It's important to understand the road rules wherever your journey takes you. RACV is often asked to clarify Victoria's road rules and this page has a number of links to help.

Below are explanations of the road rules we are commonly asked to explain. RACV encourages all road users to treat each other with respect, and remember that the rules talk about ‘giving way’ to other road users, and not who has ‘right of way’.  In fact under the rules no user has ‘right of way’.

Advice on this page is based on the Victorian Road Safety Road Rules 2009. For detailed information on the rules, refer to the rules referenced in each section.

This information on this website is general information only.  The information is not legal advice, and should not be treated as such. RACV does not provide legal advice to Members or the public in relation to particular incidents and you should not rely on the information on this website as an alternative to legal advice.   If you have any specific questions about any legal matter you should consult a lawyer or other professional legal services provider. However, RACV will assist Total Care members with legal expenses to the value of $330, should you require representation in connection with summary offences under the Road Safety Act. To find out more about this benefit see the Total Care page.

Animals

Injured animals

If you do hit an animal, and there is the possibility that, if left on the road, the animal may injure a person, obstruct the path of other drivers or damage a vehicle, you must remove the animal or take action to have the animal removed from the road as soon as you can safely do so. To report a hazard on a major road contact VicRoads on 13 11 70 (24 hours).

If the animal has been hurt, keep it warm and quiet and contact the property owner or Wildlife Victoria on 1300 094 535. Wildlife Victoria provides an essential service to the people of Victoria on behalf of the State ensuring that wildlife in need of care is provided with the most appropriate management. Wildlife is rescued effectively, euthanised humanely, when necessary, rehabilitated where possible, and released appropriately. Wildlife Victoria is RACV's environmental partner and RACV is no longer providing the wildlife service (formerly known as Wildlife Connect).

For more information see the Victorian Road Safety Road Rules 2009 rule 293.

People in charge of animals

A driver, passenger or cyclist must not lead an animal including by tying the animal to a vehicle.

Anyone riding an animal must give way to pedestrians on a footpath or nature strip. The rider must not ride alongside more than one other rider and no more than 1.5 metres from the other rider, unless overtaking. A rider of a horse who is under the age of 18 must wear an approved horse-riding helmet that is securely fitted and fastened. For more information see the Victorian Road Safety Road Rules 2009 rules 301, 302, 303 and 303A.

Pets in cars

The Victorian Road Rules do not require a driver to restrain animals in cars. However, a driver is required to have proper control of the vehicle, and an unrestrained animal could affect this. A properly restrained pet won’t move around and distract the driver, and is also less likely to escape through a door or window.

Under the Road Rules, driver must not drive with an animal on their lap. The rider of a motor bike must not ride with an animal on the motor bike between the rider and the handlebars, or in another position that interferes with the rider's ability to control the motorbike or to have a clear view of the road with an exception for farmers travelling short distances.

It is also illegal to transport your pet in the boot of a sedan. However, if you have an SUV, station wagon or hatchback, it is legal for your pet to travel in the back of your vehicle. Any animal riding on the tray of a vehicle such as a truck or ute must be restrained.

RACV believes in safety for all vehicle occupants, and we recommend using appropriate animal restraints to protect both animal and humans in a crash. Use a proper pet seatbelt or a pet carrier secured in the back seat. Most pet carriers have slots or loops that allow them to be secured using the vehicle’s seatbelt. Some pet harnesses have attachments that can be inserted into a standard seatbelt buckle. Wagons and SUV’s may be fitted with a cargo barrier to keep the animal in the cargo area.

For more information see the Victorian Road Safety Road Rules 2009 rule 297 and Agriculture Victoria’s Code Of Practice For The Private Keeping Of Dogs and the Code of Practice for the Private Keeping of Cats.

Stock on road signs

Motorists need to watch out for ‘Stop’ and ‘Give way to stock’ signs that are displayed by farmers when they have stock on roads. These signs are legally enforceable, and failing to stop or give way may result in a fine.

A ‘Stop’ sign or a ‘Give way to stock’ sign will be displayed when stock are at a stock crossing. You must stop a reasonable distance before the crossing and not proceed until all stock have completed their crossing. Warning signs should be displayed before fixed stock crossings.

Where livestock are on or beside the road, 'Give way to stock next X km' signs will be displayed. In this case, drivers must take appropriate action to avoid a collision with any animal on the road. This means a driver must travel at a speed that would allow them to safely stop if an animal were to move in the path of their vehicle. The length of road for which these signs apply may vary, but will be indicated on the sign.

For more information see the Victorian Road Safety Road Rules 2009 rules 402, 403 and 404.

For more information see the Victorian Road Safety Road Rules 2009 rules 402, 403 and 404.

Bicycle riders

When riding a bicycle on our roads, it is important to share the roads with other users, including pedestrians and motorised vehicles. Market research shows nearly half of RACV’s members ride, with one in five doing so at least once a week.

When travelling on the road, bicycles are classified as vehicles and are required to obey all Road Rules as other drivers must. 

For more information on the road rules that apply to drivers travelling near bicycle riders see the section on sharing the road.

Bicycle riders on roads

The following is a summary of the additional rules that apply to bicycle riders riding on roads:

  • Bicycles are considered vehicles under the road rules, and riders are permitted to ride on the road, even if there is a nearby off-road path (unless signs indicate cycling is not allowed on-road).
  • When a bicycle lane is provided on a road, in the direction of travel, cyclists must ride in the bicycle lane unless it is impracticable to do so.
  • Bicycle riders must wear an approved bicycle helmet securely fitted and fastened on their head. A bicycle must have at least one effective brake and a bell, horn or similar warning device in working order. At night, or in conditions of reduced visibility, approved lights and reflectors are also required.
  • Bicycle storage areas or ‘head-start boxes’ that are provided at some signalised intersections. These are areas painted in front of the stop line, but before any pedestrian crossing to allow riders to safely wait in front of traffic. Bicycle riders must stop at the second line, within the storage area. Drivers must stop at the first line at a red light and not enter the area reserved for riders.
  • Bicycle riders are allowed to overtake to the left of a vehicle, unless that vehicle is turning left and indicating.
  • Bicycle riders must give hand signals when turning right including changing lanes and making a U-turn. Giving a left hand signal when turning left is not required by road rules – though we would recommend it be done whenever possible as a courtesy to other road users.
  • When turning right, bicycle riders have the option of making a hook turn at any intersection (with or without traffic lights) unless signs prohibit bicycles from doing so.
  • At a multi-lane roundabout, bicycle riders (and animal riders!) riding in the far left lane of the roundabout are required to give way to any vehicle leaving the roundabout. This means that riders who wish to turn right should position themselves towards the middle of the roundabout, if safe to do so for the speed and type of traffic.
  • Bicycle riders must not cause a hazard to other road users. This means don’t move in and out of a line of traffic or parked cars – maintain a straight line where possible.
  • Bicycle riders must not ride within 2 metres of the rear of a moving motor vehicle for more than 200 metres.
  • Bicycle riders must dismount to cross at a children’s or pedestrian crossing. At a marked foot crossing, a bicycle rider may ride across if there is a bicycle light when the light is green.
  • Bicycle riders are allowed to ride up to two abreast, and up to 1.5 metres apart. Another rider may pass if overtaking.
  • Posted speed limits apply to bicycle riders.

Additional rules for bicycle riders on footpaths or shared paths

The following is a summary of the additional rules that apply to bicycle riders riding on footpaths or shared paths.

  • Children under 12 are allowed to ride on the footpath. Children should be encouraged to be alert for vehicles coming out of driveways. Even though the vehicle has to give way under the Road Rules, they may not see or hear an approaching rider.
  • Bicycle riders aged 18 years or older must are allowed to ride on a footpath if they are accompanying and supervising a child under 12 years of age who is also riding.
  • All bicycle riders must keep left unless it is impractical to do so.
  • All bicycle riders must give way to any pedestrians on the footpath or shared path. On a path, with separate marked areas for bicycles and pedestrians, bicycle riders must not ride in the area reserved for pedestrians. However pedestrians pushing a wheelchair or using rollerblades can use a bicycle path, unless signs or markings indicate otherwise.

Remember

  • Ride with caution past parked cars. When safe, and legal, to do so ride outside the door zone of a parked car.
  • Don’t ride in a driver’s blind spot. This image (from Transport for London) clearly shows the blind spots next to a truck.
  • When riding in a group in busy traffic, or on narrow roads consider riding in single file to allow other vehicles to safely overtake.
  • Be considerate about where you park your bicycle. Don’t obstruct footpaths, pedestrian, wheelchair or mobility scooter access.
  • It is also important riders wear the right clothing to make it easier for other road users to see them.
  • Bicycle riders involved in a crash are required to give their details, and those of the owner of the bicycle, to any person who had been injured or the owner of any property that has been damaged.
  • Related information
  • Find out about RACV’s advocacy and activities for cyclists
  • Read Sharing Roads and Paths. This RACV-sponsored brochure is a code of conduct for riders, drivers and pedestrians and is available to download, or contact us for a hard copy.
  • Read Bike Law, a publication by the Victoria Law Foundation to help bike riders share the roads responsibly and safely.
  • Tips for cycling safely with children
  • Watch VicRoads' short video to help motorists understand on how to share the road with bicycle riders and motorcyclists. Checking for cyclists and motorcyclists.
  • VicRoads has developed a sticker pack to remind drivers and passengers to look for bicycle riders before getting in and out of their car. To order your pack call VicRoads on (03) 8391 3255 or visit your local VicRoads Customer Service Centre to pick one up.

Enforcement

Demerit points

Demerit points are a penalty imposed when you break a road rule and are imposed in addition to a monetary fine. 

  • A driver with no driving offences has zero points. Demerit points are accumulated (rather than lost).
  • Demerit points for driving offences range from 1 to 10 points and apply from the date of the offence.
  • Delays may occur when recording the offence details and associated demerit points e.g. due to a court process or if a traffic infringement notice is paid late.
  • Demerit points are only valid for three years from the date of the offence. However points older than three years could be counted if there are delayed by court processes e.g. an unpaid or contested fine. 
  • Traffic offences committed anywhere in Australia may cause demerit points to be recorded against you. 

If you receive an infringement notice in the mail and you were not the driver, it’s in your interest to nominate who was driving at the time, otherwise you will receive their demerit points.
 
Remember when buying or selling vehicles to advise VicRoads immediately (by law within 14 days), or you may have to explain why you should not get someone else’s points.

For more information on demerit points or the number of demerit points for each offence, visit VicRoads website.

Fines and infringements

If you have received a speed, red-light, toll road, parking, public transport or handwritten fine attached to your vehicle, the Victorian Government provides information about the options available to you, including a review of the fine if you believe it was unfairly issued. For more information, see the Victoria State Government Fines website.

To find out more about speed or red-light offences and how the cameras operate, see our advice on speed and red-light cameras.

If you have received a speed, red light, level crossing or unregistered vehicle fine, you can view the images taken by the camera at the Victoria State Government Fines website.

If you have received a breach notice for parking in a private car park see private car park fines.

For more information on parking fines visit the Victoria Law Foundation: Parking, the law and you, a guide to parking laws and signs, fines, how to appeal, the consequences of not paying a fine in Victoria, and where to get help.

Private car park fines

Private car parks operate in a range of locations across Victoria. Private car park operators cannot issue parking fines or infringements - these can only be issued by an authorised government body.

Private car park operators may issue 'breach of contract' notices requesting payment for an alleged failure to obey the displayed terms and conditions of use of the car park.

