Australian Road Rules

The Australian Road Rules are a set of model road rules developed by the National Road Transport Commission which form the basis for state and territory road rules across Australia. The first edition of the rules was published on 19 October 1999, after decades of working towards a shared road safety policy with officials from jurisdictions across Australia.[1] Australians drive on the left.[2]

Hume Freeway Craigieburn Bypass
Cars and trucks in traffic on the Craigieburn Bypass of the Hume Freeway north of Melbourne, Victoria. Victoria has an extensive road network managed by VicRoads. The Victorian Road Rules are made under the Road Safety Act of Victoria and are based on the Australian Road Rules.
Cone taper for left lane closure in Western Australia showing small chevron (shifter), 40 km/h repeater, chevron and arrow-board
Darwin 2173
Cyclists on a shared path at Nightcliff in the Northern Territory.
Southern expressway entrance, bedford pk
Traffic on the Southern Expressway in Adelaide, South Australia. This photo was taken prior to construction of another carriageway
Road Train2
A tanker road train on an outback road. The Australian Road Rules apply to any heavy or light vehicle that operates on Australian roads.
Bridge into Hobart
Traffic on the Tasman Bridge in Hobart, Tasmania.


Australia's Constitution does not provide the federal Parliament legislative power for road transport law. As such, road laws are the responsibility of state and territory parliaments.[3] Historically, there were many differences between the eight sets of traffic rules in force in Australia, for example, the penalties for traffic offences varied and there were differing rules governing the approach to intersections.[4][5] Calls for a set of uniform road rules for Australia came as early as 1933.[6]

According to Shepherd and Calvert, the first genuine attempt to establish national Road Rules was in 1947 when Australian transport ministers (constituted as the Australian Transport Advisory Council) established the Australian Road Traffic Code Committee.[7] The first version of a National Traffic Code was issued in 1958 and the last in 1988. Shepherd and Calvert reported that it was not applied uniformly across the country: some jurisdictions adopted parts of the Code; others ignored significant parts of it.[8] In 1963 Richard Kingsland, then Secretary of the Department of the Interior, convened the 13th meeting of the Australian Road Traffic Committee and called for states to be flexible and to compromise to achieve a national traffic code.[9] By 1965, the Australian Transport Advisory Council had prepared recommendations for nationwide standards for a national road law, for considerations by the states.[10]

The Australian Road Rules project was established in the early 1990s, aimed at establishing a model set of road rules that states and territories across Australia could adopt in their local laws to create improved national uniformity or consistency. Responsibility for the project was passed to the National Road Transport Commission in 1995.[7]

In January 1999, the Australian Transport Council (comprising each of Australia's transport ministers) voted by majority to approve the final draft Rules submitted by the National Road Transport Commission, the Commonwealth and all states and territories except Western Australia approved the rules.[11] The first edition of the Rules was published on 19 October 1999 and was available for formal adoption by States and Territories from December 1999.


The rules are a template only; the actual laws are those legislated by each state and territory. However most states and territories have adopted the rules as legislation, with minor variations.

Current activity

The National Transport Commission is charged with maintaining the Australian Road Rules. From time to time, the Commission develops maintenance packages for the Rules which are submitted to the Australian Transport Council for the approval of Australia's Transport Ministers and for the ultimate adoption and roll out across the States and Territories of Australia.

See also


Notes and citations

  1. ^ National Road Transport Commission (1 December 1999). "National Road Rules A Transport Milestone" (Press release). Archived from the original on 12 February 2014.
  2. ^ "What side of the road do they drive on in Australia?". Retrieved 17 March 2019.
  3. ^ Parliamentary Education Office, Making laws, Australian Government, archived from the original on 11 February 2014
  4. ^ "Uniformity of road rules in Australia sought". The West Australian. 16 August 1951. p. 3.
  5. ^ Doherty, Frank (19 September 1950). "Interstate traffic mix-up: 'Rafferty' still rules on the roads". The Argus. p. 2.
  6. ^ Watson, J.C. (1933), Australian Year Book, NRMA of NSW in
  7. ^ a b Shepherd & Calvert 1999, p. 4.
  8. ^ Shepherd & Calvert 1999, pp. 3–4.
  9. ^ "National Road Laws 'Needed'". The Canberra Times. 4 December 1963. p. 8.
  10. ^ "National road law backed". The Canberra Times. 9 July 1965. p. 1.
  11. ^ Shepherd & Calvert 1999, p. 1.


