Driving Behaviours That Everyone Thinks are Legal (But Really, They Aren’t!)

drivingplus - Driving Behaviours That Everyone Thinks are Legal

At the moment, it seems that misinformation and myths surrounding road rules are everywhere. Everybody has their own advice to add about road safety, what you should do in certain situations, and general thoughts on how to drive. When heard over and over again, this incorrect advice can lead to people taking illegal courses of action when driving, or engaging in practices that are illegal and dangerous. But many don’t realise they’re doing anything wrong.

Complicated or very specific situations are known to cause a lot of incorrect answers; for example, in a recent survey it was found that only 1 in 4 respondents (25.4%) knew that reversing without wearing a seatbelt is legal.

Because of this, we thought we should clear some confusion in some of the largest road myths still circulating.

Wearing flip-flops while driving

This is probably the biggest pervasive myth in road rules, with only 45% of respondents surveyed getting the correct answer. There’s a lot of misinformation about this one in particular, and it takes many forms.

Some people claim that it’s illegal to wear open-toed shoes such as sandals or thongs while driving in any Australian state. Other people believe that it varies state-to-state, with a common feeling being that it’s legal in Queensland but illegal in NSW.

However, there is no law describing any kind of footwear (including no footwear) as illegal to drive in. While we strongly recommend driving in enclosed shoes, you won’t be pulled over for wearing your flip-flops when driving down to the shops.

It’s arguably a lot safer to drive with proper footwear, as it prevents you from not being able to exert enough foot pressure at a sudden moment (a potential problem with squishy and unclosed thongs).

On top of this, if you do cause an accident that you’re at fault for, and your footwear is found to be a major contributing factor in your inability to react well enough, you may be at risk of being found liable.

Honking to greet or say goodbye

It’s unlikely that somebody will pull you up for a ticket if you honk your horn to get somebody’s attention on a small street, but did you know that it’s actually illegal to honk a car horn to greet or say goodbye to somebody?

Car horns are loud and distracting alert systems. In suburbia they can be a noise violation, and in a crowded situation they could potentially lead to an accident if another driver is distracted or assumes you’re honking at them.

Hands-free means hands free!

There’s also some confusion on exactly what constitutes a hands-free phone, but it’s actually very simple. If your hands touch the phone at any point – whether it’s to simply activate the bluetooth, change your song, answer the phone, switch it off, or for any other reason – you’ve broken the law, and if this happens in the leadup to a crash, you’ll be found responsible.

Indicating when not going straight ahead in a roundabout

One of the most confusing things for new drivers to learn are road rules to do with roundabouts, and if you’re never corrected on it, you can come away with some very funny ideas.

Did you know that 27.1% of people in Australia aren’t aware that you have to signal when coming off a roundabout in any direction other than directly forward? Just because it’s a circle doesn’t mean that there aren’t people behind and in front of you who are waiting for your cues so they know when it’s safe to enter the roundabout.

Keep both hands on the wheel

Another myth that has multiple competing ideas thrown around it is whether you have to keep your hands on the wheel at all times. This might be because rules about this are different the whole world over – some places don’t require it, and some places require the hands to be in completely different positions.

In all Australian states, however, hands must be at the 9 o’clock and 3 o’clock positions (that is, at the East and West-most points of the wheel), and you must always be holding the wheel outside of when the car is at a complete stop or when changing gears in a manual.

As a caveat to this, don’t turn your hands in awkward positions to keep them this way when turning. Simply place one hand across another in a shuffling position and return to the regular hand position after turning.

On top of this, failure to keep your hands secure can even damage yourself. Airbags are designed to accommodate certain positions; it’s why kids can’t ride in the front seat without a special accompaniment, since the optimal safety position for adults can actually harm them. To this end, you might actually hurt your wrists (or even break them) if you crash in such a way that the airbag is deployed.

Driver education is important

Many accidents on the road can be prevented, so it’s essential that education is accepted as an essential part of learning how to become a driver. Driving lessons with a fully qualified and professional driving instructor is the best way to gain firsthand, practical experience of the essential road rules, and how to follow them.