When we look at road signs, most of them are easily recognisable to us. From signs like “No Parking” to “No Stopping” and speed limits, they are pretty much elementary. Even those from other countries will not have a hard time comprehending what they are.
Road signs are utilised to bring order to the roads. This way, everyone can go about their business with minimum delay. If these signs are not present, chaos would reign, and the driving experience would become extremely dangerous.
However, many Australians would agree that driving, especially in urban areas, can be quite confusing. Some signs are poorly labelled, and it takes guesswork to determine if it is safe to stop in a certain spot. One, in particular, is the loading zone, which is a tricky sign that comes with important rules to grasp.
Parking Signs in Australia
Before we take a look at loading zones, their use, significance, rules, let us have a refresher on the parking signs in the country:
- P: If you see the letter P written on a parking sign, it denotes the number of hours that vehicles are allowed to park in that particular area. For instance, if it says 3P, it means that you can park in that spot for three hours.
- Ticket: When an area requires a ticket, it means that you have to pay to park there. You will also find a parking metre, which you should use. Alternatively, you can download an app to make parking much easier and on the go for you.
- Arrow: The parking sign has an arrow that is usually below the letter “P.” It specifies the direction where the parking rules apply. Most of the time, the arrow will point to one direction, but you can find several places where the arrows are pointing both ways.
You will also see a bus zone, which is a place designated for buses. When you read this sign, you are not allowed to park there unless you have a bus or in some cases, a permit.
Another that you will find is a loading zone sign, which is the main topic of this blog post. Just like with bus zones, you are not allowed to park in a loading zone. Of course, some exceptions enable you to park here. This post will tackle everything you need to know about loading zones in Australia, particularly in Victoria.
What Exactly is a Loading Zone?
Loading zone signs are all over the country. Although these signs do not have clear instructions on them, you can take comfort in the fact that these signs look the same regardless of the location. Therefore, the signs appear identical in Victoria, New South Wales, Tasmania, and so on.
There are two types of loading zone signs. The first one is the 24-hour loading zone. It simply has the words “Loading Zone” on it with an arrow pointing towards the direction of the spot. The other has the same elements except that it also comes with the exact days of the week and time. In contrast, New Zealand, for example, visibly dictates what type of vehicles can park in their loading zones.
Nevertheless, it is safe to say that the loading zone signs in Australia are easily detected. They are written in bold letters, which is why you can see them right away even when your vehicle is still far from these zones.
The primary purpose of these loading zones is to allow parking for a short period. Only specific vehicles can use the loading zone.
What is the Use of the Loading Zones?
Loading zones exist so vehicles can load and unload goods. You can find these signs in many urban centres. Vehicles that are allowed to utilise this part of the road can stay parked in the space for up to 30 minutes. Some rules may apply to the duration of the parking time. It all depends on whether you are dropping off or hauling away goods.
Who Can Use a Loading Zone?
Just like in any state, Victoria has specific rules that all citizens and visitors should comply with. Only those who are driving the following types of vehicles can use the loading zones:
- Vehicles transporting goods
- Signed delivery or courier trucks
- Vehicles that are delivering or picking up products
- Vehicles, such as buses, which can seat 10 to 12 adults (the number includes the driver)
- Automobiles used to carry passengers for a reward or driving service
- Taxis and cars for hire that are licenced to carry out commercial services
- Public buses
If your vehicle does not match the descriptions above, you are not allowed to use the loading zone. Therefore, you cannot stop and load or unload any passenger or item.
Understanding the Time Limits
Loading zones typically allow 30 minutes of parking for the vehicles mentioned above. Some loading zones allow 15 minutes only, but there are also some with hourly time limits. To know how long you can park, you should read the sign thoroughly. Usually, it is not difficult to see whether you can stay for just 15 minutes or you 30 minutes.
Most of the time though, trucks of any size, Ute cars, and vans are allowed to use the loading zones and park there for 30 minutes maximum. On the other hand, vehicles that can park for up to 15 minutes include station wagons.
This type of vehicle is described as being equivalent to a sedan. Therefore, it has a flat roof that extends to the rear and has a consistent height throughout. It has a rear entrance that works well for loading goods. A station wagon also has removable or foldable seats. This way, it can provide more space for goods.
Meanwhile, some loading zones will give you the exact time limit while others only have the words “Loading Zone” and nothing else. If you cannot see that there is a time restriction, it is 30 minutes by default. Remember that while you can use the loading zone if you meet the criteria for it, there are still rules to follow.
The most important condition is that you cannot use the spot unless you are loading or unloading. Therefore, you cannot just use it because you need to park your vehicle. Another significant thing to know is that you should never exceed the time limit. Whether you are loading or unloading, you should stick with the time restrictions.
Who Cannot Use the Loading Zones?
AWD and 4WD vehicles are not allowed to park in loading zones, along with SUVs and other people mover cars. Even if you will unload or load passengers or goods, you cannot use the loading zone unless you have a commercial vehicle.
If you ride a motorcycle, it is not considered to be a type of commercial vehicle. Therefore, you cannot park it in a loading zone. This rule applies to all states. The only exception is if you have a permit from the government or any author.
