It's our most basic road rule - but did you know you could be fined over this?

Melissa Buttigieg
News Reporter

The basic rule of Australian motorway driving is to stick to the left unless overtaking, but one Melbourne motorist learned the lesson the hard way when they were slapped with a $161 fine for hogging the right lane.

Providing you are travelling at a safe speed, motorists are free to change lanes at any time, but driving in the middle or right lane when it’s clear on the left can carry hefty penalties.

A motorist in Melbourne’s north started their Australia Day long weekend on a sour note, picking up a $161 fine for “failing to keep left” and losing two demerit points in the process.

A Melbourne motorist was fined $161 for “failing to keep left” and lost two demerit points. Source: Eyewatch – Moreland Police Service Area / Facebook

A picture of the January 24 infringement notice was shared to Eyewatch – Moreland Police Service Area Facebook page last week, shaming the driver for hogging the right lane in a 100km/h speed zone.

“You are required to keep left unless overtaking on all roads with a speed limit of 90, 100 and 110 or lower speed limits if there are ‘keep left unless overtaking’ signs posted,” the police advised in their post.

“Please do the right thing and don’t sit endlessly in the right lane.”

‘Fail to keep left’ law explained

Keeping to the left on a multi-lane road is not only courteous to other drivers, it’s the law.

Victorian drivers are required to keep to the left lane of a multi-lane road for any road where the speed is 80km/h or higher, or there is a ‘Keep Left Unless Overtaking’ sign, VicRoads confirmed to Yahoo7 News.

“Keeping left is important to ensure we can keep traffic moving and allows vehicles to overtake safely,” said Roger Chao, VicRoads Director of Road User and Vehicle Access.

“We advise all drivers to keep left unless overtaking – particularly on highways, freeways and high speed arterial roads,” he added.

The other exceptions to keeping left are are when a driver is turning right or making a U-turn from the centre of the road and has their right-turn indicator on, avoiding an obstruction, travelling where signs or arrows indicate this is allowed (such as where a ‘Left Lane Must Turn Left’ sign applies and the driver is not turning left) or where traffic in other lanes is congested, the Royal Automobile Club of Victoria (RACV) reminded motorists on its website.

Driving in the middle or right lane when it’s clear on the left, like this red car, can carry hefty penalties. Source: Road Safety Commission

How much can drivers be fined?

  • The Melbourne driver received the Victorian maximum penalty of $161;
  • South Australian motorists who fail to keep left could be fined up to $305, and lose two demerit points;
  • In Tasmania, the fine for driving in a right hand lane on multi-lane road (in an over 80 km/h zone or with keep left unless overtaking sign) when not permitted, is up to $125.25 and two demerit points;
  • New South Wales motorists who fail to keep left in a multi-lane road could be fined $108 and lose two demerit points; while in Queensland it’s a $66 fine and two demerit points;
  • Western Australian drivers can be fined $50 and lose two demerit points for the same offence.

Support for enforcing lane hog rule

The post was met with support from many, who commended the police for acting on the not-so-enforced law and called for more drivers to be caught and fined for hogging the right lane.

“Should be done all the time not just long weekends its not enforced,” one wrote.

Another added: “About time.”

Other road rules Australians might be breaking without even realising include driving through a puddle, playing music too loud, and beeping your horn for the wrong reasons.

The infringement came two months after public debate arose when NSW Road Safety posted a diagram on Facebook showing an intersection with three cars, a pedestrian and a bicycle and asked people the order in which they should go.

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