Road Rules & Penalties

Western Australian road rules are contained within the WA Road Traffic Code 2000 which can be viewed on the State Law Publisher website.

The Drive Safe guide aimed at learner drivers, but available to any driver in WA, provides a good overview of the key road rules and their penalties.   

The road rules largely mirror the Australian Road Rules (ARRs), which were approved by all state and territory Transport Ministers in 1999. An electronic copy of the most up to date Australian Road Rules is available on the National Transport Commission website.
 
From time to time amendments to the Road Traffic Code 2000 are made.  These can reflect amendments to the model ARRs that have been agreed nationally or amendments that are specific to WA needs.
 
Legislation governing drink and drug driving, licensing offences, hoons and serious offences such as dangerous and reckless driving are contained within the WA Road Traffic Act 1974.

Roundabouts

Read our Road Craft Information Sheet to find out the correct way to indicate at roundabouts.

What to do at roundabouts - Road Craft Information Sheet PDF (1 page 251 KB)  

Are you a little unclear on how you should enter and exit a roundabout safely? This short video should help straighten things out.

Read transcript


Intersections

Around half of serious crashes in the metropolitan area occur at intersections.  Refresh your knowledge of intersection navigation by reading these useful documents.

Intersections and making turns - Road Craft Information Sheet PDF (2 page 202 KB)  
Railway crossings - Street Smarts PDF (1 page 159 KB) HTML

Pedestrians

A guide to pedestrian safety - Road Craft Information Sheet PDF (1 page 214 KB)  

Following Distances

On 1 April, 2014 Western Australia Police will begin enforcing amendments to the Road Traffic Code 2000 relating to keeping a minimum distance between long vehicles, and placement of portable warning triangles for disabled heavy vehicles. For more information, click here.

Keeping a safe distance behind other vehicles - Road Craft Information Sheet PDF (1 page 216 KB)  

Driving in Different Conditions

You may need to adjust your driving methods to suit the time of day, weather or environment.

Dealing with emergency vehicles in traffic - Information Sheet PDF (1 page 292 KB)  
Driving emergencies - Dealing with the unexpected - Road Craft Information Sheet PDF (2 page 213 KB)  
Driving in adverse conditions - Road Craft Information Sheet PDF (2 page 191 KB)  
Freeway driving - Road Craft Information Sheet PDF (2 page 207 KB)  
Daytime running lights - Street Smarts PDF (1 page 126 KB) HTML
Driving in wet or hazardous conditions - Street Smarts PDF (1 page 127 KB) HTML
Using fog lights - Street Smarts PDF (1 page 124 KB) HTML

Keeping Left

Roads without marked lanes - Street Smarts PDF (1 page 123 KB)  
Roads with two or more lanes - Street Smarts PDF (1 page 124 KB)  

Other Safe Behaviours

Children, Animals & Horse Riding

Driving with people or animals on your lap - Street Smarts PDF (1 page 124 KB) HTML
Carrying animals on motorcycles - Street Smarts PDF (1 page 124 KB) HTML
Carrying children on motorcycles - Street Smarts PDF (1 page 124 KB) HTML
Horse riding - Road Rules Relating to Horses and Riding PDF (2 page 345 KB)  

Fatigue

Planning a long road journey? Driving when you are tired has been linked to many deaths and injuries on the road. Find out about other fatigue danger signs, causes of fatigue and tips on how to avoid driving tired.

Don't drive tired - Road Craft Information Sheet PDF (2 page 196 KB)  
Driving while tired - Planning a long journey - Street Smarts PDF (1 page 126 KB) HTML

Merging

Merging traffic - Street Smarts PDF (1 page 122 KB) HTML

This short video explains how to merge properly on WA roads.

