Top 10 Most Misunderstood Road Rules

During Road Rules Awareness Week 2016 (22-28 Feb), road users are encouraged to phone the RMS contact centre on 13 22 13 to have their questions answered. Road safety experts can help provide advice. Road users are also invited to view the NSW Road Users Handbook.

Should slow cars keep left?

TEST-TIME: Use this list to cross your Ls and dot your Ps.

Should slow cars keep left? Do you need to indicate at roundabouts? Are you allowed to drive through a yellow light?

These are The 10 Most Misunderstood Road Rules in the state, according to Transport for NSW. Download the pamphlet, check out these videos or read the summary below.

1. ROUNDABOUTS: Drivers approaching a roundabout must use their indicators when turning left, right or making a U-turn, but not when going straight ahead (as this would mislead other drivers into thinking you are going left or right). When exiting a roundabout, whether you are turning left, right or even going straight ahead, you must always indicate a left turn just before you exit, unless it is not practical to do so (when travelling straight ahead on a small single lane roundabout, it may be impractical to indicate left when exiting).

2. GIVING WAY TO PEDESTRIANS: If a driver is turning left or right at an intersection, the driver must give way to any pedestrian crossing the road the driver is entering. This applies to intersections with and without traffic lights.

3. MOBILE PHONES: A mobile phone can only be used while driving if it’s secured in a commercially designed and manufactured mounting fixed to the vehicle or operated by Bluetooth technology or voice activation. This includes the navigational or GPS function and audio functions of the device.

4. MERGING: When a driver is travelling on a road without lane markings and the number of lanes is reduced, they must merge by giving way to any vehicle that is ahead of them. However a driver who is moving from one lane, marked by broken lines (whether or not the lane is ending) to another must give way to any vehicle already travelling in the same direction.

5. KEEPING LEFT: On roads with a speed limit of more than 80km/h, motorists must not drive in the right-hand lane unless overtaking, turning right or making a U-turn, avoiding an obstacle or driving in congested traffic. If a ‘Keep Left Unless Overtaking’ sign is displayed, then you must keep left regardless of the speed limit.

6. HEADLIGHT AND FOG LIGHT USE: High beam is not permitted if travelling less than 200 metres behind a car going in the same direction or less than 200 metres from an oncoming vehicle. It is an offence to flash the vehicle’s headlights unless the vehicle is being used to respond to an emergency. A driver is only permitted to use fog lights if driving in fog, mist or other atmospheric condition that restricts visibility.

7. U-TURNS: When making a U-turn a driver must have a clear view of any approaching traffic and give way to all vehicles and pedestrians. Drivers are not allowed to make a U-turn across: a) a single continuous dividing line; b) a single continuous dividing line to the left of a broken line; c) two parallel continuous dividing lines. You must not make a U-turn at traffic lights unless there is a ‘U-turn permitted’ sign displayed.

8. SAFE FOLLOWING DISTANCE: Drivers should stay three seconds behind vehicles in front of them. In poor conditions such as rain, gravel roads or dim light, it may be necessary to increase the travelling distance to four seconds to increase the crash avoidance space.

9. SCHOOL ZONES: A school zone is the area around a school with a speed limit of 40km/h normally from 8am to 9.30am and between 2.30pm and 4pm on school days. Details on NSW gazetted school days can be located here. There are a small number of non-standard school zone times in NSW. These zones are identified by red/orange school zone signs which indicate non-standard times. Signs at these schools display the times which apply.

10. YELLOW TRAFFIC LIGHTS: A driver approaching traffic lights showing a yellow traffic light must stop if they can do so safely. Penalties apply for drivers who fail to stop at a yellow light, unless it is unsafe to do so.

How did you go? Do many NSW drivers misunderstand these rules?

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How to stay safe when your car overheats

We remind our Members and all motorists to be wary of the potential dangers associated with overheating vehicles and advise following these simple steps to stay safe. 

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With the warmer summer weather, our Roadside Patrols have reported an increase in jobs where Members’ vehicles overheat, leading to breakdown.

Although it is rare with modern engines, even a well-tuned vehicle can overheat.A vehicle running normally has some very hot components in the engine bay.

While driving, monitor your dashboard warning lights and/or your car’s temperature gauge. The first sign of a vehicle overheating is either when the needle on the temperature gauge enters the red zone or the “Check Engine” or “Temperature” warning light on the dashboard illuminates.

Left alone, the liquid in the radiator eventually boils and steam will rise from under the bonnet.

If these indicators are present, NRMA Members should follow these simple steps.

