Alright. Let’s be brutally honest. There’s a reason Australia doesn’t have autobahns with unlimited speed limits.
Indeed, Western Australia’s road traffic rules which are set out in the Road Traffic Code 2000, aside from being fairly well enforced, are periodically broken by us all. Some are obvious (like keeping the speed limit), but what about the host of little-known road rules that are broken every day, often by people who have no idea they’re committing an offence?
Here are 8 road rules you’re probably breaking:
1. Keep your limbs inside the car
If you’re blasting Timberland’s “Hands In The Air” and you’re cruising along in a convertible you may want to restrain yourself. Putting your limbs outside any part of the car – whether that’s out the window or sunroof, you could cop a mood-killing fine. In WA, this rule applies unless you’re driving an old boat or a car that doesn’t have stop or indicator lights and you need to use your hands instead.
2. Indicate before pulling out of your parallel park
This is a fairly unknown rule that can catch out even very experienced drivers. If you’re in a parallel park and you want to pull out into moving traffic you must start indicating 5 seconds before you start moving into the lane. You’d have to be pretty unlucky to be fined for this, but nevertheless, it’s a good one to remember, as many collisions occur when a car pulls out from a parallel parking position.
3. Driving too slow on the freeway
Yep, driving too slowly can land you a fine in Western Australia. If you drive 20km/hr under the speed limit on WA freeways and the conditions permit a faster pace, you could land a fine. It’s important to keep a safe and reasonable speed on the freeway to avoid accidents and maintain a steady flow of traffic.
4. Driving with a dog on your lap
Whether you’re driving a car or a motorcycle, it’s important to keep pets safely in the back or boot so they don’t end up cuddling on your lap. Breaking this law could result in a max $100 fine and 1 demerit point in Western Australia. Farmers are of course exempt from this rule when driving in and around their farm. It’s a good idea to keep them away from the front too because airbags inflating could potentially kill them.
5. Playing street cricket or footy
Keep all games off the street. Whether that’s a game of street footy with the neighbours or a re-do of the ashes in your local culdesac – playing ball games on the road can get you in trouble.
6. Touching your phone to receive, make or end a call
We’ve all done it at one point – ending a phone call by gently and gingerly hanging up while cruising around in our car. As the use of mobile phones has exploded over the past decade, driving has become infinitely more dangerous due to people texting and driving. In response to this, it’s a $500 fine and 3 demerit points for touching your phone to make, receive or hang up on a call, and a $1000 fine for texting, creating, or watching any content on your mobile device.
7. Dialling in directions while driving
While it is ok to use your phone as a navigational device, you must dial in the route before you start driving to your destination. You also have to ensure your device is mounted securely within your vehicle. Making any changes to your route by touching your phone will result in a $1000 fine and 4 demerit points.
8. Merging without indicating
Merging or changing lanes without indicating is one of the most common rules broken on Western Australian roads. This simple mistake could cost you $100 and up to 2 demerit points if you’re unlucky. Indicating is extremely important to let other cars know your intentions.
Bonus: The potato rule.
This belongs at the end because you’re probably not going to break this one unless you’re caught speeding and the police officer eyes a treasure trove of potatoes in your back seat.
Yes…next time you want to get rowdy with your home deep fryer, make sure your potato load is under 50kg. Woefully, and hilariously, if you’re caught with over 50kg of potatoes in your vehicle and you’re not part of the Potato Corporation, this Great Depression-era law could land you a $2000 fine. A second offence (god forbid) would be $5000.
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