Rules For Driving in Australia

An Australian road trip is one that is almost definitely needed on any bucket list. With so many open spaces, stunning sights and diverse locations, it holds an almost mythical allure.

In The Inbetweeners 2, a group of friends tried driving across a small portion of the outback and spectacularly failed. Don’t let that happen to you!

We have prepared a list of the all-important driving rules for when you are in Oz. Stick to these, and that trip will be stress free. In addition, our handy money-saving in Australia guide means you can perhaps enjoy more of the sights and less expense!

Don’t forget, we provide worldwide car hire excess insurance, so if you were to break down or have problems like The Inbetweeners did, we’ve got your back.

Read on to see how you can stay on the right side of the law (and road!) when in Australia.

Have a valid licence

Depending on how long your trip to Australia is will determine what licence you need. If you are staying for up to 3 months. Your personal licence from home is fine. If you are visiting for longer than 3 months you will need an International Driving Permit. If you don’t have the correct licence, you are likely to be heading to court!

Never forget your seatbelt

Everybody in the vehicle must wear a seatbelt – no question! The law also states that young children must be in baby carriers or booster seats. Children under 7 years old must be in a suitable child restraint for their size and weight.

Don’t drink or take drugs and drive…at all!

In Australia, drink driving or driving under the influence of any substance is taken very seriously.

It may have been nice to stop at that bar as you cruise from one place to the next, but stick to the cola. If you show a blood alcohol level of over 0.05, you are in big trouble. Fines and prison are going to be the feature of your holiday if you do!

Roadside drug testing is common. No test can be certified as 100% accurate, so you could find yourself having a rather disrupted holiday as you await the final results from lab tests.

Mobile phones are not allowed

As in many countries now, you cannot use a phone whilst driving. If a passenger is operating it, fine. If it is on a hands-free set, no problem. The moment you use it as a driver, you’ll be in all sorts of trouble as the fines can be huge.

Don’t drive when tired

As we mentioned at the top of the page, some journeys in Australia can be huge! The space between locations so vast that several stopovers might be needed. That’s why it is illegal to drive when tired in Australia.

Many people have been prosecuted due to fatigue being the cause of an accident when driving in Australia. Some have escaped with a large fine, others have been sent to prison. Our advice? Drive safe and rest well.

You will find rest areas every 80-100km on main highways and roads.

Respect cyclists

In Australia, many roads do not feature a designated cycle lane. A law has been passed that instructs a driver to always provide at least one metre of space if passing a cyclist. If the road is too narrow or the metre cannot be observed, you cannot overtake until it is safe to do so.

Additional rules in Australia

Some road rules are specific to certain areas. Have you ever been “hooning” or driven alongside trams?

Well, as luck would have it, we know a bit about them both! Let’s start with the hoon.

Hooning in Queensland

To “hoon” is to be antisocial as you drive, be it speeding, playing loud music, racing or driving dangerously. Essentially, anything that could potentially lead to an accident, interferes with a safe environment or doesn’t consider the surroundings could mean you are hooning. If you do commit one of these offences, you could be hit with a fine of up to $5250 or prison time.

You could also get your car confiscated.

Trams in Melbourne

It isn’t often you get to drive alongside trams, but in Melbourne they are part of the road network. Follow this simple list to ensure you don’t get on the wrong side of the tram rules:

  • Never move into the path of an approaching tram.
  • At a tram stop, you MUST stop level with the rear of a stationary tram until the doors have closed.
  • Don’t go over 10km/h when passing a stationary tram.
  • Always stop more than 20 meters away from a tram stop unless signs indicate otherwise
  • Do not attempt to drive on the tramways
  • You can only drive along a tram lane for 50 metres in order to turn right.

Driving in Australia FAQ’s

What side of the road do you drive on in Australia?

In Australia, you drive on the left.

What is the speed limit in Australia?

Limits range from as low as 5km/h up to 81km/h. Signs will indicate the limits in many areas, but not all. It is also worth noting that all speeds are shown in km/h and not mph.

What are the rules on overtaking in Australia?

If the centre line on the road is a single line and broken, you can overtake when it is safe. If the centre has 2 lines with the one nearest to you broken, then you cannot overtake at any time. If arrows are shown on the road, travel can only go in the direction they face.

If I have an emergency driving in Australia, who do I call?

The emergency services number in Australia is 000. This will put you in contact with the police, ambulance or fire services.

Looking to complete that road trip through the outback? Maybe the lights of Sydney and the sights of Perth take your fancy? Either way, contact us at Direct Car Hire Excess. We can help you avoid costly excess fees and allow that trip to remain stress free. Worldwide car hire excess insurance can be yours at the click of button!


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