The unbroken yellow line in NSW – watch out or cop a Level 4 fine
Continuous yellow edge line covers many parking situations
The vast majority of NSW motorists, who don’t have the time or access to the very voluminous Road Rules (New South Wales version), need to be aware of a fairly severe fine related to parking in many situations.
That is because many parking scenarios are governed by “a continuous yellow edge line” rule, set out in Regulation 169 of the NSW Road Rules (2014).
The Dictionary to the Rules defines “edge line”: edge line, for a road, means “a line marked along the road at or near the far left or far right side of the road (except any road-related area of the road)”. Simple.
Parking restrictions related to unbroken yellow line
A recent matter involved the parking of a motor vehicle, partially alongside an unbroken yellow line painted in the gutter, and partially in an undesignated area, ie the yellow line stopped. There was no marking, by a line or any other device, in the “undesignated area”.
Wherever the yellow line appears, there are restrictions on the use of that space, especially for parking. Where the line ends, there is no sign to mark its end or the commencement of a different area. It just ends. And it can end up in court, leading to a Level 4 fine, which currently stands at $272.
The NSW Consolidated Regulations database contains the Road Rules (2014) for NSW motorists. There are more then 350 regulations in the Rules, and you may be surprised at what they cover.
Regulation 169 reads as follows.
169 No stopping on a road with a yellow edge line
A driver must not stop at the side of a road marked with a continuous yellow edge line.
Maximum penalty – 20 penalty units.
Note: “edge line” is defined in the Dictionary to the Rules, as noted above.
However, Regulation 165 provides defences for the prosecution of a motorist in such circumstances.
165 Stopping in an emergency etc or to comply with another rule
It is a defence to the prosecution of a driver for an offence against a provision of this Part if –
(a) the driver stops at a particular place, or in a particular way, to avoid a collision, and the driver stops for no longer than is necessary to avoid the collision, or
(b) the driver stops at a particular place, or in a particular way, because the driver’s vehicle is disabled, and the driver stops for no longer than is necessary for the vehicle to be moved safely to a place where the driver is permitted to park the vehicle under these Rules, or
(c) the driver stops at a particular place, or in a particular way, to deal with a medical or other emergency, or to assist a disabled vehicle, and the driver stops for no longer than is necessary in the circumstances, or
(d) the driver stops at a particular place, or in a particular way, because the condition of the driver, a passenger, or the driver’s vehicle makes it necessary for the driver to stop in the interests of safety, and the driver stops for no longer than is necessary in the circumstances, or
(e) the driver stops at a particular place, or in a particular way, to comply with another provision of these Rules or a provision of another law, and the driver stops for no longer than is necessary to comply with the other provision.
But note, in part (c) above, it’s not a vehicle to convey disabled persons that is exempted – it’s a vehicle which has itself become disabled due to an accident, breakdown etc.
The NRMA has produced a clear message for its members in its magazine – see Ask NRMA: What do solid yellow lines on the kerbside mean?
Councils increasingly using unbroken yellow line as “catch-all” offence
Visual aspects, safety considerations, durability and ease of maintenance are said to be the reasons some councils use them. For example, see the explanation on the website of Sutherland Shire: Yellow Edge Lines – What do they mean?
The use of the unbroken yellow line is expanding rapidly, because councils have realised that more revenue comes from the one “catch-all” offence, than from having numerous lesser fines for specific offences.
For a council the benefit of using the unbroken yellow line is twofold – as well as bringing in more revenue, it also means there is no need to install and maintain those many pesky poles for the numerous offences involving parking, stopping and so on.
So beware, these yellow lines, which are now 13 years old, are quite a hazard and mainly unknown, until you receive that whopping fine.
It is worth noting that NSW RMS runs a Road Rules Awareness Week to give an insight into every category of road user, with useful animations etc.
Such initiatives can only explain a small part of the Rules in one go, but you should feel free to look them up – even though the fact of the matter is that the Road Rules seem deliberately designed to be confusing and duplicitous.
Front line health worker with unblemished driving record
As for my client who was in court on the matter of the unbroken yellow line – we went to court on facts that included an unblemished driving record for over 45 years, for a health worker during Covid-19, who is delivering front line care to the elderly and armed with an organisational disability permit for parking while assisting the elderly.
We got started on the yellow line, but the magistrate intervened and asked:
“Is it the case the driver did not use the permit as they did not believe there were any parking restrictions there?”
“Were there any disabled parking spaces allocated around that building?”
“Ridiculous. They should be painting the disabled parking areas first, not after painting the yellow lines”.
The matter was dismissed without conviction or penalty.