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Outdated fines in modern times

17 March 2022

Outdated fines in modern times

There are lots of surprising and outdated traffic rules around the country. How many of these do you already know about?

The phrase “Road Rules” generally makes us think of things like speed limits, giving way and stop signs. However, here in Australia, along with the standard driving procedures, we also have quite a few strange outdated road rules. Many Australian laws have their origins in colonial times and have been slowly updated over the years. Often these rules are hilarious, and many are technically still valid! But it’s highly unlikely you’ll get pinged for any of these.

How many of these outdated road rules were you aware of?

1. If a urinal is not readily available, it is legal to urinate on the rear left tyre of your vehicle. 

If you’re busting, there’s an old law that supposedly allows you to pull over and take a leak, but, take note, only specifically on the rear left tyre. This road rule is said to be for everywhere in Australia, however public urination is actually also considered an offence. Tempting as it may be, we’re betting the best bet is not to test it. Look for a loo instead!

2. Don’t let your pet steer

There’s actually a law that says it’s illegal to carry an animal between the rider and the handlebars of a motorbike. However, in Queensland you can ride a motorbike with an animal on your lap, only for less than 500m, if it is being carried for the purpose of farming activity.  I wonder how common a sight this must have been to have had to dictate a specific law around it!

3. Slow your horse down in church zones

Horse riding isn’t a common mode of transport anymore, but up until 1999, it was illegal in NSW to ride a horse past a place of worship on a Sunday at a fast pace. No gallops or dramatic entrances allowed. One had to stick to a walking pace or you could be fined $44, which I’m sure was a good deterrent back in the day.

4. Queensland taxis are required to carry a bale of hay in their boot.

Back in the day, if you needed to catch a taxi in the sunshine state, it had to, by law, have a bale of hay in the boot. A remnant from a time when taxis were horse-drawn, not petrol powered, this is one road rule that is well and truly obsolete.  Next time you hail a cab in Queensland, ask your driver where they keep the hay. Hopefully they won’t bail on you :)

5. Don’t carry too many potatoes in WA

Dating back to the Great Depression era, apparently in Western Australia it’s illegal to carry over 50kg of potatoes in your car unless you work for a “potato corporation”. While you’re unlikely to be caught out by this law, the fine for this offence is a whopping $2,000! We look at this law and more in this article on quirky modern day road rules.

6. Honk with caution!

This rule from the old days is still fairly applicable. If you do happen to see someone you know walking on the road, don’t use your horn to say hey, especially if you’re in NSW, where the fine gets up to nearly $300! The only reason you can legally use your horn is to warn another vehicle or animal that you’re approaching. It’s thought to be too distracting and disruptive to horses if horns are used for anything other than a ‘watch out’. Here’s an extensive list of other penalties you can get in different states for honking your horn the wrong way.

We hope you found these strange, specific and outdated laws of the land entertaining and perhaps useful for dinner party conversation or trivia night. Some are important to remember as they do come with very real and modern fines. Enjoy, stay safe and happy travels!


Road Rules