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by Matt Brogan

Vicroads has announced a raft of new road laws aimed at making Victorian roads safer, all  to be effective from November 9 this year.

The changes apply to mobile phone & satellite navigation use, child restraints, motorcycle pillion passengers, U-turns and overtaking, seatbelts, cyclists, wheeled recreation devices, driving with trams and parking.

Mobile Phones & Visual Display Units:

Using a mobile phone to make or receive a phone call while driving is prohibited except if the phone is secured in a commercially designed holder fixed to the vehicle, or can be operated by the driver without touching any part of the phone.

All other functions, including video calls, text and email, are prohibited.

Holding the phone, whether you are engaged in a phone call or not, is also prohibited. Holding includes resting the mobile on the driver’s lap. Learner and P1 drivers, are not permitted to use a mobile phone at all while driving.

A satellite navigation device must not be used if it is not an integrated part of the vehicle or is not secured in a commercially designed holder that is fixed to the vehicle.

Television receivers or visual display units must not be used when the car is mobile if any part of the screen is visible to the driver or is likely to distract another driver.

For more information about this rule, click here.

Child Restraints:

All children under seven years of age must wear a child restraint or booster seat when travelling in a car for improved safety. The type of restraint will depend on the age of the child as follows:

  • New born to six months: to be restrained in a properly fastened and adjusted approved rearward facing child restraint
  • Six months to four years: to be restrained in either a properly fastened and adjusted approved rearward or properly fastened and adjusted approved forward facing child restraint with inbuilt harness
  • Four to less than seven years: to be restrained in either a forward facing child restraint with an inbuilt harness or booster seat restrained by a correctly adjusted and fastened seatbelt or child safety harness

There are also new laws about where children can sit in vehicles.

If a car has two or more rows of seats, then children under four years must not travel in the front seat. If all seats, other than the front seats, are being used by children under seven years, children aged between four and six years (inclusive) may travel in the front seat, provided they use an approved child restraint or booster seat.

For more information about this rule, click here.

U-Turns & Overtaking:

New rules will also apply to making a U-turn or overtaking another vehicle. These are as follows:

  • Centre dividing line: a driver will not be able to overtake, or do a U-turn across a single continuous centre line, or a single continuous line to the left of a broken line. A driver can however cross over a centre dividing line (except a double continuous centre dividing line) when entering or leaving the road
  • Lane lines: a driver must not change lanes over a single continuous lane line
  • Painted islands: a driver must not drive over a painted island that is surrounded by a single continuous line. A driver can however drive over the island if they are entering or leaving the road, or entering a turning lane that begins immediately after the painted island. A driver must not drive over a painted island at a freeway on-ramp. It is also illegal to drive on a painted island that is surrounded by a double line.

For more information and diagrams concerning this rule, click here.

Seatbelt Use:

Drivers are required to make sure seatbelts and child restraints are used by all passengers. When all seatbelts or child restraints are used, no extra unrestrained passengers are permitted in the vehicle (implemented December 2008).

This rule does not apply to the driver of a bus. The rule also does not apply to a taxi driver with passengers 16 years old or older. However, an adult passenger commits an offence themselves if they travel in a taxi without a seatbelt.

There are also exemptions for some types of vehicles that are not required to be fitted with seatbelts.

For clarification of this rule, or for more information, click here.

Motorcyclists:

There are three new rules for motorcyclists. They are as follows:

  • No passengers under eight years old: a young child under eight years of age cannot be carried as a passenger on a motorcycle, unless in a sidecar
  • Travelling in a sidecar: when a sidecar is used, it can only carry the number of passengers for which it is designed
  • No animals between rider and handlebars: animals can’t be carried between the rider and the handlebars of a motorcycle

For more information about this rule, click here.

Cyclists:

There are several changes cyclists will need to heed from November 9. These rules concern the use of a safety helmet, proper bike seating for passengers as well as changes to how a cyclist may turn from, and stop in, bicycle boxes at traffic signals.

  • Seat and helmet: a  bicycle passenger must wear an approved bicycle helmet and sit on a proper seat when riding on a bicycle
  • Area reserved for cyclists (bicycle box): a driver must stop at the first line of the bicycle box while a cyclist must stop at the second line, within the bicycle box
  • Turning at intersections: when turning at intersections with a bicycle box a bicycle rider must be in the left lane of the reserved area to make a left turn or in the right lane of the reserved area to make a right turn

For more information and diagrams concerning this rule, click here.

Wheeled Recreational Vehicles:

Scooters, skateboards and roller blades are called Wheeled Recreational Devices in the road rules.

A scooter has two or more wheels and a footboard supported by the wheels. It is steered by handlebars, designed to be used by one person and propelled by any one or more of the following: gravity, the user pushing one foot against the ground, an electric motor or motors (with the maximum power output of 200 watts).

Wheeled Recreational Devices can travel on footpaths and on roads where the speed limit is 50km/h per hour or less.

For more information about this rule, click here.

Drivers:

Whilst all of the new road rules affect drivers, these rules are additional new road safety rules particularly for drivers. They include the following:

  • At an intersection, a driver must stop at the first stop line and must not enter the area for cyclists when the traffic light is red
  • If a driver is blocking a driveway, the driver is only allowed two minutes to pick up or drop off passengers and must not leave the vehicle unattended
  • A driver must not have another person or animal on their lap when driving
  • If two vehicles, for example a bicycle and a car or two motorcycles, are travelling in the same single marked lane and one vehicle diverges to the left or right within the marked lane, the diverging vehicle must give way

For more information about this rule, click here.

Driving with Trams:

When sharing the road with trams, a driver must stop before passing the rear of a stopped tram at a tram stop. Once the tram doors are closed and pedestrians have crossed between the tram and kerb, a driver may then proceed at no more than 10 km/h past the tram.

Unless there is a sign which permits parking, a driver must not stop or park within 20 metres of a tram stop.

Tram lanes are identified by a solid yellow line and overhead signage that shows an image of a tram and the word ‘LANE’. It is important to note that some tram lanes operate full-time, while others are part-time.

Part-time tram lanes have the same sign as a full-time tram lane, but the sign also shows the days and times that it functions as a tram lane.

A driver may drive in a tram lane for up to 50 metres to enter or leave the road or to avoid an obstruction.

For more information and diagrams concerning this rule, click here.

Parking:

New rules will also govern how we park. These are as follows:

  • Slip lane: stopping to park in a slip lane or on a painted island will be prohibited. A slip lane is an area of road for vehicles turning left. It is separated from other parts of the road by a painted island or traffic island
  • Parallel parking: unless parking signs show otherwise, and provided there is at least three metres of clear road between the car and the centre dividing line for other cars to pass (see diagram), a driver can park opposite: double continuous dividing lines; a single continuous dividing line; a single continuous line to the left or right of a broken dividing line; a dividing strip. However, a driver is permitted to park opposite a broken line without leaving three metres clear between the parked car and the broken dividing line
  • Heavy or long vehicles: cannot be parked on a road in a built-up area for longer than one hour, unless parking signs show otherwise or the driver is picking up or setting down goods
  • Moving parked vehicles: when moving a parked vehicle to another parking spot, the driver must move the vehicle off the length of road, or out of the area, to which the parking sign applies

For more information and diagrams concerning this rule, click here.




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