Australian driving rules vary wildly from state to state – so do you know the law?

From U-turns to tailgating distances and double penalties, Australian driving rules vary greatly from state to state – so do you know the law?

  • Traffic rules in Australia vary greatly depending on the state you are in
  • More people are expected to go on vacation to the highway with closed national borders
  • Daily Mail Australia shares a few key tips on what some key differences are

With Australia’s international borders closed due to the Covid pandemic, the number of interstate vacationers has increased.

But driving in Australia is a complicated beast with vastly different traffic rules across states and territories.

From U-turns to sleeping in your car and keeping a three-second gap, if Aussie motorists are clueless about the changing set of laws, they can be hit with huge fines and penalties.

Here are some of the key differences in state rules that you should know before traveling.

If Aussie motorists are not aware of the changing set of road rules by state, they can be hit with huge fines and demerits (stock image)

A greater number of vacationers are expected to travel interstate while the country's international borders are closed due to the Covid pandemic.  Pictured: Traffic jam on Sydney's Western Distributor Freeway

A greater number of vacationers are expected to travel interstate while the country’s international borders are closed due to the Covid pandemic. Pictured: Traffic jam on Sydney’s Western Distributor Freeway

DOUBLE DEBT IN PEAK TIMES

Drivers in New South Wales and Western Australia will face double penalty points from their license if they commit traffic offenses during peak holidays such as Christmas and Easter.

These rules are there to discourage drivers from speeding as there are huge numbers of young families on their way to their holiday destination at that time.

But in the Sunshine State, double demerits exist all year round.

If a driver in Queensland commits more than one speeding or seat belt violation within a 12 month period, he will lose double the points.

In every state except Victoria it is against the law to make a U-turn at a traffic light

In every state except Victoria it is against the law to make a U-turn at a traffic light

U-TURNS

In every state and territory except one, it is illegal to make a U-turn at traffic lights unless there is a sign indicating that it is allowed.

In Victoria it is the exact opposite.

Drivers may take a U-turn unless there is a sign indicating that this is not allowed.

DISTANCE REVERSE

How close you are allowed to drive behind another vehicle depends on the state you are in.

Drivers in Queensland and Victoria are expected to keep a two-second gap between them and the car in front of them.

But in New South Wales, traffic police insist that motorists keep a greater distance of three seconds.

In Queensland, it is illegal for passengers to have an open bottle of alcohol in the car while it is en route.  Pictured: Australian traffic police officer uses breathalyzer on female driver

In Queensland, it is illegal for passengers to have an open bottle of alcohol in the car while it is en route. Pictured: Australian traffic police officer uses breathalyzer on female driver

DRINK

In Queensland it is illegal to have an open bottle of alcohol in the car while driving, including for passengers.

In New South Wales and Victoria there is slightly more leeway, where alcohol may be consumed by passengers in the car.

WINDOWS OPEN LATE

In fact, it is illegal in most states to leave the car window open after you park it.

But there are some minor exceptions in Queensland and Victoria if the resident is less than 3 meters away.

If they are more than 3 meters apart, it is against the law as they should not be unwound more than 5 cm.

In Victoria, it is illegal for a drunk driver to sleep in the front seat of their car (stock image)

In Victoria, it is illegal for a drunk driver to sleep in the front seat of their car (stock image)

DIVING IN THE CAR

In Tasmania, South Australia and Western Australia it is not illegal to sleep in your car.

In Queensland, motorists are allowed to turn a blind eye when they are on a campsite.

The rules get a little more complicated in Victoria with drunk drivers being only allowed to sleep in the back seat, not the front.

“You have six states and they don’t all follow the same rules, so it’s important to make Australian drivers aware of this to keep them out of trouble on the road,” said a StressFreeCarRental.com spokesperson.

“There are many minor differences in these laws and it can be very easy to make an honest mistake. The more familiar we become with these rules the better.”

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