Don’t you hate it when you’re stuck in a peak hour traffic jam only for some impatient driver nearby to try cut past by using a bus lane?
Well, you might get the last laugh as anyone who is caught driving illegally in bus lanes could face some heavy penalties if they’re caught trying this dodgy way beating traffic queues.
Many states have significant penalties for anyone actively caught illegally using bus lanes on the road no matter what the excuse might be. So what are the rules surrounding bus lanes?
No cars allowed
As the name suggests, bus lanes are specified areas on the road designed to give buses room to keep moving on major roads during the busiest times of the day.
It’s why Rule 154 of the Australian Road Rules specifically bans cars from using bus lanes to stop them from getting an advantage over traffic and speed up their overall journey.
It means that the only vehicles travelling in the bus lane should be buses, bicycles or horses to ensure that the main stretch of road can move freely without constant interruptions to traffic flow.
While this rule itself doesn’t give leeway to drivers, Rule 158 of the ARR does allow for some exceptions for cars to travel in a bus lane for short distances. Some of these examples could include:
Turning at an intersection or side road
To avoid hazards on the road
Overtaking turning cars, bicycles or significantly slower hazards
These exemptions give drivers some leeway when having to veer into the bus lane, but they won’t allow anyone anyone to drive in the bus lane for several kilometres.
Impatience is costly
Anyone deemed to be taking advantage of bus lanes illegally is looking at some hefty penalties for taking a shortcut.
Some states will issue double penalties for driving in a bus lane with both fines and demerit points looming for anyone caught by the police. Some of the states issuing both penalties include:
NSW: Drivers in New South Wales face a large $349 fine for driving illegally in a bus lane and they will also be issued with one demerit point for their actions.
WA: In Western Australia, drivers face a fine of 2 penalty units ($100) for driving illegally in a bus lane as well as getting three demerit points added to their licence.
Aside from NSW and WA, most other states will just issue fines to offending drivers but some of these amounts can be surprisingly pricey for anyone failing to take care on the roads. Some of the biggest penalties include:
SA: South Australian drivers are used to heavy road fines and incorrectly using bus lanes is no exception, with offenders getting hit with a combined fine of $382.
VIC: If anyone is found to be unlawfully driving in a bus lane around Victoria, they could face a fine of $182 from road authorities.
QLD: Queensland looks to punish drivers using bus lanes incorrectly via the penalty unit system. The offence carries a minimum penalty of one penalty unit which is currently worth $137.50.
TAS: Anyone caught trying to use bus lanes illegally in Tasmania will find themselves getting hit with a fine of $130.
These hefty penalties should hopefully act as a deterrent for anyone who thinks they can cheekily outsmart other road users next time they want to get ahead of the rush-hour queue by using an empty bus lane.
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