How are the Authorised Vehicles for the Loading Zone Recognised?
Courier and parcel delivery vehicles are required to carry signs. Whether they are stations wagons, motorcycles, sedans, or any similar vehicle, they should meet the specifications given below:
- The sign contains the name of the business or the company. They can have other words or symbols.
- The letters and symbols stated above should be at least 50mm high and of suitable width to ensure readability.
- The signs should be legible and readable from five metres.
- They should be written in clear contrast with the background.
The signs should be marked on both sides of the vehicle’s body and should be permanent. Therefore, it is not allowed to use magnetic signs and those that you can place on roof racks or windows. The only exception is if you use permanent adhesives. Motorbikes can have the sign on both sides of the vehicle. It can also be placed on the rear.
What Will Happen if You Do Not Have a Signage at All?
Here is a friendly reminder for the drivers of commercial sedans and station wagons. If you do not have signage, you are at risk of being booked. The same rule applies to those who have signage but do not follow the appropriate sizing.
To avoid any problematic situation, you can simply use a quarter of the designated hours in the loading area. To be even more on the safe side, go to a standard parking space where you can pick up or deliver goods. It may not be as convenient as parking in the loading zones but you minimise the risk of getting in trouble with the law. You certainly do not want to pay the hefty fine if you get caught.
How Can You Park in a Loading Zone?
If you plan to park in a loading zone, you should get a ticket first, which can be obtained from a ticket machine nearby. You will not have to pay for the time you use the space, whether it is for 15 or 30 minutes.
Parking Regulations in Victoria
Local councils are the authorities behind the implementation of most parking rules in the state. They also look after certain issues associated with parking. The police and other agencies regulate some of the rules as well. However, each of them will convene and ensure there is consistency with the enforced rules.
It should be noted that parking and stopping regulations should still be followed even if your car has broken down. It is also not an excuse for you to avoid complying with these rules if you simply have your warning lights on.
Some rules to be aware of and follow include:
- Never leave your car without the parking brake engaged.
- Make sure the key is no longer in the ignition.
- If no one is in the car, ensure all doors and windows are locked.
- Remove valuables when necessary or at least hide them out of plain sight.
Read the signs carefully.
- Parking signs come with the time when you can use the area, the duration, and the number of units.
- Some areas do not allow parking during public holidays – even if you want to park on weekdays.
Understand the basics of parking.
- You cannot double park in any area.
- You also cannot park the car or take goods or drop them off when you are in an intersection. The only exception is if you are on a continuous path of a T-intersection.
- No one is allowed to park or stop on a freeway unless there is an emergency stopping lane.
- You can park or stop across a driveway but only for two minutes maximum. At this time, you can pick up and drop off goods or passengers.
- You are also not allowed to park if the clear road is smaller than three metres.
- Only motorcycles and bicycles are allowed to park in a footpath, reservation, and nature strip.
- You cannot park in a lane that is distinctly marked for buses, trams, and trucks.
- Slip lanes are also restricted unless the sign specifically says otherwise.
- No one should park in a clearway, a no stopping area, and a painted island where a marking specifically says, “Keep Clear.”
But where can you park? The state specifies that drivers can park or get out of their vehicles when they are opposite a driveway. The requirement is that there should be at least three metres of space available beside your car. Citizens and visitors can also park anywhere provided that the business or home allows staying on that particular spot.
Important Rules to Follow
Anyone who wants to park in a loading zone should know that replacing a ticket that already expired is against the law. If you have a ticket that you did not use from a few days ago, you cannot use it on another day to extend your time.
If you get caught for doing the rule above, you will be fined. The penalty for this misdemeanour is $86. Some people, however, would use the loading zones even when they are not authorised to do so. If an officer sees a car on the loading zone and it does not meet any of the requirements above, they will be penalised for it. Several years back, the fine was $173, but it was later changed to $110.12.
Aside from the guidelines mentioned above, there are also rules that you need to follow that concern loading zones in many states, including Victoria. Amendments were made which consisted of:
- According to the existing Road Rules, no driver who operates hire cars can use the loading zones. It can be quite confusing because the Road rules are inconsistent with the Loading Zone Guidelines. In this case, the Rules will be modified to ensure there is consistency.
- A huge change to the Regulations included fines for unlawful parking. From 2007 to 2008, the penalty was $110.12, which is for one unit. It remains the same to this day.
- In 2004, the Government Gazette required the Treasurer to fix the parking fees and other regulations once every financial year. Aside from the parking fees, the penalty unit was addressed.
- Under the Transport Integration Act, commercial passenger vehicles were allowed to park and stop in the loading zones. They can then drop off or pick up passengers. They can also get and deliver goods while in these areas.
Effective since the 1st of July 2017, the Road Rules have changed drastically. Courier and delivery cars cannot stop in a loading zone except if they need to drop off or pick up goods.
An Overview of the Differences in Loading Zone Laws by state
The loading zone laws in the whole country are pretty straightforward. They are mostly the same, but there are a few major differences.
For instance, all the loading zones usually have huge signage that says “Loading Zone” along with the arrow that points to the specific spot. The arrow tells you where you can park, whether it is on the right or left side.