Read transcript

Overtaking

How to overtake - Road Craft Information Sheet PDF (3 page 295 KB)  
Overtaking - Street Smarts PDF (1 page 127 KB) HTML

Pilot Vehicles

Pilot vehicles - Street Smarts PDF (1 page 127 KB) HTML

Towing Safely & Securing Loads

Towing safely - Road Craft Information Sheet PDF (2 page 226 KB)  
Securing of loads - Street Smarts PDF (1 page 129 KB) HTML

Motorcyclists

Most rules applying to motor vehicle drivers also apply to motorcyclists.  There are, however, a few rules that specific for motorcyclists. Some of these are provided below.

Passengers on 2-Wheeled Motorcycles

The rider of a motorcycle shall not ride on a road with a passenger who has not attained 8 years of age.

In this regulation, a motorcycle does not include a:

  • 2-wheeled motor vehicle with a sidecar attached to it that is supported by a third wheel

  • motor vehicle with 3 wheels that is ridden in the same way as a motor vehicle with 2 wheels.

Penalty: $100 infringement

Animals on Motorcycles

The rider of a motorcycle shall not ride with an animal on the part of the motorcycle between the rider and the handlebars.

This does not apply to a person who rides with an animal on a motorcycle for a distance of not more than 500 metres on a road for the purposes of a farming activity that the person is carrying out, provided it is safe to do so.

Penalty: 1 demerit point and $100 infringement

Carrying animals on motorcycles - Street Smarts PDF (1 page 124 KB) HTML
Carrying children on motorcycles - Street Smarts PDF (1 page 124 KB) HTML

Cyclists

Most rules applying to motor vehicle drivers/riders also apply to cyclists riding on a road.  There are, however, a few rules that only apply to cyclists. 

Cyclists:

  • must have at least one hand on the handlebars while in motion.

  • must wear an approved helmet while in motion (unless exempted).

  • must not ride within two metres of the rear of a motor vehicle, over a distance of more than 200 metres.

  • must not hold onto another moving vehicle or be towed by it.

  • must not be more than two bicycles abreast on a road.  When riding abreast, the two bicycles must be no more than 1.5 metres apart.

  • must use the correct hand signals to turn left or right and to stop.

  • can use the left lane of a roundabout when turning right, provided they give way to all exiting traffic.

  • must not ride in a pedestrian mall.

  • cannot overtake on the left side of a motor vehicle if that motor vehicle is moving and indicating to turn left.

  • must be equipped with a front light that is either a flashing or steady white light that is clearly visible for at least 200 metres in front of a vehicle, if riding at night or in a condition of reduced visibility.

Children under 12 may ride on any footpath unless a "No Bicycles" sign has been erected.  Riders 12 years of age and over are not permitted to ride on a footpath.  They may, however, ride on shared paths.

The following guidelines facilitate the sharing of footpaths and shared paths:

  • Riders must keep left on shared paths and footpaths unless overtaking.

  • Riders must give way to pedestrians at all times.

  • At path intersections you must signal your intention to turn, and give way to motor vehicles entering or exiting an intersecting road.

  • Riders must only travel in single file on all paths, though they can travel two abreast on a road.

  • Animals must not be tied to a moving bike.

  • Slow down when passing pedestrians — remember they are slower and can be unpredictable.

  • When approaching pedestrians from behind, always ring your bell about 30 metres before reaching them.  If they are aware of your presence with plenty of time to spare, they are less likely to make sudden sideways movements.

  • Be particularly careful where a shared path crosses a busy road.


Double Demerits

Below are the dates for double demerits for 2014:

2013/14 Christmas and New Year
Friday 20 December 2013 to Sunday 5 January 2014 inclusive

Australia Day
Friday 24 January to Monday 27 January 2014 inclusive

Labour Day
Friday 28 February to Monday 3 March 2014 inclusive

Easter
Thursday 17 April to Monday 21 April 2014 inclusive

Anzac Day
Thursday 24 April to Sunday 27 April 2014 inclusive

Western Australia Day
Friday 30 May to Monday 2 June 2014 inclusive

Queen’s Birthday
Friday 26 September to Monday 29 September 2014 inclusive

2014/15 Christmas and New Year
Friday 19 December 2014 to Sunday 4 January 2015 inclusive

The aim of the initiative is to encourage safe driving on long weekends and public holidays.  The campaigns target all drivers in Western Australia.  Press and radio advertising are used to raise community awareness of double demerits periods.