For more information, including options on what you can do if you have received a breach notice see:

Speed and red-light cameras

RACV believes that both covert and overt speed enforcement is an essential part of any road safety strategy. However we do believe that speed cameras should only be used at locations where there is a proven speed related safety problem or there is the real potential for one to develop. We have also advocated that the location of all fixed cameras should be published. RACV has been quite vocal about this stance, as speed enforcement has been perceived by some sectors of the community as revenue raising.

Frequently asked questions

General questions

What types of cameras are there? 

There are five different types of road safety cameras on Victoria's roads as follows:
• Mobile speed cameras. 
• Fixed freeway speed cameras
• Combined speed and red-light (intersection) cameras
• Point-to-point speed cameras
• Wet film red-light cameras.

Visit the Victorian Government website for  more information on these cameras.

What are the penalties?

The penalties for speed and red-light offences are available on the Victorian Government website.

I have received a fine from Victoria Police. What are my options? 

Visit the Victorian Government website for the options available, including applying how to apply for a review.

Traffic cameras and fines are all about revenue raising aren’t they?

RACV successfully advocated in 2005 that to make the system more transparent, all revenue raised from traffic safety cameras and on-the-spot speeding fines should be channelled back into roads. Since July 2005 all money from traffic cameras and speeding fines has been dedicated to funding road safety improvements. 

Where are the cameras located? 

The locations of cameras across Victoria are available on the Victorian Government website. Visit their website to find out the locations of cameras in Victoria. The site also publishes the possible locations for mobile speed cameras each month.

What is the role of the Road Safety Camera Commissioner?

The Road Safety Camera Commissioner checks the accuracy of speed cameras and undertakes investigations relating to the integrity, accuracy and efficiency of the camera system.  The Commissioner cannot investigate and resolve individual complaints, but does monitor complaints to see if there is a pattern that might reveal problems with the camera system. 

RACV recommends that drivers carefully consider the information on the Commissioner’s website when making a complaint about a fine. For more information visit the Road Safety Camera Commissioner's website.

I received a fine. Can I view photos from the camera? 

If you have received a speed or red-light fine, you can view the images taken by the camera at the Victoria State Government Fines website.

Questions about speed cameras

I have received a speeding fine. Can I apply for a caution or warning?

If you have received a speeding fine and have a previously good driving record, you may be able to apply for an official warning. For information on how to apply for an official warning visit the Victoria Police website.

What are the ‘rules’ for the placement of mobile speed cameras? 

The locations of mobile speed cameras are approved by Victoria Police. For more information visit the Cameras Save Lives website and view the Mobile Road Safety Camera Policy and Operations Manual.

The approved locations for mobile speed cameras are also available on the Cameras Save Lives website.

What is the tolerance on speed cameras?

This tolerance deducts two km/hr from a vehicle's detected speed for fixed digital safety cameras or three km/hr (or three per cent for speeds over 100km/hr) from a vehicle's detected speed for mobile cameras. Visit the Victorian Government website for more information on speed camera tolerances.

How do point-to-point speed cameras work? 

Point-to-point speed cameras calculate an average speed over a long distance. The Victorian Government website has information on point-to-point speed cameras

Questions about red-light cameras

How do red-light cameras work?

A red-light camera will only activate after the traffic signal turns red. A red-light camera takes two photos to verify that an infringement has taken place:
• The first photo is taken when a vehicle crosses the stop line and enters the detector loop area (located between the stop line and pedestrian crossing line) after the lights change to red; and
• The second photo is taken when the vehicle continues through the intersection against the red light by exiting the detector loop area.

Visit the Victoria Government Cameras Save Lives website for more information on red-light camera operation or watch the Victoria Department of Justice Why do we have red-light cameras video.

I entered the intersection on the green light and exited when it was red. Will I receive a fine?

A red-light fine will not be issued if you enter the intersection while the light is green or amber, but do not exit the intersection until the light is red. This is explained in the Victoria Department of Justice Why do we have red-light cameras video. An image from the video, which explains this, is shown below.

I saw a red-light camera flash but the lights were green. Is it broken? 

Some intersections are equipped with combined speed and red-light (intersection) cameras. These cameras monitor both the speed of vehicles through the intersection as well as instances of red-light running.

Because of this, a camera may flash on a green light if a driver is speeding. If a driver also speeds through a red light, two infringements will be issued. Visit the Victorian Government website for more information on combined speed and red-light cameras.

If you believe a camera is flashing incorrectly, you can report it through the Cameras Save Lives website.

Vehicle impoundment 

Legislation allows authorities to impound, immobilise or forfeit a vehicle that has been used for a high risk driving offence, dangerous driving offence or hoon driving. The vehicle does not have to belong to the offender for it to be impounded or immobilised.

To report hoon driving call the Crime Stoppers Hoon Hotline on 1800 333 000 or visit the Crime Stoppers website . If it is an emergency, contact 000.

For more information about vehicle impoundment, visit VicRoads website or see the Road Safety Amendment (Hoon Driving) Act 2010 and the Road Safety Act 1986 on the Victorian Legislation website (search under Victorian Law Today).

Giving way

Giving way to buses

The Road Rules identify that when driving in the left lane or line of traffic in a built-up area, a driver must give way to a bus displaying a “Give way to buses” sign when it is stopped or moving slowly, and indicating to rejoin the traffic stream from the left. 

Giving way to emergency vehicles

A driver must not move into the path of an approaching police or emergency vehicle displaying a flashing blue or red light (whether or not it is also displaying other lights) or sounding an alarm. If you are in the path of a vehicle like this, you must move out of its path as soon as you can do so safely, despite any other Road Rules.

A driver must give way to a police or emergency vehicle displaying a flashing blue or red light (whether or not it is also displaying other lights) or sounding an alarm. If you are stopped you must remain stationary until it is safe to proceed, or in any other case slow down, and if necessary stop, to avoid a collision.

This rule applies despite any other rule that would otherwise require the driver of a police or emergency vehicle to give way to you.

Modern, quiet cars often make it difficult to hear alarms from a distance, so it’s important to keep an eye on your mirrors and know what is happening around you. If you do find yourself in the path of an emergency vehicle, don’t put yourself and others at risk by reacting impulsively.

Check around you for other vehicles and pedestrians and move out of the way as quickly and safely as possible. Remember to help out other drivers who may have to give way to emergency vehicles and give them space when needed.

VicRoads has produced a short video to help motorists understand how to safely give way to emergency vehicles which includes police, ambulance and fire vehicles.


For more information see the Victorian Road Safety Road Rules 2009 rules 78 and 79.

Giving way to pedestrians

When entering a road from a car park, private property or a similar area, drivers must give   to any pedestrians on the road they are entering, or those on the footpath or nature strip the driver must cross to enter the road. When entering areas like these from a road, drivers must also give way to pedestrians. For more information see the Victorian Road Safety Road Rules 2009 rules 74 and 75.

At intersections (except roundabouts), drivers must give way to any pedestrians at or near the road they are turning into. Drivers turning left and using a slip lane must always give way to pedestrians crossing the slip lane, even if there is no marked pedestrian crossing. For more information see the Victorian Road Safety Road Rules 2009 rules 67 to 73.

At a children’s crossing (otherwise known as a ‘school crossing’) when flags are displayed or yellow lights are flashing, drivers must stop at the stop line if a hand-held stop sign is displayed at the crossing or, a pedestrian is on or entering the crossing. Drivers must not proceed until the sign is no longer displayed towards the driver and there are no pedestrians on or entering the crossing.

At a pedestrian crossing, which has a Pedestrian Crossing Sign (as shown above) and white stripes on the road surface, drivers must give way to any pedestrians on the crossing but may proceed after giving way.

If the road ahead is blocked, drivers must not drive into a children's crossing, marked foot crossing or pedestrian crossing.

Drive with caution at any children’s crossing, even when the lights aren’t flashing or flags displayed. A pedestrian may not know the rules and could walk in front of you.

For more information see the Victorian Road Safety Road Rules 2009 rules 80 to 82.

In a shared zone, which is indicated by shared zone signs, drivers must give way to any pedestrians. For more information see the Victorian Road Safety Road Rules 2009 rule 83.

Intersections and roundabouts

When entering a roundabout, a driver must give way to any vehicle in the roundabout and any tram that is entering or approaching the roundabout.  In many cases, this will mean giving way to vehicles approaching from the right. However in some cases, a vehicle may have entered the roundabout ahead of the driver from the left, and the driver will have to give way to this other vehicle.

When entering a roundabout, it is not compulsory to come to a complete stop, unless it is done to avoid a collision. Roundabouts are meant to flow, and stopping unnecessarily is hazardous.

Once in the roundabout, a driver must give way to a tram, or a bus travelling along tram tracks that is in, entering or approaching the roundabout.

Using indicators at roundabouts also seems to cause confusion, but it’s not that different to any other type of intersection.  Before entering the roundabout indicate as you normally would: left to turn left, right to turn right and no indicator if you are going straight ahead. Remember to indicate long enough to give sufficient warning to other drivers and pedestrians about where you plan to go.

If you are going to leave the roundabout more than halfway around, then you should indicate right.  Halfway around is defined as leaving on a road that is substantially straight ahead from the road you entered on. The difference to other intersections is in exiting.  Where practicable, give a left change of direction signal when leaving the roundabout. 

Overtaking is permitted in roundabouts, so long as it is safe to do so, and remembering to indicate as you would normally do. The overtaking vehicle must pass at a sufficient distance to avoid a collision or obstructing the path of the vehicle being overtaken. 

On multi-lane roundabouts, cyclists (and animal riders!) riding in the far left lane of the roundabout are required to give way to any vehicle leaving the roundabout. This means that riders who wish to turn right should position themselves towards the middle of the roundabout, if safe to do so for the speed and type of traffic. Drivers are not required to give way to pedestrians when leaving a roundabout, but common-sense should prevail.

For more information see the Victorian Road Safety Road Rules 2009 rules 109 to 119.

VicRoads has produced a short video to help motorists understand how to give way at roundabouts.


Keeping left, overtaking and other driving rules

Driving on a nature strip

A driver must not drive on a nature strip adjacent to a length of road in a built-up area unless the driver is entering or leaving adjacent land or a road-related area by the shortest route and in a way allowed by any traffic control devices (e.g. signs) present. 

Cutting grass using a ride-on lawnmower, driving a motorised wheelchair and riding a bicycle or animal is allowed unless signs say otherwise.   

Posties delivering mail are also allowed to ride bicycles or low-powered motorcycles on nature strips as long as they give way to all pedestrians, take precautions to avoid crashes and do not ride within five metres of a shop, elderly citizen’s or disabled centre, kindergarten or pre-school centre, and at a speed of no more than 10km/h.

 For more information see the Victorian Road Safety Road Rules 2009 rule 289.

Keep left unless overtaking

Keeping to the left on a multi-lane road is not only courteous to other drivers, it’s the law!

Drivers must stay out of the right lane when driving on a multi-lane road with a speed limit of more than 80km/h or where a ‘Keep Left Unless Overtaking’ sign applies. A multi-lane road is a road with two or more marked traffic lanes in the same direction.

The exceptions to this are when a driver is turning right or making a U-turn from the centre of the road and has their right-turn indicator on, overtaking another vehicle, avoiding an obstruction, travelling where signs or arrows indicate this is allowed (such as where a ‘Left Lane Must Turn Left’ sign applies and the driver is not turning left) or where traffic in other lanes is congested.

This rule only applies to the far right lane. Drivers may drive in the left and centre lanes on a road with three or more lanes in each direction, unless signs or markings on the road indicate otherwise.

