As the great Aussie road trip becomes the holiday of choice this summer, it’s important to be across all the things you can and can’t do while driving. Because one thing is for sure: a fine is a total holiday buzz-kill. There’s a long list of obscure laws many Australians haven’t heard of – and often, they differ from state to state …
1. Throwing apple cores and banana peels out of the car window
Sure, they’re biodegradable, but you can still be fined for littering. In Queensland, the crime of “dropping injurious matter on a road” can cost you $533 and two demerit points.
2. Improper use of a horn
Some motorists seem to only use their horns improperly. But honking goodbye to your family as you drive off after dinner, or beeping at the car who just cut you off is actually illegal. Officially, you’re only supposed to use your horn if you’re warning other road users (or animals) of your approach. In the past five years, more than 800 people have been fined for improper use of a horn in NSW.
Some motorists only seem to use their horns improperly.Source:istock
3. Not winding up your windows
In Queensland, if you’re more than three metres away from your car, your windows need to be up with a gap no greater than 5cm. It may sound trivial, but people have been fined for this.
4. Leaving your key in your ignition
You’ve most likely seen someone quickly ducking out of their car to get a coffee or pick up their takeaway dinner and leaving the car running with the key in the ignition. While it’s convenient, it’s not the smartest thing to do while your car is unattended – in NSW it’s a traffic offence that will cost an individual $114. Around 1,000 people a year receive this fine in NSW.
While it’s convenient, it’s not the smartest thing to leave your key in the ignition unattendedSource:istock
5. Using your phone to pay at a drive-thru
We all know the danger of using a mobile phone while driving, but what if you want to pay for your lunch at the drive-thru window with your phone? Turns out the law is strict and still applies to drivers who are stationary at a drive-thru. Depending on which state you’re in, you could be fined up to $534 and be at risk of losing up to five demerit points – that’s one costly meal. To avoid a fine you must have your engine switched off and your handbrake on before using your mobile phone.
Depending on which state you’re in, you could be fined up to $534 for using your phone to pay at the drive thru.Source:istock
6. Having people or animals on your lap
Children must always be seated in proper child restraints. Animals should be seated or restrained in an appropriate area of the vehicle. The RSPCA can also issue fines under The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act. If an animal is injured because it was unrestrained, owners could face up to six months’ jail and fines of up to $5,500.
7. Not giving way to horses
It’s actually illegal not to give way to a hard-to-control horse, or a horse that refuses to move. If a rider raises a hand and points to his or her horse, you must steer the car as far to the left as possible, turn off the engine and wait until the horse is far enough away that you’re in no danger of startling it.
It’s actually illegal not to give way to a hard-to-control horse.Source:istock
8. Attempting to speed up while you’re being overtaken
As frustrating as it is, this is unfortunately a common behavioural trait that occurs on our roads when a person decides to accelerate as another driver attempts to overtake them. This behaviour constitutes another obscure traffic offence. Drivers engaging in this behaviour in NSW can incur a $344 fine and two demerit points, while in Victoria the fine is $330 and two demerit points.
9. Don’t splash pedestrians
We’ve all seen it in the movies where pedestrians get intentionally splashed by drivers on a rainy day, and as entertaining as it may be in the moment, it’s another traffic offence. However, in NSW, it’s only a traffic offence to splash those who are waiting for a bus at a bus stop, but any other individual is exempt from this rule. So avoid those puddles – don’t risk the hefty $187 fine.
All road rule information supplied by Shine Lawyers.
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