Road Rules for 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 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.