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Do you need to keep left even if there isn’t a road sign?

By 9News Staff

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A common misunderstanding about Australian roads is the rule about staying in the left lane when driving on a major road or motorway.While most drivers obey the rule, some believe it doesn’t apply unless there is a “keep left unless overtaking” sign visible.To clarify, according to road legislation, you are legally required to stay in the left lane regardless of whether there is signage indicating so.

This applies in all states and territories across Australia with slight variations depending on where you are. NSW road rules state that on any road with two lanes or more, and with a speed limit of 80km/h or above, the driver must keep left and allow reasonable space for overtaking. It is even a finable offence for a driver to speed up or block another car from overtaking or merging. Reasons you can move into the right lane include: if you are overtaking, if there is an obstruction in the left lane, if you intend to turn right and there are right turn markings in the lane, or if the left lane is heavily congested.

In Victoria, the same rule applies to any road with a speed limit of 80km/h or above, regardless of signage or lack thereof.

READ MORE: Motorists confused over pedestrian/driveway road rule

Exceptions are the same as NSW and include if you are overtaking, there are obstructions in the left lane, you are turning right, or traffic is heavily congested in the left lane and moving to the right will even out the traffic flow. In Queensland, the same rules apply for speed limits of 90km/h or above, even with single-lane roads where law says you must stay as close to the left side of the lane as reasonably possible, regardless of how many lanes there are. Reasons to venture into the right lane are the same as NSW and Victoria: if overtaking, if there is an obstruction on the road or if the left lane is heavily congested. In South Australia, if the speed limit on a multi-lane road is sign posted as 80km/h or above, a “keep left unless overtaking” sign is again not required. According to SA road rules, you must keep the right lane free at all times unless overtaking, if there is an obstruction, or the left lane is congested.

READ MORE: How Australia’s little known road rules are costing drivers millions

The same rules apply to Tasmania, the Northern Territory and the ACT. Any road with a speed limit greater than 80km/h means the driver must stay in the left lane regardless of signage. The reasons to move into the right lane are if you are overtaking, there is an obstruction in the left lane, you are turning right or there is congestion.

Do you know Australia’s weird and lesser-known road rules?

While Western Australia has the same reasons for venturing into the right lane as the other states and territories, their legislation varies slightly, instead of the rule applying to roads with an 80km/h speed limit, like in Queensland, the minimum is actually 90km/h for WA.

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