Driving Tips, Rules & Regulations in Australia

Because Australia is known for its vast and great outdoors, exploring the continent by car is the best way to make the most of the scenic routes and be exposed to the sights as much as possible. But because the Australian driving experience can be a bit more adventurous than most, travellers will have to be prepared for a couple of important things.

While the entire continent is as large as the US, the population in Australia is not as high, so you’ll find yourself travelling longer distances between cities and around the road network. Most of the roads won’t be as developed too, so if you’re planning on renting a car, you may as well get a vehicle that can withstand some rough terrain.

Those who intend to stay in Australia for more than three months are normally better off just buying a car rather than renting, but either way travellers should opt for more common models because they’ll have parts that are easier to replace and work with. This is important as motorists will almost always be on their own when something goes wrong, since they’ll be mostly end up in remote areas that are far from mechanics. The trick is to get a car that’s easy to deal with in case of mechanical problems.

Traffic rules are pretty common in Australia. Speed signs are clearly put up in the right places, so you can bet that they’re well enforced. Speed cameras are almost everywhere, so be extra mindful of the average 50 km/h in cities and the 100 km/h outside, which may vary in between locations. Make sure you always have your passport with you.

There’s a $250 fine for every passenger caught not wearing a seat belt, so make sure everybody’s buckled up before you hit the road. What’s more is that car companies have a practice of imposing charges if the car your rented incurred any fines, so be extra careful if you don’t want to end up spending a lot of money.

When in Melbourne, you’ll need to learn how to deal with making turns in roads that have trams in them. Remember that tram passengers have the right of way in these areas, so wait for them to pass by. When turning, always proceed to the far end of the intersection upon getting a go signal from the traffic light and only turn right to cross the intersection at that point. This is called a “hook turn”, which is an alternative to the more dangerous sharp turns when encountering tram tracks.

Finally, be prepared when on the round. The majority of accidents take place outside the cities. Take care not to run over wildlife and try to travel in a way that you reach your next destination before nightfall. As long as you plan your trips and are aware of where the nearest gas stations and repair shops on the road are, you’ll be fine.

Summary

Speed signs are clearly put up in the right places.
Speed cameras are almost everywhere.
Average speed limits of 50 km/h in cities and the 100 km/h outside. These vary though.
Always have your passport with you.
Wear your seat belt. There is a $250 fine for every passenger caught not wearing a one.
If in Melbourne, remember tram passengers have the right of way.
It you are travelling outside of the city, mind out for wildlife and try to travel in a way that you reach your next destination before nightfall.
Mobile phone coverage is poor in remote areas as its a large country. Be mindful if this.

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