One of society’s unwritten laws is that you must be respectful of the dead and it turns out that for several Australian states that expectation extends to behaviour on the road as well.
The states in question dish out big punishments to any drivers who get a rush of blood to their head and deliberately interrupt a funeral procession when driving past.
Each state has its own unique spin on the rule meaning that Australians need to pay particular attention when driving near a cortege in different parts of the country.
Where could I be penalised?
It’s drivers across the eastern seaboard who find themselves at risk should they interrupt a funeral procession with NSW, ACT, Victoria and Queensland all having separate legislation on the issue.
In NSW, the government has added their own spin on rule 79 where subsection 1 states that: "A driver must not interfere with or interrupt the free passage of any funeral cortege or authorised procession as well as any other vehicles forming part of the procession".
The ruling is virtually identical in both Queensland and Victoria where the state legislations are added as part of the Queensland Traffic Regulation Act (Rule 125) and the ACT Road Transport Regulations 2005 (Rule 300A).
In Victoria, the law was also recently introduced in November 2020 as part of the amended Road Traffic Rules 2017 where rule 77A added a new section forbidding any interruptions of a funeral procession.
At the moment, no other states have introduced rules surrounding funeral processions meaning drivers in NT, WA, SA and Tasmania would not be penalised for interrupting a cortege.
The penalties for interrupting a funeral procession
As you may expect, authorities don’t look too kindly on anyone caught interrupting a funeral procession in states where it is illegal.
QLD: Queensland enforces the harshest penalty as there is no set fine limit for disrupting a procession and the penalty could cost up to 20 penalty units which currently adds to $2660.
NSW: Australia's first state threatens drivers with similar penalties for anyone caught interrupting a funeral where they also can issue fines of up to 20 penalty units which would sit at a maximum penalty of $2200.
Unlike their northern neighbours, both the ACT and Victoria have exact fines for drivers caught breaching the regulations with police able to issue the following penalties:
ACT: A direct fine of $205.
VIC: A penalty of $91.
It’s wise to be aware of these rules whenever you see a funeral procession on the road ahead and always be patient when driving behind a hearse and any vehicles close to it.
Other weird road rules involving giving way
It’s not just funeral processions that get right of way over general motorists on Australian streets as some states have some odd laws to give other vehicles the right of way. Some notable examples of this include:
Across NSW, motorists have to give way to any vehicle when crossing their natural form of transport.
Subsection 2 of rule 79 gives the right of way to other modes of transport including boats at a ferry crossing.
If you live in far western NSW, you may have to turn back and give way to planes in certain areas of the state.
Laws in NSW have given authorities the right to close the Silver City Highway in some stretches and use it as a landing point for medical planes to evacuate critically injured residents.
If you really want to try and get ahead of the traffic in NSW, you better be wary of where you try it. If you try cutting through the entranceways to a petrol station, then you could be in big trouble.
Anyone caught doing this can be considered driving over a footpath and that escapade could set you back $349 and possibly 3 demerit points.
It’s worth paying attention to other vehicles around you on the road and think about whether trying to cut ahead of them is worth risking a penalty. Just remember – patience is a virtue!
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