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Road rules

Road law amendments

The Australian Road Rules are a national body of laws governing the use of roads, footpaths and other shared spaces by drivers, cyclists, pedestrians and others. There are over 350 rules and they have been in operation since December 1999.

The operation of the rules is continually monitored and amendments take into account changes in road safety policy, driver behaviour and technology. Most changes to the rules are simple clarifications that improve their interpretation and/or operation.

Other changes to road laws are made through amending relevant legislation.

Recent road law amendments  include:  

25 October 2015 – Cycling road rule amendments

Road Traffic (Road Rules – Ancillary and Miscellaneous Provisions) Variation Regulations 2015, the Road Traffic (Miscellaneous) Variation Regulations 2015 and the Motor Vehicles Variation Regulations 2015 to allow all-age cycling on footpaths and to introduce an offence for a driver of a motor vehicle failing to overtake a cyclist by a prescribed minimum lateral distance with an expiation fee of $287 and 2 demerit points.

Drivers will now be required to give a minimum of one metre when passing a cyclist where the speed limit is 60km/h or less or 1.5 metres where the speed limit is over 60km/h. To assist with compliance of this rule, a driver who has a clear view of any approaching traffic and can do so safely will be exempted from the following road rules:

  • driving to the right of the road (exemption from ARR 132) – this includes driving to the right of (double) continuous lines
  • driving on a dividing strip (exemption from ARR 137)
  • driving on a painted island (exemption from ARR 138)
  • no need to stay within a single lane or line of traffic (exemption from ARR 146)
  • crossing a continuous line separating lanes (exemption from ARR 147)

1 September 2014 – Road rule amendments

Amendments to the Australian Road Rules were made to help clarify existing rules, create consistency within the Rule or remove ambiguities for road users. Most amendments do not involve a change in general driver behaviour. 

The major changes are highlighted below:

CLARIFY: Rule 128A – To make it clear that after giving way to pedestrians on the crossing, a driver may enter a children’s crossing or a pedestrian crossing that is immediately before an intersection without traffic lights and stop on it if the road beyond the crossing becomes blocked.

CLARIFY: Rules 134 and 138 – A driver may cross a single continuous dividing line to park in angle parking on the opposite side of the road, provided that the driver does not need to perform a U-turn to reach the parking area.  This includes crossing a painted island surrounded by a single continuous line.

CLARIFY: Rule 153(4) – Bike lane road markings (not only signs) can be used to commence or end a bicycle lane (comprising both a white painted bicycle symbol and the words "lane" or "end lane" as appropriate).

NEW: Rule 197 – Drivers are prohibited from stopping/parking on a traffic island (for example, in the centre of a roundabout).  The expiation fee for stopping on a traffic island is $87.

NEW: Rules 265(4) and 266(5B) – Passengers under one year old can sit on the lap of another passenger who is 16 years old or older when travelling in a bus, taxi or tow truck where no appropriate child restraint is available for use and they are not in the front row of seats.

CLARIFY: Rule 266(2B) – When a booster seat is used it must be used with either a lap and sash type of approved seatbelt or an approved child safety harness.

NEW: Rules 265(5) and 266(5C) – Drivers of correctional vehicles are exempt from the requirement to ensure that passengers in rear seating rows or a caged area are wearing seatbelts.

CLARIFY: Rule 271 –To allow a motor bike rider to remove his/her feet from the footrests to manoeuvre the vehicle, such as reversing the bike into a parking space, or when the motor bike (at low speed <10km/h) is decelerating to come to a rest, or accelerating from a rest.

1 September 2014 - New 25km/h Emergency Services speed Limit

S83 of the Road Traffic Act 1961  - The speed limit was reduced from 40km/h to 25km/h to protect emergency service workers.  The 25km/h Emergency Service Speed Zone applies on an area of road:

  •  In the immediate vicinity of an emergency service vehicle that has stopped on the road and is displaying a flashing blue or red light; or
  • Between two sets of flashing blue or red lights that have been placed by an emergency worker at either end of a length of road on which an emergency vehicle has stopped.
  • It does not apply if you are driving on a road that is divided by a median strip and the emergency service speed zone is on the other side of the road beyond the median strip.

2 March 2014 - Amendments to the Australian Road Rules

Many of these changes are simply to clarify existing road rules and make them easier to understand. Specific details are outlined in the Government  Gazette 13 February 2014 pp 917-934.

The following amendments are of particular note:

Rule 127 – Minimum distances between long vehicles.

  • A road train must now keep a minimum 200 metres distance behind another long vehicle unless driving on a multi-lane road or any length or road in a build-up area or overtaking.
  • Long vehicles (except a road train) must travel to a minimum 60 metres behind another long vehicle.

Rule 227 – Use of portable warning triangles in vehicles over 12  tonnes. 
  The way in which portable triangles must be laid out to identify a broken down vehicle has been clarified and the distance at which the triangles must be placed relative to the speed limit for the area in which the hazard occurs has been varied. If the triangles are not properly placed, the driver could face prosecution and would be held liable for any crash that results from a failure to comply with these requirements.

  • On roads where the speed limit is 80km/h or over, triangles must be used when the vehicle is not visible within 300 metres in all directions.
  • On roads where the speed limit is less than 80km/h or, triangles must be used when the vehicle is not visible within 200 metres in all  directions.

Rule 137 – Driving across a dividing strip with a pavement bar.

  • Allows drivers to legally drive across pavement bars and markers to enter or leave a road removing unnecessary obstruction to traffic.

Rule 266 – Child restraints.

  • Allows a third child aged four or older to sit in the front seat of  a vehicle (providing they are appropriately restrained) if there is no room for them in the back row of seats because of two other child restraints already  fitted in the back seat.
  • Where there are no seatbelts fitted in the back row of seats, a child aged four or older can now sit in the front seat (providing they are appropriately restrained).

Rule 299 – Motorcycle riders using mobile phones as a GPS.

  • Allows motorbike riders to use mobile phones as a GPS in the same  way as drivers of motor vehicles, provided that it is securely mounted and they  do not touch or manipulate the device.

16 January 2014 – Amendments to the Road Traffic (Miscellaneous) Regulations  1999

Riding on footpaths

  • Allows adults (aged 18 and over) to ride on footpaths to accompany children aged less than 12 years.

Bicycle storage areas

  • Allows bicycle riders to enter bicycle storage areas located at traffic lights other than from a bicycle lane.


  • A $340 expiation fee for longboarding was introduced and applies when the speed limit of the road is over 60 km/h or when the road has two or more marked lanes in the same direction of travel. Skateboarding on a road with a dividing line or median strip or where the speed limit is over 50 km/h  remains an offence and may incur a $52 expiation fee.

1 July 2010 - Child restraints

Child restraint laws approved by the National Transport Council in 2008, were adopted in South Australia on 1 July 2010. For details go to Seatbelts and child restraints

In summary, the laws require:

  • Infants up to six months old to be restrained in a rearward facing infant restraint.
  • Children aged between six months and up to four years old to be seated in either a rearward or forward facing child safety seat.
  • Children from the age of four and up to seven years old to be seated in a forward facing child safety seat or booster seat (restrained by a correctly adjusted seatbelt or child safety harness).
  • Children from the age of seven years to be seated in a booster seat with seatbelt or harness or a correctly fitted and adjusted adult seatbelt.
  • Children under the age of four years to be seated in the rear of the vehicle (where the vehicle has two or more rows of seats).
  • Children from the age of four and up to seven years to be permitted in the front of the vehicle if all rear seats are already occupied by children up to the same age (where the vehicle has two or more rows of seats).

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