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Ensure safe driving over the long-weekend

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10 most misunderstood road rules

1. Roundabouts
Approaching a roundabout

Drivers approaching a roundabout must use their indicator if they intend to turn left or right, or make a U-turn at the roundabout. They must give other road users sufficient notice of their intent to turn.

Entering a roundabout
Drivers must slow or stop to give way to any vehicle already in the roundabout. Drivers must also continue to use their indicator if they intend to turn left, right or make a U-turn.

Turning left
Drivers must indicate left on approach and be travelling in the left-hand lane (unless there are road markings with other instructions), stay in the left lane and exit in the left lane.

Going straight ahead
There is no requirement for drivers to signal when approaching the roundabout, if they are going straight ahead.

Drivers may approach the roundabout from either the left or right lane (unless there are road markings with other instructions).

Turning right
Drivers must indicate right on approach and be travelling in the right hand lane (unless there are road markings with other instructions).

Making a U-turn
When using a roundabout to make a U-turn, drivers must approach in the right lane and signal right.

Changing lanes in a roundabout
Drivers may change lanes in a roundabout if they wish. The usual road rules for changing lanes apply. Drivers must use their indicator and give way to any vehicle in the lane they are entering.

Exiting a roundabout
Just like exiting any road, drivers must signal left when leaving a roundabout, if it is practical to do so, and stop indicating as soon as they have exited the roundabout.

When travelling straight ahead on a small single lane roundabout, it may be impractical to indicate left when exiting.

All drivers are required to drive carefully and slow down or stop when there is a chance of a crash with another vehicle.

2. Giving way to pedestrians when turning
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 and without traffic lights.

For their own safety, pedestrians should always check their surroundings before crossing the road.

3. Mobile phones
A mobile phone may only be used while driving:
• if it is secured in a commercially manufactured and designed mounting which is fixed to the vehicle and does not obscure the driver’s view of the road, or
• if it can be operated by the driver without touching any part of the phone, for example through the use of Bluetooth technology or voice activation.

While driving, a mobile phone cannot:
• rest on the driver’s leg, between the shoulder and ear, or on any other part of the driver’s body,
• be used for text messaging, video messaging, emailing or similar, or
• be held in the driver’s hand other than to pass it to a passenger.

Drivers can only use a hand-held mobile phone if their vehicle is parked in an authorised parking spot. They cannot use a hand-held mobile phone while stopped at traffic lights.

Drivers may use the navigational or GPS function and audio functions of a phone while driving, provided the phone is secured in a fixed mounting.

Learner and P1 drivers are not permitted to use any function of a phone while operating a vehicle.

4. Merging
Merging when the number of lanes is reduced
When a driver is travelling on a road without lane markings and the number of lanes or lines of traffic is reduced, they must merge by giving way to any vehicle that is ahead of them. This is often called a zipper merge.

Changing lanes when a marked lane ends
When a driver is travelling in a marked lane which is ending and is required to cross a broken painted line to enter the adjacent lane, the driver must give way to the traffic travelling in the lane being entered.

5. Keeping left
On multi-lane roads with a speed limit of more than 80km/h, motorists must not drive in the right-hand lane unless they are:
• overtaking
• turning right or making a U-turn
• avoiding an obstacle
• driving in congested traffic
• driving in a special purpose lane or if there is a Left Lane Must Turn
Left sign or a left traffic arrow and the driver is not turning left.

If a Keep Left Unless Overtaking sign is displayed, the requirement applies regardless of the speed limit.

6. Using headlights and fog lights
High beam
A driver must not use their headlights on high beam if travelling:
• less than 200m behind a vehicle travelling in the same direction
• less than 200m 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.

Must not dazzle
A driver must not use any light fitted to their vehicle that may dazzle another road user.

Fog lights
A driver is only permitted to use fog lights if driving in fog, mist or other atmospheric condition that restricts visibility.

Spot lights
A driver may only use a spot or search light if:
• The vehicle is stationary and the light is being used for making adjustments or repairs to a vehicle. The light must not be projected more than six metres.
• The light is used temporarily to read a house number or notice board.

