Tips for overseas drivers

Posted by: Cal on 23/09/2013

Category: General

For foreign drivers coming into Australia, things might be a little different. First of all, we drive on the left side of the road! This can often throw visitors a curveball, as many other nations are used to driving on the right.

Here are some tips that might help out foreign drivers coming into Australia who have to deal with a slightly different style of driving.

First things first

One of the most important things is to make sure that you are allowed to drive in Australia. Many overseas drivers will be allowed to drive with a valid license from their home country.

Conditions of the home license must be adhered to and it must be current. Once there is a change in visa, citizenship or the overseas license expires, the visitor will be required to obtain an Australia license.

The license must be kept on-person while driving at all times, and if the license is in a language other than English then there must be a translation or an international driving permit.

Make sure that whatever vehicle you are driving is in good condition, with healthy car tyres and a reliable engine.

Driving on the left

You will find traffic operating on the left hand side of the road with all vehicles operating with right-hand drive.

That means, if you're used to driving on the opposite side of the road, you'll have to pay extreme attention. Even as a pedestrian you will need to be aware of this, as you may look in the wrong direction for traffic when crossing a road - so look both ways.

A good way of reminding yourself to drive on the correct side of the road is to make sure that you, the driver, are always sitting closest to the middle of the road, and that oncoming traffic is passing your driver's side.

The rest

Seatbelts must always be worn in Australia. Speed limits must be obeyed and there are random breath checks for drugs and alcohol, so do not drive under the influence. Be aware that speed is measured in kilometres, so get familiar with this system. Speed cameras and traffic police are common and will fine you for being over the limit.

Texting or using a mobile device while driving is illegal. The only kind of system permitted is a hands-free device.

You are also obligated to stop your vehicle if there is a car accident or someone is hurt. It's illegal to drive away or not to check on the person - if you do so you will face prosecution.

Another thing you need to be aware of in Australia is the wildlife. Especially at dusk and dawn in rural areas, animals can be active on the roads. This includes large animals such as kangaroos, so always be alert.

When driving in rural areas, you'll need to be aware and prepared. There are huge, vast unpopulated areas, so you need to have some items in case of an emergency where you are stranded. These include extra water, food and even some extra fuel and a first aid kit.

If possible avoid travelling at night, especially long distances, and pull into a service station or onto the side of the road for a nap if you start to feel tired.

Always adjust your speed to the conditions, so if it's dark or the road is dirt or of a low quality, then drive at a slower speed.

It might seem a lot to take in, but much of the information is common sense. Make sure that you stay alert and aware and obey the law and you are likely to have a fantastic time driving through some of Australia's amazing scenery.