Annoying road rule is finally changing

 

A "problematic" road rule that many Aussie drivers find confusing is changing, and it will impact how motorists use their phone behind the wheel.

Last month ministers approved the proposed changes in the National Transport Commission's (NTC) Australian Road Rules 13th Amendment Package.

One of the big changes will remove confusion around whether drivers can use their phones when stopped out of the line of traffic but with the car motor still running.

Under the current definition, parking is when a driver stops and allows their vehicle to stay in one place "whether or not the driver leaves the vehicle".

However, the NTC said this definition had caused unintended problems in regards to the legal use of mobile phones behind the wheel.

The change will allow drivers to use their phone if they are safely stopped out of the line of traffic, even if their engine is running. Picture: iStock
The change will allow drivers to use their phone if they are safely stopped out of the line of traffic, even if their engine is running. Picture: iStock

"This definition has proven problematic in the context of rules 299 and 300, which prohibit a driver from using a mobile phone, television receiver or visual display unit when the vehicle is stationary but not parked," the NTC stated in the draft amendment package.

"The problem is that a driver who has pulled out of the line of traffic into an area where parking is permitted but leaves their engine running, and who proceeds to use their mobile phone (i.e. in circumstances where mobile phone usage presents no risk of distraction to the driver in the context of driving) is technically not parked - and has committed an offence.

"This is not the intent of the rules."

The proposed change will clarify the rule and allow the use of a mobile phone, television receiver or visual display in a vehicle that is stopped out of the line of traffic, even if the keys are in the ignition or the engine is running.

Other amendments presented by the NTC were also approved, including two changes to the rules surrounding U-turns.

There will be changes coming to rules surrounding U-turns as well. Picture: Frank Violi
There will be changes coming to rules surrounding U-turns as well. Picture: Frank Violi

Under the current rules there is a clash when a driver is making a U-turn on a road and another driver is waiting to enter the road at the same time from a road-related area.

The rules state each driver must give way to the other, but the coming change gives the driver making the U-turn right of way over the entering driver.

There is also no provision that, in the absence of a no U-turn sign, prevents a driver from doing a U-turn at a children's crossing, level crossing, marked foot crossing or pedestrian crossing.

"There is also no prohibition on a driver doing a U-turn at the intersection of a road and a road-related area, such as an exit from a school carpark," the NTC said.

"This causes confusion and presents a safety risk."

The amendment will prohibit U-turns in these situations, unless a U-turn permitted sign is present.

Rules around paying for parking will also be updated to include paying by electronic means, such as through a parking app.

The changes will also include amendments to allow the use of parking apps. Picture: Jenny Evans
The changes will also include amendments to allow the use of parking apps. Picture: Jenny Evans

The current rule includes reference to "buying a ticket or putting money into a parking meter" and "instructions on or with the sign, metre, ticket or ticket-vending machine".

"This terminology does not sit with modern technology by which parking can be paid for through an app or by phone or by various means," the NTC said.

Approved amendments will make this rule technology neutral so modern payments methods can be accommodated.

The road rules will also be updated to include provisions about how drivers are expected to behave around funeral processions.

NSW has an existing road rule that prohibits interference or interruption of a funeral procession, with this rule to be extended to cover the rest of the country.

The approved road rule amendments are expected to be introduced by all states and territories within a reasonable time frame.



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