Here are some differences that you may want to know about:
- New South WalesThe law states that only drivers of vehicles that are created to carry goods (such as trucks and vans) can park their vehicles in loading zones. They can stay there for up to 30 minutes. On the other hand, a station wagon can only stop for 15 minutes maximum.The same time limit applies to other three-wheelers that deliver and receive goods. Holders of disability permits are not allowed to use the loading zone for parking in NSW. If you violate these rules, you will have to pay the fine which is exactly $187.
- QueenslandAnyone can use loading zones if they drive a truck that picks up or drops off either passengers or goods. However, stopping is only allowed for up to 30 minutes. If you have a commercial vehicle ID that the government issued, you should present it so you can park in the area.You can stay for up to 30 minutes as well. If you are simply dropping off goods or picking them up for delivery, you can only use the area for up to 20 minutes.Taxis and limousines can use the loading zone, but they cannot park there. They are only allowed to pick up or drop off passengers. Therefore, they have to leave right away.
In some circumstances, it may take a while to unload or load the passengers. In this case, these vehicles can stand in the loading zone for up to two minutes and no more. If you use the loading zone when you are not permitted to do so, you will be fined $130 in Queensland.
- South AustraliaCommercial vehicles can drop off or load goods for up to 30 minutes unless the sign has another time limit indicated. The Adelaide City Council defined the term “commercial vehicle” as a motor vehicle that is designed to mainly carry goods.These vehicles include trucks, utes, and vans. However, the area does not include station wagons in the definition. Another rule is that other non-commercial cars, such as sedans, four-wheelers, people movers, and station wagons, can still stop in the loading zone. However, they can only do so if they have goods that are huge or difficult to handle.They are allowed to use the spot as indicated on the sign, which is typically up to 10 minutes. If it is illegal for you to stop in a loading zone, yet you still do it, you will be fined $129 in South Australia.
- Western AustraliaParticularly in the City of Perth, loading zones are not for non-commercial use. To be on the safe side, you should avoid loading zones whenever you are in the state if you need to park your car.Therefore, they are designed for commercial vehicles only and those that are authorised (such as local government cars) to utilise the area. The only exception is if the person is required to load or unload items continuously.Commercial vehicles in Perth are defined the same as above. However, they do not include cars designed for transporting materials for any business and other trades.
Just like in other states, WA has a strict rule regarding the duration of parking, which is up to 30 minutes only. Illegally parking in loading zones will cost you $100.
- Northern TerritoryLoading zones are designed for vehicles that carry goods only. These cars include trucks, commercial vans, and utes, but not station wagons. Sedans and other body type cars are not allowed as well.If you drive a sedan, you can use the loading zone if you have a permit that the Northern Territory government granted you with. The penalty for illegal use of loading zones is quite low here, which is only $50.
- Australian Capital TerritoryIn Canberra and the rest of the ACT, motorists can use the loading zone. However, they should be driving a vehicle that carries goods, which it is designed to do. Just like with the other states, the maximum allowed time for parking is 30 minutes.The government of ACT counts vans, utes, and trucks as commercial vehicles appropriate for loading zone use. Meanwhile, 4WDs, people movers, station wagons, and similar vehicles are not authorised.Nevertheless, they can still use the loading zone if they have purchased a permit from the authorities. The fine for illegal parking in and use of loading zones is $153 in the ACT.
- Tasmania Trucks, buses, and service vehicles are allowed to use the loading zones. They can stay on the spot for up to 30 minutes unless it is stated otherwise. Meanwhile, wagons, hatchbacks, and sedans can use the loading zones provided that the vehicle bears the street address and name of the business or operator.These pieces of information should be displayed on the vehicle permanently, which can be on the right or left-hand side. Note that temporary decals, including magnetic ones, will not be accepted. Picking up and dropping off passengers are not allowed. The fine in this state is $81.50, which applies for illegal use of loading zones and going over the allotted time.
The rules do resemble one another, which makes it easy to remember them even if you go to another state. Once again, motorcycles, even those that deliver and perform certain duties for a company, cannot stop in a loading zone in all states in the country.
Some FAQs about Loading Zones
What if I need to deliver bikes or electrical appliances to a store near a loading zone? Can I park my sedan in the area?
The simple answer to this question is no. Bear in mind that you cannot use the loading zone if your vehicle does not bear the name of your operator or business. It should permanently be written on one side of the vehicle. Unless you have a truck or a commercial vehicle, you need not have the operator’s name and address.
The vehicle I drive is a sedan and is registered under a company’s name. What should I do to us the loading zones?
You must have the signs fixed to your sedan. The same applies to those who drive a station wagon.
I have a truck and it is designed primarily for goods. Can I use the loading zones for any purpose?
You cannot park in a loading zone unless you are picking up or delivering loads.
Where should I park if my vehicle is not allowed in a loading zone?
You have plenty of parking spaces to choose from, which the local councils in your area provide. They are available for general use, including parking and picking up or dropping off passengers.
Loading zones can be quite a headache to understand. Hopefully, in this post we have enlightened you on these areas in Victoria and the rest of the country.