Traffic lights, U-turns and overhead lane controls
Traffic lights control the flow of vehicles and pedestrians to improve safety and access to roads. You should drive at a speed that gives you time to react if the traffic lights change.
If you go through a yellow or red traffic light, you may receive an infringement notice. The notice could either be from a police officer or arrive in the mail for a camera-detected offence.
You may drive through a flashing yellow light or arrow with caution. You need to apply the give way rules to avoid colliding with other vehicles.
Obeying traffic lights
Red traffic light
You must not drive past the stop line on the road at a red traffic light or, if there is no stop line, the traffic light.
Example of red traffic light—with the top light lit up
Examples of red arrows
You must not drive in the direction of the red traffic arrow past the stop line at the traffic light or, if there is no stop line, the traffic light.
Example of red arrows on traffic lights—with arrows lit up in the top light to the right
Stop if it is safe to do so
Yellow traffic light
You must stop on a yellow light, unless it is unsafe to do so. The yellow light is not the end of the green light phase—it is the beginning of the red light phase.
If it’s safe to stop, you must not drive past the stop line at the yellow traffic light or, if there is no stop line, the traffic light.
Example of yellow traffic light—with the middle light lit up
Examples of yellow arrows
If it’s unsafe to stop—such as being close to the light when it changes from green to yellow—you may proceed through the yellow light.
Example of yellow arrows on traffic lights—with arrows lit up in the middle lights on the right
Drive with caution
Drive past the light
Green light or arrow
You can drive past the green traffic light or arrow, as long as the intersection is clear. You must not enter the intersection if you cannot drive through it because the road ahead is blocked.
Example of green traffic light or arrow—the green light is lit up in the bottom left, with the green arrow lit up in the bottom right.
Traffic lights showing a white B light
White B light
If you’re in a bus lane driving a bus, taxi, limousine, or riding a bicycle, you may drive/ride past the white B light.
Example of white B light—with the white B lit up in the bottom right
Turning right at traffic lights
If the light is green and there are vehicles approaching from the opposite direction, you can move forward into the intersection past the stop line if you can do so safely.
If there is a safe gap in oncoming traffic, you may complete the right turn. If you’re in the intersection and the oncoming traffic continues until the lights turn yellow or red, you must complete the turn on the yellow or red light.
Video of yellow traffic lights
Watch the video to better understand yellow traffic lights.
Some people think it's legal to drive through a yellow light if your front tyres are over the stop line before the light changes to red.
But, that's not the rule.
It's only legal to drive through a yellow light if you are unable to stop safely when the light changes.
You see, the yellow light is not an extension of the green light, it's actually the beginning of the red.
So when you approach traffic lights, you should always be prepared to stop in case the light suddenly changes. And you should check your rear view mirror for vehicles travelling close behind. If the light turns yellow, you must stop if it's safe to do so.
However, if you're so close to the intersection when the light changes that you are unable to stop safely, you are legally allowed to drive through the yellow light.
Now, if the light changes to yellow after you've moved into an intersection waiting to turn right, you are also legally allowed to drive through the yellow light to clear the intersection.
Knowing the rules makes travelling through intersections much safer for everyone.
You can only make a U-turn at traffic lights when there is a U-turn permitted sign. When you are doing a U-turn, you must give way to all other vehicles and pedestrians—even if other vehicles are facing a give way or stop sign.
At intersections without traffic lights or at breaks in the centre island of the road, you must not do a U-turn if there is a no U-turn sign.
You must also not do a U-turn:
across a single or double continuous centre line
across a continuous centre line to the left of a broken line
over a painted island in the centre of the road.
Making a U-turn
Vehicle making a U-turn
To safely make a U-turn, you must:
have a clear view of approaching traffic
complete the turn without blocking the free movement of traffic
give way to all vehicles and pedestrians.
Video of U-turn rules
Watch the video to better understand the rules of U-turns.
You may think you can do a U-turn at traffic lights if there's no sign to say you can't.
But, that's not the rule.
It's actually illegal to do a U-turn at traffic lights unless there is a sign telling you that you can do so.
It's also illegal to do a U-turn:
across a continuous single centre line
across double continuous centre lines
across a double line that's continuous on your side of the road
across a painted island
at a place which displays a no U-turn sign.
So, what's the legal way to do a U-turn?
Well, you must give way to all other vehicles, even to vehicles facing a stop or give way sign. You must give way to pedestrians too, then make your turn when all is clear.
It's simple to do a legal U-turn when you know the rules.
Overhead lane control devices
You must not travel in a lane marked with an illuminated red diagonal cross or pass a traffic sign above a lane displaying a red diagonal cross.
Example of an overhead lane control device
If an illuminated red diagonal cross is flashing above your lane, you must leave the lane as soon as it’s safe to do so.
If there is an overhead lane control device above the road, you can drive in a lane if there’s a:
white, green or yellow arrow pointing downwards—or in a particular direction—above the lane