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Road Rules 101

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Does this scenario sound at all familiar? You complete your Driving Test with immaculate perfection, adhering to all the road rules with meticulous precision. And then… one week later, you’ve settled into your own comfortable style of driving that is less about abiding to rules and more about convenience and personal practicality.

Well… this individual driving style that you’ve become so accustomed to – and tweaked over the years – will definitely require some alterations that keep you in accordance with the national driving regulations.

We do understand that some of the road rules can often seem ambiguous and a bit confusing. So here’s a quick 101 Refresher Course* to help you avoid any unnecessary fines or collisions.

 

 

Changing lanes

  • Rule no. 1 = indicate. Most of us have forgotten that those small orange flashing lights on the four corners of our vehicle do in fact work, and actually provide a very functional feature.
  • When changing lanes, give way to any vehicle in the lane you are moving to.
  • Use your rear and side mirrors to assess the estimated speed of any approaching cars in the lane you want to enter. If you can see that the cars are speeding: wait; don’t take risks.
  • Always check road markings to change into the correct lane for turning ahead of time.

Giving way

This is one area of road rules that seems to have defined its own new rule: when someone wants to enter your lane, speed up and make every effort to close the gap as quickly as possible so that they cannot enter.

Well, no, this is not actually how it is intended to occur. Be courteous to your fellow drivers. If you expect them to give way for you, then the same niceties need to be extended in return.

  • STOP and GIVE WAY lines on the road have the same meaning as STOP and GIVE WAY signs, in case a sign is missing.
  • Remember if you turn at an intersection, you must also give way to pedestrians crossing the road you are entering.
  • STOP or GIVE WAY signs are placed at intersections where extra care is needed because of limited visibility, or where vehicles on the other road have priority.

Roundabouts

Roundabouts can be very confusing, especially if you are unfamiliar with the area and not sure which exit you need to take. Extreme caution and concentration are always advisable when using a roundabout, as fellow drivers may also be unsure of which lane to be in. Here are some general rules to remember:

  • When approaching a roundabout, you must give way to all vehicles that are already inside the roundabout.
  • To take the left exit, use the left lane.
  • To take the right exit, use the right lane, and proceed with caution to the left when your exit approaches. Indicate and give way to any vehicles that are already in the left lane.

Traffic lights

  • Yellow/orange means STOP. It does not mean proceed through the traffic light.
  • The only time when it is acceptable to pass through a yellow/orange light is when you have already entered the intersection, i.e., crossed over the STOP line.
  • Similarly, if stopping would cause a collision with a car that is too close behind you, then continuing through the yellow/orange light is acceptable.
  • Always check for red and green arrows. Do not assume that you can turn when all the other vehicles next to you have begun driving straight. A right turning lane often has its own individual flow at a separate interval.

U-turns

  • These are only permitted at traffic lights when there is a U-TURN PERMITTED sign.
  • If there is not a U-TURN PERMITTED sign at intersections that do not have traffic lights or breaks in the centre island, U-turns are illegal.
  • If at any time you do not have a clear view of all approaching traffic, drive to the next intersection instead of attempting a U-turn that may be hazardous.
  • When doing a U-turn, you must give way to all other vehicles and pedestrians even if other vehicles are facing a GIVE WAY or STOP sign.

Mobile phones

Do we even need to state the obvious? Unless you have a Bluetooth or hands-free device, do not use your phone while driving. Avoid the urge to quickly check an IM or Facebook update as you hear the notification sound. And definitely do not attempt to reply to any text messages or emails while driving! Social media really can wait a mere ten minutes, believe it or not.

These are just a few of the everyday road rule basics that need to be adhered to. At all times, drive cautiously, obey road rules and be aware of other motorists, cyclists and pedestrians. A few extra seconds of concentration can spare you a lot of unnecessary time, money and inconvenience. And if the unfortunate does occur, at least you can have peace of mind that you adhered to all relevant road rules and made every effort to avoid any risks.

* All Road Rules contained in this post were correct according to Queensland law as of January 2015.

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