External links

Bicycle helmets in Australia

Australia was the first country to make wearing bicycle helmets mandatory. The majority of early statistical data regarding the effectiveness of bicycle helmets originated from Australia. Their efficacy is still a matter of debate.

Between 1990 and 1992, Australian states and territories introduced various laws mandating that cyclists wear bicycle helmets while riding after a campaign by various groups including the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (RACS).

Headlight flashing

Headlight flashing is the act of either briefly switching on the headlights of a car, or of momentarily switching between a headlight's high beams and low beams, in an effort to communicate with another driver or drivers. The signal is sometimes referred to in car manufacturers' manuals as an optical horn, since it draws the attention of other drivers.

The signal can be intended to convey a variety of messages, including a warning to other drivers of road hazards, telling a driver they can pass through or alerting a driver of speed traps, and it can also be a form of aggressive driving. The legality of headlight flashing varies by jurisdiction.

Hook turn

A hook turn (also known as a perimeter-style turn in Canada) is a road cycling maneuver and traffic-control mechanism in which vehicles that would normally turn from the closest lane of an intersection instead turn from the farthest lane, across all other lanes of traffic.

Hook turns are commonly used by cyclists as a safer alternative to merging with motor vehicles, or having to cross multiple lanes of traffic to reach a turning lane.

The legal use of hook turns by motor vehicles is relatively rare, but has been implemented in some jurisdictions (notably Melbourne, Australia) to keep the center of a road free from congestion for use by trams or other services.


Jaywalking occurs when a pedestrian walks in or crosses a roadway that has traffic, other than at a suitable crossing point, or otherwise in disregard of traffic rules. The term originated with "jay-drivers", people who drove horse-drawn carriages and automobiles on the wrong side of the road, before taking its current meaning.The term "jaywalking" is primarily a North American concept where laws restrict pedestrian use of public roads. In other countries such as the United Kingdom, the word is not generally used and there are no laws limiting how pedestrians can use public highways.Legal texts in other countries use different concepts, such as Rules applicable to pedestrians in the Vienna Convention on Road Traffic. One member of this convention, the United Kingdom, does not have jaywalking laws; its Highway Code relies on the pedestrian making his own judgment on whether it is safe to cross based on the Green Cross Code. Pedestrians do have priority over turning vehicles. Rule 170 of the UK's Highway Code instructs a driver to "watch out for pedestrians crossing a road into which you are turning. If they have started to cross they have priority, so give way."

Lane splitting

Lane splitting is riding a bicycle or motorcycle between lanes or rows of slow moving or stopped traffic moving in the same direction. It is sometimes called whitelining, or stripe-riding. This allows riders to save time, bypassing traffic congestion, and may also be safer than stopping behind stationary vehicles.Filtering or filtering forward describes moving through traffic that is stopped, such as at a red traffic light. Lane splitting means riding between two lanes of vehicles, while filtering can also refer to using space on the outside edge of same-direction traffic.

National Transport Commission

The National Transport Commission (NTC), previously known as the National Road Transport Commission, is an Australian independent statutory body created to develop regulatory and operational reform for road, rail and intermodal transport.

Under Australia’s federal system, transport policy and regulatory responsibilities span across Commonwealth, state and territory, and local governments. Differences between these regulatory systems mean that national transport operators can face inconsistent regulations, creating unnecessary inefficiency and cost.

The NTC is focused on reforms which improve the productivity, safety and environmental outcomes of the Australian transport system . This has subsequently led to the development of transport regulatory policies such as Performance-Based Standards, Heavy Vehicle Driver Fatigue Reform and the Chain of Responsibility.

