The little-known driving rules you may be breaking
Most experienced drivers would consider themselves pretty knowledgeable on Australia’s road rules, but with each state policed differently, there’s every chance you’ve broken the law and been none the wiser.
From beeping your car horn to taking a nap after a few too many drinks, there’s a host of hefty fines that you could be slapped for depending on which state you’re in.
Teletrac Navman, Australia’s leading fleet management company, has recently compiled a list of the Australian road laws that drivers might be breaking without even realising.
Sleeping off a few too many beers
While there’s currently no federal law against sleeping in your car, it may mean you have to prove you had no intention to drive.
In some states, napping in the driver’s seat of a vehicle can be considered reason enough to prosecute, even if the keys aren’t in the ignition. If you’ve been drinking, play it safe and catch a taxi or Uber home or risk a hefty fine of up to $1400 and a 10-month suspension.
Queensland: $1400 fine and up to 10-month suspension
Playing music too loud
Blasting loud music from your vehicle with the window down can burn a hole in your pocket. While you might be enjoying your car karaoke, a police officer might not take kindly to the noise pollution. If you ignore a verbal warning or instructions to turn the party down, you can get slapped with a fine of up to $200.
Queensland: $175 fine
NSW: $200 fine
Driving through a puddle to splash mud on pedestrians
Where you can, it’s recommended that you avoid big puddles that may splash mud on pedestrians – specifically those waiting for the bus. It’s no fun getting splashed on the way to work, and a $177 fine and 3 demerit points is no joke either.
NSW: $177 fine and three demerit points
Being a middle lane hog
The basic rule of motorway driving is to stick to the left unless you’re overtaking. Providing you’re travelling at a safe speed, you’re free to change lanes at any time, but hogging the middle lane when it’s clear on the left can carry fines of up to $108 and two demerit points.
NSW: $108 fine and two demerit points
Queensland: $66 fine and two demerit points
Beeping your horn for the wrong reasons
Car horns are designed for alerting other road users and animals to your presence. Using it for any other reason, including a goodbye honk, can lead to hefty fines.
New South Wales: $298 fine
Victoria: $282 fine
Flashing your lights to warn other drivers of speed cameras
While this may seem like a helpful way of protecting your fellow drivers, it can lead to a fine of up to $110 and attract 1 demerit point in NSW as flashing your lights can be misconstrued as an attempt to dazzle another road user. While warning others isn’t strictly prohibited, dipping your lights is restricted.
NSW: $110 fine
Western Australia: $100 fine
Queensland: $50 fine and one demerit point
Eating, drinking or doing your make-up
If your hands are busy unwrapping lunch or ensuring your eyeliner is perfect, then your concentration won’t be on the road. You may be looking away for only a few seconds, but anything can happen in that time. Keep your eyes on the road or you’ll receive a fine of up to $600 plus three demerit points depending on your local state law.
NSW & ACT: $448 fine 3 demerit points
Western Australia: $600 fine
South Australia: $184 fine
Northern Territory: $500 fine
Queensland: Court fine and three demerit points
Tasmania: $163 fine
Believing the 10 per cent speed limit myth
While some drivers believe that driving 10 per cent over the speeding limit is acceptable – this is not the case. Exceeding speed limits by even a few kilometres per hour carries fines of up to $201 and one demerit point.
These laws depend on the discretion of police, but speed cameras won’t be as forgiving.
NSW: $119 fine and one demerit point
Victoria: $201 fine and one demerit point
South Australia: $174 fine
Western Australia: $100 fine
Queensland: $174 fine
Driving too slowly
While many drivers are aware of the dangers of driving too fast, some don’t see the harm in driving too slowly. Under Australian road rules, it’s illegal to obstruct the path of another vehicle – this can include driving unreasonably slowly and carries a fine of up to $289, or $253 and 4 demerit points in NSW.
NSW: $253 fine and four demerit points
Queensland: Court imposed fine
Victoria: $289 fine
Using Google Maps or GPS app
Many drivers use mobile apps like Google Maps to get them where they’re going. If you get caught handling your mobile, even for GPS use, you can score a fine and a penalty of five demerit points. To prevent this, ensure your phone is fixed to your vehicle with a cradle that doesn’t obscure your view of the road.
NSW: Fine and five demerit points
Western Australia: $400 fine
South Australia: $308 fine
Passenger holding baby while driving
Even if your passenger insists, the driver is always responsible for ensuring everyone in the vehicle is safely secured for the journey. Using a baby seat is a requirement for children under the age of four, with non-compliance leading to a fine of up to $500 and a loss of three demerit points.
Every state: Up to $500 and 3 demerit points
Queensland: Double demerits if fined twice
Not turning your lights on in the dark
It can be difficult to see in the dark, particularly on rural country roads and motorways with little illumination. Driving at night or in darkness without lights can risk a fine of up to $211 and one demerit points.
NSW: $112, 2 demerit points
Victoria: $211, 1 demerit point
Queensland: $130, 1 demerit point
Having dirt on your number plate
Mud and grime is inevitable in your daily journey, but if this builds up to the point where your number plates are obscured or unreadable, you can cop a $415 fine and 3 demerit points. It’s essential that your plates are readable at all times.
NSW: $415 fine and three demerit points
Queensland: $341 fine
Victoria: $161 and three demerit points
Parking on a footpath
On narrow streets, it can be tempting to park ‘politely’ and tuck your car away on a kerb but mounting the gutter can carry serious penalties in some states. While council officers may use their discretion when ticketing drivers, parking on the footpath or verge carries a fine of up to $126.
NSW: $99 fine
Victoria: $85 fine
Queensland: $126 fine
Parking on a single yellow line
Even if you’re just ducking into the shops for a quick minute, there’s no excuse to invent your own parking spot. A kerbside yellow line means there are parking restrictions in place and ignoring them can lead to a fine and a loss of two demerit points.