Driving in Australia is a rewarding experience - a great way to enjoy the gorgeous natural scenery and magnificent trip destinations. Australia recognizes the International Driving Permit (IDP), so if you already have an IDP, then you'll be able to drive in Australia with a few or no problems. Even better, some Australian states only require you to bring your national driving license if it's in English.
However, you'll still need to know and follow Australian driving laws to avoid dangerous accidents or getting punishments for not adhering to them. I write to give you all the rules, regulations, and tips you should know about driving in Australia.
Driving Rules and Regulations in Australia
Australia has its own set of driving regulations. So, before you hop into your car and start enjoying the beautiful Australian scenery, make sure you know these important regulations.
1. Driving licenses
As has been stated above, foreigners in Australia are allowed to use their national driving license (in English) or International Driving Permit for three months. If you're staying for longer than three months, you must get an Australian driving license from the state you're staying in.
2. Drive on the left side
The Australia driving side might confuse many international drivers. While the majority of the world drives on the right side of the road, Australians drive on the left.
3. Wear your seat belts
Wearing your seat belts is compulsory in Australia. Whether you're the driver or a passenger, make sure to buckle up unless you want to get pulled over by an officer. Additionally, children and babies have to be restrained as well, using an approved booster seat or safety harness.
4. No Mobile phones
We all know that using cell phones while driving is extremely dangerous. The Australian government realizes this and prohibits drivers from using mobile devices in any way while driving in Australia.
5. Speed limits
Speed limits in Australia are visible on road signs. There are speed cameras throughout the country and you can expect a fine and a warning letter to come your way if you're caught on camera driving above the speed limit.
In the event of a motor vehicle accident, any person involved must report it immediately to the police. Stay calm and call 000, which is the Australian emergency number. Additionally, you're also required by law to call 000 if you witness a road accident when you're passing by, especially if the people involved are injured.
7. Traffic signs
Australian traffic signs are similar to those in other countries and shouldn't cause any confusion even for foreigners. But, it's worth remembering that it's illegal to turn left on the red light. It's also illegal to make a U-turn in some states unless signposted.
If you're going to park on the side of the road, always park on the left-hand side. Also, make sure you don't park on the opposite side or facing the oncoming traffic as this will result in a fine.
9. Drunk driving
In Australia, the blood alcohol content limit is 0.05%. If you're caught driving with a blood alcohol content higher than that, you'll have to make a court appearance. Depending on how often you've gotten caught for this offense, your punishment may be in the form of fines, a suspension, or criminal conviction.
Tips for Driving in Australia
Now that you know some of the most important regulations for driving in Australia, here are some additional tips that can help you improve your driving experience in the country.
1. Beware of wildlife
Australia is home to many wonderful and unique animals. Unfortunately, these animals can be a hazard when you're driving, especially at night. Keep an eye out for kangaroos, emus, dingoes, and wallabies.
There are usually road signs posted in an area where animals often appear on the road. These signs are usually shaped like a yellow diamond with a picture of a kangaroo in the middle. If you see this sign in when you're passing by an area, stay alert, and drive slower. If an animal suddenly appears in front of your vehicle, immediately step on your brakes, sound your horn, and flash your lights.
2. Courtesy wave
Be polite to the locals when you're driving. Do this by giving a small wave and a subtle head-nod towards your fellow drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians when they're being courteous to you on the road. Some situations that call for a courtesy wave include:
- As a thank you when a fellow driver gives you some space to merge or change lanes.
- As an apology when you accidentally cut off another driver.
- As an acknowledgment when you see someone driving the same model vehicle as you are.
3. Saving fuel
Fuel is expensive everywhere in the world and Australia is no exception. Here are some things you can do to optimize your fuel usage:
- Drive at a constant speed.
- Check the tire pressure.
- Roll down the window and turn off the air conditioner.
- Make sure your car is fully optimized and service it regularly.
4. Driving in the outback or rural areas
You need to be fully prepared before taking a ride in the Australian outback or rural areas. There are very few petrol stations and vehicle repair services in those areas. Moreover, the temperature can reach up to 45°C, making it even worse if your car breaks down. So, remember to:
- Carry extra food and a lot of water to drink.
- Fill up your fuel before going on a ride.
- Carry at least 20 liters of extra fuel.
- Always stop at petrol stations or truck stops whenever you reach one.
- Always bring cash, some petrol stations might not accept cards.
Take Home Message
Driving in Australia can be a great and rewarding experience for travelers. It's a wonderful way to enjoy this beautiful country. Of course, just like in other countries, there is a set of rules that you need to follow while driving. Adhering to those rules will not only make your trip safer, but they will also make it more enjoyable. Remember to drive safe!