  1. Pull over to a safe location as soon as overheating is detected. Continuing to drive, even for a short distance, could greatly increase damage.
  2. Call the NRMA and our call centre staff will despatch a road service patrol to assist. While waiting for a patrol, do not open the bonnet. It is very dangerous to remove the radiator cap from a hot engine. A severely overheated engine can take several hours to cool. Do not touch or try to remove any engine components. Avoid opening the bonnet until the NRMA Patrol arrives.

If a vehicle requires towing after overheating, it is because it has, or is suspected of suffering, major damage, or the cause could not be found or fixed at the roadside. Prevention is better than cure. Regular checks of your car’s cooling system and proper servicing will reduce the risk of overheating.

Is driving with headphones legal?

Driving with earphones

TAKE THEM OUT: Don’t drive with earphones

Have you seen people drive while wearing headphones?

Although wearing headphones while driving is not explicitly illegal, the practice is dangerous and could result in prosecution if deemed to be the cause of an accident.

A distraction, including wearing headphones emitting loud music while driving, could come under NSW Road Rule 297(1). This section of the Road Rules is a catch all provision that covers any distraction that causes a driver not to have proper control of a vehicle and, for example, have an accident.

In some circumstances it may also be possible that the sound coming from the headphones causes a significant enough distraction for the driver not to have proper control of a vehicle, that a police officer issues an infringement notice even where there isn’t an accident (for example where there is a near miss situation).

It’s also worth noting that loud music being emitted from vehicles causing an ‘offensive noise’ comes under Sections 16 & 17 of the Protection of the Environment Operations (Noise Control) Regulation 2008. However, this would likely be difficult to prosecute and would not be an issue with headphones.

Drivers should always be alert to what is happening around them. By using headphones, the driver is likely to be less aware of the surrounding traffic conditions. If you wear headphones that dull or block out other sounds, you may not hear sirens or horns, which could get you and other drivers into big trouble. It’s simple, your hearing is an essential tool in your overall driving skills package.

Do you often see people driving with headphones? Do you think this practice should be made illegal?

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NSW School Zones back in operation from today

STAY ALERT: School Zones play a critical role in making sure  kids have a safe and happy start to the school holidays.

STAY ALERT: School Zones play a critical role in making sure kids have a safe and happy commute to and from school.

Motorists are being urged to slow down and observe the 40km/h speed limit around school zones, which have come back into effect after the school holidays.

School staff return to work on Wednesday ahead of the start of term one, with most state school students returning on Thursday.

The 40km/h school speed zones operate across NSW and ACT at all school sites on gazetted school days (including school development days). Motorists should drive no faster than 40km/h through school zones.

Most school zones operate from 8:00am to 9.30am and from 2.30pm to 4pm on gazetted school days in NSW and from 8am to 4pm in the ACT. School zones operate and are enforced on pupil free days because pupil free days can vary from school to school.

Consistent operation of school zones aims to reduce driver confusion, which improves the safety of school children. There are a small number of non-standard school zone times in NSW and ACT. They are identified by red/orange school zone signs to show non-standard times. Signs at these schools show the times that apply.

Do you find it difficult to keep up with school zone operating times?

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Tailgating: What’s the big rush?

TAILGATING: How often do you experience this on the road?

TAILGATING: How often do you experience this on the road?

You’d be an extremely lucky driver if you hadn’t experienced tailgating while driving in New South Wales (or pretty much anywhere, really).

We’ve covered the dangers of tailgating before - this blog explains that in this state alone, there are more than 10,000 rear-end crashes every year.

But why are people tailgating? Are drivers in such a rush that they’re willing to put the lives of others (and themselves) at risk?

Just recently on a drive from Sydney to Wollongong, I thought I’d momentarily entered a Steven King movie when I found a massive truck, high beams flashing wildly, bear down on me in the left-hand lane and almost swallow me and my family.

With the cruise control set on exactly the speed limit (110km/h), I was following a steady stream of Friday night traffic and had nowhere to go.

Why was that truck driver in such a hurry? Was he running behind schedule? Was he desperate to get home from work? Or did he just like to intimidate other drivers in his big rig?

I’ll never know because I didn’t get a chance to chat with him, thankfully. If you are the victim of aggressive tailgating, don’t intimidate the driver. Call the police if you fear you’re in danger, or simply let them pass if you have the chance.

Of course you can switch out ‘truck’ with just about any vehicle and it’s likely to be a familiar story to many who use the road. It’s one that is in no way limited to heavy vehicles.

It’s also not just on highways that tailgating is a problem – it’s just that the speeds involved substantially increase the level of danger.

But we experience forms of this behaviour every day. At the lowest end it’s annoying and dangerous. At the extreme end it can be deadly.

Have you experienced tailgating on the road and how often? Who do you find are the main offenders and why do you think they are in such a hurry?

Do you have Road Assist from The NRMA? Don’t get caught without it.

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