Aussie Road Rules
Australian roads can seem confusing at the best of times. Parking signs that make no sense, roundabouts with multiple lanes and the always strange Hook-Turn. Well, imagine trying to learn a new set of rules as a visitor or recent arrival to Australia. Driving on the wrong side of the road would be stress enough for most!
We thought we’d try to get an idea of what annoying or confusing situations members have been in trouble for, so we sent out a questionnaire. We had a great response from members and an idea of what may help new drivers Down Under.
Park in the direction of traffic
The most common issue members have coming from overseas was parking. A lot of European countries and the UK (insert awkward Brexit joke here) allow drivers to park against the flow of traffic. Unfortunately, in Australia you must always park in the direction of traffic. Many members tell us they get hit with a fine because of this.
Read the parking signs (if you can!)
Another issue was parking signs. In many countries parking is either allowed or not, but in Australia streets can be “No Stopping” zones at certain times of the day, paid parking at other times, and even sometimes free parking. It can get very complicated! The trick to reading a parking sign is first to remember the day of the week and what time it is (sometimes a bit difficult when you’re driving), and then see how that fits in with the rules on the sign. If you’re allowed to park, go for it!
“I never got caught, but I spent my first couple years in Australia blissfully turning left on red at every opportunity. It was only after watching them talk about it on Top Gear that I realised I had been flouting the law every time I went driving!”
Intersections in Australia vary from city to city. Most major intersections will have a left arrow indicating when you’re allowed to turn, but some intersections have a sign which allows you to turn left on the red light. You can proceed with turning once you have stopped and checked it’s safe to do so. Just don’t turn on a red signal if there isn’t a sign telling you to do so!
“….in the city often you will get a green light but at the same time pedestrians will get a green man to cross……that doesn’t happen in the UK. its one at a time. I always think pedestrians must get run over this way.”
While this may be confusing at first, always remember that you MUST give way to pedestrians. In Australia, cyclists and pedestrians must be given safe distances when accessing the road. Serious fines apply if you don’t follow the rules!
“In Melbourne, Victoria they have the hook turn at some intersections that have tram tracks crossing. Vic drivers get very annoyed at New South Welshman who go to turn right at these intersections by waiting in the right-hand lane. For a hook turn you must wait on the left-hand side until the light turns orange, then you can turn.”
The Hook Turn doesn’t exist in many parts of the world and in Australia, the city of Melbourne is the only place you’ll see it performed. The first experience may have you terrified as it looks like a car is about to cause a serious accident! It can also be surprising to pedestrians, having a car approach as you cross, only to stop in the middle of the road. To help explain it, see below for the official rules from VIC Roads:
To do a hook turn you must follow these steps.
- Approach and enter the intersection from the far left-hand lane and have your right indicator on.
- Move forward to the other side of the intersection, keeping as near as possible to the left of the intersection and clear of any pedestrian crossings.
- Stay stopped until the traffic lights on the road you are turning into have turned green.
- Turn right into the road.
For more info, see the VIC roads website – https://www.vicroads.vic.gov.au/safety-and-road-rules/road-rules/a-to-z-of-road-rules/turning
“I almost picked up a $110 fine for not carrying my driver’s licence.”
In certain countries, you can legally drive without your driver’s licence physically present on you. Not in Australia! Even just driving down to the shops without your licence on you is illegal and you can face a decent fine.
“Driving on a New Zealand full licence after 3 months in the country. All international licences need to be changed to an Australian licence after entering the country for three months. The licence fee is nowhere near as much as the fine!!!”
Thinking you can stay here without changing over your licence? Think again. Any longer than 3 months of living in Australia, and you’ll need to change your licence off to an Aussie one. This is actually super easy and can be done within an hour or two. Just head to the local road and traffic authority to apply.
Double lines – If you’re driving on a street with double lines in the middle, DO NOT cross them. This is a no turning or overtaking lane.
Loading zone – Try and avoid these spots altogether. They’re reserved for commercial use only and no explaining that “you’re loading the groceries” is going to work.
Minimum speed – This is a tricky one. The only ruling here is that you’re not allowed to drive “unreasonably” slowly. If you were doing 20km in an 80km zone, you’d get pulled over for obstructing traffic.
Speed cameras – Speed camera zones are everywhere! In NSW, the Government must notify you (using a sign) that you are approaching a speed camera. In every other state, they don’t have to notify you, so you can find yourself getting snapped without warning.
Road Rage – The heat can make everyone a bit testy, but please keep your calm when driving. It’s not worth the hassle and can have violent responses.
Arrowed signs – Signage with arrows pointing a particular direction are indicating the information on the sign, only applicable to that direction.
We hope this has helped you understand the rules a little more before driving on Aussie roads. And remember, you can always ask GoGet for clarification on any road rules. We’re not experts but we’ll try our best to answer your questions.