Road Rules

The Victoria Road Rules were 523 pages last year and routinely grow as new and wondrous, often onerous rules are added, each enumerating violation after violation with the number of penalty units. Read “government income”. Many of the rules institutionalise common sense while others don’t pass the pub test for anything beyond technicalities aimed to catch motorists out.

In comparison, the rules for the US state of Texas is 96 pages. Even allowing for differences in font and formatting and breadth of content in each, that seems a message about what our governments and their institutions are and how they operate.

If it was truly about safety it would be simple, mostly common sense, and based on common courtesy. Yet we line up to violate regardless of whether we do something against the public safety or order, or a technical transgression that breaks an arbitrary law.

Two of my favourites are that it is illegal to park with wheels on a nature strip, but it is OK to essentially block or contribute to blocking a road, even when putting wheels on the nature strip avoid it. The other is that even if an ambo is behind you at a stop light, lights and sirens on, regardless of whether their passenger is critical, you are not allowed to move into the intersection no matter how carefully, or whether there is cross traffic, you are running a red light.

Summary, zero tolerance over 523+ pages, with the response being some things are enforced discretionary (and thus leading to abuse) while others are only enforced on a complaint (eg subject to arbitrary enforcement).

Many call Australia a granny state, often for good reason.


Not quite. I expect that Victoria the same in Queensland where at least 3 metres must be available between parked cars on opposire side of the road or between a car and curbing on the opposite side as well. The minimum 3 metres is to allow ‘unfetterred’ traffic movements. Less than 3 metres constitutes an offence.

[quote=“TheBBG, post:1, topic:14184”]
The other is that even if an ambo is behind you at a stop light, lights and sirens on, regardless of whether their passenger is critical, you are not allowed to move into the intersection no matter how carefully, or whether there is cross traffic, you are running a red light[/quote]

Queensland you can…The law allows you to drive onto the wrong side of the road or drive through a red traffic light to get out of the way of an emergency vehicle if it is safe to do so.

What is concerning is how is one expected to know all the specifics if the rules since there are so many (see just the parking ones in the first link above). I don’t plan to keep an updated Act in the car…waste of paper and wouldn’t fit in the glovebox (would be a projectile in the cabin in the case of an accident).


Agreed. What a shame that so many drivers can’t even seem to comprehend the common sense or courtesy components either.

I know someone with English as a second language, trying to get L plates, and having difficulty comprehending the complex language of the road rules.

The road rule that never seems to be enforced anywhere is the use of those damned inbuilt fog lights (front and rear). I think their use in other than foggy conditions is dangerous, whether driving towards those dazzling white lights or behind the very bright rear red light that looks like the person in front is constantly braking. The problem is exaggerated when the vehicle is high off the ground like a 4WD, bringing the strong glare right to eye level.

Also, another interesting one. I used to live near an intersection which had three streets coming together in a Y formation. One had a STOP sign, one had a GIVE Way sign, and the final one didn’t have any sign. There were constant accidents due to the confusion over who had right of way after the road with no sign. The emergency services, bus service, etc were confused over this one, and had made representations to the Government to clarify the situation.

I haven’t looked it up in the last few years, but back then the road rules didn’t say anything about this particular situation.

(By the way, the correct answer according to the government was:
Firstly, vehicles wanting to enter the intersection had to give way to any vehicles already there in the intersection. Then, if it is safe to do so, the vehicles coming from the road with no sign have right of way to enter the intersection. Finally, which ever vehicle enters the intersection first safely, after conforming to the requirements of their particular sign has right of way.) No wonder there was/is confusion!

I am with you meltam.

The use of High Visibility rear lights is not understood by the average Aussie motorist and I often see the owners of European vehicles, in particular, driving at night with them on all the time.

These are the ignorant drivers who think they drive safely but actually cause accidents. I call them Mr McGoo drivers!

FerGodssake WAKE UP idiots! Those lights are meant to be used in conditions of poor visibility such as thick fog, heavy rain or snow. If you have them on outside these conditions you will potentially dazzle the drivers behind you!


Yes TheBBG - parking with wheels on the curb in a narrow street versus leaving space between you and the car on the other side is a classic instance of bureaucracy gone wrong.

A while ago I received a ticket from my local council for parking my 4WD and car trailer with left wheels on the footpath in front of my own house

I wrote to the Council to contest the charge and I received a classic “Yes Minister” reply saying that the “nature strip” has plants and"council assets" - in my case - weeds!

I then wrote to the Mayor and my local member pointing out that our street is so narrow that if two cars were parked opposite each other the space between them would be significantly less than that required under National Traffic Rules…

I was let off…


Agreed - I don’t see why we don’t have a much simplified code, universal across all states and territories.

