The traffic light rule you've probably broken - and it could cost you $448

Everyone knows that red means stop, but it is possible many road users are not doing the right thing when the light changes from green to yellow.

As the light turns amber some motorists decide to rush through an intersection, but is this okay?

Around the country the laws are actually very clear – you can be booked for running a yellow light.

You must stop on a yellow light, unless it is unsafe to do so,” the Queensland Government website reads.

“The yellow light is not the end of the green light phase—it is the beginning of the red light phase.”

The South Australian government explains, “You must not enter the intersection unless you are so close to the stop line that you are unable to stop safely without entering the intersection or risking a rear-end crash with vehicles following you.”

Are you doing the right thing when approaching yellow traffic lights? Source: ‘Top 10 misunderstood road rules in NSW’ brochure

The Royal Automobile Club of Victoria (RACV) says the yellow traffic light only lasts for about three to four seconds, depending on the speed limit in the area.

“The use of yellow traffic lights is to allow vehicles to clear the intersection, prior to the red light,” a statement from the RACV read.

For those who were not aware of the offence, it seems you’re not alone. NSW transport included it in a document titled “Top 10 misunderstood road rules in NSW”, which was published in 2014.

“Penalties apply for drivers who fail to stop at a yellow light, unless it is unsafe to do so,” the document reads.

Penalties for failing to stop at a yellow light

In Queensland, failing to stop for a yellow traffic light or arrow could cost you three points and $391 – the same as failing to stop for a red light or arrow. 

Drivers in NSW could face an even heftier penalty, as not coming to a halt at a stop line at a yellow light could cost drivers $448 and three points.

The fine for failing to obey yellow traffic lights in the Northern Territory is $100, compared to $240 for failing to stop on a red.

In Tasmania the offence of failing to stop when it could have been done safely carries a fine of $122.25 and also three points.