A ‘Keep Left Unless Overtaking’ sign applies for the length of road from the first sign until an ‘End Keep Left Unless Overtaking’ sign, road markings on the surface of the road or signage indicate that the road is no longer a multi-lane road or the road ends, for example at a T-intersection or a dead end.

However, even where it is not legally necessary to keep left, it is courteous (when practical) to do so on all multi lane roads.

For more information see the Victorian Road Safety Road Rules 2009 rule 130.

Keeping a safe distance

Tailgating another vehicle is unsafe and illegal. The Road Rules state that a driver must keep sufficient distance from the vehicle in front so they can stop safely to avoid a collision.

RACV recommends drivers allow a minimum of two seconds gap between their vehicle and the one in front. At 60km/h this equates to 33 metres and at 100km/h it equates to 55 metres. These should be considered minimum distances to keep from the vehicle in front, more is often needed to safely stop in conditions such as rain or poor visibility.

To calculate the two second gap, pick a fixed object located on the side of the road. As the rear of the vehicle in front passes the object start to count ‘one thousand and one, one thousand and two’. The front of your vehicle should not reach the fixed object until after you have finished counting. If it does, slow down and allow more room between the vehicles.

The Road Rules also specify that drivers of long vehicles (7.5 metres in length or more) must leave a minimum of 60 metres distance, or 200 metres if in a road train area, behind another long vehicle unless driving on a multi-lane road, in a built-up area, or overtaking.

Maintaining a sufficient distance between vehicles allows a driver time to look at mirrors, signs, side roads and any vehicles in front while maintaining enough distance to stop safely and avoid a collision.

 For more information see the Victorian Road Safety Road Rules 2009 rules 126 and 127.

Merging

On Victoria’s road network there are two types of merging situations. The first is when two lanes join together and there is no dashed line (Diagram 1). In this situation the vehicle in front goes first, regardless of whether the vehicle is on the left or right. This type of merge is commonly known as a ‘Zip-merge’.

The second type of merge is where vehicles must cross a dashed line (Diagram 2). In this situation the vehicle crossing the line must give way to any vehicle already travelling in the lane the driver wishes to enter. This type of merge commonly occurs on freeway entry ramps and on rural highways at the end of passing lanes.

On freeways, merging vehicles should not stop to give way, but they have a responsibility to find a suitable, safe gap to merge into. Other drivers can assist by being courteous and adjusting speeds or changing lanes if possible to create a suitable gap.

In both merging situations, drivers wanting to merge should try and match the speed of the traffic they are joining. Differences in traffic speeds can make merging difficult and may cause crashes. Stopping before entering the traffic stream can lead to rear-end crashes, and it is almost impossible for merging vehicles to find a large-enough gap in the traffic to accelerate from a stopped situation to safely join the traffic stream.

For more information see the Victorian Road Safety Road Rules 2009 rules 148 and 149.

Obstructions

An obstruction is defined as including a traffic hazard. But it does not include a vehicle only because the vehicle is stopped in traffic or is travelling more slowly than other vehicles.

The term ‘obstruction’ is used in the following Road Rules: driving on a painted island, making a turn; keeping to the left; stopping on a road; driving to the right of the centre of the road; driving in lines or lanes of traffic; driving on or across a continuous white edge line; and driving in special purpose lanes such as bicycle, bus, tram, transit or truck lanes.

An obstruction includes parked cars or roadworks, but does not include:

  • a cyclist only because they are travelling more slowly than other traffic
  • a bus that is stopped, but not parked (e.g. when it is idling when it is letting off or picking up passengers) or moving slowly.

It is important to note that although the rules may allow a driver to, for example, drive to the right of the centre of the road or any dividing line to avoid an obstruction there are also other rules that need to be followed. The driver must also ensure they have a clear view of any approaching traffic, it is necessary and reasonable to do so and the driver can do so safely.

Overtaking

The Road Rules require that you must not overtake a vehicle unless you have a clear view of oncoming traffic, and it is safe to overtake.

A driver must not overtake, or do a U-turn across a single continuous centre line, or a single continuous line to the left of a broken line. A driver may only cross the above line markings to enter or leave the road (for example turning into a side street or driveway), or to avoid an obstruction, provided the driver has a clear view of approaching traffic, it is necessary, reasonable and safe to do so.

When overtaking, you must pass the other vehicle at a sufficient distance to avoid a collision or obstructing the path of the vehicle being overtaken. You must not return to your lane until you are a sufficient distance past the overtaken vehicle to avoid a collision or obstructing its path.

When being overtaken by another vehicle on a two-way road, you must not increase your speed until the overtaking vehicle has passed you, has returned to the correct side of the road and is of a sufficient distance in front of you as to avoid a collision.

You must not overtake a vehicle on the left, unless you are on a multi-lane road and the vehicle can be safely overtaken in a marked lane, or the vehicle you wish to overtake is turning right or making a u-turn from the centre of the road and is giving a right change of direction signal.

Similarly, you must not overtake to the right of a vehicle if the vehicle is turning right or making a u-turn from the centre of the road and is giving a right change of direction signal.

Bicycles can overtake on the left, but not when a vehicle is turning left, or indicating to do so.

For more information see the Victorian Road Safety Road Rules 2009 rules 140 to 145.

Part-time tram lanes

There are a number of part-time tram lanes located around Melbourne which operate during peak periods.  They are currently identified by tram lane signs overhead (see shown at right) and a continuous yellow line alongside the tram tracks.

To improve tram travel times, reliability and safety, VicRoads has installed electronic overhead tram signs and flashing road markers along some part time tram lanes. 

The overhead signs and road markers are provided to remind motorists that the part-time tram lane is in operation and alert them to keep off the tram tracks. During the morning peak, when the part-time lanes are in operation, the electronic overhead signs and road markers will flash, indicating to motorists that they must move off the tram tracks and into the left lane during these times

Whether the part-time tram lane is identified by static signs and line markings or the newer flashing signs and road markers, drivers are not allowed to travel in a tram lane during the hours of operation except to:

  • enter or leave the road; or
  • make a right hand turn; or
  • avoid an obstruction (such as a parked car).

These exceptions apply as long as you do not delay a tram or travel in the lane for more than 50 metres.  

Parking or stopping is not permitted alongside part-time tram lanes during the hours of operation.

For more information see the Victorian Road Safety Road Rules 2009 rule 158.

Ramp metering

At some freeway entry ramps, traffic lights control the flow of traffic. At these locations, a driver must not proceed past the stop line until the light is green.

Visit VicRoads website for more information on ramp metering.

Reversing out of driveways

The Victorian Road Rules require that a driver must not drive a vehicle in reverse unless the driver can do so safely, and must not reverse a vehicle further than is reasonable in the circumstances. 

A little bit of common sense can go a long way to reducing the number of accidents that occur as a result of someone reversing a vehicle. If your rear view is limited, take it slow and cautiously, remembering to check your left, right and rear views before and during the manoeuvre. You may wish to give a few brief taps to your horn and if you have a passenger, it may be advantageous to have them out of the vehicle to guide you. And you should always try to anticipate the unexpected, such as a pedestrian suddenly appearing, or a vehicle travelling along looking for that ever elusive parking spot.

When a driver wants to enter a road from a driveway, or vice versa, the driver is required to give way to any vehicles already travelling on the road, as well as any pedestrians or bicycle riders on the footpath that the driver must cross. 

It doesn’t matter whether that driveway is private or used for commercial purposes, such as a service station or a shopping centre, the rules remain the same.

 For more information see the Victorian Road Safety Road Rules 2009 rule 296.

Special purpose lanes

On some roads lanes are set aside during certain hours or at all times for use by designated vehicles such as bicycles, trucks, public transport vehicles or private vehicles with multiple occupants. These restrictions are set out on signs.

Bike lanes, bus lanes, trams lanes and truck lanes

The only vehicles permitted to use bicycle lanes are bicycles, the only vehicles permitted to use most bus lanes are buses, tram lanes are for trams and public buses only, and truck lanes are for trucks only. Some exceptions are explained below.

Tram lanes are marked along the left side of the tram tracks (in the direction of travel) by a continuous yellow line in addition to the tram lane signs. Other types of lanes (bus or truck lanes) must have appropriate signs or road markings. Some lanes are highlighted with coloured pavement (green for bicycle lanes, red for bus lanes).

For more information see the Victorian Road Safety Road Rules 2009 rules 153, 154 and 155.

Transit lanes

Public transport vehicles, taxis and motor bikes can use transit lanes, regardless of the number of passengers. However, private vehicles must have at least the same number of occupants (including the driver) as displayed on the sign. For example if the transit lane is signed as ‘T2’ then the driver must have at least one passenger in the vehicle.

For more information see the Victorian Road Safety Road Rules 2009 rule 156.

Emergency stopping lanes

See the rules regarding emergency stopping lanes.

Exceptions

There are a few exceptions to the rules for special purpose lanes. Drivers of any vehicle may use bicycle or tram lanes for a distance of 50 metres or 100 metres for any other lane if it is necessary for the driver to:

  • enter or leave the road;
  • overtake a vehicle that is turning right, or making a U-turn from the centre of the road;
  • avoid an obstruction; or
  • if information on a traffic sign indicates that the driver may drive in the lane.

Motorcyclists are permitted to use the southbound bus lane on Hoddle St, Collingwood at present, as part of a long-term trial. Look for signs about whether approval to use the lane has concluded or check the VicRoads website. Motorcyclists using the Hoddle Street lane must obey the ‘B’ traffic lights that apply to the lane.

For more information see the Victorian Road Safety Road Rules 2009 rules 280 to 286.

If stopping or parking is not prohibited in a bicycle lane, a driver may drive for up to 50 metres in the bicycle lane to stop or park.  Drivers of public buses, public minibuses or taxis who are dropping off, or picking up, passengers may also drive in a bicycle lane for up to 50 metres.

For more information see the Victorian Road Safety Road Rules 2009 rule 158.

Learner and probationary drivers

Graduated licensing system (for learner and probationary drivers)

RACV has been a strong advocate of the Graduated Licensing System, which is a license system aimed at creating safer drivers. This system for learner and probationary drivers includes mandatory 120 hours of training, peer passenger restrictions and tougher mobile phone restrictions.

Victorian learner and probationary drivers travelling interstate

There are rules that learner and probationary drivers need to be aware of when travelling interstate. For example some states require learner drivers to travel at a speed limit lower than the posted speed limit.

These rules are not always clear for motorists travelling interstate, and RACV has taken up the matter with VicRoads and the National Transport Commission, in an effort to make things clearer for learner and probationary drivers.

For information on the rules that apply, contact the road authority in the state you are travelling into. Where possible, we have provided links to this information below.

Learner Drivers

Probationary Drivers

Motorcycle license and learner permit restrictions

From 2014, new restrictions have been placed on motorcycle riders with a learner’s permit which are additional to current requirements. New restrictions include:

  • ride with headlight on at all times
  • wearing an approved high visibility vest or jacket whilst riding
  • if tested on an automatic motorcycle, restricted to riding an automatic motorcycle.

For more information visit the VicRoads website.

Lights and warning devices

Fog lights

Front or rear fog lights must not be used unless driving in fog or other hazardous weather conditions causing reduced visibility. This may include snowfall, heavy rain or a dust storm. During the day when there is fog or other hazardous weather conditions, headlights may be kept off if the driver is using their front fog lights. In such conditions, a driver must turn on either their headlights or front fog lights, or both.

Fog lights have a low, flat, wide beam to illuminate the road below the fog or mist. They must be wired to switch on separately to the high-beam and low-beam headlights. Front fog lamps may emit a white or yellow coloured light.

