Is it illegal to enter a blocked intersection?

Is it illegal to enter a blocked intersection?
Is it illegal to enter a blocked intersection?

We’ve all had it happen to us. Driving in peak hour traffic, you think you’ll make it through an intersection before the lights change, and as you enter the intersection, traffic stops… 

The light goes red. You’re stuck. You’re in the way. There are other motorists trying to get past you, trying to make use of the short time the light stays green for them.

You wave and mouth ‘sorry’ to the irate other drivers, who flash their lights and honk their horns at you. Then the traffic ahead of you moves, and you move with it, clearing the intersection. A tear of relief runs down your cheek.

Okay, that’s a bit dramatic, but you can probably relate to the scenario, right? Whether it’s a set of traffic lights, a roundabout, a T-junction intersection, or any other roadway, it is a relatable experience.

Entering a blocked intersection is an offence in each jurisdictionFines or demerit points may applyIf you can’t make it through, don’t try to!

So, is it illegal to drive into an intersection that’s already blocked, even if the light is green? Great question.

According to Road Rules 2014, Reg 128, it is an offence to drive into the intersection if you can’t pass through it:

“Entering blocked intersections: A driver must not enter an intersection if the driver cannot drive through the intersection because the intersection, or a road beyond the intersection, is blocked.”

The rules even give an example: “The intersection, or a road beyond the intersection, may be blocked by congested traffic, a disabled vehicle, a collision between vehicles or between a vehicle and a pedestrian, or by a fallen load on the road.”

According to NSW Transport, drivers “must not enter an intersection unless there’s space for your vehicle in your lane on the other side of the intersection”, and the rule relates to “all intersections and crossings, including intersections with traffic lights, railway level crossings and pedestrian crossings”.

Further, it is noted that some roads and intersections have the telltale “keep clear” markings on the road, and drivers “must not stop in a ‘keep clear’ area”. 

There is an applicable fine in NSW under Reg 128, under the offence “Enter intersection when intersection/road beyond blocked”, is $272.

In Victoria, the fine for the offence “Enter an intersection or crossing when the intersection or crossing is blocked or the road beyond the intersection or crossing is blocked”, which also refers back to Reg 128, is $165.

Queensland has a harsh potential penalty for Reg 128 offenders – a fine of $2875 may be applicable, but only if you end up in court.

Tasmania enforces Reg 128 under the wording “Enter blocked intersection/or intersection when road beyond blocked”. The fine there is $135.

In South Australia, under Motor Vehicles Regulations 2010, there is the potential for a three-demerit point penalty for “entering blocked intersection”. Ouch.

Under the Western Australia Road Traffic Code 2000: “111. No entry to choked intersection: (1) A driver shall not enter upon, or attempt to cross, an intersection, whether or not it is controlled by a traffic-control signal, if the intersection or the carriageway beyond it is blocked.” It could be worth two penalty units, or $100. 

In the ACT it could cost you $307 in fines if you are found to “enter intersection when intersection/road beyond blocked”. 

According to Northern Territory’s Schedule 1 Traffic Infringements No 19, “Obstruct Traffic – By entering blocked intersection” you could cop a $40 fine if you do the wrong thing.

So, if you think you might not make it through the intersection, just wait. You’ll get to your destination, it just might take a couple of extra minutes – and maybe save you a few bucks.

Not intended as legal advice. Check with the relevant roads authority in your state or territory.

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