lane. It’s illegal to pass on the left if it’s a one lane road only.

    • Barbara Easthope

      Yes Glenda that’s true but if drivers are obeying the right lane rule, it would only be if a car was indicating it was about to turn right that any one should find it necessary to overtake to the left of another car. It’s amazing what rules people don’t know, I looked up the demerit points for a speed limit infringement, my car not me driving, and was a bit taken aback by some I didn’t know. Bravo to the writer of this article because it was something I’d thought of writing about as some rules are brought in with little publicity, or have been in the rules for ages but rarely enforced or publicised.

    • Glenda Draper

      There are many instances where for some reason the right lane is blocked. It happens on the SE freeway outside of Adelaide all the time. Everyone wants to drive in the right lane..because they don’t want to get stuck behind the trucks. So what happens. the right lane bunches up, slows down and I quite often find myself passing in the left lane. It’s not illegal to do so…that’s all I was saying.

    • Barbara Easthope

      Yes Glenda I’ve driven that road and most car drivers wouldn’t choose to drive in the far left lane due to the trucks struggling up or down the hill. The road I regularly travel is between Adelaide and Port Wakefield and after Two Wells the road is usually pretty quiet and relatively easy to get into the correct lane. The freeway can be busy and on those long climbs drivers over estimate their cars power and get too far over and if you want to keep your own cars revs up you often do have to take the opportunity to pass on their left if you can. I never meant to suggest it wasn’t legal to pass on the left, just that is actually illegal to drive in the right lane unless you are overtaking a slower car on your left. You must pass them and pull back into the left lane as soon as you can. 🙈🙉🙊

    • Martin Smith

      Trevor Salmon The law states that if you are in the right hand lane 80k zone or higher; unless overtaking or turning; you have to drive in the left hand lane; can get a fine for staying in the right hand lane.

    • Al Zaunders

      In Australia the inside lane is the left hand lane which is the slow vehicle lane. In America the inside lane is also the left hand lane which is the overtaking lane. Better to clarify your posts by using left, right and middle.

  3. Norman Meade  

    If a (P) plater limited to 80kph, what speed limit applies on a freeway with a 110kph ?

  4. Rick Taylor

    Here’s another one, in SA you have to slow to 25kl when passing a emergency/ police/ school bus etc when they have flashing lights on, even if they are on the OPPOSITE side of the road

    • Barbara Easthope

      I have trouble with that one, particularly lone police cars with flashing lights chatting to drivers in a lay by. I can understand it if there is an accident or fire or police are working on the road. If it is truly about worker safety, what about RAA mechanics or tow truck drivers.

    • Karen Preston

      Correct…….my friend got pulled over because she passed a police car with flashing lights because she didn’t slow down and pass at 25km. She wasn’t booked but it scared her because he pulled her over……..with lights flashing. It applies to any RED flashing lights…..fire truck, ambulance etc. but not yellow lights. I think it’s in case of someone getting out of their car, or for the safety of the police officer who may be pushed into the road. 🚨

    • Glenda Draper

      It was on to the other day saying that as from some day last October or maybe that was a different rule that’s been bought in but pretty sure it was that one. My hubby is a good driver and I had to oint out that rule to him

  5. Jacqueline Laroche

    #5.👍, glad someone clarified this, there’s apparently a new rule stating to put your indicator to the right when u go straight 😳duhhhhh❗️, never made sense to me.👎but Thk u start at 60 for the clarification 👌

    • Owen Gustafson

      The so called headlight flasher is actually called a passing light and should be used when you pass a vehicle on a two lane road to warn that vehicle that you are going to pass it. This is what it was designed for and I can’t understand why people don’t use it for that reason.

      • Simon Firth  

        Flashing your lights in the UK usually means that you will give way even though it is nominally your right of way.
        e.g. you can signal an oncoming car wanting to turn right across a constant line of traffic that you will give them room to do so.

  6. Kathleen Alder

    Rule 6 says you can indicate left out of a roundabout, in fact you must indicate left just before your exit.

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