Most of us do our best to follow the rules of the road. We know we need to strap on our seatbelts, stop at red lights, avoid speeding, and stay off mobile phones. But there's more to the road rules than the obvious. In fact, there's a long list of obscure laws many Australians haven't heard of – and often, they differ from state to state.
If you think the police won't bother enforcing them, think again. In 2014, a Brisbane motorcyclist was fined $146 for stretching his leg out while riding along the Logan Motorway. Police charged him with "failing to keep both feet on the footrest". In the same year, another Brisbane resident was charged $44 for leaving his car parked with his window down a few centimetres on a hot summer's day.
So what should you do to avoid a financial hit? Here are 15 unexpected illegal activities to keep in mind:
1 – Throwing apple cores and banana peels out of the car window
Sure, they're biodegradable, but you can still be fined for littering. In Queensland, the crime of "dropping injurious matter on a road" can cost you $353 and two demerit points.
2 – Improper use of a horn
Some motorists only seem to use their horns improperly. But honking goodbye to your family as you drive off after dinner or beeping at the car who just cut you off is actually illegal. Officially, you're only supposed to use your horn if you're warning other road users (or animals) of your approach.
3 – Driving at night when the light on your registration plate isn't working
Australian law states that rego plates need to be visible 24/7, so check your light before setting off at night.
4 – Having people or animals on your lap
Children must be seated in proper child restraints. Pets need to be next to the driver or on the car floor.
5 – Leaving your fog lights on
Fog lights, both front and rear, should only be used in rain or fog, or when your vision is impaired by smoke and dust. Once you can see clearly, they need to be off or you could cop a fine.
6 – Interrupting a funeral procession
Aside from being insensitive and rude, it's also illegal to cut into a funeral procession.
7 – Driving with an unregistered trailer
This one can cost you up to $637, so don't forget to register your trailer!
8 – Driving with a bike rack covering your licence plate
Your licence plate needs to be clearly visible from both the front and the rear of your motor vehicle. In Victoria, you can be fined for having a bike rack fitted when it's not carrying bicycles.
9 – Not winding up your windows
In Queensland, if you're more than five metres away from your car, your windows need to be up with a gap no greater than 5cm.
10 – Not giving way to horses
It's actually illegal not to give way to a hard-to-control horse, or a horse that refuses to move. If a rider raises a hand and points to his or her horse, you must steer the car as far to the left as possible, turn off the engine and wait until the horse is far enough away that you're in no danger of startling it. So don't horse around!
11 – Leaving your key in your ignition
Surely most people have witnessed someone do it: quickly ducking out to get a coffee or pick up their take-away dinner. While it's convenient, it's not the smartest thing to leave your key in the ignition unattended, turns out in the ACT it is indeed a traffic offence which may cost an individual up to $200.
12 – Attempting to speed up while you're being overtaken - NSW
As frustrating as it is, this is unfortunately a common behavioural trait that occurs on our roads when a person decides to accelerate as another driver attempts to overtake. This behaviour actually constitutes another obscure traffic offence. Drivers engaging in this behaviour can incur a $325 fine.
13 – Being a supervisor for a learner driver after having a drink or two
While it may be tempting and convenient for people to ask a learner driver to operate the vehicle so that they can drink, this is actually illegal in all Australian states and territories with the exception of WA.
14 – Don't splash the pedestrians!
We've all seen it in the movies where pedestrians get intentionally splashed by drivers on a rainy day, and as entertaining as it may be in the moment, it's another traffic offence! However, in NSW, it's only a traffic offence to splash those who are waiting for a bus at a bus stop, but any other individual is exempt from this rule! So don't risk the hefty $165 fine!
15 – Making calls at a drive through
Surely the majority of Australians have seen the amount of people getting a fine while using their mobile phones while remaining stationary at a traffic light. Turns out the rule is definitely strict and still applies to drivers who are stationary at a drive through. In NSW and VIC, the fines are a whopping $300 and $455! So don't use Snapchat while you're waiting in line for your chocolate Sundae!
Shine Lawyers - Get in touch
Sometimes, no matter how well you follow the road rules, accidents happen. When they do, we're here to help. Get in touch with one of our motor vehicle accident lawyers for more information.
Written by Shine Lawyers. Last modified: November 12, 2018.