Nine important road rules that may surprise you

Hand out of WINDOW
Hand out of window

Every driver is meant to know the rules of the road. Stay in your lane, signal whenever you need to change lanes or turn, keep a safe distance and so on. Compared to a lot of other countries, we seem to be pretty straight-forward when it comes to laws of the road, but we’re betting there are a few that will surprise you.

Rule 78: Keeping clear of emergency vehicles

Drivers must not move into the path of an approaching emergency vehicle (police, fire brigade or ambulance) and must give way as soon as it’s safe, so the emergency vehicle has a clear passage through traffic. Generally, if you hear a siren or see flashing lights, pull over to the left and remain there until the emergency vehicle has driven past you.

Penalty: $457 fine and three demerit points

Rule 126: Drive behind other vehicle too closely

Tailgating is illegal and dangerous. An impatient driver who tailgates can be distracting, intimidating, and put road users at risk. A good driver maintains an appropriate space all around their vehicle and ensures a gap of three seconds between their vehicle and the one ahead. This is out of courtesy, but also to give them room to brake safely if they need to stop quickly.

Penalty: $457 fine and three demerit points

Rule 213: Making a motor vehicle secure

Before leaving your parked vehicle, you must ensure the parking brake is applied securely, the gears are engaged in first gear or downhill, reverse for uphill or ‘park’ for automatics; the engine is switched off if you'll be more than three meters from the closest part of the vehicle; the ignition key s removed; and the doors are locked and windows are secured (though up to 2cm down is acceptable).

Penalty: $114 fine for any one of these points ignored

Rule 224: Using horns and similar warning devices

A quick toot of the horn to say goodbye is a familiar, if annoying, sound when drivers leave a social gathering. It's even more grating when angry drivers use their horns aggressively. In both these cases, however, the law is being broken. A driver is not allowed to use their car horn, except when using it to warn other road users or animals of their approach, or it's used as part of an anti-theft or alcohol interlock device.

Penalty: $76 fine

Rule 234: Crossing a road

Pedestrians have a right to share the road and drivers are legally required to give way to them at crossings and intersections. However, pedestrians shouldn’t dawdle crossing a road and must use the shortest safe route, unless there's a & 'pedestrians may cross diagonally' sign. And if they're within 20 metres of a pedestrian crossing, they must use it to cross the road.

Penalty: $76 fine

Rule 268 (3-4) Part of body outside vehicle

The next time you're tempted to casually hang your arm out of the window while driving, remember it's against the law for a driver or passenger to travel in a motor vehicle with any part of their body outside the window or door, unless it's the driver giving hand signals.

Penalty: $344 fine and three demerit points for the driver committing the offence; or a $330 fine for the passenger at fault.

Rule 291: Making unnecessary noise or smoke

It's an offence to drive and cause unnecessary noise or smoke. Furthermore, all drivers must switch off their car engine when they stop, unless they’re in traffic or trying to fix the engine.

Penalty: $330 fine and three demerit points; or a $183 fine for not stopping the engine of a stationary vehicle. The NSW Environment Protection Authority can also deliver fines for individuals of up to $600 for vehicles that exceed the prescribed limit by 15 decibels. For most cars, the relevant exhaust noise limit is 90 decibels and for motorcycles, 94 decibels. 

Rule 291-3: Splashing mud on bus passengers

Driving past a bus stop on a rainy day could have expensive consequences for thoughtless motorists. It’s the law that drivers must slow down or stop to make sure they don’t splash mud on any person waiting at a bus stop, hopping on board or leaving a stationary bus, or any person that’s in or on a bus (though we’re not quite sure of how this last example would occur!).

Penalty: $191 fine

Rule 51A (Crimes Act 1990) Predatory driving

Road rage is one of the most frightening things to occur on our roads. It includes verbal abuse, aggressive driving and abusive gestures. When it reaches a point where the threat of physical harm is real, it crosses the line to become predatory driving and is an offence taken very seriously by the police under the Crimes Act, resulting in large fines and imprisonment.

Penalty: $100,000 fine and/or five years imprisonment.

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