As an aside I found out today (not the hard way!) that in NSW, loading zones are only for commercial delivery vans/trucks (30 mins max) and station wagons (15 mins); other vehicles can only use loading zones to pick up or set down passengers. What an absurd and arbitrary distinction! If a non-commercial station wagon can use the zone, why not a sedan or SUV or other private car?


It is unfortunately common around my area for car 1 to innocently park, and car 2 pushes the limits, and anything larger than a car barely makes it. Call the constabulary and both get a ticket.



In Vic it is more complicated. :expressionless:

(6) If the road has a continuous dividing line or a dividing strip, the driver must position the vehicle at least 3 metres from the continuous dividing line or dividing strip, unless otherwise indicated by information on or with a parking control sign.

(7) If the road does not have a continuous dividing line or a dividing strip, the driver must position the vehicle so there is at least 3 metres of the road alongside the vehicle that is clear for other vehicles to pass, unless otherwise indicated by information on or with a parking control sign.

(8) The driver must position the vehicle so the vehicle does not unreasonably obstruct the path of other vehicles or pedestrians.

Reasonable/unreasonable are among the few words missing from the glossary. Some locals seem to consider it reasonable if a Mazda 2 can pass, so no worries.

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When I got my original Qld license in 1971 mates told me that if I answered every question to include “and avoid an accident” I would be passed whether or not the answer was correct. I don’t know if that was dinkum or if my answers were correct, but I did that and got my license :slight_smile:


@ChrisBarnes I think that you would find that it only applies to a station wagon with a commercial business registration, not a privately registered station wagon.

The rationale is that the station wagon can carry far less than a van, and therefore requires less time to load and unload.

Interpretation of road rules.
Seems to be a real first world problem.

I expect that this would be the largest vehcile which could be expected to travel along the street. In most circumstances this would be a rubbish bin collection truck or a emergency services vehicle (such as a fire engine). This is why 3 metre minimum is stipulated. I also expect that vehicles parked alternatively on either side of the road such so that a minimum 3 metres is provided would be seen as unreasonably obstructing as a large vehicle would not be able to weave its way through the parked cars.

Most don’t realise that it is important for emergency services to have access…I am sure that if the ‘illegal parked car’ owners needed them urgently, they would not like them held up or unable to attend due to cars parked on the road restricting access.


And therein lies the problem. People can “expect” different things to be “unreasonable”.

My street is a chicane when any neighbour has a party. It is not a through street. Those of us beyond the party have to go Very Carefully in our cars that are much smaller than a rubbish truck. The guests think it is reasonable since we can get by and their convenience is important to them. Such is human nature, sometimes.

Ring council and complain? It is usually evening, Our neighbours are nice people regardless of their guests parking habits, so no. I’ll leave this thread as I think the point is made, and there are differences between states.


@meltam Actually it appears the NSW law doesn’t make that distinction, though it’s somewhat implied:

“Only drivers of vehicles principally constructed for carrying goods may park their vehicle in a loading zone.
These vehicles may stop for up to 30 minutes if they are being loaded or unloaded.
A station wagon or a three-wheeled goods vehicle may stop for up to 15 minutes.
If you are driving any other sort of vehicle you may only stop to pick up or set down passengers at the kerb.
Hours of operation may apply to some signs. This means restrictions apply for those times only.”


It’s very interesting to read the above posts and not be struck by the question “Why???” As in , how could it end up like this ? .We are one country yet we ended up with different road rules , at Federation in 1901 three different railway gauges . Think of the opportunity we had as a new country to standardise a transport system yet we , as they say in the modern vernacular , blew it big time . Everything has a genesis , a beginning , a birth . Here is my take on it ./
In 1885 men of power met to discuss Federation of the Colonies of Australia ,also New Zealand and Fiji were included. Henry Parkes the premier of New South Wales ( NSW ) the other members present . , being Barton , Deakin , Clark and Griffiths . There was a representative from NZ present , I think it was General Steere . Parkes put forward that we would adopt the "Constitution of Amalgamation " as used successfully by Canada , tempered with inclusions from the British Westminster System . They agreed to meet again in 1991 ./
The meeting of 1991 saw a change of attitude .

  1. Parkes decides he wants the Senate in the Governments of the States and the new Federal Government to have power over the House of Representatives . Parkes was an anti Catholic militant activist who blamed Catholics for the loss of the land south of the Murray River in 1851 that became the state of Victoria . Catholics at the time supported the Labour movement and according to Parkes would dominate the House of Reps . Strangely enough though Catholics in general did not support federation in the initial stages .

  2. Barton wanted the new governments of the states and the federal Government to have all the power of decision with the House of Reps and the Senate to be there as advisers only . He was a man of vision and was a worthy first Prime Minister . It put him on a collision coarse with Parkes but he won out . Well sort of.

