Freeways

A summary of the key road rules for driving on freeways in Victoria.

The rules in detail

The key road rules and reference numbers for driving on freeways are:

  • 130 - Keeping to the left on a multi-lane road
  • 148 - Giving way when moving from one marked lane or line of traffic to another marked lane or line of traffic
  • 177 - Stopping on a freeway
  • 178 - Stopping in an emergency stopping lane.

Managed motorways

Managed motorways have variable speed signs, ramp signals, travel time signs, underground sensors and CCTV cameras and are all part of a dynamic traffic system that responds in real time to what’s happening on the road at any point in time. 

Entering a freeway is one of the more demanding manoeuvres you will do when driving. Conditions on freeways are changeable and drivers can be unpredictable. Understanding the rules and having good driving skills are important to merging safely. Remember that the rules for merging onto a freeway are the same as for changing lanes on any road.

Speed. Use the entrance ramp to quickly gain speed to match the traffic on the freeway. Merging at the same speed as the existing freeway traffic will ensure that you can easily move onto the freeway without causing a dangerous situation when you merge.

Make sure you use your mirrors and keep your eyes on other vehicles while you gain speed. If you see a group of vehicles coming up quickly in the lane into which you are trying to merge you may need to adjust your speed to find the safe gap you need.

Indicate. Make sure you indicate early so it is clear to others that you want to change lanes. Make it clear to other drivers what you are doing and give them plenty of opportunity to make any necessary adjustments to their driving. Remember, as the person merging you need to give way to traffic on the road you are merging into.

Gap selection. You will have to find a gap in the traffic before you merge and this is more difficult in heavy traffic. Keep your eyes on the road, check your mirrors and do head checks to work out when it is safe to merge. Maintain an appropriate speed to merge safely and smoothly into the lane. Stay alert, keep an eye on traffic in front of you, use your mirrors, do head checks and check your blind spots, especially for motorcycles.

Merge smoothly and safely. When you see a gap, move your vehicle smoothly into the lane. Your speed should now be the same speed as the rest of the traffic. Pay attention to the vehicles around you as you merge as vehicles in front of you may brake or those beside you may try to enter the lane you are in.

Some Tips

Keep scanning the road. Drivers can behave very differently, so it is important to pay attention to what is going on around you at all times and especially when trying to merge onto a freeway. Make decisions based on reality. 

If a driver is slowing down they are probably trying to let you in; accelerate and take the person up on the favour. The same goes if you notice vehicles moving out of the merge lane to make room for you. Remember to give a wave if you can to acknowledge the favour and do not ever exceed the speed limit.  

If you see a vehicle speeding up they are probably trying to get past you before you merge. Let them do this as it might be the only option they have and they may be trying to create a gap for you behind them.

Sometimes drivers will wave you in with their hands, wave back to thank them.

Creating gaps. As you merge, you should maintain a safe distance from the vehicles behind and in front of you. This provides a buffer in case the vehicle in front of you brakes. At some freeway entrances there are ramp signals to help create a gap in traffic.

Merge smoothly. Try not to push into the lane you are trying to merge into. Other drivers might not see you or predict this. Make sure you use your indicator and where possible make eye contact.

Try not to stop in the merge lane. You might be tempted to come to a stop when merging. This is not a good idea, as it takes too long for a vehicle to accelerate from a standstill to freeway speed. However, this may happen when the freeway is very congested and going slow so do not worry if it happens.

Be considerate. When you see a driver trying to merge into your lane ease off the accelerator and let them in. Letting another driver in front of you will not make any difference to your journey time. Being considerate makes the freeway safer for everyone and they may return the favour to you and other drivers.

 

A transit lane is marked with a transit lane sign.

You can drive in a transit lane:

  • if you are driving a bus, taxi, motorcycle, or tram 
  • if there are two or more people in the vehicle in a T2 transit lane
  • if there are three or more people in the vehicle in a T3 transit lane
  • for up to 100 metres if you need to make a turn.

When driving on any multi-lane road with a speed limit over 80km/h, you must keep out of the right lane unless:

  • you are overtaking or turning right, or
  • all lanes are congested.

If the right lane is a transit lane, this rule applies to the lane immediately to the left of the transit lane.

You are not allowed stop on a freeway unless it is an emergency.

If you do need to stop it must be in the emergency lane.

Buses and taxis can sometimes drive in the emergency stopping lane if there is a sign allowing it. At all other times vehicles are not allowed to travel in the emergency stopping lane.

There are lane control devices above the lanes on some freeways.

If the lane control device is showing a red cross, you must not drive in that lane and move to another one.

If the device is showing an arrow pointing down, or a speed limit sign, you can continue driving in that lane and must drive at or below the speed on the sign.

On some freeways and highways there are express lanes or transit lanes , these are shown on signs. 

Transit Lane

You can use a transit lane if you are a public bus, public minibus, motor bike, taxi or tram or a vehicle with two people in it T2 or three people in it T3. 

Transit Lane T2 and T3 signs

A transit lane ends at this sign.

End Transit Lane signs

There is also another type of transit lane sign in Victoria. It looks like this and must include the word transit. 

Green End Transit Lane signs

Express Lanes

Some toll roads paint EL on the road surface and refer to Express Lanes. Express lanes are not a road rule. If you wish to know further about Express Lanes and their purpose, please contact the appropriate toll road operator.

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