Tony O'Kane | Sep 14, 2009

VICTORIAN ROADS MINISTER Tim Pallas has announced that new road rules will be introduced from November 9, including the banning of most mobile phone use and navigation equipment that are not held in a vehicle-mounted cradle.

Other new laws will see drivers lose 3 demerit points and receive a $234 fine for passengers of any age not wearing a seatbelt, while new parking rules require drivers moving their cars to move them off the same length of road.

Drivers caught using their mobiles or navigation devices in their laps run the risk of a $234 fine, with mobile phone users also facing the loss of three demerit points.

“Talking on a hand-held mobile phone while driving is reckless and increases the risk of a crash fourfold," Mr Pallas said.

"Phones and navigation devices will be required to be in appropriate holders or cradles in the vehicle. The advice is simple – hands on the wheel and eyes on the road.

“Road users found to be flouting the new road rules will face penalties, including fines and demerit points. These new road rules will hopefully go some way to further reducing loss of life.

"All Victorians need to continue to work together to help drive down the road toll.”

As the availability of satellite navigation software for popular devices like the iPhone and iPod increases, the new rules will provide greater clarity on how drivers are able to use their phones while on the road.

phone-in-car

The ban on drivers using hand-held electronic devices will begin on November 9, and will accompany new rules regarding U-turns and overtaking.

From November, it will be illegal for a driver to do a U-turn or overtake another vehicle across a single unbroken dividing line.

“U-turns alone have caused 19 deaths and 654 serious between 2004 and 2008," Mr Pallas said.

"There were 1524 U-turn crashes in Victoria in that period. These changes will therefore have a significant impact towards improving safety on our roads."

Revised parking laws will come into effect from November 9, requiring drivers relocating their cars in short-period parking areas to move not just to an adjacent or nearby parking bay, but to another stretch of road or an area not governed by the same parking rules.

Motorcyclists have not escaped the new laws unscathed either, with pillion passengers now required to be over eight years of age.

For a full breakdown of the new Victorian road rules read on:

Mobile Phones

  • Cannot be used unless secured in a vehicle-mounted cradle, or the driver is able to operate it without touching any part of the phone. Holding a phone in your lap while driving is also illegal.
  • Are allowed to be used for voice calls only. Video calls, texting and emailing are prohibited.
  • Learner and P1 drivers cannot make mobile phone calls while driving.

Visual display units

  • Display units, including DVD players and satellite navigation systems, must be fixed to the vehicle. Motorcycles are exempted from this rule.
  • DVD players and television receivers must not be viewable to the driver while in motion, and must not be place in a position likely to distract other drivers.

U-turns and overtaking

  • Drivers cannot change lanes, overtake or perform a U-turn over a single unbroken dividing line. The only exemption to this rule is when entering or leaving the road, or when avoiding an obstacle.
  • Painted traffic islands surrounded by a single unbroken line should not be driven over, unless entering or exiting a road or when a turn lane is immediately after the island.
  • Painted islands on freeway on-ramps must not be crossed, whether surrounded by a single or double unbroken line.

Trams

  • Cars must not be parked within 20 metres of a tram stop unless signs specifically permit parking.
  • Drivers must come to a halt at the rear of a stationary tram at a tram stop. Only when the tram doors have closed and its passengers have left the road can drivers pass the tram (at a speed of no more than 10km/h if the tram is stopped).

General

  • Drivers must stop at the first line at an intersection when the light is red. Drivers are not permitted to stop in areas for cyclists.
  • Vehicles blocking driveways are only permitted to stop for two minutes to unload or pick up passengers, and must not be left unattended.
  • Animals or passengers must not sit on the driver's lap.

Seatbelts/child restraints

  • Drivers are responsible to ensure all occupants of their vehicle are wearing a seatbelt.
  • Bus drivers are exempt from the above rule, as are taxi drivers with passengers over 16 years of age. Taxi passengers over 16 years old who don't wear a seatbelt risk incurring a fine.
  • When all seatbelts in a vehicle are used, no extra passengers are permitted to ride.
  • Children under the age of 7 must sit on a booster seat or child restraint.
  • Babies up to six months old must be carried in a rearward-facing baby capsule, children from six months to four years old in a forward or rearward-facing child restraint, and children from four to seven years old in a forward-facing child restraint or booster seat.
  • Children under four years old must not sit in the front passenger seat, unless the vehicle only has one row of seats.

Motorcyclists

  • Passengers under eight years old cannot ride on a motorcycle, unless in a sidecar.
  • Animals cannot be carried between the rider and the handlebars. Farmers are exempted from this rule, but only while working and they must travel no further than 500 metres on public roads when carrying an animal in this way.

Parking

  • Parking in a slipway or on a painted traffic island is illegal.
  • Drivers are allowed to park opposite single and double unbroken dividing lines, dividing strips and combination unbroken/broken dividing lines, but only if there is a three metre gap between their parked vehicle and the dividing line.
  • Drivers can park with a gap of less than three metres between themselves and a single broken dividing line.
  • Moving parked vehicles from one parking spot to another is prohibited unless the vehicle is relocated to a different street or out of the area to which the parking sign applies.

Cyclists

  • Cyclists must wear an approved helmet and sit on a proper bicycle seat when riding on the road.
  • At an intersection, cyclists must stop at the second line if a painted bicycle box exists. When turning left, cyclists must be at the left of the box. When turning right (if a bicycle box exists in a right-hand turning lane), bicyclists must be in the right side of the box.

Scooters, skateboards, roller blades

  • Scooters, skateboards and roller blades can be used on the footpath and on roads with a 50km/h speed limit. Unless crossing a street, they must not be used on the road at night.
  • Scooter riders must wear an approved helmet.
  • None of the above may be towed or ridden directly behind a vehicle.
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