Getting your riders’ licence is a liberating but also nerve-wracking experience, as there are a multitude of rules that you need to remember. While you hopefully will never have to resit a licence exam or driving test, it’s good to have an occasional refresher of the road rules. This blog will cover some of the common road rules that are misunderstood or have changed over the years.
Giving way to pedestrians
An important rule to remember is that if you are turning left or right at an intersection and a pedestrian has started crossing or is about to cross the road you are entering, you must give way to the pedestrian. Also, if you are approaching a T-intersection and a pedestrian is crossing or is about to cross, you must give way to the pedestrian.
This rule applies at intersections with or without traffic lights, and the only time you do not need to give way to pedestrians if you are turning left or right is at roundabouts, and the only time you have to give way to them at roundabouts is if there is a crossing. In other words, in most situations, pedestrians need to give way to vehicles at roundabouts.
Lane filtering is when a motorcycle travels at low speed through stationary or slow-moving traffic in order to pass the vehicles which are travelling in the same direction. It is legal in all Australian states and territories to lane filter, however there are a few conditions: the rider needs to have a full licence (not a learner permit); the speed of the motorcycle cannot exceed 30kmh; it must be safe to lane filter; and it can’t be performed in a designated turning lane, in a bicycle lane, between lanes of traffic flowing in opposite directions, or in a school zone during school hours. Lane splitting, on the other hand, is the practice of travelling through slow-moving traffic at a speed above 30kmh, and it is illegal in all Australian states and territories.
Transit and bus lanes
Motorcycles are allowed to travel in transit lanes on freeways, regardless of how many people are on the bike, and at any time of day.
In regards to bus lanes, according to Maurice Blackburn lawyers, New South Wales is the only Australian state that explicitly allows motorcycles to travel in bus lanes; in other states, it is only allowed if signs permit. Western Australia recently made a decision to remove the ability for motorcycles to legally travel in bus lanes in Perth. In Melbourne, motorcyclists can only travel in bus lanes when travelling south on Hoddle Street between the Eastern Freeway and Victoria Parade.
Motorcyclists are only permitted to use a mobile phone while riding if it is secured in a commercially produced holder fitted to the bike, and if it can be operated without the rider touching any part of it. Learner riders, or those with a P1 or P2 licence, are not permitted to use a phone in any way while riding, including if they’re stationary but not parked. This means that only fully licenced riders are able to use functions such as GPS, listen to music, or use the calling function while riding.
If you are involved in an accident, you are legally required to stop immediately, give help to any injured person, and provide your name, address, registration number and the name of the motorcycle owner (if it isn’t you) to others involved in the crash. If someone is injured or if there is property damage, you must report the crash to the nearest police station (or call Emergency 000).
There are severe penalties if you are involved in a crash and you do not stop and give assistance and leave the scene, such as fines over $140,000 and/or imprisonment for up to 10 years.
Amber traffic lights
Amber traffic lights mean that the signal is about to turn red and a rider must therefore stop. If you are approaching an intersection showing an amber light and it is unsafe or you are unable to stop in time behind the line or traffic lights, then you are permitted to continue. However, there are penalties for riders if it is safe for you to stop but you continue through the intersection.