The NTC also plays a role in implementation planning to ensure reform outcomes are relevant and effective, as well as coordinating, monitoring, evaluating and maintaining the implementation of approved reforms. Recommendations and advice are presented to the Standing Council on Transport and Infrastructure (SCOTI) - comprising transport, infrastructure and planning ministers - for approval by majority vote.

Based in Melbourne, Victoria, the NTC has six commissioners including a Chief Executive. Dr Geoff Allan was appointed Acting Chief Executive in 2018.

Penalty unit

In Australian law, a penalty unit (abbreviated as PU) is an amount of money used to compute pecuniary penalties for many breaches of statute law. Fines are calculated by multiplying the value of one penalty unit by the number of penalty units prescribed for the offence.

Prior to the introduction of penalty units, fines and other charges were usually prescribed in terms of ordinary money (pounds or, later, dollars). However, the effects of inflation meant that originally substantial penalties were eventually reduced to trifling sums. Frequent amendment of the many laws and regulations dealing with pecuniary penalties would be a very time-consuming process. Penalty units provide a quick and simple way to adjust many different fees and charges.

Personal transporter

A personal transporter (also electric rideable, personal light electric vehicle, personal mobility device, etc.) is a class of compact, mostly recent (21st century), motorised vehicle for transporting an individual at speeds that do not normally exceed 25 km/h (16 mph). They include electric skateboards, kick scooters, self-balancing unicycles and Segways, as well as gasoline-fueled motorised scooters or skateboards, typically using two-stroke engines of less than 49 cc (3.0 cu in) displacement. Many newer versions use recent advances in vehicle battery and motor-control technologies. They are growing in popularity, and legislators are in the process of determining how these devices should be classified, regulated and accommodated during a period of rapid innovation.

Generally excluded from this legal category are electric bicycles (that are considered to be a type of bicycle); electric motorbikes and scooters (that are treated as a type of scooter); and powered mobility aids with 3 or 4 wheels on which the rider sits (which fall within regulations covering powered mobility scooters).

Point system (driving)

A penalty point or demerit point system is one in which a driver's licensing authority, police force, or other organization issues cumulative demerits, or points to drivers on conviction for road traffic offenses. Points may either be added or subtracted, depending on the particular system in use. A major offense may lead to more than the maximum allowed points being issued. Points are typically applied after driving offenses are committed, and cancelled a defined time, typically a few years, afterwards, or after other conditions are met; if the total exceeds a specified limit, the offender may be disqualified from driving for a time, or the driving license may be revoked. Fines and other penalties may be applied additionally, either for an offense, or after a certain number of points have been accumulated.

The primary purpose of such point systems is to identify, deter, and penalize repeat offenders of traffic laws, while streamlining the legal process. Germany introduced a demerit point system in 1974, and one was introduced in New York at about that time.

Priority to the right

Priority to the right is a right-of-way system, in which the driver of a vehicle is required to give way to vehicles approaching from the right at intersections. The system is stipulated in Article 18.4.a of the Vienna Convention on Road Traffic for countries where traffic keeps to the right and applies to all intersections where it is not overridden by priority signs (uncontrolled intersections), including side roads and roundabouts (but not paths or earth-tracks).

Road transport in Australia

Road transport is an essential element of the Australian transport network, and enabler of the Australian economy. Australia relies heavily on road transport due to Australia's large area and low population density in considerable parts of the country.Another reason for the reliance upon roads is that the Australian rail network has not been sufficiently developed for a lot of the freight and passenger requirements in most areas of Australia. This has meant that goods that would otherwise be transported by rail are moved across Australia via road trains. Almost every household owns at least one car, and uses it most days.Victoria is the state with the highest density of arterial roads in Australia.

Skye's Law

Skye's Law is an informal name for the Crimes Amendment (Police Pursuits) Act 2010 of New South Wales, Australia. It is named after the 19-month old toddler Skye Sassine, who was killed on 31 December 2009 when her family's car was hit by a driver suspected of armed robbery who was trying to evade police. The driver in that case was convicted of her manslaughter, but Skye's Law makes evading a police pursuit a specific offence in itself, with prison terms of up to three years, or up to five years for repeat offences. The offence is committed if the driver is aware of the pursuit, fails to stop and then drives recklessly or dangerously. The law takes the form of a new section 51B inserted into the Crimes Act 1900 by the 2010 Act.

