We’re all guilty of bending the rules, including the road rules. However, they’re probably the most important set of rules we have to follow on a daily basis, as people’s lives can be at stake.

To help you become a better driver, here are 8 road rules that you’ve almost definitely broken at some point in your driving life. Don’t stress if any of these are new to you… some of these rules are less well known to all of us.

A police car in a car wing mirror, pulling them over for breaking the road rules

1. Driving with one hand

Yep, it’s illegal to drive without both hands on the wheel at all times, with only a few exceptions. You’re allowed to take a hand off the wheel when indicating, using the wipers, or making some other appropriate adjustment, but that’s it.

The NSW road user’s hand book says this explicitly, while other states are less clear about the rules. However, one handed driving is illegal under dangerous or inattentive driving laws in every state, and people are regularly fined for it.

2. Not indicating correctly

Generally, you should indicate whenever your car is moving to the left or the right, to alert other drivers. That includes:

  • Using roundabouts,
  • Changing lanes,
  • Turning left of right, and
  • Leaving the curb.

If you’re not using an indicator in each of those situations, you’re breaking the law. You’re also breaking the law if you don’t indicate left when you’re about to leave a roundabout.

If your indicators aren’t working, you must indicate with your hand when turning right or stopping until the indicators are fixed. Here’s a diagram from the NSW road user’s handbook that demonstrates how to do it.

A diagram demonstrating how to indicate with your hand if your car is turning right, or stopping

Source: NSW road user’s handbook

3. Touching your mobile phone

Every Australian state outlaws using your mobile phone while driving. However, lots of drivers admit to still using their phones in the car.

The only way a driver can legally touch a mobile phone is if it’s placed in a commercially produced cradle. That includes when you’re stopped at traffic lights. To stay on the right side of the law, set your phone up before you start driving, then don’t touch it!

A mobile phone in a cradle, the correct way to use a phone without breaking the road rules

4. Not keeping left at high speeds

When going at high speeds, like on a freeway, you must drive in the left lane, with a few exceptions. Those exceptions are:

  • Overtaking,
  • Turning right,
  • Making a U-turn,
  • Avoiding an obstruction,
  • Driving in traffic, and
  • Using a special lane you’re allowed to be in, like a transit lane.

This rule exists in all states, though the speed it kicks in at varies (eg 80km/h in NSW, but 90km/h in QLD). The best bet is to stay left whenever you’re able.

5. Speeding (even a little bit)

There’s an urban myth that police won’t fine you for speeding you unless you’re going at least 10% over the speed limit. It’s just not true.

Yes, there are times when police won’t stop an only just speeding driver, but there are also regular reports of speeding fines issued for drivers going even one kilometre an hour too fast. At the end of the day, all speeding is illegal and police are within their rights to fine you for it.

6. Not slowing down past emergency vehicles

One of the newest driving rules in most states is that you must slow down when you pass emergency vehicles with their lights on. The rule came about because too many emergency workers were getting injured in the course of doing their job.

In most states, you’ll need to drop down to around 40km/h, but it gets down to as low as 25km/h in South Australia. This includes when you’re driving on highways with a much higher signposted speed limit. Watch this short video from Transport for NSW to see how the rule works in action.

7. Driving tired

Driving tired can be just as dangerous as driving drunk, and it’s just as illegal. The number of tired Australian drivers is alarming, with 20% admitting they’ve fallen asleep at the wheel.

The signs of driving fatigue are easy to spot, and you can be fined for it. Not all states have explicit driving fatigue laws, but every state will charge you for dangerous or negligent driving if you doze off.

8. Driving with a cracked windscreen

Windscreen cracks are sometimes unavoidable, but not getting them fixed it a mistake some of us make too often. There are very clear rules around driving with a cracked windscreen, and lots of people break them.

Your best bet is to always get small cracks patched and replace cracked windscreens as soon as you’re able to.

About Tim Beau Bennett

Tim is an ex-journalist and radio presenter, and has been a professional writer for over a decade. He regularly writes about technology, lifestyle, and smart cities, and has written for news site including the ABC, SBS, and Australian Financial Review.