A rear fog light is a higher intensity light used on a vehicle to make it more easily visible from the rear in dense fog. Rear fog lights may only emit a red light. The higher intensity light allows the vehicle to be seen in thick fog. However, the intensity of rear fog lights is similar to that of brake lights and, when used inappropriately, may mislead other drivers into thinking that the brakes are constantly being applied. Therefore they must be switched off when driving in clear conditions as the bright red light may confuse and dazzle following drivers.

Driving lights

Driving lights are different as they are designed to illuminate the road over a long distance. They supplement high-beam headlights and have a similar lighting pattern. Driving lights should be wired to switch on when the high-beam headlights are on and must emit a white light.

Drivers must not use high-beam headlights (including driving lights) when driving less than 200 metres behind a vehicle travelling in the same direction or less than 200 metres from an oncoming vehicle.

Daytime running lights

Daytime running lights (DRLs) are fitted to the front of a vehicle to increase its visibility to other road users during the day. They generally cannot be controlled by the driver and turn on automatically when the engine is started. Research shows that DRLs can reduce the chances of a crash during daylight hours as they make the vehicle more visible to other road users.

If you are unsure what types of lights you have fitted to your car, consult your owner’s manual. If you are still unsure and purchased your car new, contact your dealer. If you purchased your car used, consult with an auto electrician.

Headlights

Drivers must not drive at night or in hazardous weather causing reduced visibility unless their headlights, tail lights and number plate lights are operating effectively and are clearly visible. If the vehicle has side clearance lights or side marker lights (e.g. trucks), these must also be working and clearly visible.

Using headlights on high beam is not allowed within 200m of an oncoming vehicle or a vehicle travelling in the same direction ahead of you. You can flash your headlights briefly to warn a vehicle ahead that you are about to overtake, but for no other purpose.

Unless parking lights (and clearance or side marker lights if fitted) are operating effectively and clearly visible, drivers can only stop on a road at night where there is street lighting and the vehicle is visible for at least 200m in all directions. But when stopped or parked legally on a length of road or in an area to which a parking control sign applies, lights may be left off.

RACV advice

Lights must not dazzle another driver. RACV recommends that drivers ask to have them checked and the headlamps re-aimed when their car is being serviced, as this is often not included. 

It’s important to regularly check the lights on your car are operating correctly, as a globe can blow at any time.

Making turns

Hook turns

A hook turn is a right turn from the left-hand lane. A hook turn is required to be made at most intersections in central Melbourne where trams operate.


These intersections are clearly marked, with a sign hanging overhead or on the side of the road (as shown on the right). Some intersections (such as those in Clarendon Street) have flashing signs and line marking to help guide you, but most intersections will only have static signs.

To make a hook turn, you must:
1. Approach and enter the intersection from the far left side of the road you are leaving.
2. If there is line marking, then follow the lines, otherwise move forward, keeping as far to the left of the intersection as possible and clear of any marked foot crossing, until you are at the far side of the intersection.
3. Wait until the lights on the road you are entering turn green.
4. Turn right into that road.


Cyclists are also allowed to make hook turns at any intersection, unless signs specifically prohibit this.

Images sourced from Road Safety Road Rules 2009.

Vicroads has produced a short video to help motorists understand the hook turn road rule.


U-turns

The simple rule to remember is drivers performing u-turns are required to give way to all other vehicles and pedestrians.

In Victoria, drivers are allowed to perform u-turns at intersections with or without traffic signals and at breaks in the median unless there is a no U-turn sign(as shown on the right) displayed at that location or applying to that length of road. A no right turn sign also prohibits a u-turn.

In some other states in Australia, the opposite applies and you can only do a u-turn at these locations if signs permit it.

A driver must not begin a u-turn unless they have a clear view of any approaching traffic and can safely make the u-turn without unreasonably obstructing the free movement of traffic. The driver making the u-turn must give way to all vehicles and pedestrians, without exception. This includes giving way to vehicles turning left from slip lane or a side street even if they have a Give Way or Stop sign.

At an intersection with a median strip or dividing line, you must start the u-turn from the marked lane nearest, or as near as practical , the dividing line or median strip. In any other case, the u-turn must be started from the left of the centre of the road.

A driver must not overtake, or do a U-turn across a single continuous centre line, or a single continuous line to the left of a broken line. A driver may only cross the above line markings to enter or leave the road (for example turning into a side street or driveway), or to avoid an obstruction, provided the driver has a clear view of approaching traffic, it is necessary, reasonable and safe to do so. An obstruction includes a traffic hazard, but does not include a vehicle that is stopped in traffic or moving more slowly than other vehicles.

VicRoads has produced a short video to help motorists understand when they can safely perform a U-turn. 


Mobile phones and visual display units

Mobile phone use

Using a mobile phone while driving (including when stationary but not parked) to make or receive a phone call or use the audio/music functions is prohibited except if the phone:

  • is secured in a commercially designed holder fixed to the vehicle, OR
  • can be operated by the driver without touching any part of the phone.

Learner and Probationary license holders are not allowed to use a mobile phone while driving (including when stationary but not parked), even a hands-free one. This is part of the Graduated Licensing System (GLS), and has been extended to P2 drivers from 25 November 2013.

Under the rules:

  • Driving includes when stopped at traffic lights, and
  • A vehicle may be parked even though the key is in the ignition and the engine’s running. However, the vehicle must still be legally parked or pulled off the road so that a hand-held mobile can be used.

Operating any other function of the phone while driving is prohibited. Other functions which are prohibited include:

  • video messaging
  • text messaging
  • emailing
  • entering or placing anything into the phone (other than by voice)
  • sending or looking at anything in the phone
  • turning the phone on/off.

A mobile phone does not include a CB radio or other two-way radio. Police and other emergency vehicles are exempt from this rule.

For drivers, other than Learner and Probationary drivers, this means that to use a phone it must be in a cradle or other holder, or connected to a hands free device (such as a wireless Bluetooth device, or an earpiece that is connected to the phone via a cord). If connected to a hands free device, you must not hold the phone in your hand, or press any buttons on the phone itself, or touch any part of the body of the phone to answer or make a phone call.

It is important to make sure that if you do park your vehicle to answer your mobile phone that you are not breaking other road rules. For example, pulling over into the emergency stopping lane on a freeway is not allowed except in emergency situations. Answering your mobile phone would generally not be considered an emergency situation.

For more information see the Victorian Road Safety Road Rules 2009 rule 300.

Using a mobile phone as a GPS

Using a phone as a GPS while driving is prohibited except if it is secured in a commercially designed holder fixed to the vehicle. When using a mobile as a GPS, motorcyclists are not required to secure the phone in the above manner, however they must not hold it in their hands.

Frequently asked questions
What can I use my phone for when driving?

Provided the rules are followed, a driver may only use their phone for phone calls, to listen to music or as a GPS.

I am using a wireless hands free device or an earpiece connected to the phone via a cord, what do I need to do?

When using a wireless device or any other hands free device (including earpieces that are connected to the phone via a cord) to make or receive a phone call or to listen to music you must ensure that while you are using such a device, that you do not hold the phone in your hand, or press any buttons on the phone, or touch any part of the phone.

If using the phone hands free, the phone doesn’t need to be in a holder.

Touching/holding the phone includes being held by, or resting on, any part of the driver’s body, but does not include being held in the pocket of the driver’s clothing or in a pouch worn by the driver.

I am using a cradle or other commercial holder, what do I need to do?

If your phone is in a holder you can only use it to make or receive a phone call, for GPS, or to listen to music. You can touch the phone while it is in a holder for these functions only. The holder must be commercially designed and manufactured and fixed to the vehicle as intended by the manufacturer.

I have to touch my phone to make a call, what do I need to do?

If you need to touch your phone to dial numbers to make a call, the phone must be mounted to the vehicle.

Can I use my phone to send a message or email?

Operating any other functions of the phone while driving is prohibited including video messaging, text messaging, emailing, entering or placing anything in the phone (other than by voice), sending or looking at anything in the phone or turning the phone on/off.

Can I use the other functions of my phone when stopped in traffic or at the lights?

No. The vehicle is not parked.

What must I do to ensure my vehicle is parked?

To ensure you are parked you must stop at a place where you can legally stop and leave the vehicle without it being a hazard. Our advice is to then ensure the vehicle is in park and the hand brake (park brake/emergency brake) is on. If your vehicle is legally parked, for the purpose of using a phone - the key to the vehicle may remain located in its ignition lock and the engine of the vehicle may continue to run.

Can I hold my mobile phone?

No. Holding the phone (whether or not engaged in a phone call) is prohibited and includes resting the phone on the driver’s lap, or between the drivers head and shoulder. However the driver may pass the phone to a passenger.

A driver is not considered to be holding or touching a phone if it is in the pocket of the driver’s clothing or in a pouch worn by the driver.

What other rules apply to using a phone while driving?

Using a mobile phone, even legally, can be distracting and may lead to other rules being broken. For example a driver who is concentrating on their phone conversation may drive erratically or cause a crash through inattention and therefore be charged with careless driving. A mobile phone that is in a cradle or other mount must not obscure the driver’s view of the road.

What is RACV’s advice for the use of mobile phones while driving?

It’s safest to minimise the use of a hands-free phone while driving as it is a distraction. If you must receive calls, only do so when traffic conditions are good and keep the conversations short.

VicRoads have released an android app that prevents drivers from being distracted by their phone while driving. Road Mode silences incoming calls and text. Those calling or texting receive an automated text response to let them know you are driving and can’t answer. Road Mode will provide a summary of the calls and messages received during the trip. Visit the VicRoads website to download Road Mode.

 

Smartwatches

A Smartwatch is a watch that can be linked to the wearer's mobile phone and enables them to access many of the functions of their phone through the watch. Smartwatches are sold by different brands under different names including Apple Watch, Samsung Gear and Pebble.

Sometimes with new technologies, it’s hard to know what is and isn’t allowed under the road rules. As a general guide, if it’s likely to cause a distraction to the driver, or the driver of another vehicle, then you shouldn’t use it while driving.

Some uses of a Smartwatch are covered by the road rules that limit using mobile phones or visual display units, so drivers should avoid using Smartwatches while driving.

A Smartwatch should not be used for making or receiving phone calls, email, social media use, text or video messages, regardless of whether it is worn by the driver or not.

Fully licensed drivers may use a Smartwatch provided it is not worn, and is being used as a driver’s aid (for example, as a navigation device) OR a music player OR a mobile phone to make or receive phone calls. To use the Smartwatch the driver must not touch anything on the Smartwatch (for example, making and receiving calls needs to be hands-free via Bluetooth or similar means) or it must be secured in a commercially designed mounting affixed to the vehicle.

 

Visual display units (including GPS)

Visual display units are items with a screen such as MP3 music players, DVD players and tablet computers.

A driver must not drive a motor vehicle with a visual display unit operating if any part of the screen is visible to the driver or likely to distract a driver in another vehicle, unless it is a driver’s aid (such as a GPS or rear view screen). 

A driver may only use a visual display unit if the vehicle is legally parked, or pulled off the road. Under the rules, a vehicle may be parked even though the key is in the ignition and the engine’s running. The rules don’t specify what a driver must do to be considered parked, so we suggest that after pulling over to park legally and safely, you ensure that your vehicle is in park and put the hand brake (otherwise known as a park brake or emergency brake) on.

GPS and rear view screens

A visual display unit that is considered to be a driver’s aid (such as a GPS) must be an integrated part of the  vehicle design, or secured in a commercially designed holder that is fixed to the vehicle (such as the suction cup type that come with most GPS).

