Trevor Collett | Jul 19, 2017

Victoria’s RACV has trawled through more than 500 pages of road rules to uncover some hidden new or amended laws that came into effect in Victoria from July 1.

At the top of the list is a rule-change that hasn't been hidden - the controversial emergency vehicle speed limit rule, which requires road users to jump on the brakes and slow to 40km/h when passing a stationary or slow-moving emergency vehicle displaying flashing lights.

“RACV has already expressed concern at the practicality and safety of vehicles having to rapidly slow to 40km/h and we have called for a review to explore safer alternatives,” the RACV said.

“We are in open dialogue with VicRoads (Victoria’s road authority) to ensure we can get the balance right between protecting our emergency service workers and ensuring the safe and practical passage of vehicles travelling on our roads.”

Also on the controversial list is yet another change to mobile phone laws - or at least it would have been, had VicRoads not recognised that the changes were, in fact, a mistake.

Wording surrounding the use of mobile phones in vehicles was unexpectedly watered down for vehicles legally parked, but VicRoads told the RACV that the previous wording would be reinstated.

As a reminder, the original wording stated that phones can be used by the driver in legally-parked vehicles with the keys in the ignition and/or the engine running.

For cyclists, however, fines will now apply for riders caught using their mobile phone while underway. This includes bikes which are “stationary but not parked”.

Riders of motorised bicycles (ie motorbikes) will now be excused from wearing their helmets if the engine is off and the bike is stationary but not parked. Pushing a bike whilst not wearing a helmet and without the engine running is also allowed, provided it is safe to do so.

Further, some outdated laws have been changed to allow riders to lift one foot from the foot-pegs provided they are: sitting, they have the other foot on the other foot-peg, and it is safe to do so.

In other words, stretching your legs one at a time on a long ride is now okay in the eyes of the law - plus a rider is also allowed to stand with both feet on the foot-pegs while moving for further stretchability.

Another rule from the pages of history has been deleted, with bus drivers no longer required to stop between three and 12 metres from a level crossing that has no boom gate or lights. Bus drivers were also previously prohibited from changing gear while crossing rail tracks, but this rule is now also gone.

Drivers of commercial vehicles who sneakily use loading zone as an alternative to ‘regular’ car parking spaces will now receive a ticket if they are not in the process of loading or unloading their vehicle.

Other minor rule changes include those surrounding trams. Drivers may now pass stationary trams if the doors are open on the opposite side to the passing side, or if the driver is instructed by a police officer.

Drivers of refrigerated vehicles may now legally leave them unattended with the engine running, in order to prevent food spoilage.

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