If you’ve ever been behind a bus and wondered what that sign with the green bus, a green arrow and a red car means, you’re not alone.
- Buses have right of way when leaving the kerb
- Don’t expect a bus to see you if you can’t see its mirrors
- Fines and demerits may apply
It’s not to say that bus drivers have right of way in all situations, but there are specific notated situations that require other road users to give way to buses. Most of the different iterations of the law refer back to Australian Road Rule 77, Giving Way to Buses:
“A driver driving on a length of road in a built-up area, in the left lane or left line of traffic, must give way to a bus in front of the driver if:
- (a) the bus has stopped, or is moving slowly, at the far left side of the road, on a shoulder of the road, or in a bus-stop bay, and
- (b) the bus displays a give way to buses sign and the right direction indicator lights of the bus are operating, and
- (c) the bus is about to enter or proceed in the lane or line of traffic in which the driver is driving.”
According to NSW Transport: “Other vehicle drivers should give way to a bus displaying the give way sign in a built up area, when the bus is about to enter or proceed in the lane or line of traffic, and the bus is in front of the driver.”
In NSW the penalty is pretty steep if you’re found to fail to give way to a bus, at up to $349 and three demerits.
It’s similar in Queensland: “When you are driving in a built-up area and the speed limit is 70km/h or less, you must give way to a bus that displays a give way to buses sign on its back right-hand side, and is signalling to enter traffic from:
- a bus zone, bus stop or bus stop bay
- the shoulder of the road, or the left side of the road
Likewise in QLD you could cop a three demerit point, $258 penalty for “failing to give way to a bus leaving a bus-stop on a road in a built-up area with a signposted speed limit not more than 70 km/h”.
The Northern Territory’s roads rulebook states, similarly to the above, that drivers “must give way to buses in all of the following situations:
- in speed zones of 70 kilometres per hour or below
- if the bus displays a give way to buses sign
- if the indicator lights of the bus are operating
- if the bus is about to enter or proceed in the lane or line of traffic
However, the NT’s Traffic Regulations don’t state any applicable penalty for failing to give way to a bus.
The ACT has an applicable law for failing to give way to a bus, which states “driver in left lane/traffic line/bicycle lane not give way to bus”. It could cost you three demerits and $307 if you’re caught.
Further, a nice reminder from Tasmania, that “the speed limit is 40 km/h when you are within 50 metres of a bus that is displaying a School bus warning sign and school bus warning lights.”
Victoria, the land of the tram, doesn’t have a specific law around giving way to buses, and nor does South Australia. But the latter has an umbrella “fail to give way when changing lanes” rule, which could see you hit with three points and a $388 fine.
Western Australia doesn’t have a bus rule that we could find, but has a couple of potentially applicable offences for giving way: failing to give way when merging – $100 fine, two demerits; failing to give way when changing lanes – $100 fine, three demerits.
Fun fact – did you know what in most jurisdictions, bus drivers have to indicate for five (5) seconds before pulling out from a stationary position at the side of the road?
Indeed, QLD’s Transport page states that “buses, like all other vehicles” must indicate for five secs. I bet you didn’t have your blinker on and count out your Mississippis last time you left the kerb!
Not intended as legal advice. Check with the relevant roads authority in your state or territory.