IF you are considering going on an Australian road trip, you are in for an amazing experience. Simply, Australia is definitely worth seeing, and this way you’re going to see the most of it. If this is your first-time road tripping, here are some of the essential information and tips, so everything goes the best way possible.
If you are an Aussie, just make sure your driver’s license is valid. If you are a foreigner (from an English-speaking country) you can drive with your license for three months. Longer than that, you will have to get an Australian state license. If you’re not from an English-speaking country, you will have to get an International Driving Permit from your country’s Automobile Association BEFORE coming to Australia.
2. Car safety
As always, safety first.
The most important car safety step you have to do before starting your road trip is getting a roadside assistance, because you never know what can happen so you might as well be prepared for everything. Depending on your needs and how often you travel, do a roadside assistance compare to make sure you are getting the best deal possible.
In Australia, seat belt laws are really strict. Every person in the car has to wear a seat belt. When it comes to children, they have to be restrained in safety harnesses or booster seats up to 6 or 7 years old, depending on the state. If a passenger who is older than 16 is not wearing a seat belt, he will be fined along with the driver if they get caught.
Alcohol and drugs
When it comes to drugs and alcohol, the maximum allowed blood alcohol level is 0,05%, but for learners and professional drivers there is zero tolerance. Random alcohol and drug tests are often conducted by the authorities. If you’re caught drunk-driving, you can expect an enormous fine and a period of driving suspension, since it is considered a criminal offence. Depending on your reading, the court will determine how high your fine will be. Also, never refuse a random breath test.
If an accident happens, and it involves injury or death, you immediately have to contact the police. You have to stay put until they arrive, and do anything you can to help an injured person.
3. Speed limits and speeding
When it comes to speed limits, they are clearly signposted everywhere, and they need to be respected. Also, you have to have special cases such as holidays and school hours in your mind as well. Speeding cameras are everywhere, and there are also many hidden cameras. All police vehicles have radars and there is no tolerance for speeding. Many states even double their fines one day before major holidays because the risk of accidents is much higher.
Since Melbourne has an extensive tram network, there are some additional rules there.
Because cars often drive over the tram tracks, there are dotted yellow lane markers on the left side of tracks, and they mean that cars are allowed to drive in that lane. If there is a solid yellow line, they are not allowed to drive there. If a tram is stopped and the passengers are exiting or crossing a road to get to the tram, you mustn’t drive past a tram. Also, since turning right across the tram tracks is difficult, they invented a hook turn that involves turning right from the left lane.
5. Toll roads
There are payment tolls on some motorways, bridges and tunnels near or in Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney. Note that they can’t be paid in cash, you need to use a payment transponder fitted inside your vehicle. If you drive on a toll road without it, they will take a photo of your vehicle and give you from 1 to 3 days to arrange your payment.
6. Rental vehicles
When you come to a rental company, they will give you a short road rules test you have to pass in order to rent a car. Also, rental cars also have restrictions on where you can drive them – you should check that by reading the fine print on your rental contract. Usually, that includes unsealed roads and more than a set distance from the urban area.
7. Driving beyond the city
Outside major cities, as well as between capitals, most highways have two lanes and are undivided, sealed asphalt roads. Note that 60 percent of fatal accidents happen there. Speed limits vary between 90 km/h and 110 km/h. Since there are no barriers and divisions from oncoming traffic, you need to be extra careful.
8. Animals on the road
In Australia, animals are more active during night time, and that’s why many car hire firms have a curfew on driving after the sun goes down, especially in western and northern territories. Some rare and endangered species such as cassowary for example, are at huge risk of vehicle strikes, especially during night time. That is why it would be the best if you would try to reach your destination before nightfall. If you can’t do so, reduce your speed and stay alert.
That would be it. We hope you will have a fun road trip, and if you want to share your experiences, feel free to comment.