Australian Drivers Beware: The Obscure Traffic Law That's Costing Unaware Drivers Big Time!

Navigating the roads can be a challenge in any city, but for drivers in Melbourne, there's an added twist that's leaving some in a state of bewilderment and frustration. It's a peculiar road rule that's not only unique to Victoria but also a source of anxiety for many: the infamous hook turn.

The hook turn, a maneuver that requires drivers to veer left to turn right, is a concept that can be utterly baffling, especially for those who are encountering it for the first time. This little-known Aussie road rule has been known to leave drivers in tears, calling it a 'red hot mess' and sparking anxiety in even the most seasoned motorists.

For our members who might not be familiar, let's paint a picture of this traffic anomaly. Imagine you're driving in Melbourne's bustling city center, you need to turn right, but instead of positioning your vehicle in the right-hand lane, you must stay left. As counterintuitive as it seems, you then wait until the traffic lights change, allowing the trams and other vehicles to pass before completing your turn from the left side of the intersection. It's a dance of patience and precision that's enough to make any driver's head spin.

A man was shocked by Melbourne's 'hook turn' rule requiring right turns from the left lane. Credit: @coreyyy.exe / TikTok and Shutterstock

The hook turn was designed to keep traffic flowing smoothly and prevent vehicles from obstructing the city's iconic trams. While it may save a tram up to 15 seconds on its journey and reduce congestion, it's a maneuver that 38 percent of motorists try to avoid, according to figures from Monash University’s Public Transport Research Group.

This quirky rule isn't entirely new or exclusive to Melbourne. Hook turns were once a common sight in many Australian cities with trams, such as Sydney and Adelaide, until the 1930s. However, as Melbourne has consistently maintained its tram network since 1885, the city's road infrastructure evolved to accommodate this unique turn, making it a staple of Melbourne driving.

For those planning a visit to Victoria's capital, it's crucial to brush up on the local road rules. The RACV's head of policy, James Williams, advises motorists to familiarize themselves with the process of completing a hook turn at intersections marked 'Right Turn from Left Only.' It's a matter of safety and legality, ensuring that you can navigate the city without adding to the traffic woes or risking a fine.

The reactions from drivers across Australia vary widely. Some visitors from other states have shared their harrowing experiences, with tales of having to 'pull over and cry' or 'screaming while driving through the city' due to the unexpected challenge. Meanwhile, locals who have mastered the hook turn often describe it as 'easy' and a sensible part of Melbourne's driving culture.

For our senior members who might be planning a trip to Melbourne, we recommend taking some time to understand this rule before hitting the road. There are plenty of resources available, including instructional videos and guides from the RACV, to help you get the hang of it. And remember, if you're ever in doubt, it's perfectly okay to plan your route to avoid these tricky intersections altogether.

Key Takeaways
  • An Australian TikToker has voiced shock and confusion over Melbourne's unique 'hook turn' road rule, which requires drivers to make a right turn from the left lane.
  • Visitors and new residents in Melbourne, who are unfamiliar with this rule, have reported anxiety and frustration when confronted with hook turns for the first time.
  • Hook turns are designed to facilitate tram movements and reduce congestion in Melbourne, and they have been part of the city's road rules due to its long-standing tram network.
  • Motorists unfamiliar with Melbourne's road rules, particularly hook turns, are advised to familiarise themselves with Victorian road rules before driving in the city, as per RACV's recommendations.

We'd love to hear from you, our Seniors Discount Club members, about your experiences with hook turns or any other unique road rules you've encountered. Have you found them to be a clever solution to traffic flow, or do they seem like a relic of a bygone era? Share your stories and tips in the comments below, and let's navigate the roads together, one turn at a time.
When I moved to Melbourne from Sydney, I had to learn how to do hook turns. I was there for about 16 years and frequently drove through the city intersections where hook turns were the rule. The trick is to keep your nerve and pay attention. At the intersection, pull to the left, wait for the amber light, then swing to the right. Where tram lines cross, it is essential to keep traffic flowing and clear the intersection of cars so that the trams can go through easily. Mostly I found police directed the traffic when I was driving through these intersections, which was very handy. I did feel sorry for the poor policeman stuck in the middle of these busy intersections breathing in all that carbon monoxide.
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Back in early 80s we were caught with this very thing and pulled over by police. He started writing a fine and siad what did you think you were doing?. Answer- following 2 cars- your local drivers in front of us thinking they would know what to do, but you didn't pull them over, just as interstates. HE coughed and fluttered and sent us on our way, clearly realising he would need to ping them too.
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Jennylolo makes an excellent point. Local Melbournians do not know the rules either. I was driving with a Melbourne-born friend. Approaching the intersection outside Flinders Street Station in the city where I needed to turn right, I pulled over to the left lane to await the change of lights. Traffic was very heavy as it was peak hour. My friend became agitated asking why I was in the left lane. I replied that at this intersection you make a right turn from the left lane. She looked puzzled and wary about it all. It was the first time she had ever experienced a hook turn and she found it rather scary. I understood as it was scary for me the first time I had to make such an unfamiliar turn.
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Although I’ve driven in Melbourne many times I have only ever dont a hook turn once - and very badly! Honking of horns, people yelling, it wasn’t pretty. I have avoided them since. Now I don’t have to worry about them as we moved to regional Victoria and since we moved we’ve only gone into the city by train. Much less stressful

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