Road Safety Rule of the Month

What distance must you leave when travelling past bicycle riders? Do you have to indicate at a roundabout? Are you required to stop at a yellow traffic light?

The answers to these questions and more are highlighted each month to refresh driver knowledge on commonly misunderstood road rules.  For further details on New South Wales road rules head to Transport for NSW.

January: Giving way to pedestrians when turning

The road safety rule for January is Giving way to pedestrians! 
If a driver is turning left or right at an intersection, the driver must give way to any pedestrian crossing the road the driver is entering. This applies to intersections with and without traffic lights. However, this rule does not apply at roundabouts.

For their own safety, pedestrians should always check their surroundings before crossing the road.

February: School Zones

The road safety rule for February is School Zones! 
A school zone is the area around a school with a speed limit of 40km/h. Between the School Zone and End School Zone signs, drivers must obey the school zone speed limit. The school zone speed limit applies on NSW gazetted school days and during the times detailed on the school zone sign. School zone hours are normally 8:00am–9.30am and 2.30pm–4:00pm.

Pupil free days fall within the gazetted school days, thus school zones are operating and enforceable.

March: Merging

The road safety rule for March is Merging! Read the rule below and remember to drive safe. 

When a driver is travelling on a road without lane markings and the number of lanes or lines of traffic is reduced, they must merge by giving way to any vehicle that is ahead of them. This is often called a zipper merge.

When a driver is travelling in a marked lane which is ending and is required to cross a broken painted line to enter the adjacent lane, the driver must give way to the traffic travelling in the lane being entered.

April: Yellow Traffic Lights

The road safety rule for Aprill is Yellow Traffic Lights!
A yellow (amber) traffic light or arrow means stop. A driver approaching traffic lights showing a yellow traffic light must stop if the driver can stop safely before reaching the stop line or traffic lights. Penalties apply for drivers who fail to stop at a yellow light, unless it is unsafe to do so.

May: A Metre Matters

The road safety rule for May is Sharing the road with bicycle riders!  
You must give bicycle riders at least one metre of space
In NSW, drivers who pass a bicycle rider must allow a distance of at least:  

  • 1 metre when the speed limit is 60km/h or less  
  • 1.5 metres when the speed limit is more than 60km/h.

Drivers caught not allowing the minimum distance when passing a bicycle rider will face a $387 fine and a penalty of 2 demerit points. 

June: U-turns

The road safety rule for June is U-turns! Read the rule below and remember to drive safe. 

When making a U-turn a driver must:

  • Have a clear view of any approaching traffic.
  • Be able to make the turn without unreasonably obstructing the free movement of traffic.

Give way to all vehicles and pedestrians.

  • At an intersection without traffic lights, where a ‘no U-turn’ sign is displayed.
    At a break in a driving strip where a ‘no U-turn’ sign is displayed
  • Across any of the following:
  • A single continuous dividing line
  • A single continuous dividing line to the left of a broken line
  • Two parallel continuous dividing lines.

At traffic lights Drivers are not permitted to make a U-turn at traffic lights unless there is a U-Turn Permitted sign displayed or a green U-turn traffic light displayed.

At traffic lights Drivers are not permitted to make a U-turn at traffic lights

July: Using headlights and fog lights

The road safety rule for July is Headlights! Read the rule below and remember to drive safe. 

A driver must not use their headlights on high beam if travelling:

  • Less than 200m behind a vehicle travelling in the same direction.
  •  Less than 200m from on-coming traffic.

A driver must not use any light fitted to their vehicle that may dazzle another road user.

A driver is only permitted to use fog lights if driving in fog, mist or other atmospheric condition that restricts visibility.

August: Roundabouts

The road safety rule for August is Roundabouts! Read the rule below and remember to drive safe. 

Drivers approaching a roundabout must use their indicator if they intend to turn left or right, or make a U-turn at the roundabout. They must give other road users sufficient notice of their intent to turn.

Drivers must slow or stop to give way to any vehicle already in the roundabout. Drivers must also continue to use their indicator if they intend to turn left, right or make a U-turn.

Drivers must indicate left on approach and be travelling in the left-hand lane (unless there are road markings with other instructions), stay in the left lane and exit in the left lane.

There is no requirement for drivers to signal when approaching the roundabout, if they are going straight ahead. Drivers may approach the roundabout from either the left or right lane (unless there are road markings with other instructions).

Drivers must indicate right on approach and be travelling in the right-hand lane (unless there are road markings with other instructions).

When using a roundabout to make a U-turn, drivers must approach in the right lane and signal right.

Drivers may change lanes in a roundabout if they wish. The usual road rules for changing lanes apply.
Drivers must use their indicator and give way to any vehicle in the lane they are entering.

Just like exiting any road, drivers must signal left when leaving a roundabout, if it is practical to do so, and stop indicating as soon as they have exited the roundabout.
When travelling straight ahead on a small single lane roundabout, it may be impractical to indicate left when exiting.

September: Keeping left

The road safety rule for September is Keeping left! 
On multi-lane roads with a speed limit of more than 80km/h, motorists must not drive in the right-hand lane unless they are:

  • Overtaking Turning right or making a U-turn
  • Avoiding an obstacle
  • Driving in congested traffic
  • Driving in a special purpose lane or if there is a Left Lane Must Turn Left sign or a left traffic arrow and the driver is not turning left.

If a Keep Left Unless Overtaking sign is displayed, the requirement applies regardless of the speed limit.

October: Safe Distancing

The road safety rule for October is Safe Distancing!
Drivers must keep sufficient distance behind a vehicle travelling in front of them to safely avoid a collision. Safe following distances may vary depending on the conditions, the type of vehicle and the speed at which the vehicle is travelling. 

As a general rule, when following a vehicle, the driver should travel three seconds behind the vehicle in front to provide sufficient time to avoid a crash. To calculate a three second space when following another vehicle, drivers can use the basic time-lapse method technique:

Drivers should select a mark or object on the left-hand side of the road, for example a sign or a power pole.  As the rear of the vehicle ahead passes the chosen object, the driver counts ‘one thousand one, two thousand two, three thousand three’. This should take about three seconds.

If the driver’s car passes the chosen object before finishing the three second count, then they are travelling too close to the vehicle in front. There is not enough crash avoidance space so the driver should slow down and repeat the exercise to ensure the three second gap is achieved.  In poor conditions such as rain, gravel roads or dim light, it may be necessary to increase the travelling distance to four seconds to increase the crash avoidance space.

 

November: Give way to buses

The road safety rule for November is Give way to buses!

Other vehicle drivers should give way to a bus displaying the give way sign in a built up area, when the bus is about to enter or proceed in the lane or line of traffic, and the bus is in front of the driver.

Bus drivers are required to indicate for 5 seconds before pulling out from a stationary position at the side of the road. Buses are still required to obey the road rules when entering the traffic.

December: Mobile Phones

The road safety rule for December is Mobile Phones! 
A mobile phone can only be used while driving if it’s secured in a commercially designed and manufactured mounting fixed to the vehicle or operated by Bluetooth technology or voice activation. This includes the navigational or GPS function and audio functions of the device. The drivers aid must not obscure the drivers view of the road.

Learner and provisional (P1 and P2) licence holders are not permitted to use a mobile phone at all while driving or riding. This includes when waiting at traffic lights or stuck in traffic.

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