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Commonly misunderstood road signs and signals

There are some road signs we all recognise, such as “Stop”, “Give Way” or “Animal Crossing”, however there are a few signs which are sometimes misunderstood.

In the interest of road safety and clarity, we’ve collated five of these for you below. Read on to find out which road signs are most misunderstood and what they really mean.

1. Form one lane

Forming one lane is a point of controversy for many drivers. Road rules dictate that when lanes are reduced to form one, the vehicle which is travelling ahead is the one with the right of way to go first. So if you see a car with its nose ahead of yours, you should let it zip in front of you. Keep in mind though, if the lane ends and you have to merge across lane lines, then this is considered the same as changing lanes and you'll need to give way.

2. U-turn signs

Where a U-turn is permitted and where it is not is commonly mixed up by drivers. Except in Victoria, road rules indicate that you may not make a U-turn at traffic lights unless there is a sign stating “U-turn permitted”. You also cannot perform a U-turn over a continuous driving line unless there is a broken dividing line present on the left of it.

3. Pedestrian crossings

Pedestrian crossings require vehicles to stop before them if they see a person about to cross or crossing. It’s also necessary to give way to pedestrians crossing the road if you are turning left or right – this applies to intersections both with or without traffic lights. If you’re a pedestrian, ensure you don’t cross if you have a red light, and always check for cars before stepping onto the road to cross.

4. Traffic lights

We all know that red signals stop and green go, however yellow can seem a little ambiguous. If the lights turn yellow, it means you need to stop. However you should not stop suddenly if you feel you may cause an accident with the vehicle travelling behind you. Always allow yourself enough time and distance to safely stop if you need to.

5. Hook turns

Not used commonly in states other than Victoria and South Australia, the hook turn involves turning right from the leftmost lane. This is used to allow a clear way for trams to pass, and allows drivers to turn without having to wait for a lengthy time. In Melbourne in particular, drivers are not allowed to drive on tram lanes, therefore a right-turn lane is created to the left of these.

The NSW government released a list of 10 road rules that are also commonly misunderstood. You can find out more on this here.

It’s easy to become complacent when it comes to road signs. Most of us drive everyday and come across similar scenarios, roadways, and signage. If you’ve been driving for many years, or even if you are new to the roads, it’s important to make sure you understand road signs which you might not come across so commonly. Keep your knowledge fresh, and you’ll be ready for just about anything on the roads.

Road signs are in place to keep us safe and aware on the roads, if you’re not sure about what one might mean always favour the side of caution. And of course before you hit the roads, make sure you have a solid Car Insurance policy in place in case something goes wrong. For more information about Car Insurance, contact us today at CGU on 13 24 81