By Clair Morton
Last updated on: November 18, 2020 at 12:11 pm
Over the years, we’ve had a lot of questions about road rules from our members. Here, our experts answer 10.
1. Is it illegal to have items hanging from your rear-view mirror?
If you know someone who hangs fluffy dice or air fresheners from their mirror, they might be in trouble here.
According to law, the driver of a car must have a clear view of the road ahead, as well as to the sides and rear of the vehicle. So the size of the item could dictate whether it’s legal or not – a large item hanging within the driver’s line of sight would be illegal.
Penalty: You could be up for a $197 fine and a $60 Victims of Crime Levy.
2. It’s my driveway – I can park across it, right?
Years ago, the rule used to be that you couldn’t park within 1.8m of a driveway, but since 1999, the legislation simply says you can’t block access to a driveway.
There are no exemptions just because it’s your own. A vehicle can, however, stop for up to 2 minutes to pick up or drop off passengers.
Penalty: This could land you a $83 fine, plus a $60 Victims of Crime Levy.
3. What side of the road should I walk on if there’s no footpath?
The answer is a case for common sense, but also happens to be a rule.
If there’s no suitable footpath, you must walk on the right-hand side of the road facing oncoming traffic so you can see any vehicles travelling towards you and vice versa.
You should always walk off the road surface altogether if possible, otherwise stay as close to the edge as you can.
Penalty: The penalty for a pedestrian failing to face oncoming traffic is $52, plus a $60 Victims of Crime Levy.
4. Is it illegal to drive without windscreen washer fluid or with a dirty windscreen?
There are actually individual road rules that apply to each of these scenarios – failing to maintain a vehicle includes the water in the windscreen washers, while Light Vehicle Standards dictate that drivers must have an adequate view through the windscreen.
Your safest bet is to keep the water topped up and your windscreen sparkling clean. Don’t forget to clean the inside of your windscreen too.
Penalty: The penalty for a breach of Light Vehicle Standards or maintenance requirements could set you back $417, plus a $60 Victims of Crime Levy.
5. Can I drive in ugg boots?
While there are no specific rules regarding what footwear is acceptable when driving, it’s up to the driver to make sure they have proper control of the vehicle, and that means keeping a good grip on the foot pedals.
High heels, thongs or wet shoes can all cause a hazard, either by getting jammed underneath the pedal, or slipping off at the wrong time.
If you feel safe driving in ugg boots, go for it.
6. Can I be fined for having my handbag on the front seat while driving?
The story of a woman fined for this very thing has been around a long time, and because of this some people might be surprised to find the answer is no.
While the Australian Road Rules deal with unsecured loads on the outside of a vehicle, they don’t say anything about how you secure items in the car.
For safety reasons though, big or heavy items like bags of shopping should be placed in the boot or on the floor behind the driver, rather than on the back seat. That way they’ll be less likely to fly around in the case of a crash.
7. Can you stop in the middle of an intersection while waiting to make a right-hand turn?
This one is totally legal – a driver can enter the intersection and wait for oncoming traffic to pass before making a right-hand turn, as long as they’re not blocking any other drivers and the light’s not red.
Keeping your wheels straight, pull into the intersection as far as is safe to do so without obstructing traffic, and wait for a suitable gap before turning.
8. Who can park in pram parks?
Pram parks can be found at most large shopping centres in South Australia and, as the name suggests, they’re there so parents with young children can park closer to the entrance. Plus, they’re usually wider to allow access.
Unlike disabled parking spots, there’s no legislation in the Australian Road Rules to say who can or can’t park in them. That doesn’t mean you can’t be fined though – at some shopping centres you need to get a permit to park in these spots.
Check with the management of your local centre before parking there.
Penalty: Parking without a permit where one is required can set you back $66.
9. Who has to give way when a car enters the freeway?
This is a common question we get at RAA.
The answer is that, legally, a driver entering the freeway from an on-ramp always has to give way to flowing traffic.
While drivers in the left lane can move to their right to make way for cars coming onto the freeway (if they can safely do so), this is purely a question of courtesy and not actually a legal requirement, so don’t rely on this.
10. Does a police officer have to give me their full name and station?
In South Australia, a police officer has to give you their identification number if you ask for it.
This number is normally worn on their shirt or jacket if they’re in uniform.
If the officer is wearing plain clothes, they need to produce their identification card and you’re entitled to record the number.