Why this common traffic light act could cost you $572

When you’re in a rush and you come up to a yellow traffic light, there is always a temptation to put the foot down on the accelerator and breeze on through.

However, you might not be aware that in almost any situation, driving through a yellow traffic light is an illegal action on Australian roads that could result in some serious penalties.

With a minimum of triple-figure fines and several demerit points looming for anyone caught in the act, just how costly could it prove to be driving through a yellow traffic light?

What do the rules say?

Whilst each state in Australia has its own set of road regulations, almost every area has universally copied the national guidelines when it comes to behaving around a yellow light situation.

According to Rule 57 in the Australian Road Rules – the national guidelines for state bodies to follow –drivers must always stop at a yellow light if:

  • There is a stop line and the driver can stop safely before the line

  • There is no stop line and the driver can stop safely before reaching the traffic lights

  • The driver can’t stop safely before the stop line or the traffic lights but they can stop safely before entering the intersection.

A traffic light with the green light on. Source: Getty Images
There's an important traffic light rule that you may be breaking. Source: Getty Images

With that being said, exceptions to drive through are given if the driver is unable to stop safely and may pose a risk to other drivers by suddenly halting in a dangerous position, for example, in a middle of an intersection blocking traffic.

The penalties for ignoring a yellow traffic light

Unsurprisingly, state bodies don’t take too kindly for anyone actively caught driving through a yellow traffic light.

Each state has a fine waiting to be unleashed, with several also handing out demerit points to go with it. The potential penalties are:

NSW: There is a two-part penalty for running an amber light in NSW. If the incident occurs on general roads, it’s a $457 fine and three demerit points. The fines increase if you get caught in a school zone where the fee increases to $572 and four demerit points.

Most of us have sped up to make it through an amber light at one time or another. Source: Getty Images
Most of us have sped up to make it through an amber light at one time or another. Source: Getty Images

QLD: The Sunshine State is very clear on their rules regarding traffic lights. Anyone who is caught driving through a yellow light earns a $413 fine and three demerit points – the same penalty for running a red light.

VIC: Any driver in Victoria caught running a yellow light faces a penalty combination of three demerit points and a $454 fine.

SA: South Australia issues the harshest penalty in the country for running a yellow light. Treated just like a red light penalty, offending drivers face a $514 fine and three demerit points.

WA: Unlike most other Australian states, Western Australia bases their yellow light fines on penalty units. The fine for running a yellow light is two demerit points and four penalty units which would currently cost $200.

TAS: One of the more lenient states, offenders in Tasmania face a fine of $130 as well as three demerit points on their licence.

NT: The most lenient penalty in Australia for running a yellow light can be found in the Northern Territory. Offending drivers face a $100 fine and no demerit points if they drive through a yellow light.

ACT: In the ACT, running through a yellow light is a fine that carries no set fee. Instead, the offence carries a maximum penalty of 20 penalty units, potentially costing $3,200.

It’s fair to say then that running a yellow light is significantly frowned upon across the country.

Indeed, it’s enough to make you think twice about rushing through a yellow traffic light next time you’re in a hurry.

Stranger road rules discovered

Whilst rules surrounding traffic lights are pretty clear-cut, some road laws across the country are fairly bizarre. Some of the prime examples include:

VIC: Believe it or not, Victoria has a law making it illegal to control an animal on a lead whilst driving. This bizarre act will land a fine of $155 but no demerit points.

WA: For anyone in WA keen to ride in the back of a ute, it’s time to think again. Trying this dangerous stunt as a passenger will set you back $550 and the driver will cop a $500 and four demerit points

TAS: In Tassie, it’s imperative to keep your number plate clean. If a photo recognition device (e.g speed camera) can’t identify your vehicle, the registered owner cops a $140 fine – even if they aren’t driving!

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