Top tips to help you get used to the Australian roads

Posted by: Cal on 24/04/2014

Category: General

There is a lot to remember in order to ensure you are driving safely on Australian roads, and if you're new to the country or you have just obtained your licence, it can seem a lot to take in. However, once you begin to get a few hours of driving under your belt, it will all get a lot easier!

If you are new to negotiating the Aussie roads, here are a few important factors to ensure you keep safe:

Stick to the left

Here in Australia, all road users must stick to the left side of the road. Because many countries use the right side, this may seem strange and unfamiliar at first. However, this is the number one rule of driving in Australia and must be followed to avoid a head-on collision.

Carry a valid licence

Before you take to the Aussie roads, you must ensure you carry a valid drivers licence. According to the Australian government, most areas allow drivers to drive for up to three months on a valid overseas licence. Some states may require you have an International Licence as well as your foreign licence.

Avoid distractions

Using a mobile phone while driving is illegal in Australia, whether you are taking a call, texting, playing games or simply holding the phone. It may seem tempting to send a quick message while you're at the lights, but you must be pulled over with the car turned off for it to be legal. There are some hands-free devices that can be installed in your vehicle if you are very likely to need to talk on the run.

Aside from mobile phones, you should always try to avoid or limit other distractions such as radios, pets and children when in the car. 

Stick to the speed limit

Different areas and roads have their own speed limit. When you see a circular sign with a speed limit on it, you must not exceed the speed indicated in that particular area. Areas such as schools or built-up areas are likely to have a lower speed limit, while open roads and rural areas will mean you can travel at a faster speed. If you do exceed the speed limit, you may be at risk of receiving a fine - however, the main concern is that travelling above the speed limit is unsafe.

Alcohol and drug laws

Here in Australia, driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs is not tolerated, and you may be at risk of a conviction if you are found to be over the legal limit. According to Drinkwise Australia, the legal limit is 0.05 blood alcohol limit (BAC) for drivers on their full licence, but drivers on probationary or learners licences must always have a BAC of zero. It is also illegal to drive under the influence of drugs. Breaking either of these laws may result in fines or even imprisonment.

Weather conditions

Australia is a country of extremes when it comes to weather, and conditions must be taken into consideration as they can affect driving. Flooding, bushfires and snow are all potentially hazardous weather conditions. Reduce your speed in wet weather, increase your following distance, call emergency services if conditions are severe, and do not attempt to drive through floods.

Wildlife and other hazards

Occasionally, you may encounter wildlife such as kangaroos or cattle on the road, as well as other hazards such as fallen trees. Always stay on the alert while driving in case of such an encounter, and reduce your speed as soon as you become aware of a potential hazard. You may want to report wandering stock or other road obstructions to the local council of the area you are in.

Make sure your car is roadworthy

To be safe on the road, your car needs to be up to standard according to Australian safety requirements. Your car tyres are one of the most important parts of your car, and Australian law requires your tread depth to be at least 1.6mm. Any less than this and your tyre is not roadworthy. If you're not sure how to check this, the tyre experts at Tyreright can help you out!