A 40-year-old Canberra man appeared before a magistrate recently. He was charged with drug driving and driving with a suspended licence, but police may not have found him had he not attracted their attention for driving past a traffic stop at more than 40 km/h.
ACT Policing has taken the opportunity to remind drivers of a law passed in 2018 requiring motorists to slow down to 40 km/h when passing emergency services vehicles displaying a blue or red flashing light.
Officers still find many people don’t know about this rule, despite the fact the penalty for failing to slow near emergency vehicles amounts to $257 and two demerit points.
This raises the question: what else are we doing that is actually illegal?
1. Putting your foot on the bus or tram seat
Fancy a spot of yoga on the bus? Think again. For gracing the seat with your dirty shoe while onboard public transport, it’s a $183 fine for an adult and $75 for a child. It’s the same for spitting and littering on public transport, and even more for offensive language and behaviour.
2. Using your phone to pay at a drive-through
Using a phone to access the internet while driving carries a hefty penalty of $598 and four demerit points. This technically carries through to using the likes of Apple Pay in the drive-through at McDonald’s. Police say you must have the vehicle out of gear and the parking brake activated before reaching for the phone.
3. Tooting the horn and waving to say goodbye
We’ve all done it … The family is rolling down the driveway but before they disappear into the sunset and you breathe a deep sigh of relief, the horn toots and windows drop to make way for the waving hands.
Technically, that would be $252 for using the horn unnecessarily and a further $205 for having body parts outside the vehicle. That’s one way to ensure you never host the family Christmas again.
4. Interrupting a funeral procession
We may not tip our hats or wear all-black anymore, but out of respect for the dead, funeral processions are to pass unhindered. Disrupting them by cutting in or making unnecessary noise will result in a $205 fine. This also goes for other processions involving either vehicles or people.
Flashing your high beams or honking your horn at a wedding procession could also land you a total fine of $457 for both using your horn unnecessarily and dazzling oncoming drivers.
Warning oncoming drivers about a speed trap or RBT by flashing the high beams is illegal for the same reason.
5. Touching the line in a parking bay
Making sure your car is straight in the parking bay isn’t just an OCD thing. For having parts of the vehicle protruding into surrounding car parks or using more than one park is a $125 fine.
6. Speeding up while being overtaken
Pride is easily wounded on the highway, but don’t be tempted to speed up if you’re being passed. It’s a $301 fine, and that’s assuming you didn’t exceed the speed limit. To add insult to injury, you could also cop $481 for racing another vehicle.
For the other driver, cutting in front too early costs $301.
7. Speeding on a mobility device or bicycle
Speeding, no matter the vehicle, is an offence, attracting a $154 fine in the case of a mobility scooter or bicycle. It’s the same for not having an adequate warning device such as a bell or horn, while not having working brakes on a bike will cost you $151 or a few teeth, whatever comes first.
8. Not walking against the flow of traffic
When walking along the road’s shoulder, it’s important to make sure you face the oncoming traffic to avoid a $145 fine. This also gives you more time to react if something goes awry on the road ahead.
9. Not giving way to horses
Horses were the only way of getting around for the longest time, and even today, it turns out they’re still classified as vehicles. Normal road rules apply.
10. Leaving the engine running
It might be tempting to let the car warm up before heading off to work in the morning, especially as winter sets in, but this is illegal on several fronts. It’s a $205 fine for leaving the key in the ignition, $205 for not restraining the car adequately, and $252 for making unnecessary noise.
Even in summer, police recommend you never leave any windows open.