Could you answer this Learner Driver question on overtaking trucks?

·News Reporter
·4-min read

Overtaking a long truck can be a confronting experience for anyone on the road, but it's especially nerve-wracking for new drivers.

So how would you go answering a NSW Driver Knowledge test question on the rules surrounding overtaking large vehicles? 

The question is accompanied by a diagram of a car sitting next to an oversized vehicle at a crossroads.

It says: “You are driving behind a long vehicle which has a sign saying DO NOT OVERTAKE TURNING VEHICLE. The long vehicle indicates that it is going to turn left. You…"

Sign about large vehicle. Source: Getty Images
It's illegal to overtake large vehicle with a Do not overtake sign on the rear. Source: Getty Images

It then lists three possible answers stating:

A. May pass the truck because it cannot turn left from the middle lane.

B. May move to the left-hand side of the road and pass the long vehicle.

C. Must let the long vehicle turn first.

Which option would you select?

Overtaking question.
The truck overtaking question in the NSW Driver's Test. Source: Service NSW

A road rule conundrum

As long vehicles require extra space to carry out basic road functions, the only safe answer to choose is C, which is allowing the long vehicle to turn instead of overtaking it.

This situation is backed up by a couple of different road rules across Australia with the most prominent one revolving around overtaking vehicles turning left.

This is because Rule 143 of the Australian Road Rules declares that drivers must not attempt to overtake vehicles carrying a “Do not overtake turning vehicle” sign and have their indicators signalling an immediate turn.

Furthermore, Rule 141 of the Australian Road Rules clearly states that drivers are not allowed to overtake to the left of any vehicle that is turning left if it is not safe to do so – regardless of their size or length.

With these road rules in place across all Australian states, trying to overtake an oversized vehicle as it is turning presents a very risky proposition for anyone lacking a bit of patience.

Big fines related to big vehicles

If any driver thinks that they can sneak past a long vehicle as it is about to turn, they might reconsider once they learn about the penalties looming for anyone caught trying this by police.

Many local authorities are more than happy to dish out both fines and demerits to anyone caught breaking these road rules. Some of the more notable penalties include:

NSW: Anyone in New South Wales who ignores a do not overtake sign on a large vehicle while it is turning should prepare themselves to be issued with a $272 fine and have two demerit points added to their licence.

VIC: In Victoria, drivers will cop a $363 fine and two demerit points if they attempt overtaking a vehicle on the left-hand side which has a do not overtake sign on its rear carriage.

QLD: Drivers in Queensland will be issued a $192 fine and get two demerit points if Queensland Police catch them overtaking vehicles with a do not overtake sign attached while turning.

SA: Should anyone in South Australia be caught breaking Rule 143 by SA Police, they will get slapped with a $424 fine and two demerit points for their troubles.

WA: Police in Western Australia will issue a $200 fine and two demerit points for anyone who ignores a do not overtake sign on a vehicle that is immediately turning.

TAS: Tasmanian authorities will dish out a $173 fine and two demerit points to any driver found unsafely overtaking a vehicle that is turning and displaying a do not overtake sign on the rear of its carriage.

Large truck driving on road.
Drivers could cop two demerit points if they are caught breaking Rule 143 of the Australian Road Rules. Source: Getty Images

ACT: Anyone in Canberra who attempts to overtake a vehicle turning left with a do not overtake sign could face a penalty of two demerit points and a fine of $301 from ACT Police.

With a financial penalty looming alongside the possible dangers of a collision, it is wise for drivers to hold back when approaching a large vehicle that is about to turn.

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