The law was first used within a few weeks of being passed. Between May 2010 and March 2012, 445 people were convicted under Skye's Law, 180 of whom were imprisoned.In 2012, Western Australia also introduced a range of offences relating to police pursuit attracting sentences of imprisonment, in the Road Traffic (Miscellaneous Amendments) Act 2012.

Speed limits in Australia

Speed limits in Australia range from 5 kilometres per hour (3.1 mph) shared zones to 130 kilometres per hour (81 mph). In the Northern Territory four highways have 130 kilometres per hour (81 mph) zones. Speed limit signage is in km/h since metrication on 1 July 1974. All speed limits (with the sole exception of the South Australian school and roadworks zones which are signposted at 25 km/h) are multiples of 10 km/h – the last digit in all speed signs is zero.

Traffic code

Traffic code (also motor vehicle code) refers to the collection of local statutes, regulations, ordinances and rules that have been officially adopted in the United States to govern the orderly operation and interaction of motor vehicles, bicycles, pedestrians and others upon the public (and sometimes private) ways.

The traffic code generally includes provisions relating to the establishment of authority and enforcement procedures, statement of the rules of the road, and other safety provisions. Administrative regulations for driver licensing, vehicle ownership and registration, insurance, vehicle safety inspections and parking violations may also be included, though not always directly related to driving safety. Violations of traffic code (i.e., a "moving violation") are often dealt with by forfeiting a fine in response to receiving a valid citation ("getting a ticket"). Other violations, such as drunk driving or vehicular homicide are handled through the criminal courts, although there may also be civil and administrative cases that arise from the same violation (including payment of damages and loss of driving privileges). In some jurisdictions there is a separate code-enforcement branch of government that handles illegal parking and other non-moving violations (e.g., noise and other emissions, illegal equipment). Elsewhere, there may be multiple overlapping police agencies patrolling for violations of state or federal driving regulations.

Traffic stop

A traffic stop, commonly called being pulled over, is a temporary detention of a driver of a vehicle by police to investigate a possible crime or minor violation of law.

Traffic ticket

A traffic ticket is a notice issued by a law enforcement official to a motorist or other road user, indicating that the user has violated traffic laws. Traffic tickets generally come in two forms, citing a moving violation, such as exceeding the speed limit, or a non-moving violation, such as a parking violation, with the ticket also being referred to as a parking citation, or parking ticket.

In some jurisdictions, a traffic ticket constitutes a notice that a penalty, such as a fine or deduction of points, has been or will be assessed against the driver or owner of a vehicle; failure to pay generally leads to prosecution or to civil recovery proceedings for the fine. In others, the ticket constitutes only a citation and summons to appear at traffic court, with a determination of guilt to be made only in court.

Traffic violations reciprocity

Under traffic violations reciprocity agreements, non-resident drivers are treated like residents when they are stopped for a traffic offense that occurs in another jurisdiction. They also ensure that punishments such as penalty points on one's license and the ensuing increase in insurance premiums follow the driver home. The general principle of such interstate, interprovincial, and/or international compacts is to guarantee the rule "one license, one record."


VicRoads or the Roads Corporation of Victoria is a statutory corporation which is the road and traffic authority in the state of Victoria, Australia. It is responsible for maintenance and construction of the arterial road network, as well as driver licensing and vehicle registration. VicRoads has broad responsibility for road safety policy and research. It is also responsible for regulating the accident towing industry in Victoria.

The main VicRoads administration is located in the Melbourne suburb of Kew, on the site of the former Kew Railway Station, with other metropolitan offices in the Melbourne CBD, Burwood and Sunshine. Regional offices and Project offices are located in Geelong, Traralgon, Benalla, Bendigo and Ballarat, among others. In addition VicRoads operates many offices servicing the public in registration and licensing throughout metropolitan Melbourne and regional Victoria.

Rules of the road
Road user guides
Speed limit
Moving violations
Driver licensing
Traffic violations reciprocity
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