Motorcyclists are not required to secure their visual display unit in the above manner, however they must not hold the unit in their hands.

Other visual display units that are considered to be a driver's aid include dispatch systems, rear view screens and ticket-issuing machines.

Using a mobile phone as a GPS while driving is prohibited except if it is secured in a commercially designed holder fixed to the vehicle. 

For more information see the Victorian Road Safety Road Rules 2009 rule 299.

Motorised mobility devices

Motorised mobility devices include electric wheelchairs and mobility scooters and buggies and can only be used by people who are unable to walk or have difficulty walking. You must not use a mobility device if you are under the influence of alcohol, drugs or medications that affect your judgement. 

The device needs to weigh no more than 110kg without the user or luggage on board. These devices are not required to be registered and a licence is not required.

Motorised mobility device users need to follow the same rules as pedestrians and must not be able to travel faster than 10km/h. This includes travelling on the footpath unless impractical and only using the road where an appropriate footpath or nature strip is not available. If there is no footpath available to use, then you must travel facing oncoming traffic.

Cross roads at the shortest possible route and use pedestrian crossings where available. It may be best to avoid roundabouts, but if you must cross one, remember to give way to cars entering or exiting the roundabout. You should also give way to bicycle riders when crossing a bicycle path.

When travelling you must not obstruct the path of a driver or another pedestrian. If you are travelling with another person who is also using a mobility device, travel either in front or behind them when other pedestrians are around. When parking a mobility device, do not park where it will block the path of other pedestrians.

For more information see the Victorian Road Safety Road Rules 2009 rules 228 to 239.

RACV advice

Avoid headphones and using a mobile while riding so you can concentrate and hear traffic sounds. You should travel at a speed that would allow you to stop quickly and easily if you need to. Try to make eye contact with drivers; don’t assume that cars will stop for you. Where possible, keep to areas with pedestrian access and footpaths.

Motorcycle riders

When riding a motorcycle or scooter on our roads, it is important to share the roads with other users, including pedestrians, bicycles and motorised vehicles. Market research shows that 5% of RACV members have a motorcycle or scooter in their household. 

For more information on the road rules that apply to drivers travelling near motorcycle riders, see the section below on Sharing The Road.

The following is a summary of the additional rules that apply to motorcycle riders riding on roads:

Helmets

Motorbike riders and their passengers must wear an approved helmet. For more information on approved helmets visit VicRoads website.

For more information see the Victorian Road Safety Road Rules 2009 rule 270.

Lane filtering

The rules relating to motorcycle lane filtering will change from 2 November 2015.  Lane filtering is the practice of motorcycles and scooters travelling at low speed through stopped or slow moving traffic, for example at traffic lights. 

VicRoads have advised that the change will permit filtering:

  • between lanes or lines of traffic in the same direction
  • between lanes or lines of traffic and parked cars
  • for motorcycle licence holders (not learner permit holders)
  • at speeds up to 30km/h (penalties will apply for filtering in excess of 30km/h)
  • if ‘safe to do so’
  • on roads with two or more lanes or lines of traffic travelling in the same direction, unless signed otherwise. 

For more information see the Victorian Road Safety Road Rules 2009 rule 151A.

Lane splitting

Lane splitting, the practice of motorcycle riders travelling at high speed between moving traffic, is not legal in Victoria.   

Miniature motorcycles

Miniature motorcycles or monkey bikes do not meet the standards required to be registered as a vehicle. Therefore they cannot be used on public roads, footpaths or nature strips.

Motorcycle licences

For more information visit the VicRoads website.  

From 2014, new restrictions have been placed on motorcycle riders with a learner’s permit which are additional to current requirements. New restrictions include:

  • ride with headlight on at all times
  • wearing an approved high visibility vest or jacket whilst riding
  • if tested on an automatic motorcycle, restricted to riding an automatic motorcycle.

For more information visit the VicRoads website.

Parking on footpaths

Footpath parking of motorcycles is legal in Victoria, unless specifically prohibited by signs at a location. We have more information available on motorcycle parking on footpaths.

For more information see the Victorian Road Safety Road Rules 2009 rule 197.

Pets and animals

The rider of a motorbike must not ride with an animal on the motor bike between the rider and the handlebars, or in another position that interferes with the rider's ability to control the motorbike or to have a clear view of the road with an exception for farmers travelling short distances of up to 500 metres. RACV has more information about travelling with your pet.

For more information see the Victorian Road Safety Road Rules 2009 rule 297.

Riding with other motorcycles

Motorbike riders are allowed to ride up to two abreast, and up to 1.5 metres apart. Another rider may pass if overtaking. For more information see the Victorian Road Safety Road Rules 2009 rule 151.

Transit lanes

A motorbike rider can ride in transit lanes, regardless of the number of people on the bike. They may not however use other lanes such as bicycle or bus lanes, unless signs indicate otherwise, or allowed by other rules (e.g. travelling in a bus lane to turn at an intersection). For more information on the distances a driver or rider may travel in a lane see Special Purpose Lanes. For more information see the Victorian Road Safety Road Rules 2009 rule 156.

Remember

  • Motorcycle and bicycle riders also need to be aware of other vehicles and in particular watch for any vehicles making turning manoeuvres.
  • Motorcycle riders can improve their safety by wearing protective clothing. Riders can also improve their visibility by wearing light or reflective clothing or vests.

Related information

  • Find out about RACV’s advocacy and activities for motorcyclists.
  • Read ‘Sharing roads and paths’ brochure – this RACV sponsored brochure is a Code of Conduct for riders, drivers and pedestrians and is available to download, or contact us for a hard copy.
  • Read the brochure Guidelines for parking motorcycles on footpaths for more information.
  • Watch VicRoads short video to help motorists understand on how to share the road with motorcyclists and bicycle riders. Checking for cyclists and motorcyclists.

Parking and stopping

Clearways

A driver must not stop on a road where a clearway sign applies.

Taxis and public buses may stop on a road where a clearway applies provided they are picking up or dropping off passengers.

Many clearway zones allow for vehicles left in the clearway to be towed away.

Find out about RACV’s position on clearways.  

Emergency stopping lanes

Driving in an emergency lane

A driver is not allowed to drive in an emergency stopping lane unless:

  • they are avoiding a collision
  • intending to stop in the lane (because of one of the reasons below)
  • the driver’s vehicle is disabled or
  • signage for a length of road indicates that a particular class of vehicle may drive in the lane.

Some vehicles may be allowed to drive in the emergency stopping lane with written consent of the road authority. 

Stopping in an emergency lane

Stopping on a motorway is not allowed unless you stop in the emergency stopping lane. 

Stopping in an emergency stopping lane is only allowed when the condition of the driver, a passenger or the vehicle makes it necessary in the interests of safety and the driver stops for no longer than is necessary. 

Don’t use the emergency stopping lane to change drivers or take a break – stop well off the road, ideally at a rest area. Do not stop in an emergency stopping lane to answer your mobile phone – this is generally not considered an emergency.

Motorcycle parking on footpaths

Parking on a footpath, dividing strip or nature strip adjacent to the road in a built-up area is generally not allowed, unless specifically permitted by a parking control sign. However motorcycle riders can legally park in these areas, as long as they don’t inconvenience, obstruct, hinder or prevent the free passage of any pedestrian or other vehicle.

To help motorcyclists comply with this road rule, the Victorian Motorcycle Advisory Council (the State Government’s peak advisory body on motorcycle matters and policy) has prepared some simple guidelines. These apply throughout Victoria, and are particularly useful when parking in busy metropolitan areas and townships where there are a large number of pedestrians and motorcyclists.

The main tips include the following: 

  • dismount and walk the motorcycle when on the footpath
  • ensure the motorcycle is at least one length out from the building to allow free passage, especially for impaired pedestrians who may use the building line to navigate
  • park at least one wheel diameter back from the road kerb to allow free access to the road and parked vehicles.

The guidelines recommend that motorcyclists should not park:

  • on private property (including building forecourts) without permission
  • in space reserved for street cafes and other activities
  • near taxi ranks, bus/tram stops and disabled parking bays and other areas that may hinder access
  • on or near service access points such as manhole covers, post boxes or rubbish bins.

Oil leaks can be very dangerous to pedestrians, so motorcycles leaking oil should be parked on the road and must be repaired as soon as possible.

No parking

A ‘No Parking’ sign means that drivers must not stop in the area indicated by the sign unless they are dropping off or picking up passengers or goods. While stopped in a ‘No Parking’ zone drivers are not permitted to leave the vehicle unattended, which means they must remain within 3 metres of the vehicle. The driver must complete their task and drive on as soon as possible, within the time limit.

Unless the signs say otherwise, the time limit for stopping is two minutes.

If the time indicated on the sign is less than five minutes, or no time is indicated, drivers with a disabled parking permit may stop for twice the allowed time.

No stopping

A ‘No Stopping’ sign mean that drivers must not stop in the area shown by the arrows on the sign, even if they are picking up or dropping off passengers. Similarly, drivers must not stop along sections of road marked with a continuous yellow edge line. Where older ‘No Standing’ signs are being phased out, but they have the same meaning as ‘No Stopping’.

Parking across a driveway

A driver must not stop on or across a driveway or access way for vehicles travelling to or from land next to the road unless the driver is dropping off, or picking up, passengers or the driver stops in a parking bay as permitted under the Road Rules. If picking up or dropping off passengers, the driver must not leave the vehicle unattended, and must complete dropping off, or picking up, the passengers and drive on as soon as possible, but within 2 minutes of stopping.

Parking zones

There are many different zones that allow, or prevent, parking for particular types of vehicles. Most zones are quite clear on which type of vehicles can legally stop within the zone:

  • Truck, Taxi and Bus Zones are for the exclusive use of each particular type of vehicle as indicated on the sign.
  • Works zones can only be used by drivers of vehicles engaged in construction work in or near the zone. 
  • Permit zones can only be used by drivers whose vehicle displays a current permit issued by the body responsible for the management of the permit zone (e.g. Local Council). 
  • Mail zones are for the exclusive use by drivers of postal vehicles.

Drivers must not stop in a loading zone unless they are:

  • a public passenger vehicle or taxi that is dropping off, or picking up, passengers; or
  • a truck (which has a gross vehicle mass over 4.5 tonnes) that is dropping off, or picking up, goods; or
  • a courier vehicle displaying a “courier vehicle” sign permanently affixed (i.e. not magnetically) onto the body of the vehicle; or
  • a delivery vehicle displaying a “delivery vehicle” sign permanently affixed (i.e. not magnetically) onto the body of the vehicle; or
  • a vehicle that is dropping off, or picking up, goods.  The vehicle must be constructed mainly for carrying loads (i.e. not a sedan, station wagon or motor bike) and must display an identifying label approved by VicRoads.

A time limit of 30 minutes applies to loading zones unless signs indicate otherwise.

Other parking rules

A driver must not park in a slip lane or on a painted island.

Unless parking signs show otherwise, and provided there is at least three metres of clear road between the car and the centre dividing line for other cars to pass, a driver can park opposite:

  • double continuous dividing lines
  • a single continuous dividing line 
  • a single continuous line to the left or right of a broken dividing line
  • a dividing strip.

However a driver is permitted to park opposite a broken line without leaving three metres clear between the parked car and the broken dividing line.

Heavy or long vehicles must not park on a road in a built-up area for longer than one hour, unless parking signs indicate otherwise or the driver is picking up or setting down goods.

Unless signed otherwise, a driver must park at least 20 metres before a tram stop.

