A drivers guide to bus lanes
With the push for more people to use public transport and improve efficiency, even in peak hour traffic, most metropolitan regions have constructed bus lanes so buses can travel freely of general traffic.
Bus lanes will generally be situated to the left of traffic and sign marked for buses only or they may be totally separate road systems designed specifically only for buses and free from any other traffic.
What do you need to know about bus lanes?
You will need to know the rules when it comes to identifying a bus lane, giving way to buses and driving in a bus lane safely and legally.
When you see these lanes and other people driving in them, you may wonder what the rules are and if you’re doing the right thing when making a left turn through a bus lane.
Read the signs
You can identify a bus lane by the signage and line markings. There will be signage erected on the side of the road to advise you a bus lane is ahead, where the bus lane starts and continues and also when the bus lane ends.
There will also be sign/line markings on the road to identify a bus lane. Even though it is called a bus lane there are other vehicles that can travel in a bus lane other than public transport buses.
These may include tourist or courtesy coaches, limousines, emergency vehicles, bicycles and taxis. If the lane is sign marked as a ‘bus only’ lane then only buses can use that lane.
When can you drive in a bus lane?
You are allowed to drive in a bus lane up to 100m when either entering or leaving a road. For example, you may need to turn at an intersection or require time to merge into traffic when entering from a driveway.
You may need to take evasive action to avoid an accident, avoid a broken down or parked car or someone may be turning in front of you.
The bus lane signage may show you can drive in the lane at certain times of the day. You may be driving a vehicle that is allowed to be driven in a bus lane.
You should never park and leave your car in a bus lane unless there is signage that states you can.
Taxis and buses are permitted to stop in a bus lane to drop off or pick up passengers. If you illegally drive or stop in a bus lane you risk losing demerit points and incurring a fine.
When entering or exiting a bus lane you must always obey the road rules and merge when you have given sufficient warning, there is a space and it is safe to merge over.
Be aware that there are further give way rules when it comes to buses. In built up areas, if a bus signals to merge and the bus is in front of your vehicle, you must give way and allow the bus to enter in front of you.
Buses are still expected to offer sufficient warning before pulling into traffic. In some states once the speed limit is 70km or over, the bus has to give way to traffic before pulling out.
It is a good idea to check your state regulations to be sure. You may be stopping for buses that legally have to give way to you or you could end up with a bus shaped ding in the side of your vehicle because you didn’t give way when you should have.
Drive safe, give way to buses, don’t illegally drive in the bus lane and consider taking the bus, with all the bus lanes around it may just save you time.
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Rachel spent her early adult life around cars, motorsport and hands-on with her own cars.
This interest moved into various careers within the Automotive industry. Joined with her passion for writing, Rachel loves putting the two together to share her experience, so we can all become AutoGuru’s.