By Kasia Ozog
Published: Friday, April 1, 2022
Below, you’ll find out if you can park in a supermarket pram carpark even if you don't have a child, listen to music through headphones while driving and much more.
1. Can you put your feet up on the dashboard?
Some front-seat passengers put their feet up on the dash without thinking, but this decision could be life changing.
It might not be illegal, but RAA Mobility Safety and Road Rules Consultant Bob Kranz says propping your feet on the dash is highly dangerous and potentially fatal.
“Though it may provide comfort during a drive, it’s what could happen in the case of a crash that is an unwarranted risk,” Mr Kranz says.
“Upon impact, passenger frontal airbags are deployed from inside the dashboard. If your feet are up at the height of the dash, your legs will be pushed upward instead of remaining secure in a seated position.”
Passengers could sustain a ruptured bowel, torn aorta, spinal damage and even death if they’re in a crash while their feet are on the dash.
2. Can you throw rubbish out the window?
Ever spotted someone throw rubbish out of car window or are you guilty of doing it yourself? If caught, you can be fined for littering from your car. That includes cigarettes and compositable materials like fruit cores.
Fines in South Australia, under the Miscellaneous Provisions refers to depositing certain articles or materials on a road the fine being $255 and $92 Victims of Crime Levy.
Instead of chucking your rubbish onto the street, put a bag in the car and save the litter until you can place it in a roadside bin or wait until you get home.
3. Can my one-year-old sit forward-facing in a car seat?
Children are precious cargo, and there are strict laws to ensure a child’s safety.
All child restraints feature height markers that determine which seat a child should be in, based on their size and how the seat should be set up – this includes when to turn the child forward facing.
Although the law states six months as a minimum to change your infant face forwards, you must always pay attention to the shoulder height markers in the seat as they too are a legal requirement says RAA Child Safety expert Belinda Maloney.
“This marker tells the user at what height the child is able to be turned from a rearward-facing position to a forward-facing position,” Ms Maloney says.
Most convertible 0-4 car seats on the market ensure that children up to at least 12 months of age are rearward facing with some allowing up to approximately 30 months rearward facing.
Don’t be in a rush to turn your child forward facing as rearward facing is the safest way for them to travel, Ms Maloney says.
If you need help with your child’s restraint, contact RAA’s Child Safety Centre.
“Because the head of a young child is proportionally larger and heavier, the child’s centre of gravity is located higher up on the body, in comparison to the centre of gravity of an adult,” she says
This means that a child involved in a crash is very vulnerable to spinal injuries if turned around too early.
It’s important to note that shoulder markers are legal markers, and it’s mandatory to comply with them. Failing to restrain a child correctly can result in a $395 fine, a $92 Victims of Crim Levy and three demerit points.
4. Can I park in a pram parking spot if I don’t have kids with me?
Have you ever been searching for a carpark and the only available spot is a pram park? You don’t have the children in the car but need to quickly duck into the shops. You park there anyway and make a mad dash, hoping you won’t receive a fine.
Fortunately, you’re in luck. A motorist can use a pram parking spot even when they don’t have a child in the car and it won’t attract a fine. However, common sense and courtesy applies to situations like these, especially if there are other parks available.
Pram parks are designed to help parents have easier access to shopping centre entrances and are sometimes wider than regular parks to assist with getting children out without banging other car doors.
5. Can I groom myself behind the wheel if I’m stationary at the traffic lights?
Ever found yourself running late and without time to put mascara on or shave, so you finish your morning routine while stationery at the traffic lights?
You should put the shaver or lipstick away because it could result in a costly fine for not having proper control of your vehicle.
You risk a $213 fine and a $92 Victims of Crime Levy, and in more serious cases you could find yourself in court and paying a fine of up to $2500.
Remember, if you’re concentrating on your personal grooming, then you’re not focussed on what’s happening around you.
6. Can I eat or drink while driving?
Like above, eating or drinking while behind the wheel is a distraction that can result in a fine.
If police deem that eating a bowl of cereal or a juicy burger is stopping you from controlling the vehicle safely, you face a $201 fine, plus a $92 Victims of Crime Levy.
7. Can I drive without my licence?
In a nutshell, you can drive without your licence, although it depends on your licence type.
While you should be in the habit of taking your licence with you every time you get behind the wheel, it’s not a legal requirement here in SA. But you must produce it within 48 hours if it’s requested to by police. If you don’t, you could receive a $213 fine and a $92 Victims of Crime Levy.
If you’re a learner driver or on your provisional licence, it’s illegal to drive without your licence on you, and if you’re not able to produce it immediately upon request, you could be up for a $213 fine and $92 Victims of Crime Levy.
The same applies if you drive a heavy vehicle such as a truck, B-double or road train.
8. Can I talk on loudspeaker or look at something on a mobile if my passenger is holding the phone?
South Australia has the strictest mobile phone usage laws in Australia. Drivers caught using their phones illegally will incur three demerit points, receive a $554 fine and $92 Victims of Crime Levy.
If someone else is holding the phone for the driver, it’s an offence to obstruct the driver’s view of the road or traffic and a fine of $362 and $92 Victims of Crime Levy applies.
9. Can I honk my horn to say hello/bye?
While it may seem a harmless practice to honk your car horn when greeting a friend, it’s actually illegal.
You can only use your horn if you’re warning other drivers that your vehicle’s approaching, trying to get animals off the road, or it’s part of an anti-theft or alcohol interlock device. Honk for any other reason and you face a $201 fine and $92 Victims of Crime Levy.
10. Can I have my arm resting outside of the car on the door while I’m driving?
Do you like the feeling of a cool breeze on your arm as it rests on the open window or the wind running through your fingers as you drive down the road? You might be surprised to know that this act could cost you a $201 fine, $92 Victims of Crime Levy and of three demerit points. Even worse, you risk losing your limb.
Driving with a body part outside of a vehicle for any reason other than indicating that you’re executing a turn is illegal in South Australia.
11. Can I drive while wearing headphones?
If you’re a full licence holder and are using headphones without touching or holding a phone or resting it on your body, then it’s legal. Just as long as, once again, it’s not a distraction. If it is deemed that you do not have proper control of the vehicle, you could incur a fine of $201 and a $92 Victims of Crime Levy.
Learner drivers and those on a provisional licence are banned from using any type of mobile phone function, including hands-free Bluetooth. Fines of $554 and a $92 Victims of Crime Levy, plus three demerit points.