The rules for moving parked vehicles have also been clarified. When moving a parked vehicle to another parking spot, a driver must move the vehicle off the length of road or out of the area that the parking sign applies to.

Railway level crossings

Drivers must not enter a level crossing if a train is on or entering the crossing, can be seen from the crossing or is sounding a warning and there would be danger of a collision with the train if the driver entered the crossing.

Drivers and pedestrian must not enter a crossing if warning lights (i.e. twin red lights) are flashing, or warning bells are ringing, or if the gate, boom or barrier is closed, closing or opening. This means you cannot enter a crossing after the boom gates have opened if the lights are still flashing or bells are ringing.

At level crossings where no gates, booms, bells or warning lights are installed, drivers must obey any other signs or line markings that are present.  If there is a Stop sign then the driver is required to stop at the Stop line (or at the Stop sign if no line is present) and give way to any trains or trams on, approaching or entering the crossing.

If there is a Give Way sign or line, the driver is not required to stop, but still must give way.

Pedestrians should not cross at a level crossing if a pedestrian facility (i.e. footpath, bridge or other structure designed for the use of pedestrians) is available at or within 20 metres of the crossing.

Drivers must not enter the level crossing if they cannot drive through the crossing because the road beyond is blocked, and drivers must leave the crossing as soon as they can do so safely.

Drivers should also note that in Victoria, a bus at a passive sign controlled level crossing (i.e. without gates, booms, barriers or lights) must stop at a crossing, and where safe proceed across in a manner that avoids changing gear, until clear of the crossing.

For more information see the Victorian Road Safety Road Rules 2009 rules 120 to 124A.

Securing yourself, children and loads

Securing yourself and children

Wearing a seat belt can save your life. But despite Victoria having very high compliance with seat belt wearing, it’s sobering to observe that around one in five vehicle occupants killed on Victoria’s roads each year are not wearing seat belts.

The road rules applying to seat belt use are there for a good reason, and are arguably the simplest rules to comply with - it only takes a click to avoid a penalty and three demerit points.

Drivers

A driver must wear a seat belt properly adjusted and fastened whether the vehicle is moving, or stationary, if the seating position is fitted with a seat belt (which all passenger vehicles since 1971 should have).  Drivers do not have to wear seat belts when the vehicle is parked or reversing – but wearing a seat belt when reversing is safer.

It is the responsibility of the driver to ensure that all passengers, including children and adults, are wearing a child restraint or a seatbelt. The driver can be booked for failing to do so. This rule does not apply to the driver of a bus, or a taxi with passengers 16 years old or older.

Passengers

The rules require all passengers in a motor vehicle to be restrained in a seating position, and not sharing the seat with anyone else. This means that once all seating positions fitted with seatbelts are occupied, no additional passengers may be carried in the vehicle. For example a car with five seats and five seatbelts must only have a maximum of five people travelling in it.

‘Vintage’ cars do not have an exemption from the new child restraint rules for children under seven or the rules that prohibit children less than seven years sitting in the front seat (see child restraints). Only passengers seven years or older will continue to be exempt from wearing a seatbelt in a seating position that is not required to have a seatbelt fitted in a vintage vehicle.

Any person travelling in a car with a child under the age of seven years must ensure the child is in an approved, properly fitted and appropriate child restraint. This may require anchorage points or seatbelts to be installed, or if this is not possible require the child to travel in another vehicle.

Pregnant women are required to wear seatbelts, because in the event of a crash, it is much safer for mother and baby.  Ensure the lap part of the belt is below the bulge, securely fitted over the upper thighs.

Exemptions

The driver of a taxi is exempt from the above requirement for passengers under one year of age only if there is no suitable child restraint available and the child is not in the front seats. RACV believes that children should always be restrained, but unfortunately  most taxi companies in Victoria do not have child restraints fitted in the vehicle, nor do they have restraints available for customers to hire or use. However, taxis are required by law to have anchorage points in the vehicle so that customers can use their own restraint. Parents/carers should take along a suitable restraint to use in a taxi to ensure maximum protection for the child.

Some other limited exemptions to seat belt use also exist, but these are restricted to people engaged in door-to-door services such as garbage collection and people with medical disabilities.

Securing a load

Whether you are moving house with a trailer, taking a load of rubbish to the local tip in the back of a ute, or a commercial vehicle carrying heavy loads, you are required to secure your load appropriately.

Lost loads are an unnecessary risk to driver safety. They can lead to long delays for motorists when lanes may be blocked or even roads closed.

Under Victoria’s Road Rules it is an offence not to have a load secured properly. But what does this mean?

A load is secured properly if it is secured in a way that will prevent any part of the load from:

  • hanging or projecting from the vehicle in a manner that may cause injury or damage to a person or property, or cause hazard to other road users, or
  • becoming dislodged or falling from the vehicle.

A load is also required to be secured in a way that does not make the vehicle unstable or unsafe. 

If part of a load falls onto the road, the driver must remove the item, or take action to have the item removed from the road as soon as can be done so safely.

  • If you are on CityLink and spot any debris, call 13 26 29.
  • On other roads across the state call VicRoads on 13 11 70 (24 hours a day).

Whether your load is a boat, bedroom furniture or autumn prunings - it is important to make sure the vehicle is legally allowed to carry the weight and is maintained in good mechanical condition. Check the manufacturers handbook for weight specifications. When driving, remember your vehicle is less manoeuvrable and will take longer to stop.

Related information

·         Find out more practical tips to safely secure your load.

·         Find out more tips about towing safely

Scooters, skateboards and rollerblades

Users of scooters, skateboards and rollerblades (or wheeled recreational devices) are considered to be pedestrians and can use footpaths, but they must keep left and give-way to actual pedestrians.

In limited circumstances, scooters, skateboards and rollerblades can be used on roads. They can only be used on a road at night if crossing the road at an intersection. They cannot be used on a road with a speed limit greater than 50km/h, on a road with a dividing line or median, or a one way road with two or more lanes.

Scooters, skateboards and rollerblades must not be used where there is a ‘no wheeled recreational devices’ sign. Scooter riders are required to wear an approved bicycle helmet. Scooters, skateboards and rollerblades must not be towed or slipstream.

Related information

Sharing the road with buses, bicycles, motorcycles, trams and trucks

It is important that all road users share the road, by obeying the rules and being patient with other road users. Respect and courtesy are important factors in being safe on our roads.

This video from VicRoads is a useful reminder about being in the right mindset when driving.


Sharing the road with buses

We share the road with vehicles which are often larger than our own, including buses that need extra space to move and turn. Large vehicles like these handle very differently to cars, and there are several Road Rules designed specifically for these larger vehicles that aim to keep you safe, and help out professional drivers as well.

Cars turning left and right at an intersection must normally use the left or right turning lane respectively.  However buses and other long vehicles displaying a “Do not overtake turning vehicle” sign can turn left or right from the lane adjacent to the turning lane, or use both lanes if necessary, to make the turn safely. Drivers must not drive past or overtake to the left (or right) of a vehicle displaying this sign when it’s indicating to make the turn, so it’s usually best to hang back a bit and let them proceed first.

The Road Rules also identify that when driving in the left lane or in a left line of traffic in a built-up area, a driver must give way to a bus displaying a “Give way to buses” sign when it is stopped or moving slowly, and indicating to rejoin the traffic stream from the left. 

For more information see the Victorian Road Safety Road Rules 2009 Rule 77.

A few seconds of extra courtesy on your part might help up to 50 people catch their connecting bus or train by reducing delays for the bus service. Also, buses need more space than cars when stopping, so it’s also important not to cut in front of them at traffic lights or roundabouts, even though the gap may look large to you.

Watch the following short video by VicRoads for more information on sharing the road.


Sharing the road with bicycles

When driving on our roads, it is important to share the roads with other users, including bicycle riders. Market research shows nearly half of  RACV’s members ride, with one in five doing so at least once a week.

It is important to remember that bicycle riders are legitimate road users and are as entitled to use the road as other forms of motorised transport. When travelling on the road, bicycles are classified as vehicles and are required to obey all the Road Rules as other drivers must. 

RACV encourages all road users to treat each other with respect, and remember that the rules talk about ‘giving way’ to other road users, and not who has ‘right of way’. In fact under the rules no user has ‘right of way’!

Also see our information on the road rules that apply to bicycle riders.  

The following summarises the rules for drivers to be aware of when travelling around bicycles.

Bicycle lanes

Drivers may only drive in a bicycle lane for up to 50 metres when they are entering or  leaving the road, avoiding an obstruction, passing a vehicle that is turning right, or parking (if parking is not prohibited). When a bicycle lane is provided on a road, in the direction of travel, bicycle riders must ride in the bicycle lane unless it is impracticable to do so.

Head start boxes

Bicycle storage areas or ‘head-start boxes’ that are now provided at some signalised intersections. These are areas painted in front of the stop line, but before any pedestrian crossing to allow riders to safely wait in front of traffic. Drivers must stop at the first line at a red light and not enter the area reserved for bicycles. Bicycle riders must stop at the second line, within the storage area.

Opening  car doors

Before opening car doors (as a driver or a passenger as some cycle lanes are on the  passenger side), use your mirrors and do a head check. A driver must not cause a hazard to a bicycle rider (or any other road user for that matter) by opening a car door or getting out of a vehicle.

Remember:

  • Bicycles are considered vehicles under the road rules, and cyclists are permitted to ride on the road, even if there is a nearby off-road path (unless signs indicate cycling is not allowed  on-road)
  • Although not a rule, RACV recommends leaving at least one metre when overtaking bicycle riders – more if travelling over 60km/h
  • Bicycle riders are allowed to ride up to two abreast, and up to 1.5 metres apart. Another rider may pass if overtaking.
  • Bicycle riders are allowed to overtake to the left of a vehicle, unless that vehicle is turning left and indicating.
  • When turning right, bicycle riders have the option of making a hook turn at any intersection unless signs prohibit bicycles from doing so.  Riders can also turn right from the left lane at a roundabout.
  • Give bicycle riders space when sharing the road as sometimes they need to ride out of a lane to avoid a hazard or obstacle. There is however a requirement that they do not cause a hazard.
  • Be considerate about where you park your vehicle. Don’t obstruct bicycle riders or bicycle lanes, unless it is legal to park there. Even if you can park across a part-time bicycle lane, consider parking elsewhere so the space remains available for riders.
  • Drivers involved in a crash are required to give their details, and those of the owner of the vehicle if it is not theirs, to any person who had been injured or the owner of any property that has been damaged.

Watch the following short videos for more information on sharing the road.



For more information:

  • Find out about RACV’s advocacy and activities for cyclists
  • Read ‘Sharing roads and paths’ brochure –this RACV sponsored brochure is a Code of Conduct for riders, drivers and pedestrians - that is available to download, or for a hard copy hard copy contact us.
  • VicRoads has developed a sticker pack to remind drivers and passengers to look for bicycle riders before getting in and out of their car. To order your pack please call VicRoads on (03) 8391 3255 or visit your local VicRoads Customer Service Centre to pick one up.

Sharing the road with motorcycles 

When driving on our roads, it is important to share the roads with other users, including motorcycle or scooter riders.   

Also see our information on the road rules that apply to motorcycle riders.  

The following summarises the rules for drivers to be aware of when travelling around motorbikes.

Opening car doors

Before opening car doors, use your mirrors and do a head check. A driver must not cause a hazard to any other road user by opening a car door or getting out of a vehicle.

