Sharing the road

Learn how to share the road with bikes, motorcycles, buses, trams and trucks.

No matter what your mode of transport, respect and courtesy are important factors in keeping our roads safe. Here, we summarise key rules around safety zones, giving way and checking for hazards.

Sharing the road with buses

Group of people at bus stop waiting to board the bus

It’s important to remember that larger vehicles handle differently to cars and their drivers have a different field of vision. There are several road rules specifically designed to account for this:

  • Buses and long vehicles displaying a ‘Do not overtake turning vehicle’ sign can turn left or right from the lane next to the turning lane, or use both lanes if necessary to turn safely.
    • Drivers mustn’t 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.
  • When driving in the left lane or in a left line of traffic in a built-up area, drivers must give way to a bus displaying a ‘Give way to busses’ sign when it is stopped, moving slowly, an indication to join the traffic stream from the left.

By allowing buses just a few seconds of extra courtesy on the road, you’re doing your part to help passengers reach their connecting bus or train without delays.

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

Visit VicRoads for more information on sharing the road with buses.

Sharing the road with bicycles

Market research shows nearly half of RACV’s members cycle, with one in five doing so at least once a week! It’s important we keep each other safe on the road whether we’re travelling on two wheels or riding in four, so here’s a summary of the key things to keep in mind.

Bicycle lanes

When a bicycle lane is provided on a road in their direction of travel, cyclists must ride in the bike lane unless it’s impracticable to do so. Drivers can only drive in a bike lane for up to 50 metres to:

  • enter or leave a road
  • turn at an intersection
  • overtake to the left of a vehicle turning right or doing a U-turn from the centre of the road
  • enter traffic, having been stopped on the side of the road
  • get from one part of the road to another (i.e. moving to/from a service road, the shoulder of a road or an emergency stopping lane)
  • park (if parking is allowed)
  • pick up or drop off passengers if they are driving a taxi or public bus
  • void an obstruction or
  • if there is a sign saying car drivers can also use the lane.

Even in these circumstances, you must give way to bicycle riders already in the lane.

Head start boxes

Illustration of a head-start box at an intersection

These painted areas are provided as a safe spot for bike riders to wait at some signalised intersections. Where these exist, drivers must leave these sections clear for riders.

Giving way at lights

You need to give way to cyclists approaching or using an intersection with bicycle-crossing lights.

General tips and reminders

  • RACV recommends leaving at least one metre when overtaking cyclists (more if travelling over 60km/h).
  • Bicycle riders are allowed to ride side-by-side (two abreast), and up to 1.5 metres apart. Another rider may pass if overtaking.
  • Bike riders can overtake to the left of a vehicle, unless that vehicle is turning left and indicating.
  • Be considerate about where you park your vehicle, don’t obstruct 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.
  • When turning right, people riding bikes have the option of performing a hook turn.

Sharing the road with motorbikes

Motorcyclist travelling on the road

Our section on motorcycles provides an overview of the key road rules for riders to be aware of, but as a driver sharing the road, here are the key things to keep in mind:

  • Motorbike riders can ride beside one other ride, 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 right, left and right again, to ensure you don’t miss an approaching motorcycle.
  • If traffic is stopped or moving slowly, be aware that motorcycle riders may be travelling between lanes of traffic. The motorcycle rider must not travel at more than 30km/h. For more information on this, see Motorcycling.

Visit VicRoads for more information.

Sharing the road with trams

A stopped tram with disembarking passengers

A growing number of people are being injured or killed through crashes with trams, so understanding the rules 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

You must not drive in a tramway unless avoiding an obstruction and provided you don’t move into the path of an approaching tram.

Tramways can be identified by:

  • two continuous yellow lines or
  • a raised structure beside the tram tracks
    • with an overhead sign that shows an image of a tram and the word ONLY.

Tram lanes

You’re not allowed to drive in or across a tram lane when it’s operating – but there’s an exception to the rule. A driver can drive in a tram lane for up to 50 metres, when turning right or avoiding an obstruction provided trams aren’t delayed.

  • 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).

Tram stops

  • You must stop at the rear of the tram until the doors close and there are no pedestrians left crossing the road; or until a police officer or uniformed employee of a public transport operator instructs you to do so.
  • When the doors are closed and the road is clear, you can pass the tram but not faster than 10km/h.
  • Unless a sign says you can, you must not park or stop within 20 metres of a tram stop sign.

Passengers must obey rules too – they can’t cross the road to get on a tram until the tram has stopped at the tram stop, and when getting off a tram, they must cross to the nearest footpath.

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. You must not drive on a tram 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 you’re travelling on tram tracks and a tram is approaching, you must move out of the lane as soon as you can do so safely.

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

Raised dividing strips

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

For more information on tram safety, visit VicRoads.

Sharing the road with trucks

Trucks travelling on a multilane freeway

Sharing the road with trucks is an everyday driving experience in Melbourne and you can expect to find trucks on any road in Victoria.

Maintaining a safe distance

Illustration of cyclists in a truck driver's blind spot

A loaded truck may weigh up to 50 times that of a passenger car and needs a longer distance to stop safely. By cutting in front of a stopped truck to get ahead, you might not be leaving the truck driver enough room to avoid a rear-end crash. When following trucks, make sure there’s a sufficient gap to stop safely to avoid a collision. This also helps the truck driver to be aware of your position. If you can’t see the truck mirrors, the truck driver can’t see you.

Watch this video by the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator for more tips on driving safely around trucks: Keep out of truck blind spots

Image source: Transport for London

Overtaking

Trucks displaying a 'do not overtake turning vehicle' sign need extra room to make sharp turns. 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 enough distance in front to avoid a collision.

Watch this video by the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator for more tips on driving safely around trucks: Don't overtake a turning truck  

 

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.

Keep left unless overtaking

On some freeways 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’s courteous to keep left when practical to give trucks free passage past your vehicle.

What to do if you see a truck driver doing the wrong thing

Nearly all truck drivers, like car drivers, are law abiding and share the road safely. However, if you see a truck driver doing the wrong thing and there’s a sign on the back of the truck showing a company 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 – for drivers of all vehicles – should always be reported to the police. If there’s a passenger in the car, and it’s safe to do so, get them to note the number plate on the truck (preferable) or the trailer.

Related reading

The summaries RACV provide on Victorian road rules are based on the Victorian Road Safety Road Rules 2017. We make sure to reference the exact rule where possible. When reading, keep in mind that we’re providing general information, not legal advice. If you’re looking for specific questions on any legal matter, consult with a lawyer for help.