Lesser-Known Road Rules (NSW) | Armstrong Legal

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This article was written by Dr Nicola Bowes

Dr Nicola Bowes holds a Bachelor of Arts with first class honours from the University of Tasmania, a Bachelor of Laws with first class honours from the Queensland University of Technology, and a PhD from The University of Queensland. After a decade working in higher education, Nicola joined Armstrong Legal in 2020.

Lesser-Known Road Rules (NSW)


In New South Wales, road rules govern how motorists, cyclists and pedestrians use the road. Road users are usually aware of the more commonly known and tested road rules, such as speed limits and the prohibition against driving while under the influence of drugs or excessive alcohol. Along with these familiar rules there are also many other more obscure road rules. Many drivers are not aware of these rules but ignorance of a rule is not a defence under the law, so it is important that drivers in NSW are aware of these lesser-known road rules in NSW and the associated penalties.

Stay Inside The Vehicle While Travelling

One of the lesser-known Road Rules in NSW is that both driver and passengers must keep themselves wholly within the vehicle. For instance, you cannot drive with your elbow resting on the open window if any part of your arm is outside the vehicle frame, or rest your feet on the window frame if any part of your foot or leg protrudes beyond the frame. A driver caught contravening this rule will be fined and docked three demerit points, and if it was the passenger who committed the infraction, and they are 16 years or older, they can also be fined.

Drivers in a police car or emergency vehicle are exempt from this rule, and so is someone engaged in delivery or collection of items as long as the vehicle is travelling under speeds of 25k per hour. A driver who has a damaged or broken light or turning signal is also permitted to use their arm outside the vehicle to signal an intention to turn, slow down or stop.

Wear a Seatbelt

Another of the lesser-known road rules is that a driver in NSW is required to wear a seatbelt at all times while in their vehicle unless the vehicle is parked. Some drivers find it difficult to properly turn in their seats to check behind them when reversing a car when they are constrained by a seatbelt. Under rule 264 of the NSW road rules, drivers may legally remove their belt to reverse a car as long as they are not a learner driver.

Warning Other Motorists About Traffic Stops And Cameras

It is often seen as doing a good turn for a driver to flash their lights to warn oncoming motorists that there are police cameras or speed traps ahead. There is no specific law in NSW against using headlights to warn motorists of a police presence, however, the police may be able to charge a driver performing this act under section 219 of the Road Rules for using headlights to “dazzle” another motorist. This infringement is one of the lesser-known road rules that carries penalties, so there is a risk associated with the action, and police are unlikely to be sympathetic to an action that is intended to evade the enforcement of road rules.

Detouring Through Property To Avoid A Red Light

It can be tempting when confronted with a red light on a corner next to a service station or convenience store to divert through the commercial premises to avoid waiting for the red light. However, using such a so-called “rat run” is a violation of the road rules because it increases the risk to pedestrians at service stations and other commercial premises. If a police officer observes a driver executing this maneuver then the driver can be fined and lose three demerit points.

Parking On Nature Strips

It is a common misconception that a driver can park on nature strips by the side of the road. Actually, this is against the law in NSW unless there is signage that allows for parking. Even homeowners cannot park on the grassed areas in front of their own homes if it is outside their property boundaries and encroaches on the nature strip. A driver who parks illegally is liable for a fine of up to 20 penalty units for a violation of this lesser-known road rule. This rule also applies to parking on paths in front of a home and driveways if the vehicle protrudes onto the path. A vehicle cannot at any time obstruct access to paths, ramps or passageways.

Parking In The Direction Of Traffic

Even when a vehicle is parked in a designated parking area, the vehicle must only be parked in the direction of the flow of traffic. Breaking this rule can be dangerous, as a car pulling out of a parking space will have to obstruct traffic in order to turn in the right direction. This is particularly problematic at night when it is more difficult to see traffic clearly. Parking against the flow of traffic can incur parking fines.

For any further advice on road rules in NSW, please get in touch with the experienced solicitors at Armstrong Legal on 1300 038 223. We can assist you with any traffic law matter, from appealing a licence suspension to understanding possible penalties and sentencing.

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