10 Driving Habits That Can Land You in Hot Water

Australian driving laws are meant to keep motorists safe on the road. Most motorists already know the importance of fastening their seat belts, staying within the designated speed limits, obeying stoplights, putting away smartphones, and avoiding intoxication. These standard actions can help prevent unfortunate accidents resulting in injury or death.

However, these are not the only rules of the open road in Australia. There are other less-known laws you should be aware of so you don’t end up in legal trouble. Some traffic laws and road safety rules vary between states, but most are similar enough to understand and remember as you travel from one state to another.

Unfortunately, many motorists are unaware of these obscure laws until they unintentionally break them by practicing bad driving habits. That is why you should learn about them now, so you can change your driving habits before it’s too late.

Let’s examine the top 10 driving habits that can land you in hot water with the law.

1) Discarding Fruit Matter

Australians love eating bananas and apples, but some have a habit of throwing their leftover banana peels and apple cores out the side door windows of their vehicles. The upside is that these items are organic fruit matter, so they are biodegradable in the environment. The downside is that it’s still considered littering in the eyes of the law.

Some Australian states will fine you for littering on the roads because they can increase the chances of an accident. For instance, Queensland will impose a fine of $575 if you drop any “injurious matter” on any streets or roads in the state. You’ll also receive two demerit points against your record.

2) Barefoot Driving

Do you have a habit of driving without wearing any shoes? Although there are no official laws banning barefoot driving, you are still under obligation to take the proper safety precautions when operating your motor vehicle.

Pressing on the accelerator and brake pedals is more challenging when you drive barefoot because you don’t have as much width underneath your feet to assist you. So if you end up in a traffic accident while driving barefoot, the police and insurance companies may put most of the liability on you. Keep that in mind.

3) Leaving Your Keys in the Vehicle

Leaving your keys in a vehicle unattended is never recommended because someone could quickly drive off with your car and keys. But some Australians find it more convenient to leave their keys in the ignition with the car running if they make a quick stop somewhere, like at a coffee shop, grocery store, or take-out restaurant.

Besides the risk of theft, some states have laws against leaving keys in an unattended vehicle. New South Wales is an excellent example because they can fine you for leaving your engine running unattended, not securing your unattended vehicle, and not taking your keys out of an unattended vehicle.

4) Preventing Another Driver from Overtaking You

There is an all too familiar practice on the road where a motorist will speed up when another motorist tries to overtake them. This is illegal in most states because overtaken motorists must manage their speed safely while allowing the other motorist to pass.

States will impose hefty fines if you get caught speeding while being overtaken. For instance, Victoria could impose a fine of nearly $1,850 and penalize you with ten penalty units against your record. New South Wales will charge a $349 fine and punish you with three demerit points.

5) Using Mobile Phones at Drive-Throughs

Australian states have strict laws governing the use of mobile phones while inside a running vehicle. So whether you’re actively driving on the road or waiting in line at a drive-through restaurant, you aren’t allowed to use a mobile phone while behind the wheel with the engine running.

However, you can use your mobile phone behind the wheel if your engine is turned off and the handbrake is lifted up. Failure to comply with this rule could mean paying a hefty fine. The amount of the fine differs between states.

6) Turning On the Interior Lighting

There is no law against turning on your vehicle’s interior lighting while driving. But it would be wise to avoid doing this because the glare from the lighting will make it more difficult to see out the window.

Just wait until you can pull over and stop before turning on the interior lighting. That would be the safest thing to do.

7) Ignoring Horses

It is common for Australian motorists to encounter horseback riders on the road. The problem is that motorists don’t always like to give way to horseback riders, especially if the horse doesn’t move out of the way fast enough.

Don’t become one of these motorists because you could get fined if you do. The law states that motorists must give way to all horseback riders on the road. And if the rider points their finger at their horse, you must shut off your vehicle’s engine and remain idle until the horse moves a safe distance away from you. This requirement is implemented to prevent the horse from being startled by your car.

8) Eating Behind the Wheel

There are no laws against eating and driving simultaneously. Just be careful if you choose to do this because you could be fully liable if you get into an accident while eating and driving.

9) Unseated Pets

Driving with pets is similar to driving with children because you need to keep them restrained in their seats. You are not allowed to let your pets roam around the interior cabin and sit on your lap while you’re driving.

The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act requires strict fines and penalties for motorists involved in traffic accidents resulting in their unrestrained pets getting injured. Not only could you be fined as much as $35,340, but you could even face up to 12 months in jail.

10) Honking Unnecessarily

Car horns exist for a reason. You’re supposed to use horns to warn other motorists, pedestrians, and animals on the road when you’re about to approach them in your vehicle. The law encourages motorists to honk as a safety warning to people and animals.

On the other hand, motorists are not allowed to honk aggressively or unnecessarily. For instance, you cannot honk to get a family member’s attention or someone who cuts you off on the road. If caught honking unnecessarily, you could face a fine as high as $3,200, depending on the state.