Road Rules

NSW has incorporated the Australian Road Rules and our local rules into a single set of NSW road rules.

The July 2008 nationally agreed changes to the Australian Road Rules included some minor amendments to existing rules and new rules attracting fines and/or demerit points.

From 1 November 2012, changes to NSW Road Rules will come into effect.

These law changes primarily consist of minor amendments, clarifications and tightening of existing road rules. They incorporate most of the Australian Road Rules 7th, 8th and 9th Amendment Packages (excluding child restraints, already implemented on 1 March 2010), as well as a number of NSW specific miscellaneous amendments.

These changes affect all road users.

Main changes to the road rules introduced on 1 November 2012

Changes to the NSW road rules

On 1 November 2012, a number of changes were introduced to the NSW road rules. Many of these changes are simply to clarify existing road rules and make them easier to understand.

Use of mobile phones

While a vehicle is moving or stationary (but not parked), a driver may only use a mobile phone to make or receive a call or use the audio playing function:

  • If the mobile phone is secured in a fixed mounting; or
  • If not in a mounting, use of the mobile phone must not require a driver to touch or manipulate the phone in any way.

All other functions including texting, video messaging, online chatting, reading preview messages and emailing are prohibited.

The new laws make it clear that a driver in a moving or stationary vehicle (unless parked) MUST NOT HOLD a phone in his or her hand other than to pass the phone to a passenger.

NOTE: Learner and Provisional P1 drivers are not allowed to use ANY function of a phone (including hands-free) while driving.

Police and emergency services vehicles

Police and emergency service drivers may continue to use mobile data terminals in the course of their work to receive job allocations, licensing, registration and other important information.

Visual display units in motor vehicles

A visual display unit (including a mobile phone), which is being used as a driverís aid function, such as a GPS, may only be used in a motor vehicle if it is secured in a fixed mounting. This mounting must be commercially designed and manufactured for this purpose. It must be positioned in the vehicle to not distract or obscure the driverís view.

Pedestrian at level crossings (New offences)

Red pedestrian light

  • If a pedestrian approaches a railway crossing showing a red pedestrian light, they must not start to cross. The image below illustrates this.
  • If a red pedestrian light appears only after the pedestrian has started crossing, they must finish crossing without delay.
Pedestrians at level crossing 
Pedestrian at level crossing
 

Flashing warning lights or ringing warning bells

  • If warning lights commence flashing or warning bells begin ringing and a pedestrian has already started crossing the railway line or tram track, they must finish crossing without delay.

Pedestrians crossing at traffic lights (without pedestrian lights) If the traffic lights change to yellow or red while a pedestrian is crossing the road at the lights, they may continue to the far side of the road (as intended).

Cyclists crossing the road at lights with bicycle crossing lights If the bicycle crossing lights change to yellow or red while a cyclist is crossing the road at the lights, they may continue to the far side of the road (as intended).

Giving way to pedestrians when turning at an intersection

When turning into a road at an intersection, a driver must give way to any pedestrian who may be crossing the particular road the driver is entering. The image below illustrates this.

Giving way to pedestrians 
Giving way to pedestrians
 

Entering blocked crossings

Drivers approaching an intersection without traffic lights can stop on a pedestrian crossing immediately before the intersection if the crossing is not blocked, but only after giving way to pedestrians using the crossing. This is to allow drivers to check for traffic at an intersection.

Marked lanes required to be used by particular vehicle types

Drivers of vehicles that are required to travel in particular lanes (e.g. ëtrucks use left laneí sign) are permitted to move out of such a lane if they are positioning the vehicle to turn off the road or make a U-turn.

Carrying animals on a motor bike

Animals are not permitted to be carried on a motor bike between a rider and the handlebars, or in any other position that would interfere with the riderís ability to control the motor bike.

Giving way at a roundabout with traffic lights on the approach which are not operating

Some roundabouts have traffic lights installed on the approach. However, if these lights are not operating correctly, the driver should treat it like any normal roundabout ñ giving way to any vehicle already in the roundabout.

Signalling at a roundabout

Drivers entering a roundabout and intending to turn either left or right, must give sufficient warning to other road users by signalling before entering the roundabout. The image below illustrates this.

Previously a driver had to indicate only when entering the roundabout.

When exiting a roundabout, whether turning left, right or even straight ahead, drivers must always indicate a left turn just before exiting. unless it is not practical to do so. This requirement has not changed.

Signalling at a roundabout 
Signalling at a roundabout
 

Keeping to the left of a dividing line: U-turns

Drivers are NOT at any time permitted to make a U-turn across the following:

  • A single continuous dividing line; or
  • A single continuous dividing line to the left of a broken line; or
  • Two parallel continuous dividing lines.

These three examples are illustrated below.

Keeping to the left of a dividing line
Keeping to the left of a dividing line
 

Exceptions to keeping to the left of a dividing line

Drivers are permitted to cross a single dividing line to enter or leave a road. See examples below.

Exceptions to keeping to the left of a dividing line 
Exceptions to keeping to the left of a dividing line
 

In NSW drivers are also permitted to cross two continuous lines to enter or leave the road by the shortest route.

Passing or overtaking a vehicle displaying a "Do not overtake turning vehicle" sign

There are instances where a driver may overtake to the LEFT of a long vehicle that is displaying a 'do not overtake turning vehicle' sign, providing it is safe to do so. These are:

  • If the vehicle is on a multi-lane road; or
  • If the other vehicle is signalling to turn right or making a U-turn from the centre of the road; or
  • If the other vehicle is stationary.

A driver may now overtake to the left of a vehicle displaying a "Do not overtake turning vehicle" sign, only if it is safe to do so.

Please refer to the example below and overleaf.

Do not overtake turning vehicle - sign
"Do not overtake turning vehicle" sign

 

Passing or overtaking a vehicle displaying a [Do not overtake turning vehicle] sign, scenario one

 

Passing or overtaking a vehicle displaying a [Do not overtake turning vehicle] sign, scenario two
"Passing or overtaking a vehicle displaying a "Do not overtake turning vehicle" sign
 

Keeping a minimum distance behind long vehicles

This rule applies to a driver of a long vehicle that is not driving in a built up area, a multi-lane road or overtaking.

A driver of a long vehicle, while driving behind another long vehicle, must keep at least 60m distance behind the long vehicle ahead.

A driver of a road train, while driving behind another long vehicle must keep at least 200m distance behind another long vehicle.

Using portable warning triangles

If a driver of a heavy vehicle (with a GVM greater than 12t) stops or has a fallen load on a road with a speed limit of 80km/h or more and the vehicle is not visible for 300 metres in all directions, three warning triangles must be placed on the road:

  • One triangle must be placed 200-250 metres behind the vehicle or fallen load;
  • One triangle must be placed 200-250 metres in front of the vehicle or fallen load; and
  • One triangle must be placed by the side of the vehicle or fallen load. On a road with a speed limit of under 80km/h and the vehicle is not visible for 200 metres in all directions, three warning triangles must be placed on the road: • One triangle must be placed 50-150 metres behind the vehicle or fallen load;
  • One triangle must be placed 50-150 metres in front of the vehicle or fallen load; and
  • One triangle must be placed by the side of the vehicle or fallen load.

On a one-way road or divided road, three triangles are still required. However, instead of placing the triangle in front of the vehicle, this triangle should be placed between the vehicle or fallen load, and the triangle behind the vehicle.