Lane filtering

From 2 November 2015, motorcycles are allowed to travel between a line of stopped or slow moving traffic and parked vehicles or between two lines of moving vehicles. The motorcycle rider must not travel at more than 30km/h. For more information see the Victorian Road Safety Road Rules 2009 rules 151A and 269.

Watch this video from VicRoads which explains more about lane filtering.


Motorbike parking signs

Unless stopping to drop off or pick up passengers, a driver must not stop on a length of road with a motorbike parking sign. For more information see the Victorian Road Safety Road Rules 2009 rule 202.’

Remember:

  • Motorbike riders are allowed to ride up to two abreast, and up to 1.5 metres apart. Another rider may pass if overtaking.
  • When entering a road from a driveway or side road, or turning right into a driveway or side road, look carefully for approaching motorcycle and bicycle riders. From 2 November 2015, if traffic is stopped or moving slowly, motorcycle riders may be travelling between lanes of traffic, and difficult to see. The motorcycle rider must not travel at more than 30km/h.
  • Look for bicycle and motorcycle riders when parked and opening car doors. From 2 November 2015, motorcycles are allowed to travel between parked vehicles and a line of stopped or slow moving traffic. The motorcycle rider must not travel at more than 30km/h.

For more information

  • Find out about RACV’s advocacy and activities for motorcyclists
  • Read ‘Sharing roads and paths’ brochure – this RACV sponsored brochure is a Code of Conduct for riders, drivers and pedestrians and is available to download, or contact us for a hard copy .
  • Watch VicRoads short video to help motorists understand on how to share the road with motorcyclists and bicycle riders. Checking for cyclists and motorcyclists.

Sharing the road with trams

A growing number of people are being injured or killed through accidents with trams, so understanding the rules for sharing the road with trams is essential to ensure the safety of car drivers, pedestrians, tram passengers and tram drivers.  A bus travelling along tram tracks is considered to be a tram and the same rules apply.

Tramways

Tramways are for use solely by trams. They are identified by two continuous yellow lines or a raised structure (such as a dividing strip, traffic island or row of bollards) beside the tram tracks, with an overhead sign that shows an image of a tram and the word “ONLY”. Drivers must not drive in a tramway unless avoiding an obstruction provided the driver does not move into the path of an approaching tram travelling in the tramway.

Tram lanes

Tram lanes are identified by a solid yellow line and overhead sign that shows a tram and the word “LANE”. Lanes can be full-time or part-time (days and hours are specified on the signs). You are not allowed to drive in or across a tram lane when it is operating. There are some exceptions, a driver can drive in a tram lane for up to 50 metres, when turning right or avoiding an obstruction provided trams are not delayed.  

Tram stops

Drivers should always be prepared to stop when they see a tram slowing down. When a tram stops at a tram stop, a driver travelling in the same direction as the tram must stop and give way to any tram passenger crossing the road between the tram and the roadside. If the driver is behind the rear of a tram when it stops, the driver must stop before passing the rear of the tram. This rule does not apply when the tram stops at the far left side of the road (e.g. at stops known as kerbside stops, where the road narrows to one lane in each direction) or where the tram stop is separated by a safety zone, dividing strip or traffic island.

The driver must remain stationary until the doors close and all passengers have cleared the road. The driver may than proceed, but may not exceed 10km/h while passing the tram. This ensures the safety of tram passengers.

If the tram remains stopped but its doors are closed and no pedestrians are crossing the road, or a uniformed employee of a public transport operator directs the driver to pass the tram, the driver can proceed past the tram at no faster than 10km/h.

Unless otherwise indicated by a sign, a driver must not park or stop within 20 meters of the approach side of a tram stop.

A tram passenger must not cross the road to get on a tram until the tram has stopped at the tram stop. When getting off a tram passengers must cross to the nearest footpath and must not stay on the road longer than necessary.

Safety zones

A safety zone is a platform or marked area on a road which separates vehicles from trams for the protection of pedestrians boarding or leaving trams. A driver must not drive on a tram safety zone. Drivers must drive to the left of the safety zone at a speed that does not endanger pedestrians crossing the road to or from the safety zone.

Giving way to trams

Drivers must not move into the path of an approaching tram with a broken or continuous yellow line parallel to the tracks. If a driver is travelling on tram tracks and a tram is approaching, the driver must move out of the lane as soon as they can do so safely.

Drivers must give way to trams moving into or through a roundabout.

Raised dividing strips

It is illegal to drive over a raised dividing strip. When driving through a break in the dividing strip a driver must give way to any tram or vehicle travelling on the part of the road the driver is entering.

For more information:

  • Also read our advice on part-time tram lanes
  • Visit VicRoads website and watch their video to better understand how to share the road  with trams and when you can safely pass or overtake a tram. Watch VicRoads video.

Sharing the road with trucks

Sharing the road with trucks is an everyday driving experience in Melbourne and you can expect to find trucks on nearly any road in Victoria. Trucks are not confined to the arterial road network, and even the most residential of streets still have need for services such as garbage collection and furniture delivery!

The key to safe driving is common sense – give trucks the room they need and remember that they take longer to stop than cars.

A loaded truck may weigh up to 50 times that of a passenger car, and needs a longer distance to  stop safely. When a truck leaves a large gap approaching a red traffic light it’s because this braking distance is necessary. By cutting in front to get ahead, car drivers may not leave the truck driver enough room to avoid a rear-end crash.

Nearly all truck drivers, like car drivers, are law abiding and share the road safely. If you see a truck driver displaying poor behaviour, and it has a sign on the back showing a number to call, consider asking a passenger to note it down and telephone when safe to do so. Responsible transport employers will value this information and investigate your concern thoroughly. Dangerous driving behaviour, as for drivers of all vehicles, should be reported to the police. If there is a passenger in the car, and it is safe to do so, get them to note the number plate on the truck (preferable) or the trailer.

Overtaking

Trucks displaying a “do not overtake turning vehicle” sign need extra room to make sharp turns. By law, drivers must not drive past, or overtake to the left of a vehicle displaying this sign if it is indicating to turn left, unless it is safe to do so. This also applies to a vehicle turning right or doing a U-turn from the centre of the road. In practice, this means hanging back even if it looks like the left or right turn lane is vacant – the gap will close quickly once the truck starts its turn.

Drivers being overtaken on two lane roads are required not to increase their speed until overtaking is complete and there is a sufficient distance in front to avoid a collision. This is especially important when being overtaken by trucks, which are speed limited and have less overtaking power than cars.

Using headlights

When using headlights on high beam, extra care is needed to avoid glare to truck drivers. Truck mirrors are large and don’t have anti-glare positions, so dip your lights as required by law, no closer than 200 metres to a moving vehicle, or further away if it’s safe to do so.

Leave a safe gap

When following trucks, make sure there is a sufficient gap to stop safely to avoid a collision. This also allows the truck driver to be aware you are there. If you can’t see the truck mirrors, the truck driver can’t see you.

Keep left unless overtaking

On some freeways (Princes Fwy between Kororoit Creek Rd and Avalon Rd, and Eastern Fwy between Springvale Rd and Hoddle St), trucks over 4.5 tonnes GVM are restricted from the right lane. No Truck signs on the freeway and at entry points indicate this restriction. On these roads, trucks are unable to legally use the right lane to overtake slower moving vehicles. Therefore, rather than driving in the centre lane, it is courteous to keep left when practical to give trucks free passage past your vehicle should they desire it.

Speed limits and speed zones

Where a speed limit sign applies, the maximum speed a driver can travel at is the number of kilometres per hour indicated by the number on the sign. Some drivers may be subject to lower speed limits, including some heavy vehicles which are restricted to 100km/h and some learner drivers from outside Victoria. 

A speed limit sign on a road applies to the length of road beginning at the sign, and ending at the nearest of the following: a sign with a different speed limit, an “End speed limit” sign, or the end of the road if the road ends at a T-intersection or dead end.

Speed limit signs may also have the word ‘area’ on them, meaning the speed limit shown applies to the network of roads in the area with an area speed limit sign on each road into the area and an end area speed limit sign on each road out of the area. But another speed limit sign in this area showing a different limit, such as at a school zone, must also be obeyed.

Speed limit signs may also be associated with special zones, such as temporary road works, school zones or shared zones, and apply in a similar manner.

In Victoria, outside these areas and where a speed limit sign doesn’t apply, the speed limit is the default speed limit. In a built up area the default speed limit is 50km/h. The default speed limit for any other length of road is 100km/h. Speed limits apply in a 'road related area' which includes car parks and any area that is open to the public for driving, riding or parking, or is designated for use by cyclists or animals.

Remember that speed limits are the maximum allowed speed, not the speed you should necessarily expect to travel at. Drivers should always drive for the conditions, which will mean slowing down when visibility is reduced, or at other times when it is not safe to drive at the speed limit.

For more information see the Victorian Road Safety Road Rules 2009 rules 20, 21, 22, 24 and 25.

Roadworks speed limits

At roadworks, when a regulatory speed sign (black text in a red circle on a white background) is posted, the speed limit applies. The speed on the sign applies regardless of the time of day, or whether there are workers present. 

Even if no workers are present, there may be reasons for the reduced speed limit that are not immediately obvious. For example narrowed lane widths, no line marking or works being carried out underneath a bridge.

The reduced speed limit applies until you pass another sign with a different speed limit.

It is important to obey the posted speed limit at roadworks sites, not only for your safety and that of other road users, but also for the workers who are on-site.

Advisory signs may also be present at roadworks. These are black on a yellow background and provide advice on the appropriate speed for the conditions. They are not regulatory signs. 

Other signs may warn motorists they are approaching a reduced speed limit. These signs are black text in a black circle on white background with the word 'AHEAD' at the bottom of the sign.

If you notice an issue at a roadworks site on major roads such as conflicting speed limit signs contact VicRoads on 13 11 70. If it is on a local street, contact the relevant council. Find out about who is responsible for the different road types in Victoria and how to contact them.

For more information see the Victorian Road Safety Road Rules 2009 rules 20 and 24.

School speed zones

Motorists need to be aware of speed limits that apply outside all Victorian schools and on route to schools where indicated by signs.

These lower speed limits aim to reduce the chances of a crash occurring outside a school and minimise the risk of death or serious injury if a crash does occur.

Of course speed limits are the maximum legal speed and motorists should always drive to the prevailing conditions and within the speed limit – which may mean slowing down even more outside schools when necessary.

The school speed limit and the type of sign will depend on the usual speed limit of the road adjacent to the school as follows:

Permanent (24/7) 40km/h limits apply outside schools on some roads which otherwise have a 50km/h limit (including roads to which the unsigned 50km/h default speed limit applies). These speed limits are permanent and apply regardless of the day or time.

On some 50km/h roads, including those with high traffic volumes, time based 40km/h signs may be used (see below).

Time-based 40km/h limits apply outside schools on some 50km/h roads as well as on 60km/h and 70km/h roads. These limits apply from 8.00am to 9.30am and then 2.30pm to 4.00pm on school days (see definition below).

On higher speed roads (80km/h, 90km/h and 100km/h) where there is a flagged crossing, a time-based 40km/h limit will be used.

Time-based 60km/h limits apply outside schools on 80km/h, 90km/h and 100km/h roads. The limits apply between 8.00am to 9.30am and then 2.30pm to 4.00pm on school days (see definition below). Where there is a flagged school crossing, a time-based 40km/h limit will be used.

Electronic variable speed limit signs are found on some roads with 60km/h or higher speed limits (as well as some shopping centres and freeways). The speed limit shown on these signs can change, so make sure you don't travel faster than the limit shown.

What is a school day?

