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Little-known Aussie road rule that comes with $575 fine: ‘That doesn’t make sense’


Australian drivers are being warned of a little known road rule that could result in a hefty fine and a loss of three demerit points.

Transport and Main Roads Queensland warned eating or drinking while driving can cause “serious” distraction to drivers, and can result in fines in all Australian states.

“You can be fined $575 and 3 demerit points (in Queensland) if you don’t have proper control of your vehicle—or if you’re driving without care or attention” it warned in a Facebook post.

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“So make sure you’re not one-handing the wheel or taking your eyes off the road to eat.”

However, the rule sparked a heated debate on social media from many motorists who were unaware of the rule.

“So you have to have two hands on the wheel at all times?” one person commented on the post. “That doesn’t make sense.”

“What! I drink a coffee on my way to work!” another added.

“Try driving a truck for a living and not drinking water or eating while driving! To say you can’t do this and be attentive is ridiculous,” a third piped in.

Australian drivers are being warned of a little known road rule that could result in a hefty fine and a loss of three demerit points. Credit: Transport and Main Roads Queensland

The Department however explained that flicking between a distraction such as “a sandwich in your face” and the road ahead of you means you are “changing your frame of reference—which takes valuable time you might need in an emergency”.

“Obviously you’re allowed to take a hand off the wheel for a short time to operate your vehicle, but eating while you’re driving could be interpreted as not having proper control of your vehicle and driving distracted,” it wrote on Facebook.

“The law’s there to keep us all safe so maybe just scoff it down before you hit the road.”

Driver distraction is currently one of the leading causes of road crashes in Queensland, the Department warned.

Rule explained

While it is not technically illegal to eat or drink while driving, motorists can be fined if doing so leads to the distraction of a driver.

“Driver distraction” is a general road rule in every Australian state which means drivers must have “full control of their vehicle at all times” and not be distracted.

Police therefore do have the right to pull you over and may also slap you with a hefty fine if they believe eating or drinking behind the wheel is negatively affecting your driving ability.

In NSW the fine comes to $448 and a loss of three demerit points, but this punishment skyrockets to $561 and four demerit points if the offence is committed in a school zone.

Meanwhile in Victoria drivers face a $387 fine and a loss of three demerit points for the offence.

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Source: 7News