Tourists or not, even as Aussies from another state, we’ve come to realise just how strange and different each state’s road rules can be.
Unlike two thirds of the world, we are a nation who prefers to drive on the left side of the road, that is unless you’ve got some place to be, then it’s pedal to the metal in the right lane.
While most of us are aware of our own states current road rules and the standard set out across the nation, including drink driving, speeding, mobile usage and overtaking, when was the last time you had a look at your neighbouring states?
To better prepare you for your next road trip in another state, we’ve decided to bring you some of Australia’s quirkiest road rules by state and what you’ll need to pay attention to.
1. QLD and WA dishes out whopping fines for mobile users
Drivers in QLD and WA beware. As of February 1st, 2020 QLD introduced harsher penalties and fines for those who were caught using their mobile device while driving.
Although WA is a couple of months behind, as of July 1st you can expect to pay a whopping $1,000 and cop 4 demerit points if you’re caught using your mobile phone while driving.
If you’re caught for a second time within a 12 month period from the first offence in QLD, you’ll be hit with double the fine of $2,000 and double demerit points.
The road rule specifically to Western Australia can be defined as:
– Using, touching or holding a mobile phone whilst driving is currently 3 demerits and $400.
– Creating sending, or looking at a text message, video, email, social media or similar communication while driving is also currently 3 demerits and $400 fine.
It’s also important to note that some states, NSW in particular, actually allow you to use your mobile device while parked securely with the engine still running.
Whereas in Victoria, the car must be completely turned off and keys out of the ignition before using your mobile.
2. Move aside WA motorists, make way for cyclists
In a bid to improve cyclist-driver relationships, bike riders can now enjoy safer rides on WA roads thanks to a change which came into effect in 2017.
WA motorists have to leave at least a 1 metre gap when overtaking under 60km/h and 1.5 metres over 60km/h.
Failing to respect our fellow road users will result in a hefty $400 fine and 4 demerit points.
3. Victoria’s infamous, death defying ‘Hook Turn’
Expressed in words, the unimaginable and all confusing hook turn allows drivers to turn right from the left-hand lane, sounds crazy right?
Well not to the people of Melbourne, as the hook turn is quite the regular occurrence and is a skill that all motorists will need to learn if driving on the streets of Victoria.
To best explain it, words just won’t do it justice, so here’s a video instead — Performing a hook turn.
Looking for a thrill? Cyclists are also expected to perform a hook turn alongside other motorists. Performing a hook turn on a bicycle.
As for U-turns, it’s actually illegal to perform a u-turn at traffic lights unless there is a sign permitting. Whereas in every other part of Australia, it’s legal to perform u-turns at traffic light intersections unless there is a ‘no u-turn permitted’ sign.
4. Keep rolling, rolling, rolling…. through school zones in South Australia
Rolling is exactly what you’ll be doing through school zones in SA, with the speed limit hard-set to 25km/h.
In a bid to combat speeding, which is one of Australia’s leading cause of road fatalities, South Australia introduced a 25km/h speed limit in school zones, reducing it by 15km/h, compared to neighbouring states VIC, WA and NSW where the speed limit is 40kmh.
Penalties for exceeding the speed limit in SA include:
– Less than 10km/h = $163 fine and 2 demerits
– 10km/h to 19km/h = $357 fine and 3 demerits
– 20km/h to 29km/h = $726 fine and 5 demerits
– 30km/h to 44km/h = $866 fine and 7 demerits
– 45km/h or more = $975 fine, 9 demerits and automatic suspension of drivers license for 6 months.
5. Australia — where honking goodbye will result in a fine
Yes you heard right, honking goodbye to loved ones as you leave for work can result in you receiving a fine, and in some states — QLD in particular — a huge maximum penalty of $2,611.
The current penalty unit in QLD is equivalent to $130.55. The maximum penalty for honking your horn is 20 penalty units. That’s a maximum penalty of $2,611.
One thing is for sure, the people of QLD are definitely not honking because they are happy.
That said, Australian-wide road rules AAR rule 224 states that a driver must not use their car horn unless they’re warning other road users or animals of their approach, or if the horn is part of an antitheft or alcohol interlock device fitted to the vehicle. However, penalties will differ by state.
But here’s the quirkiest of them all —
6. It’s illegal to transport more than 50kgs of potatoes in WA
Unless you’re a member of the ‘Potato Corporation’, it is illegal for you to carry 50kg of potatoes in your car. This law was introduced during the Great Depression and post-war period and resulted in a $2000 fine if caught.
It’s as controversial as WA’s local hero, The Spud King, getting told he can’t sell potatoes anymore based on this act which was created in 1946.