Moving off

Before moving off, you must use your mirrors or other monitoring displays, and look around as well for a final check. Look out for pedestrians who may be crossing or standing by your vehicle. A small child may be hidden from view. Signal before moving out. Move off only when you can do so safely without making other vehicles change speed or direction.

Driving along

Keep to the left except when traffic signs or road markings indicate you may do otherwise; when intending to overtake or turn right; or when you have to pass stationary vehicles or pedestrians on the road. Allow others to overtake if they want to. Do not drive on a footpath or pavement by the side of the road. Do not drive on a hard shoulder, hard strip or verge.

When driving, keep away from the edge of the road. Do not drive close to the pavement or verge; allow room for a pedestrian to step onto the roadway. When passing parked vehicles, allow room for a door to be opened. Parts of your vehicle may overhang, such as mirrors. If so, allow more room.

You must not allow passengers to hold the steering wheel or to lean out of a window.

In a traffic hold-up or in slow moving traffic, do not try to jump the queue by cutting into another lane or by overtaking the vehicles waiting in front of you.

On narrow or winding roads, or roads where there is a lot of traffic following, drivers of large or slow-moving vehicles should be prepared to pull in, and slow down or stop, as soon as there is a suitable opportunity to do so, so as to give faster vehicles a chance to overtake.

Do not drive while wearing earphones. Do not play an audio device loudly as it would distract your attention towards emergency siren or horns. You must not watch television or video while driving.

While vehicle is in motion, you are prohibited from using mobile phone or any other telecommunication equipment or their accessories by holding it in your hand, or holding it between your head and shoulder. Even if you are not holding your mobile phone, you should also avoid using it (e.g. reading or texting) while driving. You will be distracted by the use of mobile phone and will not have proper control of your vehicle. If you wish to use mobile phone while driving, either stop in a safe place or ask a passenger for assistance.

Drivers who have a real need to use mobile phone while driving must use hands-free device and are advised to keep the conversation short. Also, if you use mobile phone or other equipment as a driving aid such as navigation device, you must still focus on road conditions and are advised to use audio guide.

You must turn off the engine, engage the vehicle in first gear (manual) or park mode (automatic), and apply firmly the parking brake before vacating the vehicle, even though you just leave for a short while, for example, to alight to help your passengers.

Avoid fatigue driving

Safe and courteous driving

Bad driving habits and manners are more than irksome and rude. They are often dangerous and sometimes illegal. You should be more courteous and co-operative. Bad driving adds to congestion and general aggravation.

Always avoid:

Travelling too fast - Observe the speed limit and adjust your speed to suit the traffic flow, the road and weather conditions, and your ability. Remember that as speed increases, the stopping distance and the severity of any accident will increase.

Going too slow - Although some consider this to be safer driving, it may be irritating to other drivers. If you observe traffic building up behind you, look for an opportunity to move over or pull off the road to allow other motorists to pass. On a multi-lane road, merge quickly but safely, matching your speed with other traffic.

Following too close - Following too close to the vehicle in front is a major cause of accidents. When driving, keep a suitable clear distance between you and the vehicle in front (see page 54 'Stopping Distance').

Unsafe overtaking - Keep left unless overtaking. Do not overtake unless it is safe to do so; indicate your intention during the manoeuvre and observe other traffic both behind and ahead of you. The manoeuvre should be done quickly but smoothly. When being overtaken, do not increase your speed, but be prepared to slow down if necessary. Overtake only on the right side of the other vehicle.

Failure to use direction indicators - Accidents can be prevented if other drivers know your intentions to change direction. Therefore, use the direction indicators in good time before changing direction whether to turn, change lanes or overtake and observe traffic both ahead and behind before the actual manoeuvre. Remember to turn off the direction indicators after the manoeuvre.

Poor lane discipline - The rules are simple, but widely ignored. Stay in your lane. Don't drive over the centre line, drift from side to side, zigzag through traffic, bully your way into another lane or stay unnecessarily in the fast lane. When changing lanes, remember ʻThink, Look, Signal, Look again'. Even with your mirrors, there are blind spots which they cannot cover, so it is important to take a quick glance over your shoulder for a final check. 

Failure to give way - If there is no 'give way' sign, the rules of the road dictate that cars entering from the minor road or access should give way to those already on the major road, and cars making a rightturn must give way to oncoming traffic. It is an offence not to pull over for an emergency vehicle with its lights flashing or siren on. Failure to give right-of-way immediately can endanger you, your passengers and the people the emergency vehicle is carrying or trying to reach. In addition, drivers should always show consideration to pedestrians, even if they are jaywalking; give motorcyclists and cyclists the same rights and courtesy as any other drivers.

Bad manners - This includes a host of misbehaviour - cursing, obscene gestures, use of the horn unnecessarily, playing loud music, refusing to merge, littering (including cigarette butts) and any other act of rudeness or selfishness that may annoy others. A little more courtesy and consideration by all of us could make driving safer and more pleasurable.

Ignorance - Make sure you fully understand and comply with all traffic laws, signs and markings.