Following the implementation of school speed zones in Victoria, RACV successfully advocated that the State Government should publish the dates defined to be ‘school days’ to remove confusion about when school zone limits apply. The school speed limit dates for 2016 are:

  • 28 January 2016  to 24 March 2016 (inclusive)
  • 11 April 2016 to 24 June 2016 (inclusive)
  • 11 July 2016 to 16 September 2016 (inclusive)
  • 3 October 2016 to 20 December 2016 (inclusive).

Within these blocks of dates, the school speed limit applies except on Saturdays, Sundays and local public holidays. School speed zones may apply locally on weekends or public holidays if signs indicate this on the day. Remember that electronic signs, where the speed limit may vary, must be obeyed at all times. The reduced limits apply on a designated school day even if the school is closed for a 'student free day' or other activity.

These dates also apply to parking around schools where signs indicate that the parking restriction applies on school days (e.g. P 5min school days).

For more information see the Victorian Road Safety Road Rules 2009 rules 20,  23 and 317A.

Traffic signs and line markings

Dividing lines

Drivers must keep to the left of dividing lines painted in the centre of the road, whether they are dashed or solid lines.  

A driver must not overtake, or do a U-turn across a single continuous centre line, or a single continuous line to the left of a broken line.

A driver may only cross the above line markings to:

  • enter or leave the road (for example turning into a side street or driveway)
  • park in an angle parking area on the opposite side of the road  provided that the driver does not need to perform a U-turn to reach the parking area
  • avoid an obstruction provided the driver has a clear view of approaching traffic, and it is necessary, reasonable and safe to do so.

Overtaking is not permitted across a double dividing line or when signs prohibit it.

For more information see the Victorian Road Safety Road Rules 2009 rules 132 and 134.

Double lines

Crossing double lines, including double lines along the side of a painted island, is not permitted. The only exception to this rule is that drivers may drive on or over double lines to avoid an obstruction, but only if the driver has a clear view of approaching traffic, it is necessary and reasonable to do so, and the driver can do so safely. It should be noted that a vehicle stopped in traffic travelling slower than other traffic, or a bicyclist, are not considered to be an obstructions.

For more information see the Victorian Road Safety Road Rules 2009 rule 132.

Lane lines

A driver must not change lanes over a single continuous lane line, including those approaching traffic signals.

For more information see the Victorian Road Safety Road Rules 2009 rules 147 and 148.

Arrows

Traffic lane arrows must be obeyed whether they are at signalised intersections, roundabouts or elsewhere. Drivers at an intersection (with or without signals) in a lane marked with turning arrows must turn according to the arrows at that intersection. An exception is that drivers may make U-turns from lanes marked with right turn arrows unless prohibited by signs.

For more information see the Victorian Road Safety Road Rules 2009 rule 92.

Keep clear

Keep Clear markings are legally enforceable and drivers must not stop on an area of road with these markings.

For more information see the Victorian Road Safety Road Rules 2009 rule 96.

Stop and give way lines

Stop lines (solid lines painted across the traffic lane and not part of Keep Clear markings or pedestrian cross walks) and Give Way lines (broken lines painted across the traffic lane and not part of Keep Clear markings or pedestrian cross walks) have the same meaning as the signs themselves when not located at a signalised intersection where there are twin red flashing lights, a level crossing or a children's crossing. For example, drivers approaching a Stop line must stop and give way, including those at the exit from a car park to a road. Drivers approaching a Give Way line must give way.

For more information see the Victorian Road Safety Road Rules 2009 rules 67, 68 and 69.

Painted islands

Drivers must not drive over a painted island surrounded by a single continuous line unless entering or leaving the road, entering a turning lane that begins immediately after the painted island, to enter a part of the road of one kind from a part of the road of another kind; or to access angle parking on the opposite side of the road. A driver must not drive over a painted island at a freeway on-ramp or slip lane.

For more information see the Victorian Road Safety Road Rules 2009 rule 138.

Parking opposite a centre dividing line

Unless parking signs show otherwise, and provided there is at least three metres of clear road between the car and the centre dividing line for other cars to pass, a driver can parallel park opposite:

  • double continuous dividing lines 
  • a single continuous dividing line
  • a single continuous line to the left or right of a broken dividing line
  • a dividing strip.

For more information see the Victorian Road Safety Road Rules 2009 rule 208.

Special purpose lanes

The rules for special purpose lanes including bike lanes, bus lanes, transit lanes and tram lanes are explained in the section on special purpose lanes.

Trucks and heavy vehicles

The general road rules apply to truck drivers, however there are some additional rules that also apply. These are summarised below.

On some freeways (Princes Freeway between Kororoit Creek Road, Altona, and Avalon Road, Lara and the Eastern Freeway between Springvale Road and Hoddle Street) in Victoria, trucks over 4.5 tonnes gross vehicle mass  (GVM) are restricted from the right lane. No Truck signs on the freeway and at entry points indicate where this restriction is in place. Restricting trucks from the right lane on multi-lane freeways is aimed at improving safety and encouraging better road sharing, while also creating a more efficient driving environment. Buses, emergency vehicles and vehicles under escort by a police officer or an authorised officer of VicRoads are exempt from this restriction.

Other drivers are also reminded to keep left unless overtaking to improve traffic flow on our roads and reduce driver frustration.

No truck signs are also used on other roads to prevent trucks from entering the road or area. No truck signs apply to all trucks over 4.5 tonnes GVM, unless signs indicate otherwise. The sign may apply 24 hours a day, or may be time-based. There are a number of exceptions where trucks are allowed to pass the sign including: if they are loading or unloading goods to a location that can only be reached by passing the sign, emergency vehicles, garbage vehicles, cars towing a caravan, buses, trucks with a VicRoads permit, or under VicRoads or police escort.

For more information see the Victorian Road Safety Road Rules 2009 rule 104.

Truck bans

Load limit signs are used to prevent damage to a road or structure, for example a bridge. A load limit bans any vehicle above the weight limit shown on the sign from passing the sign. There are no exceptions to this rule. For more information see the Road Safety (Vehicles) regulations 2009, regulation 252.

Truck parking

The driver of a heavy or long vehicle (7.5 metres long or longer), but not a bus, is allowed to stop  on a road in a built-up area for longer than one hour provided the driver is dropping off or picking up goods. Otherwise the driver is only permitted to stop for up to one hour, unless parking signs indicate otherwise. For more information see the Victorian Road Safety Road Rules 2009 rule 200.

Truck speed limits

Within Victoria, heavy vehicles are restricted to 100km/h, even if this is less than the posted speed limit. For more information see the Victorian Road Safety Road Rules 2009 rule 21.

Related information

  • Read RACV’s advice about how to safely share the road with trucks
  • Visit VicRoads website for the latest advice on truck lane restrictions

Vehicles

Advice on this page is based on the Victorian Road Safety (Vehicles) Regulations 2009, the Environment Protection Act and the Health Act. For detailed information, refer to the legislation referenced in each section.

Noisy vehicles

Noise is an everyday part of life, but unwanted noise – noise pollution – can have serious effects. A quieter environment means less stress and through our actions, motorists can contribute to a healthier community.

Drivers must not use, or allow to be used, a horn or similar warning device fitted to or in the vehicle unless it is necessary to warn other roads users or animals of the approach or position of the vehicle. Horns can be used as part of an anti-theft device fitted to the vehicle, but are subject to control by local government under the Nuisance Provisions of the Health Act, and should be properly fitted and maintained to avoid unnecessary noise.

The Environment Protection Act makes it an offence to own or use a vehicle which exceeds prescribed noise levels. EPA can require a vehicle to be presented at one of its approved motor vehicle noise testers to determine compliance with the limits. EPA officers also test on-road vehicles with the assistance of the police.

If you are regularly annoyed by a particular noisy vehicle in your street, EPA advises that you should note the registration number and details of the vehicle (make, colour, etc.) and ask your nearest police station (Traffic Management Unit) to keep a lookout for the vehicle. If the police assess the vehicle as being too noisy, it will report the vehicle to EPA and the owner will have to present the vehicle to an approved tester.

Complaints about noise from general traffic flow should be directed to the appropriate road authority who are responsible for traffic management.

For more information see the Nuisance Provisions of the Health Act and the Environment Protection Act.

Number plates

In Victoria, the law requires that number plates are displayed on vehicles and that they are clearly visible from a distance of 20 metres. If your plates don’t meet the criteria, you run the risk of an on-the-spot fine. Number plates are made of a retroreflective material, designed to enhance visibility and ensure that your vehicle can be easily identified.

Take a closer look at your plates and if they are not up to scratch, contact VicRoads on 13 11 71 to arrange for a new set.

All number plates carry a 10 year warranty from the date of issue. Replacement plates are issued free of charge during this warranty period for any plate that has deteriorated due to the manufacturing process. The warranty covers deterioration ranging from simple cracking to progressive or complete blackening of the retroreflective sheet. Be aware though, that plates damaged due to normal wear and tear or impact damage are not eligible for free replacement. To order a replacement plate visit VicRoads website.

If your plates do not fall under the warranty guidelines, you will have to cover the cost of new  plates. These replacement plates will display a new number and can be issued immediately by VicRoads. However, if you wish to retain your existing plate number, you will have to purchase duplicate plates which can take three to four weeks to be issued. For more information on pricing and the types of number plates available visit VicRoads website.

For more information see the Victorian Road Safety (Vehicles) Regulations 2009 regulation 48.  

Smoky vehicles

A modern car has only a fraction of the emissions of a car 10 years old, but smoke from poorly maintained motor vehicles can still contribute significantly to reduced visibility in Victoria and may affect the health of sensitive individuals.

Excessive smoke from engines can be caused by a number of different factors, resulting in  incomplete combustion. This may be a fault of the fuel management or the ignition system. The fault may also be a result of excessive amounts of engine oil or transmission fluid leaking into the combustion chamber.

You can do something to improve air quality. Keeping your car properly tuned and maintained can reduce emissions by up to 25%. Find out how you can save money and contribute to a better environment.

EPA regulations state that no motor vehicle (including diesel engine vehicles) is allowed to emit visible smoke for a continuous period of 10 or more seconds. If an EPA or Police Officer observes an excessively smoky vehicle, and it is judged to be in breach of the regulation, the vehicle is reported to EPA. The owner is contacted by mail and required to make the necessary repairs.

Reasonable time is given for the vehicle to be repaired and for the owner to supply EPA with receipts and/or a statutory declaration as evidence of the repair. If no answer is received from the owner within 28 days, an infringement notice (an on-the-spot fine) may be served.

However if your smoky vehicle is detected during a publicly announced blitz or you are a repeat offender or a first time offender with an extremely smoky vehicle, you may be issued with an infringement notice without warning.

If you see a car or truck blowing smoke for more than ten seconds continuously, call the EPA on (03) 9695 2777 or 1800 444 004 if you live outside Melbourne. Both of these numbers operate 24 hours a day. Alternatively, you can report smoky vehicles via the EPA website.

For more information see the Environment Protection Act.

More information

The Victorian Road Rules (Road Safety Road Rules 2009) are also available as a hard copy to purchase from the SAI Global Bookshop at 85 Buckhurst Street, South Melbourne, VIC 3205.  The road rules have over 500 pages and the bookshop prints documents 'on demand'. It is recommended that you telephone SAI Global on 13 12 42 before visiting, in case you need to wait several hours for the rules to be printed.

Languages other than English

VicRoads has translated some information in languages other than English, including the driver handbooks which contain the Victorian road rules. Other information is available in video format that can help with common registration and licensing transactions. More information can be found on the VicRoads website.