How our road rules have changed

We all may know that you no longer require a man waving a red flag to walk in front of your vehicle (actually you never did), but there are some other road rules that have changed that might surprise you…

1: You once had to to give way to vehicles turning right in front of you at intersections.

This rule changed on Sunday, February 28, 1993. The Victorian road rules were changed for cars turning left at intersections to have the right of way before those making a right hand turn, bringing the Victorian road laws in line with other Australian states. Prior to this a car turning right had the right of way, presumably to clear tram lines.

2: Motorcycle passengers must be over eight-years-old.

Amazingly, this rule came into effect just seven years ago, in 2009. Until then it seems it was open slather to have a baby on a bike. It was possibly more to do with children in motorcycle sidecars.

3: Councils can no longer enforce licensing.

Until 1908, local councils were responsible for licensing drivers and registering vehicles. The government of Thomas Bent gave this responsibility to the police force, with the new Motor Car Bill, 1908.

4: There were no speed limits in Victoria until after the First World War.

Though there was much parliamentary debate about how to restrict carnage on the roads, including mandating the use of solid-tyred vehicles to reduce speed, the speed limit of 30 miles per hour (48km/h) in urban areas was not introduced until the 1920s.

5: Mechanical hand signals and trafficators were once common.

If you are older you’ll remember these – pop-up indicator signals that came up from the sides of cars, especially Morris Minors and Volkswagens; and hand-shaped signs that were often on trucks that indicated a turn or stopping when pulled by the driver. They were banned in the 1960s as a collision danger to pedestrians and cyclists.

6: Motorcycle helmets were voluntary.

The Victorian government made wearing helmets compulsory in 1961, the first jurisdiction in the country to do so. Before then the choice of head protection was entirely up to you.

7: A load can no longer protrude from the rear of a vehicle, even if it has a flag attached.

This law was changed in 1999. Until then the police had discretion as to what was a safe load and what wasn’t. Also – a load cannot protrude, even if you have a trailer attached.

8: You can no longer carry more people can the car is designed for.

Remember seven or eight kids in the back seat going on holidays? Or picking up a few mates to go to the pub and getting four on the bench seat in the front? No longer. As of 2012, everyone must be wearing a seatbelt, one to a person.