When driving at night, or in conditions where there is insufficient daylight to render a person dressed in dark clothing discernible at a distance of 100m, a driver’s vehicle must have clearly visible:
• headlights
• tail lights
• number plate lights
• clearance lights and side marker lights if they are fitted to the vehicle.

It is recommended that in some daytime situations driving with the vehicle’s headlights on can improve the likelihood of being seen by other road users.

7. U-turns
Making a U-turn
When making a U-turn a driver must:
• have a clear view of any approaching traffic
• be able to make the turn without unreasonably obstructing the free movement of traffic
• give way to all vehicles and pedestrians.

Drivers are not allowed to make a U-turn:
• at an intersection without traffic lights, where a ‘no U-turn’ sign is displayed
• at a break in a driving strip where a ‘no U-turn’ sign is displayed
• across any of the following:
– a single continuous dividing line
– a single continuous dividing line to the left of a broken line
– two parallel continuous dividing lines.

At traffic lights
Drivers are not permitted to make a U-turn at traffic lights unless there is a U-Turn Permitted sign displayed or a green U-turn traffic light is displayed.

8. Safe following distances
Drivers must keep sufficient distance behind a vehicle travelling in front of them to safely avoid a collision.

Safe following distances may vary depending on the conditions, the type of vehicle and the speed at which the vehicle is travelling. As a general rule, when following a vehicle, the driver should travel three seconds behind the vehicle in front to provide sufficient time to avoid a crash.

To calculate a three second space when following another vehicle, drivers can use the basic time-lapse method technique:

• Drivers should select a mark or object on the left hand side of the road, for example a sign or a power pole.
• As the rear of the vehicle ahead passes the chosen object, the driver counts ‘one thousand one, two thousand two, three thousand three’. This should take about three seconds.
• If the driver’s car passes the chosen object before finishing the three second count, then they are travelling too close to the vehicle in front. There is not enough crash avoidance space so the driver should slow down and repeat the exercise to ensure the three second gap is achieved.
• 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. School zones
A school zone is the area around a school with a speed limit of 40km/h.

Between the School Zone and End School Zone signs, drivers must obey the school zone speed limit.

The school zone speed limit applies on NSW gazetted school days and during the times detailed on the school zone sign. School zone hours are normally 8:00am–9.30am and 2.30pm–4:00pm.

Pupil free days fall within the gazetted school days, thus school zones are operating and enforceable.

Details on NSW gazetted school days can be located at the website, Some non-government schools do not operate on gazetted school days. Motorists should be aware that school zones still operate and are enforceable on these days.

There are a small number of schools with different school zone times – these will be detailed on the school zone sign

10. Yellow traffic lights
A yellow (amber) traffic light or arrow means stop. A driver approaching traffic lights showing a yellow traffic light must stop if the driver can stop safely before reaching the stop line or traffic lights.

Police Fine 97 drivers over the Canberra long weekend

Police have called on drivers to follow road rules after issuing 97 fines while Canberrans celebrated the Family and Community Day long weekend.

A 19-year-old Belconnen man was caught driving at 120km/h in a 60km/h zone on Caswell Drive, Aranda on Saturday.

An ACT Policing spokeswoman said the man was issued with an infringement notice, received a $1,811 fine and the loss of six demerit points.

More than 40 caution notices were issued from Saturday to Monday and 75 speeding offences were registered, despite drivers being put on notice about increased highway patrols during the long weekend.

Acting Superintendent for traffic operations Sergeant Rod Anderson said the results showed some drivers were not concerned with community road safety.

“The results show that some drivers are still taking risks on Canberra roads and it’s just lucky there were no major traffic incidents over the weekend,” he said.

“With the Labour Day long weekend coming up, we’re appealing to drivers to consider the consequences of unsafe driving, such as driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, speeding and not wearing a seatbelt.”

Double demerits point penalties will apply across the ACT for speeding and seatbelt offences, with an extra point for all other traffic offences from midnight on Friday to midnight Monday inclusive.

The ACT road toll for 2013 currently sits at six.

NSW Police also warned drivers to obey road rules during the upcoming long weekend.

As part of Operation Slow Down, high-visibility policing will take place around NSW, with officers targeting dangerous driving, drink-driving, speeding, fatigue and seatbelt offences.

