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Top 10 most misunderstood NSW road rules

Should slow cars keep left? Do you need to indicate at roundabouts? Are you allowed to drive through an amber/yellow light? Even the most experienced drivers can sometimes question their knowledge of common road rules in certain scenarios. Here’s a run down 10 of NSW’s most misunderstood road rules:

1. Amber/Yellow traffic lights
A driver approaching traffic lights showing an amber/yellow traffic light must stop if they can do so safely. Penalties apply for drivers who fail to stop at a yellow light, unless it is unsafe to do so.

2. Roundabouts
Drivers approaching a roundabout must use their indicators when turning left, right or making a U-turn and give sufficient notice of their intent to turn. If going straight ahead, there is no requirement for drivers to signal when approaching the roundabout. When entering a roundabout drivers must slow or stop to give way to any vehicle already in the roundabout. When exiting a roundabout, whether you are turning left, right or straight ahead, you must always indicate a left turn just before you exit, if practicable. (when travelling straight ahead on a small single lane roundabout it may be impractical to indicate left when exiting).

3. Giving way to pedestrians
If a driver is turning left or right at an intersection, the driver must give way to any pedestrian crossing the road the driver is entering. This applies to intersections with or without traffic lights.

4. U-turns
When making a U-turn a driver must have a clear view of any approaching traffic and give way to all vehicles and pedestrians. Drivers are not allowed to make a U-turn across:
a) a single continuous dividing line;
b) a single continuous dividing line to the left of a broken line; or
c) two parallel continuous dividing lines.
You must also not make a U-turn at traffic lights unless there is a ‘U-turn permitted’ sign displayed.

5. Merging
When a driver is travelling on a road without lane markings and the number of lanes is reduced, they must merge by giving way to any vehicle that is ahead of them. However, a driver who is moving from one lane, marked by broken lines (whether or not the lane is ending) to another must give way to any vehicle already travelling in the same direction.

6. Keeping left
On roads with a speed limit of more than 80km/h, motorists must not drive in the right-hand lane unless overtaking, turning right, making a U-turn, avoiding an obstacle or driving in congested traffic. If a ‘Keep Left Unless Overtaking’ sign is displayed, you must keep left regardless of the speed limit.

7. Headlight and fog light use
High beam is not permitted if travelling less than 200 metres behind a car going in the same direction or less than 200 metres from an oncoming vehicle. It is an offence to flash the vehicle’s headlights unless the vehicle is being used to respond to an emergency. A driver is only permitted to use fog lights if driving in fog, mist or other atmospheric conditions that restricts visibility.

8. Safe following distance
Drivers should stay three seconds behind vehicles in front of them and been mindful not to tailgate. In poor conditions such as rain, gravel roads or dim light, it may be necessary to increase the travelling distance to four seconds to increase the crash avoidance space.

9. Mobile phones
A mobile phone can only be used while driving if it’s secured in a commercially designed and manufactured mounting fixed to the vehicle or operated by Bluetooth technology or voice activation. This includes the navigational or GPS function and audio functions of the device. P2 holders are not permitted to use a mobile phone at all while driving or riding.

10. School zones
A school zone is the area around a school with a speed limit of 40km/h (normally between 8am-9.30am and 2.30pm-4pm on school days. There are a small number of non-standard school zone times in NSW. These zones are identified by red/orange school zone signs which indicate non-standard times. Signs at these schools display the times which apply.

If you or someone you know is issued with a Traffic Infringement Notice which they want to contest or are charged with a Driving Offence and would like more information about the available options please contact Oliver Hagen on (02) 4731 5899 or email

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