Background

Double demerit points began at Easter in 2002 for long weekends and holiday periods and have proven a remarkable success.

The accrual of double demerit points applies to drink and drug driving, not wearing seat belts and speeding. Fines remain the same during double demerit periods.

Four independent evaluations of the initiative - commissioned by the Road Safety Council - have shown that there were fewer road crashes when double demerit points were in place.

The major findings of the most recent (2009) evaluation show that, when compared to the 2001 pre-trial results, the double demerit legislation remains effective in its core objective – reducing the number of crashes during defined double demerit periods, compared with non-double demerit times. Specifically:

  • The daily average number of reported crashes (total and injury crashes) has been consistently lower during double demerit than non-double demerit periods.

  • During double demerits periods, the daily average number of total reported crashes was 3% lower in 2008 than in 2001 (3 less reported crashes per day).  This compares to a 6% increase in reported crashes during non-double demerits periods over the same period (6 more crashes per day).

  • The daily average number of reported fatal crashes during double demerits periods increased between 2001 and 2008 (17%), although this is lower than the 27% increase in reported fatal crashes during non-double demerits periods over the same time-frame.


  • The daily average number of reported injury crashes during double demerits periods decreased by 19% between 2001 and 2008 (4 less injury crashes per day).  This is an improvement on the 12% decrease in reported injury crashes during non-double demerits periods over the same period (3 less injury crashes per day).

  • The daily average number of reported crashes where speed was a factor during double demerits periods decreased by 17% between 2001 and 2008 (1 less crash per day).  This compares to a similar result for non-double demerits periods – a 15% decrease in reported crashes where speed was a factor (less than 1 less crash per day) over the same period.

  • The daily average number of reported fatal crashes where alcohol was a factor during double demerits periods increased by 13% between 2001 and 2008, although this is lower than the 33% increase in reported fatal crashes where alcohol was a factor during non-double demerits periods over the same time-frame.

  • The daily average number of reported fatal crashes where an occupant was not wearing a restraint during double demerits periods increased by 19% between 2001 and 2008.  This compares to a similar result of a 17% increase in reported fatal crashes where an occupant was not wearing a restraint during non-double demerits periods over the same period.

However, some indicators suggest that while legislation has been effective over the long term, it has been slightly less effective between 2005 and 2008.

New Laws

A summary of the new penalties is set out below:

Double Demerits will now also apply to:

  • Running a red light

  • Illegally using a mobile phone while driving

This means during holiday periods and long weekends, the following offences are subject to Double Demerits:

  • Drink or drug driving

  • Speeding

  • Failing to wear a seat belt and child restraint

  • Running a red light

  • Illegal use of a mobile phone while driving

New laws start from the 2014 Easter long weekend.

Research

Double Demerits Evaluation Report 2009 PDF (53 page 526 KB)  
Double Demerits Evaluation Report 2007 PDF (53 page 1.31 MB)  
Double Demerits Evaluation Report 2004 PDF (69 page 577 KB)  

Penalties

While it is up to every driver and motorcyclist to obey the road rules at all times, penalties do act as a deterrent for those who break them occasionally.

Almost all traffic offences attract demerit points. Once you have accumulated 12 demerit points within a three-year period you automatically lose your licence for three months (please note that novice drivers are restricted to 4 or 8 demerit points, depending on their status).

You may also lose your licence without incurring demerit points. For example, if you:

  • are convicted of a drink driving offence

  • offend repeatedly

  • have a provisional licence and are convicted of certain traffic offences.