Be cautious of long/heavy vehicles

Don't brake abruptly or cut suddenly in front of vehicles, particularly heavy vehicles. Heavy vehicles need almost 50 percent more distance than cars to stop. Always leave a lot more distance between your car and a tractor-trailer. You should:

Pass with care - It takes longer to overtake a long vehicle, so allow yourself more room and time to pass. Start the overtaking manoeuvre farther back to see that the road is clear, pass quickly and wait until you can see the front of the vehicle in your rear-view mirror before returning to the same lane. If it is raining, be extremely cautious. The water spray from long/heavy vehicles can impair your view.

Not drive too close - If you drive too close to the vehicle in front, the driver in front may not see your vehicle and you also can't see any of the road ahead and anticipate any potential hazards. In bad weather, vehicle spray reduces visibility as well.

Be aware of air turbulence - When passing, being passed or meeting long/heavy vehicles, be aware that they push a large volume of air, like the bow of a ship, causing air turbulence, particularly affecting small vehicles, motor cycles and cycles.

Allow long vehicles room to turn - Long vehicles require a wide turning area. These vehicles need extra road space before making their turns. Watch out for signals and give them room.

Let heavy vehicles pass - To conserve fuel, heavy vehicle drivers tend to maintain a steady speed. They need more braking time and accelerate more slowly than cars, and they usually go faster downhill and slower uphill. Many drivers don't like to follow them and sometimes speed up when the heavy vehicle tries to pass. The result is often 20 tonnes of heavy vehicle riding your bumper - definitely not a good situation and should be avoided.

Not travel in the long vehicle's blind spot - Alongside a long vehicle, just behind its doors, is another blind spot. Don't hang around there. The driver of the long vehicle may not be able to see you when making a lane change. If you can, always allow long vehicles enough room to change lanes.

U-turns

Regulatory sign - you must not carry out a U-turn

Regulatory sign - No U-turn

You must not carry out a U-turn or turn your vehicle around on a road, unless you can do so without endangering or obstructing other road users.

U-turn may be banned at some junctions or along some length of road. ʻNo U-turn' signs (and may be with supplementary plates nos. 61 or 62 on page 113) will indicate this.

Use your mirror often so that you know what is behind you.

Use of horn

Regulatory sign - Marks the beginning of a 'Silent zone'

Regulatory sign - Marks the beginning of a 'Silent zone'

You must not use your horn unless as a warning of danger to other road users. Never use it as a rebuke or when the traffic is temporarily stopped without danger.

You must not sound your horn in a 'Silent zone'. An 'End' sign marks the end of a 'Silent zone'. 'Silent zones' are usually found near hospitals. A ʻTime plateʼ may show the period of its operation.

Headlamp flashing

The flashing of headlamps has only one meaning - like sounding your horn, it lets other road users know you are there. Do not flash headlamps for any other reason.

Reversing

Before you reverse, make sure that there are no pedestrians - particularly children and elderly people - behind your vehicle. Pay particular attention to ʻblind spots' behind you - that is, the parts of the road which cannot be seen from the driving seat. If there is any doubt, get out, or ask a passenger to check, to make sure.

A Reversing Video Device (RVD) can help you observe the back when you are reversing vehicle or about to do so. In low light conditions, you should switch on the auxiliary illumination when using RVD. Any dirt or rain drops on the camera may affect the image quality.

If you cannot see clearly behind or if you drive a large vehicle, get someone to guide you when you reverse. You must not reverse unless it can be done safely and you must also not reverse for an unreasonable distance or time. Never reverse from a side road into a main road.

Give way to other traffic and to pedestrians when reversing.

Do not rely on white reversing lights or reversing alarms to alert other road users that you are reversing or about to reverse. A pedestrian may not see the light or hear the alarm. Always look and listen. Only reverse if you can do so safely and without making other road users change speed or direction.

As a safety practice, you may also turn on the hazard warning lights when parking or reversing.

Dangerous and careless driving

You must not drive in a manner that creates an obvious and serious risk of causing death or injury to any person or causing serious damage to property

You will be regarded as driving dangerously if

  • the way you drive falls far below what would be expected of a competent and careful driver; and
  • it would be obvious to a competent and careful driver that driving in that way would be dangerous.

You must drive with due care and attention and with reasonable consideration for other road users and your passengers. Otherwise, you may be regarded as driving carelessly.

The rules and advice in this chapter will help you drive safely and with consideration for others.

Police signs

Temporary regulatory sign - you must stop at the sign

Temporary regulatory sign - you must stop before the sign

Police Roadblock

Temporary informatory sign - be prepared to stop if signalled to do so by a police officer or if indicated by a traffic sign.

In an emergency, or for other purposes, the police may erect temporary signs and barriers. In addition to the temporary police signs shown, other traffic signs and flashing blue and amber lights may be used to warn and guide you.

Slow Police

Temporary regulatory sign - you must slow down to a speed, slower than normal, at which you can stop quickly and safely.

 

Switch off engines of idling vehicles

Allowing idling vehicles to run their engines causes air pollution, heat and noise nuisances and fuel wastage. It is an offence for a driver to allow the engine to operate for more than three minutes in aggregate within any continuous 60 minutes while the vehicle is stationary, unless an exemption applies. In general, exemptions are provided to drivers stopping due to traffic conditions or for boarding/alighting passengers, and also to drivers of certain classes of vehicle to meet their operational needs, etc.

Further details of the restrictions and exemptions may be obtained from the Environmental Protection Department or its website (see 'Further Reference Materials').