by Samantha Quinney
Driving a car is a big responsibility – and one that requires each and every driver to know the road rules. But do you actually know the road rules? How long ago did you read through the rules? Are you aware of changes to the rules? How often does another driver break a rule and a near miss occurs. Unfortunately for some drivers, breaking the road rules can have a devastating outcome. Being involved in a car accident, even if a minor accident, can have lasting effects on both you and your family. If you’re the one responsible, not only could you have to pay for damage caused or be charged with an offence, you may have to live with injuring or killing another person.
The Department of Transport and Main Roads published a guideline covering the Top 10 misunderstood road rules and it’s surprising to see which road rules are commonly misunderstood. It comes with diagrams and can be found at the link below.
Do you know how to merge?
A common complaint amongst the driving community is the lack of knowledge when it comes to merging. If the road has lane markings (as shown in the first picture), the car in the lane where the road is coming to an end must give way to the traffic it intends to merge with. Therefore the car marked A must give way to car marked B.
However if there are no lane markings (as shown in the second picture) you must give way to any vehicle that is ahead of you. Here, B will give way to A.
Are you following too closely?
A common cause of accidents is drivers following too closely to the car in front. Using the time-lapse method (picking a point and counting out the seconds) in normal conditions, the safe following distance is 2 seconds. If you are towing a trailer or caravan, add one second for every three metres of trailer. In poor conditions or if you are driving a heavy vehicle, the safe driving distance is double the time for normal conditions.
Is it safe to cross that line?
You cannot cross a single line to overtake or perform a U-turn. You can only cross a single line to turn into a road or a driveway. A double line however must never be crossed. What about painted traffic islands? Similar rules apply. If the painted island is surrounded by a single line you may drive on or over it for up to 50 metres in order to enter or leave the road or enter a turning lane that begins immediately after the island. Double lines around a painted island indicate a no-go zone (unless you are avoiding obstruction).
Stop or give way?
Have you ever sat at an intersection where you have a stop sign in front of you and the other driver has a give way and no one knows who can go? Both the vehicles pictured above must give way to all other traffic. Then the normal rules of give way apply. Car A must give way to Car B as Car A will be turning right across the path of Car B.
Give way to the right
It’s an old rule but a good one. When the traffic lights go down at a crossroads, every driver must give way to the right.
Keeping to the left
On the highway (or multi-lane roads with a speed limit greater than 90km/hr), the right lane isn’t the fast lane. But it is the lane you should only enter when:
- turning right or making a u-turn;
- avoiding an obstacle;
- driving in conjested traffic; and
- driving in a special purpose lane.
Similarly if a road has a sign saying “keep left unless overtaking,” don’t ignore the sign.
So do you actually know the road rules?
Why not test yourself? Go to http://www.roadtrip.qld.gov.au/Road-rules-refresher/Road-rules-refresher-quiz.aspx and take the test. Get your family and friends involved and see if they also know the road rules. Make sure to also check out www.tmr.qld.gov.au/roadrules to see any changes to road rules you may not have heard about.