Furious debate over 'one of the most confusing' road rules

Nadine Carroll
·3-min read

A road rules quiz posted to social media by the NSW Centre for Road Safety has ignited a debate over the correct way to zipper merge.

The image posted showed two cars travelling, with vehicle A slightly ahead of vehicle B as the traffic combined into one lane. A broken white line stopped before the lanes combined.

“Which car must give way? Post your answer in the comments below,” NSW Road Safety posted on Facebook.

The question attracted comments from hundreds of motorists keen to share their road rules knowledge.

An illustration of a car performing a zipper merge
The road rules quiz about merging confused motorists. Source: Facebook

“B as Car A is not crossing a white line the car in front gets right of way. Should the broken white line continue then A would be required to give way,” one user replied.

“I think both have the same right, courtesy is the best way, slow down and let them go, any side you are,” another person commented.

“A is merging into B’s lane, so A should give way and wait,” another argued.

Learner driver correctly answers merging question

Several people seemed confused over the rules when it came to the situation demonstrated but one learner driver had the correct response.

“I’m still a learner. But I’m sure B needs to give way,” a person correctly answered.

“Probably one of the most confusing NSW road rules there is, needs further clarification and public awareness,” a motorist suggested.

NSW Road Safety confirmed the learner driver had the correct response and gave a detailed explanation.

“Vehicle B (yellow) must give way to Vehicle A (white). When you're travelling on a road where the number of lanes or lines of traffic is reduced and there are no longer any road markings, you must give way to the vehicle that’s ahead of you. This is called a zipper merge. Always take extra care when merging and don’t rush to get in front.”

A motorist merging in his car
Merging seems to be a source of confusion for drivers around Australia. Source: Getty

What is the fine for merging incorrectly?

Although the comments indicated there was a lot of confusion surrounding the correct way to merge, there are some hefty fines drivers could be liable for if they don’t follow the road rules.

In NSW if you fail to merge properly, you can be fined $344 and slapped with three demerit points.

In Tasmania, it’s a cheaper fine than in NSW with a $168 penalty but also attracts three demerit points.

Failing to give way when merging in Western Australia leads to two demerit points and a $100 fine. Failing to give way when changing lanes is a $100 fine and three demerit points.

Queensland drivers can be hit with a $400 fine and three demerit points.

It’s a $247 fine for Victorians but doesn’t come with demerit points.

South Australia has the heaviest fine for the offence though at $409 and three demerit points.

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