by Luke Kinsella
YOU might consider yourself an expert behind the wheel, but that doesn't mean you know every rule in the book.
Part of the reason is there is no "book", at least not one book for all of Australia. The reason? In 1999, there was an attempt to establish a set of nationwide road rules. It failed miserably, leading the adoption of individual rules for every state.
We've gone through the rules and collected some of the weirder ones around.
THE 3M RULE
In some states, you can get a fine for not locking your door.
In NSW, drivers can be fined if they leave their car unlocked, but importantly there's a caveat. To be fined, you would have to move more than 3m away their vehicle. Drivers can also be fined for not securing their windows, and walking away. A window is considered "secure" if it is open by up to 2cm.
In Queensland and Victoria, the gap cannot be more than 5cm.
IT'S OK TO SPLASH MUD ON SOME PEDESTRIANS
In NSW, drivers cannot drive through puddles or splash water or mud on people waiting for a bus. However, all other pedestrians are fair game.
The law doesn't specify what constitutes "mud" either. At what point on the water-to-mud spectrum is splashing pedestrians not allowed? We need answers.
The law says nothing about splashing water. But although it's not illegal, it's extremely dangerous. Driving a wheel through a puddle of water can make the vehicle lose control.
SPEED LIMIT!? WHAT SPEED LIMIT?
In 2014, speed limits were removed on a 200km section of the Stuart Highway between Alice Springs and Barrow Creek. The entire Stuart Highway is 2834km long and runs from Darwin to Port Augusta in South Australia.
In July of 2014, hoons were caught filming themselves driving at 210km/h. According to the ABC, the highest speed recorded on the highway was 295km/h.
In 2016, open speed limits were controversially scrapped on the Stuart Highway.
WATCH FOR PLANES
A part of the Silver City Highway in NSW doubles as an emergency airstrip for the Royal Flying Doctor Service. The airstrip can be used all hours of the day, in all conditions.
"Previously the RFDS had to land on unsealed airstrips on isolated properties with property owners bearing the cost of maintaining the landing area," then Roads Minister Duncan Gay said at the airstrip's opening in 2015.
"This is a better solution that is safer and far more reliable."
In several states, drivers can be penalised for waving to someone outside the vehicle. According to Rule 268 of the NSW Road Rules, drivers can't have any part of their body outside their window.
And that goes for passengers as well.
However, they can do so if giving a hand signal. So if you can disguise your wave as a hand signal, you're in the clear.
GIVE WAY TO RESTIVE HORSES
You wouldn't be alone in not knowing what "restive" means, but in Queensland it could cost you.
Drivers in that state must give way to "restive" horses. Restive means the inability to remain still.
If the rider of the restive horse gives a signal, drivers must give way. Drivers must not move the vehicle until "there is no reasonable likelihood that the noise of the motor, or the movement of the vehicle, will aggravate the restiveness of the horse."
So, there you go.
BEWARE OF POST BOXES AND FIRE HYDRANTS
Drivers in several states cannot stop within 3m of a postbox. The "drive and drop" is absolutely out of the question.
In NSW, there are two exceptions. The first is if the driver is dropping off or picking up a passenger. The second is if the driver intends to briefly use the postbox. Drivers also can't stop within 1m of a fire hydrant.
DON'T FORGET TO WEAR A HELMET
OK, this one is obvious but it's controversial, too. In all states, you're not just advised to wear a bike helmet, you're legally obligated to.
Some say mandated helmet laws should be removed in order to encourage people to ride bikes. Others say bike helmets should be mandated for the sake of safety.
In all states, you must also have at least one hand on the handlebar. So whenever you see bikers going hands free, don't be impressed. They're breaking the law.