$272 fine looms for anyone trying this move at traffic lights

We’ve all had that moment where you missed a turn and needed to double back on ourselves at the first possible opportunity to get going in the right direction.

If you’re near a set of traffic lights, performing a quick “U-ie” gets you back on track in a moment. Yet, this simple manoeuvre is severely frowned upon almost anywhere in Australia.

It has gotten to the point that performing this sneaky move at a set of lights could see you slapped with both fines and demerit points if you are caught in the act. So just why is it against the rules?

Police officer pulls over blue car. Source: AP
Police don't take kindly to people doing U-turns in the wrong place. Source: AP

A limited opportunity

Surprisingly, almost every state has strict rules regarding U-turns anywhere on the roads and doing them at a junction with traffic lights is no exception.

Under Rule 40 of the Australian Road Rules, drivers are only allowed to perform a U-turn at a set of lights if there is a sign saying that is permitted at that junction.

If there’s no sign, then there’s no U-turn allowed at that turn. It is a move that has been adopted in almost all Australian states apart from Victoria.

In Victoria, the rules are reversed meaning that drivers are allowed to perform U-turns at a junction with traffic lights unless there is a “No U-Turn” sign.

It is a common theme in The Garden State as they generally have much more lenient rules regarding U-turns than every other state in Australia.

No u-turn sign in the street. Source: Getty Images
Victoria allows U-turns unless a sign states they aren't allowed. Source: Getty Images

Patience saves penalties

With most states taking a firm stance against U-turns in the wrong place, you won’t be surprised to see that the authorities have put in place strict penalties for anyone caught in the act.

Most states have dual penalties for offending drivers as anyone caught doing U-turns illegally at traffic lights will be given both demerit points and a significant fine. The states that have these rules in place include:

NSW: In New South Wales, drivers caught doing an illegal U-turn at a traffic lights junction face a fine of $272 and two demerit points to their licence.

QLD: Anyone caught doing a sneaky “U-ie” in Queensland at a set of lights will be given three demerit points for their troubles and a fine of $110.

SA: In one of the harshest penalties for doing an illegal U-turn, South Australian drivers will cop a hefty fine of $488 as well as two demerit points to think about.

WA: Although authorities in Western Australia only issue a $100 fine, drivers will also be given two demerit points for performing a U-turn anywhere that it isn’t permitted.

TAS: For drivers in Tasmania, anyone found to be caught doing an illegal U-turn at a set of lights will be looking at receiving a fine of $173 as well as getting two demerit points to their licence.

ACT: Around Canberra, drivers face hefty penalties for performing U-turns at traffic lights as they will receive a fine of $398 as well as two demerit points.

With their more relaxed laws surrounding U-turns, Victorian drivers won’t be punished for making one at a set of lights. However, if you do this where at a set of lights with a sign disallowing them, you could cop a fine of $227.

Typically heavy traffic on Parramatta Road, Sydney at dusk. Source: Getty Images
Most states issue demerit points and fines for making U-turns at traffic lights. Source: Getty Images

Over in the Northern Territory, illegal U-turns are classified as a general road offence. This means offenders will get slapped with a fine of one penalty unit which is currently $157.

With the variations in rules around U-turns across Australia, it is always worth looking out for signs when you reach the lights to see whether you can change direction or not.

By keeping an extra eye out, you’ll avoid getting punished for making an illegal turn at a set of lights and avoid any unnecessary inconveniences on your journey.

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