By Jeremy Rochow
Published: Tuesday, August 8, 2023
We recently put a shout-out on RAA’s Facebook, asking what you’ve seen motorists doing at the traffic lights, and you delivered.
From the bizarre to the downright dangerous, there was a bit of everything. One driver was spotted playing the pan flute while waiting for the lights to change, while another was seen knitting at the wheel. Some people were even caught playing the drums on the steering wheel…with real drum sticks. Here are just a few that stood out to us, and the potential consequences of these actions.
1. Personal grooming
We had multiple responses from people about motorists brushing their teeth, doing their makeup and shaving while driving. One driver was even spotted getting dressed.
Someone cutting their nose hairs with scissors.” – Barb
Getting ready for the day while waiting at the traffic lights might seem like an opportunity to save a bit of time, but you may want to put that toiletries bag away and focus on driving.
RAA Senior Manager of Safety and Infrastructure Charles Mountain says doing your makeup or shaving means you’re taking your hands off the wheel and looking in the mirror when you should be concentrating on the road.
“Shaving or doing any personal grooming while you’re driving means you’re distracted, and it’s not only dangerous but could land you in hot water with police,” Charles says.
“The law states that a driver needs to have proper control of their vehicle at all times – this includes when they’re at the lights.
“Traffic queues move and stop, often without warning, so you need to be ready to respond appropriately.”
If you’re self-grooming while driving and police determine you aren’t in proper control of your vehicle, you could receive a $215 fine and $99 Victim of Crime Levy.
Someone using drumsticks (not the icecream variety) on their steering wheel!!!!” – Val
It’s also selfish. How often have you been one the three or more drivers who have missed the green turn arrow because the driver in front wasn’t paying attention and didn’t move off when they should have.
“[I’ve seen] someone eating a salad, not just at the lights but while she was driving,” writes one Facebook user.
Not just stopped at lights, drinking coffee from a normal mug, doing makeup, eating cereal from a bowl, getting dressed, etc.” – Graham
We received several responses from people who had seen peckish motorists chowing down on some food while driving.
“Once again, these people are distracted and don’t have proper control of their car,” says Charles. “It can lead to a fine, or worse, a crash.”
3. Watching a movie
One RAA Facebook follower commented saying they’d seen a person watching a movie on their phone. This is illegal. Motorists in South Australia can’t touch their phone at any time while they’re driving.
A man watching a movie on his phone.” – Karen
“Just put the phone out of reach or turn it off,” urges Charles. “Motorists need to avoid getting distracted by their mobile phones. It doesn’t matter whether you’re driving or sitting at the traffic lights, motorists need to be aware of their surroundings.”
The fine for using a mobile phone and driving is $540, plus a $99 Victims of Crime Levy and three demerit points.
4. Doing a U-turn
While not the strangest thing mentioned by RAA’s Facebook followers on the post, a couple of people have seen drivers doing U-turns at traffic lights.
There are a couple of signalised locations in South Australia, including on North Terrace, where you’ll see a sign saying, U-turn permitted. However, at most traffic lights it’s an illegal and costly manoeuvre.
If you’re caught chucking a uey at the traffic lights, you could receive a $423 fine, plus a $99 Victims of Crime Levy and two demerit points. Drive a bit further down the road and find an appropriate spot to do a U-turn.