Traffic Matters · Additional Resources

On the 1st December 1999 Queensland adopted the National Legislative Transport Regime to avoid differences in the rules in the various states. The Traffic Act has been repealed and replaced by the Road Transport Reform Act of 1999. In the main there are not many significant changes to the Traffic Act which deals with the objectives of the Act, powers of authorised officer, legal proceedings, regulated parking, disqualification and cancellation of licence and drink driving provisions.There has been a substantial renumbering of many of the sections however.

Most of the important changes are now set out in the new road rules which are contained in the Transport Operations (Road Use Management - Road Rules) Regulation 1999 and which commenced also on the 1st December 1999.

There are changes in respect of the following important areas, although this is only a summary of the important changes and is by no means a comprehensive list of all the changes or amendments.

Part 3 of the Regulations deals with speed limits. Section 20 which deals with obeying the speed limits now omits any reference to the word “motor vehicle” but instead refers to a driver. Section 19 of the Regulations states that a driver includes a reference to a rider and a reference to driving now includes a reference to riding. Therefore a bicycle rider can now be convicted of speeding. This is obviously relevant to reduced speed zones such as schools and residential areas.

Now there is a speed zone called a “shared zone” which is set out in section 24. This deals with a zone that is shared by both pedestrians and vehicles.

Section 37 of the Regulations is the main section dealing with the making of u-turns. The new section permits u-turns so long as the driver has a clear view of approaching traffic and the u-turn can be made safely without unreasonably obstructing the free movement of traffic. Signage would normally indicate when a u-turn can be permitted and a u-turn must not be made at traffic lights unless there is a sign permitting a u-turn.

Sections 46 to 50 are sections dealing with signalling for changing directions. There are three parts to the signalling. If a driver is moving from a stationary position, the driver must give a change of direction signal for at least five seconds before changing direction. In other cases the driver must give the change of direction signal for long enough to give sufficient warning to other drivers and pedestrians. There is then a requirement for the driver to stop giving the change of direction signal as soon as the driver completes the change of direction. It further provides that if there is no indicator lights fitted or working to the vehicle, the driver must give the change of direction signal by using hand signals. The sections dealing with signalling for stopping also require that the driver give the stop signal for long enough to give sufficient warning to other road users.

Sections 67 to 69 of the Regulations deal with the stopping and giving way at signs or lines. It can be inferred from that section that a give way line or a stop line have the same effect as a give way sign or a stop sign. It further states that when a driver is stopping, the driver must stop at the stop line or if there is no stop line, the driver must stop as near as practicable but before entering the intersection.

There are also some changes with respect to children’s crossings and a driver commits an offence if they do not stop at a children’s crossing when pedestrians are both on or entering the crossing. A driver must not overtake or pass the vehicle that is travelling in the same direction upon approaching a children’s or pedestrian crossing and a driver must drive at a speed at which the driver can stop safely before a crossing.

Sections 109 to 119 of the Regulations deal with roundabouts. A “roundabout” is defined as one or more marked lanes or lines of traffic, all of which are for the use of vehicles travelling in the same direction around a central traffic island. The sections deal with the appropriate positioning of the vehicles and if a driver is leaving a roundabout more than half way or less than half way around the roundabout.

If the speed limit is over eighty kilometres per hour or if a sign indicates the vehicle is to keep left unless overtaking, then section 130 sets out the drivers on a multi-lane highway are committing an offence if they stay in the right lane unless they are overtaking, turning right or making a u-turn, unless they are avoiding an obstacle or driving in traffic where the lane is congested. Surprisingly this provision does not apply to motorbike riders. This is confirmed in section 129.

Section 148 states that a driver on a multi-lane road who wishes to move into another lane must give way to any vehicle travelling in the same direction in the marked lane to which the driver is moving. However if traffic is merging with one or more lines of traffic travelling in the same direction drivers give way to vehicles if any part of another vehicle is ahead of the driver’s vehicle.

There are further provisions dealing with rules relevant to lines on the roadway whether or not there is signage. Section 150 states that a driver must not drive on or over a continuous white edge line on a road unless the driver is turning at an intersection or entering or leaving the road. Section 169 states that a driver must not stop at the side of a road marked with a continuous yellow edge line.

There are some important changes with respect to distances required on stopping and parking. These are contained in sections 170 to 195 of the Regulations. In section 170 it is stated that a driver must not stop within ten metres of an intersection or within twenty metres of an intersection which has traffic lights. Section 173 states that a driver must not stop within ten metres of the approach side of a crossing or within three metres of the departure side of a crossing and further a driver shall not stop on a marked foot crossing. Section 195 states that a driver must not stop within twenty metres on the approach side of a bus stop and within ten metres of a departure side of a bus stop.

There are now some changes to the duties on a driver involved in a motor vehicle accident. It is dealt with at section 287. It requires that the driver involved give required particulars to any other driver involved in the accident and an owner of the property damaged or their representative. It is not sufficient now simply to leave a note on the vehicle. In addition the motor vehicle accident must be reported to the police, if the vehicle needs to be towed away or any person is injured or killed or if the damage to property is greater than $2,500.00.

One of the more publicised amendments is the section dealing with mobile phones. Section 300 now states that it is unlawful to use a hand held mobile phone whilst driving and it is also unlawful to use a mobile phone whilst the vehicle is stationary at traffic lights. It is required that the driver pull over to make or receive a call.