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Road Rules you may not be aware of

There are some quite odd Road Rules in place that you may never have dreamed existed and really have no relevance to a present day highway, but there are also some unusual Road Rules that do apply to all road users today which you may very well not be aware of.  In this article we set out some of these more unusual Road Rules for you.

There are some odd Road Rules

There are still in place today some really old Road Rules that are long outdated because they were brought into being well before the modern motor car and motorway, but were very much in force during the time of the horse and cart. 

For instance, according to these old Road Rules, the taxi you took home from dinner out last night should have had a bale of hay in the boot, or it was in breach of the Road Rules. Obviously this was from the time of horses and carts but it is a rule that still exists today.

Also, did you know that if you ride your dog, pig, cow or horse on the road, or you have them drawing another vehicle, it is considered to be a vehicle under antiquated Road Rules that still exist today.

There are also other Road Rules that still are very relevant today, but a lot of people are not aware of them.

Avoiding an animal on the roadway is only permissable if it is safe to do so

A lot of people are not aware that if you have a collision with another motor vehicle, cyclist or pedestrian as a result of avoiding an animal on the road, you could be held at fault for the collision, and possibly fined or charged.

When you see an animal on the road in front of you, you need to assess the environment before taking any evasive action.  The reason for this is so you do not take avoidance action which may cause a collision with another vehicle, a cyclist or pedestrian.

If you need to take evasive action to avoid an animal, make sure that throwing on your brakes on the highway or swerving to avoid it is not going to unreasonably obstruct the path of another vehicle (eg. on a high speed motorway), take you into the path of an oncoming vehicle, or otherwise cause a collision with another motor vehicle, cyclist or pedestrian in your vicinity.

In taking any avoidance action, you must not unreasonably obstruct the path of other road users or cause a traffic hazard. The action you take must be appropriate to avoid or prevent risk to yourself and other road users.

The Road Rules say that to avoid hitting an animal on the roadway, you may take the following action, if it is safe to do so:

  • Stop or drive on the road shoulder to avoid hitting the animal; and
  • If you have a clear view of traffic approaching you, and it is safe to do so, you may:
    • Drive to the right of the centre of the road to avoid hitting an animal (if there is no centre line); or
    • Drive to the right of a dividing line, a dividing strip, over a single continuous line, over two parallel continuous lines, or over a painted island.

In order to avoid being found in breach of the Road Rules and prosecution that could ensue if you cause a serious motor vehicle accident or injury to another road user because you took action to evade an animal on the roadway, keep in mind that the action you take must be considered necessary and reasonable.

Keep your body parts within the vehicle at all times

Did you know that it is against the law to have any part of your body outside a moving vehicle?  Many people are not aware of this.

The purpose of the rule is to avoid injury to body parts extended outside a vehicle that could be struck by another motor vehicle on the roadway.

It is not only other moving vehicles like cars, buses, trucks etc that you have to be aware of. If you have a limb or other body part extended out from a moving vehicle, it could be struck when passing a stationary object like a pole or a stationery motor vehicle, causing you serious injury.

If the gap when overtaking a cyclist on the road is insufficient, you can be fined

When overtaking cyclists on the roadway, you must leave at least one metre between the left outermost part of your vehicle (including the side mirror or anything else protruding from the vehicle) and the right outermost part of the bicycle (including something protruding from the bicycle).  Also, if the speed limit is over 60kph when overtaking, the minimum distance is increased to 1.5 metres.

You are permitted to cross centre lines or the centre of the roadway if there are no line markings to pass cyclists safely, and this includes crossing continuous line markings and even crossing or straddling marked islands in the roadway. However, this is only permissible if it is safe to take such action.

If you have to take such action to pass a cyclist, then you must use your indicator to indicate that you are veering right to overtake it. But remember, always check your blindspot when doing so.

If it is unsafe to take such action to pass a cyclist, then you must wait and travel behind the cyclist until it is safe to pass.

If you do not keep a safe distance when passing a cyclist of at least 1 metre for roads with less than 60kph speed limits, or 1.5 metres for those over 60kph, you can be fined $365. Iif the matter goes to Court, you can be fined as much as $4,876.00.  The offence also carries 3 demerit points.

Do not cut into a funeral procession or you could be fined

Most people always take heed when they see a funeral procession and are respectful in how they interact with the convoy of vehicles involved. However, did you know that you can actually be fined if you do not?

If you see a funeral procession on the road whilst you are driving, you must not attempt to drive through the procession or interrupt the progress of the procession, or you can be fined for doing so.

It is an offence to drive with deafening music, a loud engine or exhaust

Did you know that it is an offence to drive around with loud deafening music blaring out of your vehicle, or with a loud sounding engine or exhaust system?  Well, whilst it would appear a lot of drivers on the Gold Coast are not aware of this, it is in fact the case.

It is actually an offence for a person to start or drive a vehicle in a way that makes unnecessary noise or smoke and you can be penalised for doing so.  If you pull up at traffic lights with a police car next to you, and you have your music blaring, you had better hope the police like the music, or you may end up with a fine.

Don't toot your horn unless in warning

It is an offence to sound your horn in a motor vehicle unless you are doing so to warn other road users of your approach, or you need to warn animals to get off the road.

Also, you are permitted to sound your horn if it is activated as part of an anti-theft device or alcohol interlock device in your vehicle.

The window gap rule

In Queensland, it is a law that if you are more than three metres from your car, the vehicle must be “secured”.

What “secured” means is:

  • Engine is off;
  • Handbrake must be applied;
  • Key must be removed from the ignition; and
  • Windows must be up with a gap of no more than 5cm.

If there is a person over 16 years of age in the vehicle however, then you are allowed to undertake the action above.

So if you and your family head off from Brisbane to the Gold Coast for a swim on a scorching hot day, and you decide to leave the windows in your car down whilst you all go for a dip - make sure the gap is no more than 5 cm, or you could be stuck with a traffic fine and a costly day at the beach, and there have been cases where this has occurred.

Don't travel with your pets unrestrained in or outside the vehicle

When you travel with pets in your vehicle, they have to be placed in a restraint and cannot be left to roam around the vehicle. Like children, pets are not permitted to be riding on the lap of a driver or passenger.

When pets are riding outside the vehicle, for instance, when riding in the back of a utility or tray of a truck, then they also have to be adequately restrained.

Keep both feet on the footrests of your motorcycle at all times

When riding your motorcycle, be careful what you do with your body parts, as the rule is that you must keep both your feet on the foot rests of your motorcycle whilst in motion, at all times.

A Brisbane man found this out when he was fined by police for stretching his leg whilst riding his motorcycle along the highway. 

If you would like to know more about Queensland's Road Rules, or you need assistance with an injury claim caused by a breach of a Road Rule, contact The Personal Injury Lawyers who may be able to assist with any claim or enquiries.

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