NSW Assistant Commissioner John Hartley said there had been 33 fewer deaths on NSW roads, compared to the same time last year.

“The Labour Day long weekend will see an increased number of motorists starting their journey to and from planned events, as well as returning from school holidays with family and friends in the car,” Assistant Commissioner Hartley said.

“Before heading out, we want drivers to think of the consequences of getting stopped by police or being involved in a crash.

“You may lose your licence under double demerits or sustain serious injuries. Some people may think it won’t happen to them, but when it does, the impact can be devastating.

Officers stopped 4080 drivers for speeding during the same operation in 2012, while 154 were charged with drink-driving.

Read more:

Territory puts pedal to metal in need for speed

The Northern Territory will return to life in the fast lane, starting with a trial of unlimited speeds on a section of the Stuart Highway.

Speed limits will be abolished on a 200 kilometre section of the highway between Alice Springs and Barrow Creek.

The Territory Government says reports show there have been no fatalities on this section of road directly related to speed for nearly a decade.

The ABC understands police will monitor the section of highway for incidences of dangerous driving during the trial, which will begin after the Christmas holiday period.

The then Labor government abolished open speeds in 2007 and introduced a maximum limit of 130km/h.

But the Country Liberals promised in last year's election campaign to consider reinstating open speeds on some Territory roads and highways.

Several groups, including the Automobile Association of the Northern Territory, have criticised the move.

After several reviews, Transport Minister Peter Styles said the Government had decided on a trial of open speeds because there has been no deaths directly linked to speed on the section of highway designated for the trial.

"There have been six deaths in a 10-year period, and those death were caused by alcohol, seatbelts or fatigue," he said.

Mr Styles says the change will not mean open slather for motorists, and police will still be clamping down on drink driving and the wearing of seatbelts.

"Police will also be targeting people who drive at a speed which is manifestly excessive to the conditions of the road, the time of day, the weather conditions or the condition of the motor vehicle," he said.

In 2009, Chief Minister Adam Giles was Opposition transport spokesman and called the imposition of speed limits as "politically motivated".

"As someone who lives in Alice Springs, I am fully aware of the tyranny of distance within the great Territory," he said at the time.

"I am aware of the long journey that we face and the effects of fatigue when driving these vast distances."

"This Government will have blood on its hands ... you are going to invite every hoon in Australia to come up there and test their cars on this road."

Harold Scruby, Pedestrian Council of Australia

The announcement has drawn a torrent of criticism.

The Automobile Association of the Northern Territory (AANT) says the quality of roads roads is not up to scrapping the speed limit.

General manager Edon Bell says most of the Territory's highways do not meet a two-star safety rating out of five because they do not have barriers to separate oncoming traffic.

He says says high speed lead to more serious accidents.

The Royal Australasian College of Surgeons says more people will die as a result of the decision.

Doctor David Read is the Territory representative on the College's National Trauma Committee and says the current 130km/h speed limit is already too high.

"I do not believe that people understand that 130km/h is already a significant compromise," he said.

"To open it up to open speed limits just seems downright insane to people who are at the coalface dealing with the sick, the injured and the dead on a day-to-day basis."

Pedestrian Council of Australia chairman Harold Scruby says the Territory government will have "blood on its hands" if it reintroduces unlimited speeds on highways.

He says if the Territory Government does not see sense, the Federal Government should step in.

"We are going to be calling on the Federal Government to step in and do what they did on euthanasia," he said.

"[Why] should the rest of Australia pay for this trauma?

"This Government will have blood on its hands.

"Mark my words, you are going to invite every hoon in Australia to come up there and test their cars on this road."

The Northern Territory Police Association says it does not support the decision because it appears to be ignoring the advice of experts.

Association president Vince Kelly says it is strange the Government is refusing to make public a report it commissioned into open speed limits.

The Mayor of Katherine says she supports a trial of open speeds on the Stuart Highway despite surviving a serious rollover in the area where the trial will take place next year.

Fay Miller broke her back after her car rolled on the same section of road seven years ago.

She says water on the road, and not speed, was the main reason for the accident.

"It is a long, straight stretch," she said.

"Quite frankly, you lose your concentration if you are driving so slowly."

Couresty of ABC News