The road rules on parking explained

Car parked on nature strip next to tree.

Sue Hewitt

Posted July 13, 2020

Our road rule experts explain what’s allowed, and what can cop you a fine.

As many of us hunker down at home and more and more parked cars clog residential streets, it can be tempting to snag a sneaky parking spot on the nature strip, or perhaps across your own driveway. But that would mean risking a fine. 

Even squeezing into a tiny space between two cars or leaving your caravan hitched to your car in the street can cost you dearly. 

On-the-spot fines for many offences start at $99 but if you challenge the matter in court and are found guilty of the offence, you face a maximum fine of almost $500. 

So what’s allowed and what’s not when parking in residential streets? We asked RACV’s road rule experts to answer eight of the most vexing parking questions.

Street parking rules, explained

Can I park on the nature strip? 

Rule: Driving or parking on a nature strip in built-up areas is illegal unless you’re entering or leaving a driveway, car park or petrol station where the nature strip is usually paved for this purpose. Other exceptions include driving a ride-on mower to cut grass on the nature strip, driving a motorised wheelchair or a postie delivering the mail.  

Why: You can damage or obstruct infrastructure such as drainage-pit surface covers or underground telecommunications pits. 

Fine: $99  

Can I park across my own driveway? 

Rule: Unless you’re dropping off or picking up passengers, you can’t legally park on or across a driveway – even your own. While many people believe their driveway extends from their garage or carport to the roadway, you’re only allowed to park on the driveway inside your property, even if there’s no public footpath to block.  

Why: Parking on driveways obstructs the footpath, affecting children, parents with prams, the elderly, vision-impaired pedestrians or those with mobility issues. A car parked across a driveway will force children riding bikes and scooters along the footpath onto the road or into your driveway crossover as they pass.   

Fine: $99  

Can I park on the wrong side of the road?   

Rule: You must park your vehicle facing in the same direction as traffic is travelling in. Unless parking signs indicate otherwise, on a two-way road you must park parallel and as near as possible to the far left of the road. On a one-way road, you must park parallel and as near as practical to the far left or far-right side of the road. 

Why: Parking on the wrong side means you will have to drive on the wrong side of the road in order to park or pull out, which increases the risk of a crash.   

Fine: $99  

How close can I park behind another vehicle? 

Rule: When no parking bays are marked on the road, you must leave at least one metre between your car and other vehicles in front and behind.   

Why: To allow other drivers room to manoeuvre in and out of parking positions. Reduces the chance of being blocked in.  

Fine: $99


Cars parked on the side of the road.

Parking incorrectly can significantly increase the chance of an accident. Photo: Lisa Luscombe

Can I park in the street with my caravan or trailer hitched to my car? 

Rule: Larger vehicles more than 7.5 metres long or weighing more than 4.5 tonnes can’t be parked on the street in a built-up area for more than one hour, unless otherwise signposted or if you are dropping off or picking up goods. When a towable vehicle such as a caravan is hitched to a car, the 7.5-metre rule applies to the combined length. If a trailer is not hitched, the one-hour rule does not apply, but be sure to check with your local council for any other by-laws that may apply.  

Why: To prevent heavy vehicles taking up street space, creating noise and spoiling the environment in residential areas. 

Fine: $99 

My street is really narrow, where can I park?

Rule: You must keep at least three metres of clear road between your vehicle and the far side of the road if there is no dividing line, or at least three metres between the vehicle and the dividing line of the road, unless signage indicates otherwise.  

Why: To let other vehicles, including emergency vehicles, pass. 

Fine: $99 on-the-spot.  

How close can I park to a fire hydrant?  

Rule: You cannot stop a vehicle within one metre of a fire hydrant, fire hydrant indicator or fire plug indicator, unless it’s a public bus at a bus zone or a taxi in a taxi zone and the vehicle is not left unattended. 

Why: To ensure easy access to the fire hydrant in an emergency.  

Fine: $99  

How close can I park to a public post box ?

Rule: Drivers must not park within three metres of a public post box, unless dropping off or picking up passengers or mail or unless otherwise signposted.  

Why: To ensure that Australia Post has safe access to the post box.  

Fine: $99