The most misunderstood road rules in Victoria, and how to get them right

A merge sign on a busy road with cars in the background

Nicola Dowse, Jade Thrupp

Posted May 18, 2022

From U-turns to e-scooters, road laws are constantly being reviewed and updated. Here are some of the most misunderstood road rules by Victorians.

Even if you’ve been driving for 20 years without incident, there’s every chance you might not have as good a grip on the road rules as you might think.

New rules are added all the time, while old rules can be updated frequently.

We’ve trawled through the rule book and picked out the regulations that have been known to bamboozle even the most experienced drivers.  

The most misunderstood road rules


What you’re doing wrong

Only giving way on the right and not indicating.

What’s the rule?

Give way to any vehicle already in the roundabout, as well as any trams entering or approaching the roundabout. In most cases, those vehicles already in the roundabout will be on your right. However, in some cases, such as smaller roundabouts, vehicles that have entered to the left or on the opposite side of the roundabout may mean you cannot safety enter and have to give way, as they are already in the roundabout. You also should indicate as you leave the roundabout, if practical. Finally, pedestrians should give way to vehicles at a roundabout, unless there is a pedestrian crossing.

Giving way at a crossroad | RACV Road Rules

Giving way

What you’re doing wrong

Arriving at an intersection at the same time as an oncoming car and not knowing who has to give way.

What’s the rule?

You should always obey stop or give way signs or lines at intersections. In addition to that, vehicles turning right must give way. This applies even if you both have ‘give way’ or ‘stop’ signs – the car turning left at a give way sign has priority over the car turning right.

Turning onto a multi-lane road

What you’re doing wrong

Leaving your lane.

What’s the rule?

When turning onto a multi-lane road you must follow any line markings indicating how the turn is to be made. If there are no line markings, you can turn into any lane, however, it’s usually safest to just stay in the same lane and change lanes once you’ve made the turn.


Travelling on an eScooter | RACV Road Rules


What you’re doing wrong

Riding your privately owned E-scooter literally anywhere other than on your own property. Also probably a lot of other things if you use the commercial, for-hire e-scooters available throughout the City of Melbourne, City of Port Phillip, City of Yarra and City of Ballarat council areas.

What’s the rule?

E-scooters have an increasing presence on our roads, but in most cases they’re illegal. Private motorised scooters with a 200+ watt engine, or one that can exceed 10kph, are all banned on public roads and footpaths.  

A trial of for-hire E-scooters is underway in the City of Melbourne, City of Port Phillip, City of Yarra and City of Ballarat council areas. However, if you’re riding one of these scooters you must be 18 or over, wear a helmet, not carry passengers and only ride in bicycle lanes, shared paths or on roads with a speed limit of 50km or less. You also can’t use your phone or be under the influence of drugs or alcohol while scooting. Nor can you ride your E-scooter outside of the marked trial areas or go over 20kph.

Reversing out of driveways 

What you’re doing wrong

Probably nothing. Among the stream of queries and questions RACV receives, every so often someone will write in insisting that it’s illegal to reverse out of a driveway.

What’s the rule?

This one is a bit of an anomaly. Simply stated: it’s not a road rule. Drivers are permitted to reverse out of a driveway. When doing so they must give way to pedestrians, and when vision is impeded drivers are allowed to use their horn to alert pedestrians and other drivers of the position of the vehicle.


Giving way when merging | RACV Road Rules



What you’re doing wrong

Not giving way when you’re supposed to.

What’s the rule?

There are two different rules depending on the line markings, but drivers should show courtesy regardless of the lines on the road. A ‘zip-merge’ occurs when two lanes of traffic join and there’s no dashed line in between. Here, the vehicle in front would go first, regardless of whether they’re on the left or right. Where the vehicles cross a dashed line, like on a freeway entry ramp, the vehicle crossing the line must give way to cars already in the lane.

Passing a stationary tram 


What you’re doing wrong

Most of us know we’re supposed to stop at the rear of a stationary tram to let passengers get on and off safely. But what about if there are no passengers about, is it okay to creep forward alongside the stationary tram?

What’s the rule?

Whether drivers need to stop before passing depends on whether or not the tram is stopped at a safety zone. If a tram is stopped in a safety zone, a driver must drive to the left of the safety zone at a speed that is safe for pedestrians who may be crossing the road.

If it’s stationed at a tram stop without a safety zone, a driver must always stop before passing the rear of the tram. You cannot pass the tram while the tram doors are open, even if there are no passengers entering or exiting the tram. Once the doors have closed and there are no pedestrians crossing the road, you can drive past the tram at 10 kilometres per hour or slower. These rules apply to all road users, including cyclists.

A good rule of thumb is to proceed with caution.


Performing a U-turn | RACV Road Rules


What you’re doing wrong

Not knowing when or when not to give way.

What’s the rule?

Following the latest update in November of 2020, drivers making a U-turn no longer have to give way to vehicles entering the road from the shoulder, footpath, nature strip or other road-related area. But they must give way to everyone else, including pedestrians.

Be careful if driving interstate, however. U-turns are permitted at most intersections in Victoria unless signs indicate otherwise (or you’re crossing an unbroken line, median strip etc). The opposite is true in all other states and territories.

Learn more

Check out RACV’s short videos of some of our most asked-about road rules.

  1. Common road rules for bicycle riders.  

  2. The rules for merging.  

  3. What to do when U-turning

  4. The rules for yellow and red traffic lights

  5. Negotiating roundabouts

    These first five videos are also available in MandarinCantonese and Vietnamese.

  6. Negotiating hook turns.

  7. Driving around trams.

  8. Giving way to pedestrians.

  9. The rules for angle parking.

  10. The rules about blocking an intersection.

National Road Safety Week runs from May 15 to 22, 2022.