If you are going to drive in Australia, no matter whether you are an experienced driver and have an international drivers’ licence or not, YOU MUST KNOW THE ROAD RULES before you attempt to drive (even 10metres)! Many lives are lost on Australian roads every year and international visitors are at high risk! If you come from a country where you drive on the opposite side of the road to Australia it is sometimes helpful to have a companion drive with you to ensure you both take note of traffic conditions and signs until you are more familiar with driving on the left side of the road.
In Victoria, VicRoads is the Victorian Government roads corporation. Visit their website and read the information on road safety, road rules, standards and regulations. If you are studying at Albury-Wodonga campus, remember that Albury is in the state of New South Wales, so different road rules may apply. Visit New South Wales Transport, Roads and Maritime Services for more information.
In most States/Territories of Australia if you hold a current driver licence from another country, you are allowed to drive on your overseas licence as long as:
- You remain a temporary overseas visitor
- Your overseas licence remains current
- You have not been disqualified from driving in that State or elsewhere and
- You have not had your licence suspended or cancelled or your visiting driver privileges withdrawn
- Your licence is in English and is carried with you at all times.
Visit the VicRoads website for more detailed information about driving under an overseas licence.
(Source: Transport, Roads and Maritime Services, NSW & VicRoads)
Speeding and safety
In Australia, speeding on the roads is a major cause of death and disability. The risk of being involved in an accident increases with the speed a vehicle is being driven because there is less time to react, less control of the vehicle and the distance needed to stop is longer. Always observe the speed limit signs and remember they are a guide to the maximum speed allowed, not the speed you should be travelling at.
Mobile phones and driving
The use of mobile phones when driving is dangerous, against the law if it's not hands-free, and potentially fatal. This applies to sending or receiving text messages as well as calls. Operating a mobile phone while driving makes you nine times more likely to be killed in a collision. Police actively target the use of mobile phones by motorists. Fines are considerable and demerit points penalties do apply. You should be aware of how to legally use a mobile phone while driving.
Drinking alcohol and driving
If you are going to drink alcohol, don't drive. Anything else is a risk, not only to you, but also to other motorists and pedestrians. Alcohol is involved in about one-third of all serious motor vehicle accidents. As the level of alcohol increases in your body, you have more risk of being involved in an accident. Driving with a blood-alcohol content above the legal limit is dangerous to others as well as yourself and severe legal penalties and fines apply. If you are above the prescribed blood alcohol content level, stop and think before you get behind the wheel. As the level of alcohol in your body increases, so does the severity of your fine and/or jail term.
Random Breath Testing (RBT)
Random breath testing of drivers for blood alcohol levels and drug use is common at any time of the day or night. Police officers have the right to stop any vehicle at any time and require the driver to supply samples for screening. Any person driving a motor vehicle is required by law to have less than a specified amount of alcohol in their blood. If a driver exceeds the level which applies to them the driver has committed an offence.
Demerit Points Scheme
The Demerit Points Scheme is a national program that allocates penalty points (demerits) for a range of driving offences. The scheme is designed to encourage safe and responsible driving. Along with financial penalties, demerit points provide a strong incentive to drive within the law. Different offences have a different number of demerit points. Demerit points range from one to 10 points per offence. A complete list of all offences, demerit points and fines can be found on the demerit points section of the VicRoads website.
It is recommended that you purchase car insurance. There are many different insurers in Victoria that offer insurance. To find out the type of car insurance you need and more information on car insurance, visit the MoneySmart website.
Driving laws and road rules
Australians drive on the left hand side of the road with drivers seated on the right hand side of the car. Driving laws are strictly enforced in Victoria and personal and public safety is a high priority.
The speed limit in residential streets ranges from 40 to 70 kilometres per hour (km/h). School areas have a 40km/h speed limit from Monday to Friday during the school term:
- between 8am and 9.30am
- between 2.30pm and 4pm
Speeds on major roads range from 60 to 80km/h, and up to 110km/h on country roads and highways, unless signs indicate otherwise.
Seatbelts and car restraints
Seatbelts must be worn by all drivers and passengers in a car. There are also specific rules about children and child-restraints (or car seats) in Victoria. Most car seats brought from overseas don't comply with this standard, and are not approved for use in Victoria.
All cyclists and motorcyclists must wear a helmet on the road.
Alcohol and drugs
Driving under the influence of alcohol and other drugs is not tolerated. By law, fully licensed drivers must not drive if their blood alcohol level is 0.05 percent or higher. Probationary licence holders must have a 0.0 reading. Random breath testing is common on Victorian roads.
It is illegal to use a hand-held mobile (cell) phone when driving. You must use a hands-free earpiece or pull over to the side of the road to use your mobile phone.
An overview of all Victoria's road rules is available on the VicRoads website.
You can drive in Victoria without a Victorian driver's licence for the duration of your stay providing you have a valid International Driver Permit or overseas licence.
For more information on licence requirements for temporary visa holders, visit the VicRoads website.
You must apply for a Victorian driver's licence within three months of arriving (or from the time a permanent visa was issued to you).
To change over to a Victorian licence, you will need to undertake:
- a road law knowledge test (computer-based, multiple choice)
- a hazard perception test
- an eyesight test and
- a driving assessment.
In some cases, you may be exempt from the tests. For more information about the test and exemptions, visit the VicRoads website.
Dealing with an accident
In the unfortunate situation of being involved in a road accident consider the following advice:
Make the scene safe
Look out for dangers to yourself and others. Make the scene safe and position your car to safeguard the area. If possible and safe to do so, clear the roadway so that other traffic may continue moving past. Leaving vehicles or people in the path of moving traffic could cause another accident or be dangerous to persons at the scene.
Check if everybody is ok
- If somebody is injured or unconscious call 000 to get help. Do NOT move them. In this case make the immediate scene as safe as possible from on-coming traffic.
- Give assistance where possible and where appropriate.
- If you are not trained in first-aid, do not provide assistance unless a 000 emergency operator or other medical professional is giving you instructions.
- It is a legal requirement to exchange names and addresses and vehicle registration numbers between the drivers of the vehicles involved in the accident.
- Note the time and location of the crash.
- Do not admit fault, even if you think you are to blame. There may be factors or circumstances surrounding the crash you are unaware of. Your insurance company will assist you to determine your liability.
- Consider taking the name and contact details of any possible witnesses to the incident.
Remove the car from the accident scene
- If you believe the damage to your vehicle has made it un-roadworthy, you should not drive it. However, you should either have it towed away, or removed from the path of other vehicles.
- You are not obliged to have your vehicle towed just because a tow truck turns up at the scene of the crash. However, the police may require the vehicle to be towed away if it is in the way of other motorists. Under no circumstances should a car be left where it may endanger road users.
- For information towing visit the VicRoads website
- If a tow truck is required, contact the Accident Allocation Centre on 131 176 (Melbourne metropolitan area). There are set charges for accident towing. It can be expensive. You should also call your car insurance company as most have a 24-hour assistance line and will advise you on how to deal with tow truck drivers, and if necessary, have your car towed to one of their licensed repairers.
- Ensure that the tow truck driver fills out an 'authority to tow' docket and provides you with a copy. The destination should appear on the docket. It is important to make sure you understand the charges for the tow.
- If you are in a country region, more than one tow truck may arrive, but if more than one does arrive, make it clear which towing operator you are authorising to tow your vehicle.
- Give the tow truck driver clear instructions about where to tow your car.
Visit VicRoads website for more information on safety on our roads.