5 road rules you may not know

Road sign indicating caution

There are a number of road rules for situations we rarely, or may never face while driving. Knowing these is important, as it could help reduce the chances of an accident while also making you a better driver.

Here are five questions to test your knowledge of some of the more obscure rules of the road in Hong Kong.


1. What hand signals can you use for turning?

As you probably know, it is legally required for all drivers on the road to use turn indicators to signal a turn or overtake. While it often seems like many drivers in the city won't be burning their turn indicator lights out anytime soon, there is always a chance that you may come across a driver whose lights are blocked or not working. Therefore, it is important that you know the other signals a person can use to indicate a turn.


For motorcycles:

Indicate a right turn by taking your right arm and pointing to the right. Do not point ahead, as this will usually not be seen by drivers.

Indicate a left turn by either taking your right arm and making a backward L (arm out to the right, bent at the elbow with your hand pointing to the sky). You can also point left using your left arm.

If you brake lights are out, put your right arm out and motion down to the pavement and then slightly up with your hand a few times.

For cars and trucks:

Indicate a right turn by pointing your right arm straight out the window. You can indicate a left turn by pointing your right arm out the window and pointing your fist to the sky. It should look like a backward L.

You can indicate that you intend to slow down by sticking your right hand out the window and motioning down to the pavement and then slightly up a few times.


2. How long can you idle your engine for in Hong Kong?

It is not uncommon for cars and trucks to be left running while unloading or picking something up, but did you know there actually is a law in place as to how long you can idle your vehicle for? According to the Transport Department, " The driver of a motor vehicle is prohibited from causing or permitting any internal combustion engine which forms part of a motor vehicle to operate for more than three minutes in aggregate within any continuous sixty-minute period while the vehicle is stationary".

In short, if you are stationary for three or more minutes while in a vehicle with an engine you are required to turn it off. There are, however, a number of exemptions to this rule including:

  • If you are in traffic.

  • If your car is experiencing mechanical issues that lead your car to idle.

  • If you are loading or unloading passengers. Note: This only applies to passengers. If you are unloading goods, you will need to turn your vehicle off.

  • If you are assisting in a medical or roadside emergency.

  • If there is a severe weather signal hoisted e.g., red or black rain, or a very hot weather warning.

Generally speaking, it is a good idea to turn your car off when you are going to be sitting for an extended period of time. This will reduce emissions and the amount of fuel you are using.


3. What is the average stopping distance of most vehicles?

The stopping distance depends on a number of elements such as the size of the vehicle, type of brakes uses, and speed. There is however, a generally accepted distance that is split into two different sections: Thinking distance (the distance you travel in the time it takes you to realize you need to brake) and braking distance (the distance you travel to actually stop the vehicle), both of which will vary depending on how fast you are going.

  • For cars going 40 km/hour - Total stopping distance is 20 meters. 10 meters of thinking distance, 10 meters of braking distance.  

  • For cars going 60 km/hour - Total of 35 meters stopping distance. 15 meters of thinking distance, 20 meters of braking distance.

  • For cars going 80 km/hour - Total stopping distance is 60 meters. 20 meters of thinking distance, 40 meters of braking distance.

Bear in mind that these distances are for cars only, larger vehicles like trucks and buses have much longer stopping distances. These distances are also for normal road and vehicle conditions if it is raining or your car has poor brakes you should increase the distance drastically.

One useful way to judge distance in Hong Kong is by using the size of the double decker buses. The vast majority of these buses on the road in the city are just over 10 meters long. So, if you are going 80 km/hour you can expect to take at least 6 bus lengths to stop.


4. What are the legal requirements for your car's tires?

First and foremost, it is legally required that your vehicle has not only the right type of tire but also a good quality tire that meets legal tread requirements.


Types of tires allowed in Hong Kong

Cars can have one of two types of tires in the city: radial and cross-ply. These are both legally acceptable tire types, but is is illegal to have different types on the same axle. For example, you can't have a radial tire in the front-right, and a cross-ply in the front-left of your vehicle.


Tire tread requirements

Having "bald" tires (tires without a tread) is illegal in Hong Kong. According to the Transport Department, all tires on vehicles should have tires with "treads that must be at least a 1 mm deep across three-quarters of the breadth of the pattern." Luckily, most modern tires have an indicator, usually in the middle tread, that is the minimum lowest the tread should be for the tire to remain safe.


5. When is it ok to not wear a seatbelt?

When learning how to drive one of the first things we are told is to always buckle your seatbelt when we get into the vehicle. Despite this, there are actually situations where you are not legally required to wear a seatbelt:

  • When you are backing into or out of a parking space

  • Executing a three point turn

  • Any other situations where you are reversing the car

While you don't have to be wearing a seatbelt in these situations, there is always a chance that you will be hit by another car. Even if you are not moving fast, being hit by another vehicle when you are not wearing a seatbelt can lead to injury. We strongly recommend buckling up whenever you are in the vehicle, even if you are only moving the car a few feet.

One of the advantages of knowing these, and other rules, is that it can help minimize the chances of getting into an accident. This is beneficial because many car insurance plans offer a no claims discount which increases for each year of claim-free driving. To learn more about this, or secure a plan that offers this discount, contact the experts at Kwiksure today.