Unfortunately, this is one of Western’s
Prepared by Ted Leech LLB (Hons.), B. Comm
Telephone: 9293 8170
23 August 2004
(1) In this regulation —
"marked lane" does not include —
(a) a lane set aside exclusively for vehicles making a left or right turn;
(b) a special purpose lane; or
(c) any other lane that is not for the use of general traffic on the carriageway;
"right lane" , in relation to 2 or more marked lanes that are available exclusively for vehicles travelling in the same direction, means the marked lane that is further or furthest to the right side of the carriageway.
(2) This regulation applies to a driver driving on a carriageway that has 2 or more marked lanes available exclusively for vehicles travelling in the same direction where —
(a) the speed limit is 90 km/h or more; or
(b) a "keep left unless overtaking" sign applies to that part of the carriageway,
(3) A driver shall not drive the vehicle in the right lane unless —
(a) the driver is turning right, or making a U turn from the centre of the road, and is giving a right turn signal;
(b) the driver is overtaking;
(c) a "left lane must turn left" sign or left traffic arrows apply to any other lane, and the driver is not turning left,
(d) the driver is required to drive in the right lane under regulation 137;
(e) the driver is avoiding an obstruction; or
(f) the traffic in each other lane travelling in the same direction is congested.
Points: 2 Modified penalty: 1 PU
(4) A "keep left unless overtaking" sign applies to a length of carriageway beginning at the sign and ending at the nearest of the following:
(a) an "end keep left unless overtaking" sign;
(b) a road sign or road marking that indicates the carriageway is no longer a multi-lane carriageway;
(c) if the carriageway ends at a T-intersection or dead end — the end of the carriageway.
(5) The Director General, by notice published in the Gazette —
(a) may declare that this regulation does not apply to the driving of a vehicle on a carriageway described in the notice; and
(b) may vary or revoke a previous notice under this subregulation.
The following passage setting out the history of the
regulation is taken verbatim from
“If I recall correctly, sometime prior to 1997 there was no restriction on which lane a driver could drive in at any speed. This was patently annoying when drivers would stay in the right hand lane at relatively slow speeds where the speed limit was, say 100 km/hr.
There was then a debate in
The issues here are quintessentially practical. In an area where the speed limit is 50, 60 or 70 km/hr, the roads are generally in residential or built up areas with limited visibility to the left of the road and there are generally houses on the left, trees and signs at the edge of the road obstructing vision of a footpath and events just off the road such as children playing, and abutting driveways. To my way of thinking, in such areas, it makes sense to travel in the right hand lane most of the time (depending on local considerations) so that the driver has maximum vision of events to the left of the carriageway and hence maximum time to react to any hazard.
However, where the speed limit is 80 km/hr or greater, there are usually no or very few houses or driveways to the left of the carriageway and so traffic should generally travel in the left hand lane allowing faster traffic to overtake in the right hand lane.
In 2000 after the reign of Mr Falconer was over and possibly because of Australian road traffic regulations uniformity, the rule was changed so that drivers only had to keep left where the speed limit was 90 km/hr or greater. I think that 80 km/hr is the better rule but the argument is only one of degree and I do not intend to cavil with the 90 km/hr rule. That is the way the law stands at present and is set out above.”
In the appendix to Commentary Paper No. 2, I touched on my frustration at the level of ignorance concerning the rule restricting the use of the right hand lane. There appears to be no effort made by the police to enforce the rule and it may be unfair to do so since ‘Drive Safe’, the Bible for learner drivers, does not even mention it.
The situation is exacerbated by the continued existence of the advisory signs erected by the RAC, Lions or other groups years ago when keeping left was a matter of courtesy and not a matter of law. These signs should have been removed when restrictions on the use of the right hand lane became law. Their continued exposure suggests to motorists that keeping left is not legally compulsory.
I note in passing that a large proportion of vehicles displaying ‘P’ plates are offenders against this law which firms my suspicion that the rule is not considered worthy of teaching to learner drivers.
The speed limit at that location is 80 km/hr and therefore, absent the signs, there would be no restrictions on the use of the right hand lane. The signs invoke the rule.
About 500 metres past the signs is an intersection with
Similarly, drivers turning right into
But the situation that really stretches the limits of
absurdity occurs on the West bound carriageway of
These signs comply with the Road Traffic Code and create
restrictions on the use of the right hand lane. I would add that these signs and the signs
previously mentioned are very sensibly placed in that the rule ought to be
applied at least as far as
However, just to the east of these signs is the intersection
113 (4) provides that the signs apply to a length of carriageway beginning
at the sign and ending when any one of three events occurs. The first is an ‘end keep left unless
overtaking sign’. There is no sign like
this erected on
None of the three terminating events occurs until the road ceases to be a multi-laned carriageway more than 20 kilometres away on the other side of the Northbridge Tunnel where the carriageway narrows to one lane to feed into the North bound carriageway of the Mitchell Freeway. The restrictive rule therefore applies to this entire stretch but the only signs informing motorists of the fact are the ones erected in Lesmurdie.
It is disconcerting to realise that, until anyone reads this paper, I am probably the only person in the world who knows there is a restriction on the use of the right hand lane through the Northbridge Tunnel in the westbound carriageway pursuant to Regulation 113 (4) of the Road Traffic Code.
This situation has existed since the later of: (1) the
erection of the signs; or (2) the re-configuration of the
The rule restricting the use of the right hand lane is a
good rule. It is sensible, reasonable
and calculated to facilitate the free flow of traffic and minimisation of
frustration caused by obstructive vehicles.
However, the Department for Planning and Infrastructure have seen fit
not to bother including the rule in the only publications available to learner
drivers. The police apparently have not
seen fit to enforce the rule and the Department for Main Roads has erected
sensible signs in sensible places but entirely failed to ensure that motorists
joining the carriageway after the signs know of the rule. The situation of one two signs at Lesmurdie
governing 20 kilometres of arterial road through metropolitan
This paper was compiled using information from any or all of the following sources and no others (unless explicitly stated);
The Road Traffic Code
2000 and amendments current until
The Road Traffic Code
1975 reprinted as at
“Drive Safe: A
“How to Pass Your Driving Assessment: A Candidate’s Guide to the Practical Driving
Assessment” Transport, published by The Road Safety Council of Western