Commonly misunderstood road rules

One way sign
One way sign

Get the behind the wheel and there's a fair chance you'll see another driver breaking one of these road rules. Read on to make sure that driver isn't you...

When can you use your fog and high beam lights?

A driver is only permitted to use fog lights (if your car model has them as an option, of course) while driving in fog, mist or other atmospheric conditions that restrict visibility. In other conditions, 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. As a side note, it’s also an offence to flash the vehicle’s headlights unless the vehicle is being used to respond to an emergency.

When should you use your indicators on a roundabout?

Drivers approaching a roundabout must use their indicators when turning left, right or making a U-turn, but not when going straight ahead (this would mislead other drivers into thinking you’re going left or right). When exiting a roundabout, whichever way you’re turning or going straight ahead, you must always indicate a left turn just before you exit, unless it’s not practical to do so. For example, when travelling straight ahead on a small single lane roundabout, it may be impractical to indicate left when exiting.

Are L, P1 or P2 licence holders allowed to use their mobile phones whilst driving?

No. Drivers who hold an L, P1 and P2 licence are not permitted to use a mobile phone at all while driving or riding. For fully-licensed drivers, a mobile phone can only be used while driving if it’s secured in a commercially manufactured mounting and is operated via Bluetooth technology or voice activation. It can only then be used to make or answer calls, as a driver or navigational aid, and as an audio player (not for texting, internet browsing, etc.).

At what time of day do school zones apply?

A school zone is the area around a school with a speed limit of 40km/h imposed. This is normally between the times of 8am-9.30am and 2.30pm-4pm on school days only. There’s a small number of non-standard school zone times in NSW. These zones are identified by red/orange school zone signs that also indicate the non-standard times that apply to them.

At what speed must you keep in the left lane?

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

How far should you stay behind the vehicle in front of you whilst driving?

Drivers should stay three seconds behind vehicles in front of them and be mindful not to tailgate. In poor conditions such as rain, gravel roads or dim light, it may be necessary to increase the travelling distance to four seconds to avoid potential crashes.

Can you make U-turn at traffic lights?

No. You must not make a U-turn at traffic lights unless there is a ‘U-turn permitted’ sign displayed. 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 single continuous dividing line; a single continuous dividing line to the left of a broken line; or two parallel continuous dividing lines.

Do you immediately have to stop at a yellow traffic light?

A driver approaching a traffic light showing a yellow light should be attempting to stop their vehicle at the intersection. Penalties may apply for drivers who fail to come to a stop at a yellow signal, unless it is unsafe for them to do so.

Information source courtesy of Open Road Magazine.

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