Traffic penalties in Western Australia are reviewed regularly. There are a number of principles and factors on which penalties are based, including:

  • the risk of crashes occurring when road users break particular laws

  • the potential harm caused by those actions

  • the potential effectiveness of various forms of penalties

  • the ability of people to pay fines and their impact on families, many members of which rely on cars to work, attend school and the like.

FACT: The penalties that are in place are not based on the amount of revenue that can be raised.

Full details of traffic offences and penalties are contained in the Road Traffic Code 2000

Penalties for some common road rules are also available in the appendices of the Drive Safe guide Note that one Penalty Unit (PU) is equivalent to a $50 fine.

Details of Court-related traffic offences such as drink and drug driving, hoons, licensing breaches and serious offences such as dangerous and reckless driving are contained within the primary statute, the Road Traffic Act 1974.
 

Speeding Penalties

This information is a guide only and should not be relied on for legal purposes.

Full details of traffic offences and penalties are contained in the Road Traffic Code 2000.

km/h over the speed limit Fine* Demerits**
Not more than 9 km/h $100 0
More than 9km/h but not more than 19 km/h $200 2
More than 19 km/h but not more than 29 km/h $400 3
More than 29 km/h but not more than 40 km/h $800 5
More than 40 km/h $1,000 7

 

Speeding by heavy vehicles    
(Vehicles with a Gross Combination Mass of 22.5 tonnes or more)
km/h over the speed limit Fine* Demerits**
Not more than 9 km/h $250 0
More than 9km/h but not more than 19 km/h $300 2
More than 19 km/h but not more than 29 km/h $500 3
More than 29 km/h but not more than 40 km/h $850 5
More than 40 km/h $1,000 7

Police can impound the vehicles of drivers who exceed the speed limit by more than 45 km/h.

*Fines for speeding increased on 26 September 2014.
**Demerit points are doubled on long weekends and other prescribed holiday periods.

Non-Use of Restraints Penalties

This information is a guide only and should not be relied on for legal purposes.

Full details of traffic offences and penalties are contained in the Road Traffic Code 2000.

Offence Fine Demerits*
Unrestrained Driver $550 4
with 1 unrestrained passenger $600 4
with 2 unrestrained passengers $700 4
with 3 unrestrained passengers $800 4
with 4 or more unrestrained passengers $900 4
Restrained Driver    
with 1 unrestrained passenger $550 4
with 2 unrestrained passengers $600 4
with 3 unrestrained passengers $700 4
with 4 or more unrestrained passengers $800 4
Other    
Unrestrained passenger over the age of 16 $550 0
Driver not ensuring child under 7 years is suitably restrained** $550 4
Driver allowing passenger in open utes, etc. $550 4
Passenger riding in open utes, etc. $550 0

*Demerit points are doubled on long weekends and other prescribed holiday periods.
**Penalties for failing to restrain children properly changed on 1 October 2010 and penalties increased on 26 September 2014.

Drink Driving Penalties

The drink driving penalties are outlined on the WA Police website.

Detailed information on the recent changes to drink and drug driving penalties can be found in the below document.

Amendments to Drink and Drug Driving Penalties Question and Answer document PDF (17 page 4.3 MB)  

The legal information related to these penalties is contained within the Road Traffic Act 1974

Mobile Phone Use Penalties

It is illegal to use a hand-held mobile phone while driving. Penalty is a $400 fine and 3 demerit points.

It is illegal to drive a motor vehicle which has a television receiver or visual display unit operating if any part of the image on the screen is visible to the driver from the normal driving position. Penalty is a $300 fine and 3 demerit points.

While the law provides for the making and receiving of phone calls, under the new laws that came into effect on 1 March 2011 there are some provisions that must be adhered to. For more information on the changes to the laws, please see the frequently asked questions below.

Frequently Asked Questions - Changes to the Laws Relating to the Use of Mobile Phones and Display Units While Driving in Western Australia PDF (5 page 1.9 MB)  

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Published: 30/10/2014 10:07:58 AM