The hefty fines facing pedestrians caught breaking the law

While pedestrians mostly have the right of way over cars in Australia, there are rules people must obey to avoid being hit with huge fines.

From jaywalking, to crossing the road metres away from a zebra crossing, pedestrians can find themselves being penalised if they are caught by the police.

There is no penalty in place for people distracted by mobile phones while crossing roads – dubbed “zombie pedestrians”. However, the Pedestrian Council of Australia is calling for those pedestrians to be slapped with a $200 fine in a bid to curb the number of deaths on Australian roads.

According to the latest data from the Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics, 176 pedestrians lost their lives on the roads in 2018, 17 more than 2017.

Here is a list of road rules you may not have known you were breaking.

No pedestrian access signs

Pedestrians must not walk past areas with signs specifying pedestrians must not cross, according to NSW legislation.

If a pedestrian is walking on part of a road where a sign states pedestrians are not permitted beyond the sign, you can be whacked with a $76 fine in NSW.

Pictured is a sign on a fence that says pedestrians prohibited.
Pedestrians can cop huge fines for ignoring signs like this one. Source: Getty

Breaking the rule in Victoria will land you with a $289 fine, or cost you $126 in Tasmania and $50 in Western Australia. It’ll cost South Australians $51 and Queenslanders $53.

Road access signs are usually spotted on freeways, where pedestrians are not permitted to walk.

Crossing a road at traffic lights

Pedestrians are always required to cross a road using the safest and shortest route. Those who fail to cross as soon as possible could be penalised. The exception in NSW is at busy intersections where diagonal crossing is allowed.

Pedestrians walk across a busy Bridge Street near Circular Quay intersection in Sydney.
Pedestrians can only cross at traffic lights when the signal turns green. Source: Getty

A person crossing an intersection at traffic lights must however comply with the road rules, and those who fail to do so are dubbed jaywalkers.

“If the pedestrian lights show a red pedestrian light... the pedestrian must not start to cross until the pedestrian lights change to green,” the NSW legislation says.

However, if the pedestrian is already crossing the road when the lights start flashing red, the pedestrian must leave the roadway as soon as possible, whether that be to a traffic island, dividing strip, safety zone or the nearest side of the road.

Jaywalkers are whacked with a $53 fine in Queensland, $50 in Western Australia, $42 in Tasmania, $83 in Victoria, $51 in South Australia and $76 in NSW.

Walking across level crossings

Pedestrians can also cop massive fines if they ignore warnings and walk through level crossings.

This can be an especially dangerous activity as pedestrians risk being hit by oncoming trains.

It is illegal to walk across train tracks unless a pedestrian crosses at the designated spot when it is safe to do so.

According to the South Australian government, a collision with a train or tram travelling at a slow speed can result in serious injury or death.

While many level crossings in Australia have warning signals, flashing lights and boom gates, not all level crossings have these warning systems.

A commuter train passes through a railway level crossing on Eel Race Road, Seaford, Melbourne.
Pedestrians are required to pay attention to warning signals at level crossings. Source: Getty

According to the government, dangerous pedestrian behaviour includes crossing the tracks before the warning signals have stopped, using umbrellas, mobile phones and headphones, not looking both ways, taking shortcuts between train tracks and platforms, running through a crossing after a train has passed on one side without looking in the other direction, running in front of an approaching train and forcing open an active pedestrian barrier.

“These behaviours are resulting mainly from impatience, inattention, complacency, distractions and lack of awareness as to the rules, dangers and penalties surrounding rail crossing use,” the South Australian government says on its website.

This also applies at light rail crossings, with the NSW Government announcing a new fine for pedestrians this week ahead of the opening of Sydney’s new light rail system.

This offence comes with an $83 fine in Victoria, $126 fine in Tasmania, $76 fine in NSW and $100 in WA.

Breaking this law will cost South Australians $51 and Queenslanders $53.

Crossing a road near zebra crossings and traffic lights

It is against the law in many states for a pedestrian to cross a road or part of a road within 20 metres of a pedestrian crossing or traffic lights.

Failing to comply can also cost you a $76 fine in NSW.

Pictured is a children crossing sign in a rural Australian town.
More than 170 pedestrians were killed on Australian roads last year.

Those in Victoria will cop an $83 fine, in Tasmania the offence comes with a $42 fine, a $51 fine in South Australia, a $50 fine in Western Australia and $53 fine in Queensland.

Hitchhiking, washing windows and walking in front of moving cars

It is illegal for a pedestrian to move into the path of a moving car and they must not unreasonably obstruct the path of a car or another pedestrian.

This includes hitchhiking, displaying an advertisement, offering to sell items, offering to wash and clean the windscreen of stationary vehicles, or standing and moving onto a road.

Man washing the window of a red car.
People trying to make money by washing cars at busy intersections are risking a fine. Source: Getty

Breaking any of these rules also come with a $76 fine in NSW.

In Victoria the offence costs $83, $84 in Tasmania, $51 in South Australia, $50 in Western Australia and $53 in Queensland.

Getting in and out of a moving car

Pedestrians are not allowed to get in and out of moving vehicles unless it is required for their occupation.

A person can get into a vehicle if it is driving slower than 5km/h and they are working as a delivery driver or collecting waste and garbage.

According to NSW legislation, this does not apply to people getting on and off a bike or animal.

Pedestrians who break this law will also cop a $76 fine in NSW.

This offence comes with an $83 fine in Victoria, $126 fine in Tasmania and $50 fine in WA.

South Australians will be slapped with a $192 fine and Queenslanders a $53 fine.

Pictured is an RMS graphic of a pedestrian crossing a zebra crossing as a green and blue car approach.
Pedestrians can be slapped with fines if they cross the road within 20 metres of a zebra crossing. Source: RMS

Pedestrians walking on roads

If pedestrians have the option to walk on a footpath, they must not walk on a road. The exception is if it is not possible to use the footpath due to construction works or another obstruction.

If a pedestrian is walking on a road, they must face traffic coming towards them and must not walk next to another pedestrian unless overtaking.

This too comes with a $76 fine in NSW.

Pedestrians will be fined $83 in Victoria, $51 in South Australia, $42 in Tasmania, $50 in WA and $53 in Queensland.

A Queensland Transport and Main Roads spokesperson told Yahoo News Australia walking beside or near roads required particular attention to safety.

“We’re all pedestrians at some time and as pedestrians we’re especially vulnerable to injury,” the spokesperson said.

“Unlike people in vehicles, pedestrians are not protected by seat belts, airbags and metal.

“As pedestrians, it’s important to be aware of traffic and surroundings and never assume a driver or rider has seen you.”

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