Need a little refresher? Here are some rules of the road that are often misunderstood.

There’s a lot to remember when you first learn to drive and a lot to keep in mind as the years roll on. Some rules are crystal clear, some are more complex, and others just fade over time.

Here are six road rules drivers are often confused by or have simply forgotten how to apply.

Driving into a blocked intersection

Drivers sometimes break this rule during heavy congestion to avoid getting stuck at a set of traffic lights for too long.

But if the intersection or the road ahead that you’re trying to enter is blocked, you should not enter or attempt to cross until it’s clear. You need to wait until it’s completely clear of traffic or other blockages, even where there are no hatched yellow markings across the intersection (regulation 111 of the Road Traffic Code 2000 WA).

If the blockage doesn’t clear in time, you risk being trapped in the path of oncoming traffic.

In addition to being a collision risk, queuing across a blocked intersection can worsen congestion and delays.

Always wait until it’s safe and clear to go, rather than edging forward and anticipating traffic will move in time.

Motorists queuing at lights or intersections should also ensure they do not stop their car so that it blocks a side street (regulation 143) unless it’s to comply with another regulation, avoid a collision or it’s an emergency.

Cars blocked at an intersection

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Turning right at traffic lights with no arrow

At traffic lights, where there’s no dedicated right-turn arrow, drivers must make several decisions, including whether to enter the intersection and whether there’s a suitable gap to enable a safe turn.

According to regulations 44 and 45, when the green light facing you is lit and there are no signs or signals stating that turning right is prohibited, you are allowed to enter the intersection and turn right. But as with the rule above, you should not enter the intersection if it is blocked with traffic.

Once you’re in the intersection, before you make your turn, you need to give way to oncoming traffic travelling straight or turning left (except if they’re turning left at a slip lane), and only cross when there’s a safe gap in the traffic. You must also give way to any pedestrian crossing the road you’re entering.

If you’ve stopped having fully entered the intersection and the light changes to yellow or red, you must leave the intersection as soon as you can do so safely. This means you don’t need to rush across in front of traffic to make your turn before the light changes to red - wait until it’s safe to complete your turn, even if this means you need to finish crossing on a red signal.

Keeping left

The ‘keep left’ rule is one that often confuses drivers, so here’s the definitive answer according to the Code, regulation 113.

On multi-lane roads, where there’s more than one lane for vehicles travelling in the same direction, if the speed limit is under 90km/h you only have to keep left where there is a sign saying, ‘keep left unless overtaking’, otherwise you can drive in any lane.

On multi-lane roads where the speed limit is 90km/h or more, you do need to keep left, including on freeways.

There are, however, some exceptions.

If the limit is 90km/h or more and/or there is a ‘keep left unless overtaking sign’, you don’t have to keep left if:

  • you’re turning right or making a U-turn;
  • you’re overtaking;
  • the left lane is a special purpose lane, e.g. bus lane, slow vehicle turnout lane;
  • the left lane is a turning lane and you’re not turning left;
  • you’re avoiding an obstruction;
  • you’re required to drive in a particular lane by appropriate signage (i.e. particular kinds of vehicles such as trucks);
  • the other lanes going in the same direction are congested with traffic.
Keep left road sign on the side of a straight road

Crossing white dividing lines

According to regulation 116, where there’s a single solid line, a single solid line on the left of a broken line, or two solid lines together, you must stay on the left of the line.

There are exceptions such as when making a right turn or a U-turn (where permitted), when keeping a safe distance to pass a bicycle or eRideable (regulation 124A) and when you need to avoid an obstruction (regulation 120). Where there’s a single broken line or a broken line to the left of a single solid line, you may cross the dividing lines to overtake another vehicle, provided the right side of the road is clear of traffic and it’s safe to do so.

Red and green car crossing dividing lines on the road


This rule can be tricky to remember as it varies depending on whether there are traffic lights or not and how many lanes there are in each direction. But here’s what you need to know, according to regulation 31 of the Code.

At an intersection with traffic lights, you can only make a U-turn where it’s indicated that U-turns are permitted.

At an intersection without traffic lights, you can make a U-turn unless it’s indicated that U-turns are not permitted.

On roads with only one lane in each direction, you can make a U-turn unless it’s indicated that it’s not permitted.

On a road with two or more lanes in one direction, you are allowed to make a U-turn unless it’s indicated that it’s not permitted, but you must turn from the lane closest to the centre of the road.

When it comes to U-turns generally, regulation 32 says that before you start, you must wait until you have a clear view of any approaching traffic and can do it safely, without interfering with the passage of other traffic. You must also give way to all pedestrians and vehicles.

Parking across a footpath

Whether it’s a shared path, bicycle path, a separated footpath or just a footpath, regulation 166 says that drivers may not stop on a path or obstruct access to or from a path. The only exceptions are if you’re dropping off or picking up passengers, or when you have stopped in a parking bay where permitted. The same goes for someone’s driveway or other access way at the point where the path forms part of the driveway or other access way.

Car crossing over a footpath

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Last updated: December 2021