When you drive a little too far, reversing back along your path is normally a quick and painless way to get yourself moving in the right direction.
What you may not know, however, is that there are rules surrounding how you reverse on the roads and whether it could put other motorists at risk.
It can be a risky choice as reversing unsafely could put you at risk of copping some hefty penalties no matter where you are in Australia. So just what could go wrong when reversing?
Don’t backtrack too far
First and foremost, reversing itself is not illegal. So if you think reversing into a parking space or out of your driveway could get you in trouble, then think again.
Instead, the rules surrounding reversing are based on doing it safely on the open road. As part of the Australian Road Rules, Rule 296 ensures drivers reversing on the roads should only do it when it is safe and only for the necessary distance required.
It means that you shouldn’t go careering down the main road for hundreds of metres at a time and only back up if there is no risk of anyone being put in danger.
As it can be a major safety issue on the roads, it isn’t surprising to see that this part of the national rules framework has been universally adopted by all states across the country.
Going a stretch too far
Should you happen to reverse dangerously and get caught doing it, the authorities won’t take too kindly to it no matter where you may be.
Some states have a severely strict policy in regards to reversing safely and will punish any offenders with both a significant fine and demerit points added to their licence. The states that take this approach include:
NSW: In New South Wales, drivers found to be reversing unsafely on the roads face a fine of $194 and get two demerit points to their licence. Should they try this in a school zone, the penalties increase to a $272 fine and three points slapped onto their licence.
WA: Over in Western Australia, drivers also face double penalties. Offenders will get a fine of two penalty units which is worth $100 as well as get one demerit point added to their licence.
Not all states take such a strict approach. Most areas will avoid issuing demerit points but will instead hand out hefty fines to punish offending drivers. Some of the more prominent punishments include:
VIC: Anyone in Victoria caught reversing unsafely on the road can look forward to being given a $182 fine. They will also face the same penalty if they reversed an excessive distance on the open road.
SA: The strictest fines for reversing unsafely can be found in South Australia. When the fine is combined with the $92 crime levy, drivers will be awarded an overall penalty of $559, although it drops to $373 if the punishment is only for going an excessive distance.
QLD: No matter what the reversing offence may be, Queensland drivers can be hit with a fine of one penalty unit if doing it in an illegal manner which currently sits at $137.50.
TAS: If anyone in Tasmania is deemed to be reversing unsafely, they will be issued a fine of $173 although it drops to $130 if it is only for doing it over an excessive distance.
ACT: Drivers around Canberra face strict penalties if they try reversing illegally. Anyone doing it in an unsafe manner can look forward to a fine of $301 whilst going back too far will land you a penalty of $205.
It’s obvious to see then that the authorities don’t take too kindly to anyone who thinks heading backwards is a good idea especially if it puts other motorists at risk.
That is why it is always best to always check your surroundings before putting your car into reverse and ensure that a simple part of driving doesn’t end up proving to be a very costly error.
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