10 Commonly Misunderstood Road Rules in Australia


  1. Keep left unless overtaking

By now you’ve likely seen the video that went viral of the lady that was outraged for being pulled over for the offence of not keeping left unless overtaking. With so much emphasis placed on speeding, many motorists seem to think it’s perfectly acceptable to drive in the right lane without passing. In fact, for any road where the speed limit is over 80km/h or where a keep left unless overtaking sign is present, you have to (surprise) keep left unless overtaking.


  1. It is illegal to drive too slowly

With the idea that ‘every kay over is a killer’ ingrained into the minds of motorists, it may come as a surprise to learn that it’s also illegal to drive too slowly as well. The specific rule is that “a driver must not unreasonably obstruct the path of another driver or a pedestrian”. Exactly what is unreasonable is up for debate, but the example given in the NSW Road Rules legislation is travelling 20km/h below the speed limit in an 80km/h zone without good reason would be against the law.


  1. You don’t give way to your right at a roundabout

There’s a common misconception among motorists that you need to give way to your right at a roundabout. This has led to many drivers plowing through roundabouts without any consideration for drivers to their left.

The actual road rule is that motorists must give way to any vehicle already in the roundabout, so when it comes to giving way it’s first in, best dressed.


  1. You can park in a No Parking zone

Unlike ‘No Stopping’ zones where you are not allowed to park your vehicle for any period of time at all, it is actually permitted to park in a ‘No Parking’ zone as long as you’re not stopped for more than 2 minutes and you’re no further than 3 metres from your car.

This makes it legal to park in ‘No Parking’ zones for the purpose of dropping off and picking up passengers or goods.


  1. You must give way to pedestrians when turning

As a relatively new law, few motorists or pedestrians even realise it even exists. If you are turning at an intersection, you must give way to any pedestrian crossing the road perpendicular to your direction of travel.

As a pedestrian, this means that cars must stop and wait for you to cross before they can turn. Of course the rule of size still applies – as a pedestrian you’re always going to come out second best in a clash with a car.


  1. You don’t need to give way to merging traffic

I’m sure we’ve all heard the ‘rules’ that say you need to give way to merging traffic, or when a car has their indicator on, or to people merging that are ahead of you – it’s all garbage.

If you need to cross a broken white line when merging then you must give way to people already in that lane. The driver in the other lane as no obligation to slow down, move over or give way at all whatsoever.

The only exception to the rule is when two lanes of traffic merge into a single lane (as opposed to where one lane ends) then the car in front has right of way.



  1. A yellow traffic light means stop

As kids, we were taught that Green means go, Red means stop and Yellow means wait – turns out that was all a lie. As a driver, you are expected to stop for a Yellow light or arrow unless it is unsafe to do so. You can be fined for running a Yellow light just as you would for running a Red light.

What exactly is ‘unsafe’ is up for debate, however trying to ‘beat’ a Yellow light is definitely a no-no.


  1. Police and emergency vehicles can use a mobile phone while driving

This may come as a shock given how often we hear about the dangers of using a mobile phone while driving, but police and emergency personnel are completely exempt from mobile phone laws while on duty.

This isn’t an exemption for emergency situations, but rather any time they are behind the wheel while on duty.


  1. You must park at least 1 metre away from cars in front and behind you

Add this to the list of road rules that are frequently broken but seldom enforced; when parallel parking you are required to leave at least one metre from any vehicle in front and behind you. So not only is this a common annoyance of most city-dwelling motorists – it’s illegal too.


  1. You don’t need to stop for 3 seconds at a Stop sign

When first learning to drive, many people were taught that they needed to stop for 3 seconds at a Stop sign. While it may be a good rule of thumb, especially for new drivers, the legislation only requires that your vehicle comes to a complete stop before proceeding through the Stop sign – even if it’s just for the briefest of moments.