3 ) Clarke and Griffiths had studied the American or Massachusetts Constitution as they called it and decided we should scrap the Canadian " Constitution of Amalgamation " Their idea was adopted . This is where it all went wrong . There were other variables of coarse but it is beyond this piece to go into them .We adopted a bastardised version of the American constitution with inclusions of the British Westminster system added as we saw fit. Under the Canadian Constitution it outlined a firm and well established Central Government with very well defined powers .The provinces , territories or states were part of the whole but only existed under the auspices of the Federal Government .

4 ) Because the Australian states feared loosing power to a Central government the US constitution with its emphasis on the " rights of the States " suited the power brokers of the time . mainly Barton , Deakin and Clarke., ideally . It was adopted with modifications to suit Australia by 1901 .

Just by the by .Queensland if you check the 3 referendums for federation only voted in the 1901 referendum . The reason was the " White Australia Policy " Queensland used Kanakas ( Melanesians , Micronesians ) taken from the islands to the North of Australia to cut their sugar cane . It was a form of "indentured servitude " and they would have to abandon it it if they supported Federation as the "White Australia Policy " precluded all coloureds and Asians . Western Australia wanted to stay with Britain but a mineral strike there and the migration of population to the mineral fields carried the Federation Vote there .

Lastly we became a country in 1901 but had no capital . The construction of Canberra did not begin till 1913 and the Federal Government had to wait till 1927 to take residency there . In the meantime our capital was shared between Melbourne and Sydney ./

We had men that could not agree on a capitals location . , railway gauges as mentioned ., gun laws , road laws . I’m a fifth generation Australian or should I say Victorian because something that is born out of confusion , our Commonwealth , can only breed more confusion . We adopted the wrong constitution and are still paying the price of that indecision .


No surprise that the traffic laws “rules and regulations” are not the same in every state.
The few examples quoted in this thread are a fraction of a long list. The list could include more serious traffic offenses that differ between states concerning the use of double demerit points on certain days and mobile phone use while parked with the motor running.

What is surprising is that the differences and issues arising are not further up the public and hence political agenda.

Perhaps it is all down to the fact that Australia is still really 6 sovereign states. IE Our forefathers really only agreed to a limited aggregation of powers (and not status). I suggest this because it is remains possible for all or any one state to leave the federation and attain independent nationhood. IE Our state politicians aren’t very good a sharing - just look to the GST distribution debates.

In a similar way to how the separation of the powers between states (also between states and federal) affects traffic rules and regulations, the same separation affects criminal, commercial and civil laws. For Choice’s members this curiosity of Federation (or circumstance) has direct impacts on differences in consumer law and enforcement of standards.

For Choice and it’s members the political solution concerning the relationship between the states that could deliver a single national consumer outcome is the same solution necessary to have only one legal system for the nation. So whether it is a criminal act, traffic breech, building and construction material certification requirement we only need to go to one place to get the support and knowledge needed.

Surely the cost saving of running only one national legal system and one police force and one legislature is worth the change. We now live in a nation where residential and employment mobility between states is more the norm than than exception. Professional registration or trade qualifications and licenses aren’t universal. While I can drive a vehicle in another state I can’t necessarily work professionally in another state without gaining that states appropriate registration and paying the fees.


Thanks for the interesting read. I’m sixth generation and having just visited the coast of my origin (South Australia) I wonder in some ways if my ancestors made the right choice leaving England back in the early 1800’s … so many inane and provably useless rules, signs to advise of the rules, reams of paper documenting the rules, cameras and minions to track and enforce the rules - and it seems so many of them are there simply to kowtow to tiny wheels with no oil. I’m sure I’ll get some paperwork sent to me as a memento of my two thousand mile round trip to the big smoke.

Happily now back in the only place with an almost reasonable speed limit and parked on my nature strip (like most of the town) without fear of being taxed …


In 1891 what was later to become known as the "Lucinda meeting " took place on the steamship Lucinda . I have placed a link to this meeting below for those who are interested . Well worth reading as it is acknowledged as the "birth of the constitution meeting " It also shows the lack of balance and distrust that existed between the colonies at the time .


I worked for a number of years in an Australian Government department, and attended meetings with State Government reps on a number of issues. The standard refrain to any suggestion of standardisation was that “we will not lower our standards for anyone”, meaning either all eight Australian jurisdictions have world’s best practice laws and regulations, or they and their political masters/mistresses were totally inflexible.

Guess to which of these theories I subscribe?

The whole attitude in Australia towards national, harmonised regs and laws can be summarised in two words: “railway gauge”.


[quote=“richardwarland, post:4, topic:14184”]
“These are the ignorant drivers who think they drive safely but actually cause accidents. I call them Mr McGoo drivers!”

It seems most of them are even worse. They know use in clear conditions is illegal, but they wrongly think having fog lights on all the time makes their car look cool.