Ask NRMA: Does ‘the three seconds’ stop rule exist?

We recently received an inquiry from a Member about ‘the three seconds rule’ that sparked some debate on our Facebook page. Does it legally apply when stopping at a stop sign or line?

READY 1,2,3: No need to count, just make sure you come to a complete stop first!

There is no 3 seconds rule. When stopping at a stop sign or stop line you need to come to a stop at or before the stop line (or intersection if there is no stop line), look and then give way to vehicles and/or pedestrians. Once it is safe, proceed.

Part 7 of Road Rules 2014 covers giving way.

67 Stopping and giving way at a stop sign or stop line at an intersection without traffic lights (1) A driver at an intersection with a stop sign or stop line, but without traffic lights, must stop and give way in accordance with this rule. Maximum penalty: 20 penalty units. (2) The driver must stop as near as practicable to, but before reaching: (a) the stop line, or (b) if there is no stop line-the intersection. This rule is also applies for 68 Stopping and giving way at a stop sign or stop line at other places Chances are if you’ve ever driven past the white line or into the intersection without stopping first, you’ve already committed an offence, which can attract a fine of $325 and 3 demerits points, or $433 and 4 demerit points in school zones. Have you seen other motorists break this rule? 

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12 thoughts on “Ask NRMA: Does ‘the three seconds’ stop rule exist?

  1. The police fined me (he said ) for not stopping long enough…..we had a discussion about it!……..he said it’s 3 seconds………I copped it sweet, lost my license over it and had to go on a good behavior bond for 12 months! This happened nov 2013…..
    I never looked at the (very faint carbon writing – I was so upset, and just paid and dealt with it!) reason for the fine until right now…..and it says NOT STOP AT/BEFORE STOP SIGN/LINE (different than what he SAID I did/not do). Wished I’d been more on the ball at the time……

  2. At three way stop sign: If you can clearly see that there are no cars coming in front or from the side road, do you still have to stop?

  3. I think the 3 seconds is a good guideline even if it’s not the legal definition. Generally speaking it takes that long for the car to come to a complete stop and to check both the traffic before proceeding safely.

  4. I have been driving for 52 years and in the last fifteen years I have been driving buses on service work and rail replacement work in the Newcastle, Sydney , Wollongong and Nowra. I have observed on average 2 in 10 actually stop completely at a stop sign and observe the law correctly. Most drivers these days show scant regard for the road rules in general and seem to have no knowledge for road rules at all. We need a reeducation system with our licence renewals and now an update with road rules on driving with trams and light rail. The old rule books used to contain these .

  5. And how about enforcing blinkers on round a bouts, It really gets to me to wait to enter and see a car turning left without using his left blinker. I could have gone instead of waiting.
    I have even had a police car in front of me not using his blinker to the left but still turning of.’
    when PASSING the first turn of, and if you go straight ahead then you will turn your blinker on to the left and keep going .I have yet to see a car being able to leave a roundabout without turning his wheel to the left.

  6. As I understand it, one must stop just before the line or if no line, the intersection and Give Way to traffic both on the right & Left AND to traffic turning across your path.

  7. A friend of mine failed her driving test today because she didn’t cone to a complete stop for 5 seconds at a stop sign. There were no other infractions during her test. Even her driving instructor said that he had never heatd of a 5 second rule.

  8. Hubby got booked for not coming to a complete stop at a stop sign on a Ducati motorbike — Turning onto Newell Highway from a side road railway crossing at Dubbo, police officer was at least 100m up the highway on our right, said “we didn’t come to a complete stop because hubby didn’t put feet to ground” He DID stop completely and he DID put his left foot to ground. We had a clear line of sight of the railway in both directions, and nothing coming either way, which was set back 15-20m from highway (How the officer could see through all the vegetation between us n him –??) — penalty notice read Not stop at stop line/sign at level crossing = 6 pts n $433 n the officer was a jerk about it as well,,, Final outcome, suspension of his license for reaching demerit point limit (a previous mobile phone infringement 12 mths prior which actually was a family emergency, and he was indicating and in the process of exiting the road —- on a long weekend = 8 pts :(

  9. I always believed you had to come to a complete stop, your wheels had to stop turning, then proceed if safe.
    Never heard of a time limit.
    A copper wouldn’t lie would they?

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