'We learned fast': The obscure road rule catching out visitors to Australia

For motorists from the UK transitioning to Australian roads, it would appear pretty easy to adhere to road rules.

After all, Brits also drive on the left, their road signs are in the same language and there are strict speed limits enforced for both.

But among the few minor differences, there appears to be one that is causing a headache for hundreds of British drivers.

One pom who emigrated to Perth several years ago took to Facebook this week to reveal his anger at receiving a $97 fine for parking against the flow of traffic during a trip to Melbourne.

The disgruntled driver said he’d been able to park “any which way on the road” in the UK and warned others of the differing rule.

“I mean come on its a dead end quiet side street. Watch out peeps,” he wrote.

The motorist's parking fine for $97 from City of Darebin.
The motorist's parking fine that indicated he wasn't 'facing direction of travel'. Source: Facebook

And it wasn’t long for dozens of others to point out they too had been caught out by the rule.

“Got a fine on my third day in Australia for that,” one person said.

“Got fined $60 parking for five minutes on a street in Clarkson facing the wrong way when we first came here 12 years ago, no one tells you about parking neatly,” another wrote.

One woman said “we learned fast” after she and her husband copped a big fine.

When the rule has been queried before in online forums, there has been little sympathy from Australians.

“Not knowing the rules isn't a reason to get out of a 'fine' when you break one,” one person wrote.

‘Never a good idea’

In the UK, it is legal to park against the flow of traffic during the day time. As the sun goes down, it then becomes an offence but the enforcement of the law is understood to be less strict.

Across all Australian states and territories, the law is in effect 24 hours a day and can result in hefty fines.

Cars parked against the direction of travel on a street.
Dozens of British motorists have fallen foul of the parking rule in Australia. Source: Getty, file.

While fine amounts are decided by individual councils, breaching the rule in NSW can result in a fine of up to $263.

According to Victorian legislation, “the driver must position the vehicle to face — (a) in the direction of travel of vehicles in the marked lane or line of traffic on, or next to, the part of the road where the driver parks; or (b) if there is no traffic on, or next to, that part of the road—in the direction in which vehicles could lawfully travel on that part of the road”.

The maximum fine for breaking the rule sits at $99 for 2019-20.

While the maximum fine for the offence in Queensland is 20 penalty points which equates to $2,000, recipients of fines in the state said they were closer to $100.

The offence in WA will often incur a $50 fine from councils.

NRMA road safety expert Dimitra Vlahomitros told Yahoo News Australia foreign motorists must become accustomed to road rules in Australia to ensure the safety of themselves and others.

“Parking in the wrong direction is illegal and you can be fined,” Ms Vlahomitros said.

“It is dangerous and can add to congestion, when motorists are forced to pull out of their parking space into oncoming traffic.

“Parking on the wrong side of the road is never a good idea, particularly at night when visibility is reduced.”

It’s not the first road rule drivers in Australia have called for more awareness on, with several others, including restrictions on playing loud music, detailed in January.

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