http://www.drive.com.au/Editorial/ArticleDetail.aspx?ArticleID=46534&vf=2&pg=2&IsPgd=0 Traps await interstate drivers Richard Blackburn, 19/12/07 Australia is supposed to have uniform national road rules, but in reality, the rules and penalties vary widely from State to State, reports RICHARD BLACKBURN. Interstate travellers to NSW beware: if you fall foul of the Stateâ€™s tough road laws, you might pay a hefty price when you get home. NSW has the toughest speeding laws in the country and if you get caught, you could be fined almost five times as much as you would in Victoria. Breaking the speed limit by 45kmh in NSW will cost you $2490, while the same offence in Victoria carries a penalty of just $474. But itâ€™s not just the fine that will hurt. A speeding offence that attracts one demerit point in Victoria could cost you half your Victorian licence if youâ€™re caught while youâ€™re in Sydney. State traffic authorities notify each other of driving offences committed by interstate travellers and can apply each otherâ€™s demerit points if they choose. A spokesman for VicRoads says double demerits will apply to Victorian drivers in NSW over the holiday period. NSW docks three points off your licence if youâ€™re caught between 0 and 15kmh over the limit. During double demerit points periods such as Christmas (December 21 to January 1) it costs you six points. Exceed the speed limit by more than 15kmh and youâ€™ve lost your licence. In contrast, most other States dock you 1 point for the least serious speeding offence. The big discrepancy in fines and demerit points is just one of a number of traps for unwary motorists travelling interstate for the school holidays. While in theory Australia operates a single set of road rules, there are a range of regulations, offences and fines that apply on a State by State basis. For example, you can now be fined in South Australia if you smoke in a vehicle that is carrying someone under the age of 16. And in Melbourne or Adelaide, you can be fined for turning right from the right hand lane, which is accepted practice in Sydney. On the other side of the coin, if you try to do a U-turn at a set of lights in Sydney, youâ€™ll get fined. Itâ€™s perfectly legal in most cases in Melbourne and Adelaide, though. Both Melbourne and Adelaide have specific road rules that apply to trams. For example, you can never overtake a stopped tram. Drivers must stop level with the rear of the tram and wait for people to get on and off. Pedestrians have the right of way. Overtake across an unbroken white line in NSW and youâ€™re in hot water. Do the same thing in Victoria and the police wonâ€™t bat an eyelid. Itâ€™s not just the different interstate laws that can catch out holiday drivers, though. There are a host of obscure driving offences that could ruin your holiday drive. For example, you can be booked for having a rear seat entertainment unit in your car, if police determine that the DVD screen is distracting other drivers. You can also be fined for running an amber light, not just a red one. And if you travel too far below the speed limit on any road, you can be booked for causing an obstruction. Sound your horn as a reminder the traffic lights have turned green and you can be fined as well. In fact if you use your horn for anything other than an emergency you're in trouble. If you strike a mean-spirited parking inspector this Christmas you could also be fined for squeezing into a tight parking spot. The law says that unless the parking spots are marked, you must be at least one metre from the cars directly behind and in front of you. While there are some offences that might catch people out, there are a couple of less well known loopholes. For example, if you are travelling in convoy with friends and want to keep in touch, buy a couple of two-way radios. While it is illegal to have a conversation on a mobile phone, it is legal to talk on a walkie-talkie, provided you always have proper control of your vehicle. The same applies to eating fast food. But be warned, police can book you if they think that either the two-way or the hamburger is distracting you. Inconsiderate behaviour is also not necessarily illegal. For example, those people who shoot up the inside lane then barge back in during traffic jams actually have the right of way if their carâ€™s bumper is past yours. And people can hog the right hand lane if the speed limit is 80kmh or lower. But those slow coaches who speed up only when youâ€™re trying to overtake are breaking the law, as are bicycle rides who ride two abreast on single lane roads. All in all, it pays to have a quick look through the local rule book if youâ€™re driving interstate.