Television Producer & Photojournalist with a passion for sharing adventures in and around Melbourne, Australia. See my www.youtube.com/user/tmztvaustralia for other adventures. Subscribe to me so I can tell you of upcoming fab things not to miss.
Published April 15th 2017
New Dash cameras are catching you being naughty on the road
Cops are watching the roads more and more
As our highways and inner city streets get more and more crammed with cars, trucks, bikes, trams and motorcycles, driving can be very daunting at best. The majority of us think we know all the road rules, but I was in for a big surprise when I learned a few surprising rules from my daughter, while she was training for her driver's licence.
So I thought, if I don't know this as a driver of over 40 years, who else might not know as well. So I started a wee little investigation into the rules that have been sneaking in on us, for our own safety.
1. Following too closely is illegal. Well, this is happening on every freeway in Australia. What is legal? There is a very simple way to determine how close is too close. If you watch the car in front of you go past a road sign and you count (AT ANY SPEED) 1 thousand 1, 2 thousand 2, 3 thousand 3 and if you have passed that same marker before 3 thousand 3, you are following too closely. This information can be found on the Vic Roads website.
If you are following closer than that, it means you will never be able to brake quickly enough to avoid crashing into the car in front of you. That car's boot will be crushed. You and the front of your car will be crushed. And you have to pay for all expenses. You were illegally following too closely. And with dash cams everywhere and forensic experts in the police department being able to analyse skid marks. You have nowhere to go but court ending with a hefty fine and insurance costs.
And if you cannot see someone's lights in your rear view mirror, they are following you far too closely. Recently there was a truck that completely flattened a small car and they could not get to the dead body. Was that truck too close or did the car try to jump into too tight a spot? I am sure the facts will come out in trial but either way, somebody was travelling too fast and too close.
2. You cannot drive with your hazard lights on except in hazardous conditions, such as fog, or if the car cannot travel at speed, the car is obstructing other cars or walkers, or it is travelling in the emergency lane.
3. Reversing into angled parking spaces is NOT legal unless there are signs stating "reverse in". Oh dear, how many cars parked at shopping centres are illegal right now. Especially the small strip shops.
4. As a driver. you are not allowed to use your high beams within 200 meters of a car in front of you or coming toward you.
5. You can wear high heels or thongs while driving, as long as you have full control of the vehicle. Do not let those wet slippery beach thongs sneak under the brake so you cannot brake! Take a spare pair of warm, safe shoes to change into.
6. Those in disabled parking can park twice as long as the time posted for other cars. Yes, disable drivers need that time to get around and load their wheelchairs or walking frames. That seems fair and reasonable. You could also help them, if you had a moment on two. And yes, it is illegal to park in a disabled spot if you do not have a legal sticker.
If you are starting to feel you can not walk without assistance, then see your local GP to get a proper sticker. Don't risk a nasty fine.
7. Australia Post Motorcycle crew rock. They do a great job in rain, wind, hail, snow and shine all for us to walk a few steps to our post boxes and immediately be informed. So remember, they are allowed to ride their bikes just about anywhere they need to. However, they must give way to dogs, cats, people, pet birds, snails (no not snails) and must not exceed 10 ks per hour. Wish I could get this job.
8. Reversing out of driveways is legal but precarious, so you really have to take care to look for all obstacles, especially bikers, and give way. Everyone else has the right of the road before you enter it.
Bikes, come zooming past, and if you have high walls around your driveway, you may not see them coming. My friend ended up in a hospital due to a reversing car. So maybe instead reverse into your driveway when you come home, and have full vision coming out.
9. It is ILLEGAL to stop in a CLEAR WAY. Clearways are clear to prevent danger to everyone on the roads. Only taxis or buses can stop briefly in these to collect people. Also, they allow fire trucks and ambulances to negotiate around to quickly save lives. CLEAR means CLEAR at all times.
Also, if you see traffic trying to get out of shops, or schools, or driveways, to join the traffic on the road, and the traffic is stopping anyway. Don't stop in front of them and block everyone, stop prior and give them a car space to merge in.
10. Trucks must now travel at 90 kms per hour on the Monash freeway due to some horrific crashes which killed people. It is impossible to stop a massive tonne truck at speed; so if you think you can just squeeze in front of it, in that tiny spot, that is not very clever. Don't be dead, don't cut quickly in front of any truck ever. Truckies are putting in dash cams at a rapid rate and sending those images, with your rego, to the local law enforcement.
11. Driving in full control means driving with full control of the steering wheel as well. Formal hand positions are at 9 and 3 o'clock. If you cannot see someone's hands, from your car window, they are in the wrong spot. You can take one hand off to change gear, but it must go back. Two fingers on the bottom of the steering wheel gives you no control whatsoever over a car travelling at high speed. If anything startles you, you will be out of control of the car in a split second.
Oh let's try driving by laying your arms over the wheel; arms can't steer. Lift yes, steer no.
Turning the car with the palm of your hand; hope you didn't have slippery chips for lunch. And I hope no one has misjudged your turning circle. All it takes is one other person, not sure of what you are doing, and SMASH. A split second is all it takes.
12. Racing up to someone moving a few kms slower and then screaming around them at top speed, just to have to stop at the next stop light is a bit silly. The driver you passed is laughing at your waste of petrol. Got there a nanosecond faster, did you. Well, petrol costs just went up again, and I just saved $5.50 by not speeding up to and stopping at lights. Good thing you are made of money.
13. I believe the only time you are ever allowed to cross a double white line is to enter or exit a road. And passing a person on a corner with a double marked line, at speed, gets you a free ride in an ambulance when you hit the person coming around the corner. If you are lucky.
14. Beeping at people has different effects. One, you startle them totally and therefore they make a mistake with their driving, endangering you both. Two, they flip you off and then a road rage event stops all traffic. Three, they slow down, then a road rage event stops all traffic. Why did you beep? What for?
When a person beeps at me, I immediately think, I am in danger and slam on the brakes. Oops, you were behind me and you beeped and then you slammed into me because I put on my brakes cause you beeped and startled me? Yes, what a vicious circle and that is your $1000 to the insurance company and you do not get to pass GO.
15. Stopping or sneaking over the stop line at a red light while waiting for green is illegal.
16. Finally, school zones. THEY ARE 40. But why? Because there are children in them. And children's peripheral vision does not mature until they are about 10 years old. They cannot see you, so please, 40 is a good thing. Squashing out babies is not.
17. Some elderly people move slower - let them, respect our elders. They deserve to actually get to enjoy their retirement after years of racing around. Again, if you startle them, they are sometimes like deer in the head lights - unpredictable. They get a fright and hit the petrol instead of the brake and chaos.
18. And for the flow of traffic, if you do prefer to drive slower, get out of the FAST right lane, so you do not frustrate everyone behind you. Because they start getting impatient and try to squeeze into stupid spots at high speeds to get around you. If you think you are doing the right thing by slowing down traffic, guess what, you are not. You are angering those around you and stressing them into making stupid moves on the roads and they usually never touch their blinker. What's a blinker? Oh, that thing you use to indicate lane changes. Forgot about that one, did you?
I have had so many readers send in requests for additions to this article. Which just shows how frustrated we all are with bad driving in our cities.
One reader sent in saying, "When entering the freeway you must give way to all vehicles already travelling on the freeway. The rules for driving onto a freeway are the same as for changing lanes across a dotted line. On some freeway entrances, there are traffic lights which control how many vehicles can enter the freeway when traffic is heavy. These lights change quickly. When the light turns green only one vehicle in each lane can enter the freeway."
But traffic on the freeway must also allow a car in once they have "MATCHED THE SPEED of the traffic on the freeway and can safely enter into a spot. A driver should not try to squeeze into the latest spot possible before the merge lane disappears. It is a subtle but safer option to merge a wee bit before you land in the Yarra River.
Another reader sent in concerned about "Dangling Bits on internal Mirrors". This is a very good point. According to the Vic Roads website, "The Road Rules require that a driver has a clear view of the road and traffic ahead and the ADRs also require that a vehicle must not be constructed or equipped or have anything attached to it that stops the driver having an adequate view of traffic on either side of the vehicle and in all directions in front of the vehicle.
The "A" pillars on some cars are bad enough but added obstructions dangling from the rear view mirror are a real road safety concern. Drivers can become desensitised to the movement [and the flashing in the case of the disco balls and jewellery] of these dangling objects causing other road users behind these objects to be hidden from view and missed with serious consequences. Any vehicle presented for a roadworthy inspection with any dangling objects hanging from the rear vision mirror should not be issued with a RWC until the objects are removed."
Moral of the story; dump your danglies for safety.
As we get more squashed into our quadruple density cities in Australia, road rage and accidents are only going to get worse, unless each and every one of us stops to take the time to think. "I might be 5 minutes late, but my family will see me tonight; I will get to go on that hot date; I will see my unborn child's face; I will pick my child up from school today. " These are the choices we make every day on the road. Be safe or be sorry.
So can I suggest instead, put on some easy listening music, take a chill pill while you drive and arrive alive.
Remember cars are DEADLY Weapons. I hope this has not been too tongue in cheek, but I have been seeing our roads get scarier and scarier. Be considerate to all and you may live to see another day on the roads of Australia.
You left out the
• NO DINGLY-DANGLY items allowed from Rear Vision Mirror! Totally distracting to driver AND other drivers behind you who need to see traffic in front of your vehicle;
• only required Rego sticker and official parking stickers allowed to be on Windscreen.
Decorative motors are not allowed;
• back 'shelf' is NOT for keeping parcels, toys, umbrella, tissue boxes, cushions etc.
All items block driver's necessary view of rear traffic, and become missiles in an accident;
• All ANIMALS must be restrained in vehicle.
Car seat safety belts are easily purchased for all dogs;
• it is illegal to carry any child or animal on your lap in the front driver and passenger seats of any vehicle at any time for any reason.
If you are on a road with 2 continuous lines (double lines) down the middle, you must:
stay to the left of the lines at all times
drive as close to the left side of the road as you can.
You are not allowed cross over these lines for any reason, unless you have to avoid an obstruction and it is safe to do so.
You can't overtake, turn, or enter or leave the road across double lines.
Would you want to do this in a 100Kph zone on a country road, it only take seconds for a vehicle be in the same spot @ 100Kph, you are effectively traveling @0Kph when turning in & out of driveway in relation to the car that is traveling @100Kph?
Same at a country level crossing, don't try to beat the train, it could be traveling @160Kph & you are crossing @ right angle to so your speed it effectively 0Kph in relation to the train, & it can take a kilometer or more to stop!
(above is copied from VicRoads website)