New NSW P-plater laws from today

LAW CHANGE: Changes to high performance vehicle restrictions – effective 1st August 2014.

From today, New South Wales has joined South Australia, Queensland and Victoria in adopting laws for P-platers that don’t put a blanket ban on all turbocharged vehicles.

NSW Minister for Roads, Duncan Gay’s plans to “redefine high performance vehicles to reflect the reality of today’s cars” have come into effect.

The new rules for NSW will make cars with power-to-weight ratios of 130kW or less per tonne acceptable for P-platers, while those with more power per tonne will remain outlawed.

Gay said this will enable P-platers to drive a broader range of cars that will “help make life easier for families and young drivers”, and that “super charged no longer just means super speed”.

“The previous blanket ban on P-platers driving supercharged or turbocharged vehicles was put in place when the features on these cars were only used to enhance speed and acceleration,” Gay said.

“These days, for many vehicles in this category it is about fuel efficiency not speed and acceleration, so it was appropriate we revisit the ban in light of the fact many of these vehicles are low performance with modern, effective safety features,” Gay said.

“For families with a car which may have been previously off limits to young drivers, these reforms mean P-platers no longer need to carry an exemption when driving the family vehicle.”

P-plate drivers or their families or employers can find out whether a vehicle is okay on the Centre for Road Safety website or see the Roads and Maritime website for Help and FAQs.

Do you think this is a good law? What other law changes would you like to see for P-Platers?

100,000 thank yous to our Facebook community

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To say thanks to our 100,000 Facebook fans, we’re giving away 100 double movie passes. This one is open to Members only, so if you’re an NRMA Member, head here to enter!

On 27 June 2010, The National Roads and Motoring Association opened our Facebook account. Fast forward four years and tens of thousands of NRMA Members and customers have joined our Facebook community. This week, we’ve cracked 100,000: a nice achievement for our tiny social media team! 

For NRMA, Facebook has been a great way to get feedback from our Members and customers to help improve how we operate. Via Facebook, you’ve told us what you like, what you don’t, and why. You’ve thanked us when we’ve helped you and you’ve let us know when we’ve let you down, so we could put it right. You’ve voted in our polls, answered our tests, entered our competitions and given us ideas on how we can help you better, (while also making us LOL many times over with your witty comments!).

As a Membership organisation, we exist to help our 2.4 million Members and the wider community. We value Facebook as a channel for reaching our Members and customers with more relevant and timely news and more importantly, for you to contact us!

Over four years, Facebook has become a key customer service channel for The NRMA and in the last 18 months we have trained our Roadside call centre staff to monitor and respond to your queries on our Facebook page 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Here’s a tiny snapshot from the thousands of Facebook interactions over the years.

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We’d love to be able help even more Members and customers, so if you’re on Facebook and would like to learn more about transport news that affects you, the history of the NRMA or what you can get from your NRMA Membership, make sure you join us and tell your friends!

If Facebook isn’t your thing, we also have many other new ways for Members and customers to interact with us. Feel free to read our blog or join us on Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, Google Plus or Flickr. Or head to the new Get Involved section of our website.

*To say thanks to our 100,000 Facebook fans, we’re giving away 100 double movie passes. This one is open to Members only, so if you’re an NRMA Member, head here to enter!

What would you like to see more of on the NRMA Facebook page?

Tailgating: What’s the big rush?

TAILGATING: How often do you experience this on the road?

TAILGATING: How often do you experience this on the road?

You’d be an extremely lucky driver if you hadn’t experienced tailgating while driving in New South Wales (or pretty much anywhere, really).

We’ve covered the dangers of tailgating before – this blog from last month explains that in this state alone, there are more than 10,000 rear-end crashes every year.

But why are people tailgating? Are drivers in such a rush that they’re willing to put the lives of others (and themselves) at risk?

Just recently on a drive from Sydney to Wollongong, I thought I’d momentarily entered a Steven King movie when I found a massive truck, high beams flashing wildly, bear down on me in the left-hand lane and almost swallow me and my family.

With the cruise control set on exactly the speed limit (110km/h), I was following a steady stream of Friday night traffic and had nowhere to go.

Why was that truck driver in such a hurry? Was he running behind schedule? Was he desperate to get home from work? Or did he just like to intimidate other drivers in his big rig?

I’ll never know because I didn’t get a chance to chat with him, thankfully. If you are the victim of aggressive tailgating, don’t intimidate the driver. Call the police if you fear you’re in danger, or simply let them pass if you have the chance.

Of course you can switch out ‘truck’ with just about any vehicle and it’s likely to be a familiar story to many who use the road. It’s one that is in no way limited to heavy vehicles.

It’s also not just on highways that tailgating is a problem – it’s just that the speeds involved substantially increase the level of danger.

But we experience forms of this behaviour every day. At the lowest end it’s annoying and dangerous. At the extreme end it can be deadly.

Have you experienced tailgating on the road and how often? Who do you find are the main offenders and why do you think they are in such a hurry?

M5 tolls should not pay for WestConnex

NO EXTENSION: The NSW Government wants to extend tolling on the M5 to pay for WestConnex (Image: RMS)

NO EXTENSION: The NSW Government wants to extend tolling on the M5 to pay for WestConnex (Image: RMS)

Last week the New South Wales Government suggested the toll on the M5 West be extended by a massive 34 years to help fund another motorway – WestConnex.

Read more: Tolls on western Sydney motorists likely to fund roads in inner west and north (SMH)

Charging motorists who use one motorway to build another would be a major breach of faith for those in South West Sydney who may never even use WestConnex – a 33km motorway that will run from Sydney’s west to the airport.

In October of 2013 the NSW Government stated in a media release: “The NSW and Australian Governments are providing $3.3 billion in funding for the $11-$11.5 billion project, with the remainder to be financed by tolls.”

Read more: http://www.rms.nsw.gov.au/newsevents/news_ministerial/2013/131031-westconnex-delivery-authority.html

The media release contained no mention that the toll concession for the M5 would need to be extended by 34 years in order to fund WestConnex.

The M5 was originally due to revert to public ownership this year, but an extension was granted that saw the toll concession extended to 2026.

Under the new WestConnex funding proposal, that would again be extended until 2060.

The move would be against the fair user-pays philosophy and NRMA President Kyle Loades said decisions such as this cannot be made without the proper consultation.

“What we don’t want to see is major funding decisions which directly affect the affordability of motoring in this state being made behind closed doors, without any form of community consultation,” he said.

“The NRMA is deeply concerned that the decision to consider extending the concession period on the M5 has been made without due consideration of the long term implications that extending the tolling period would have on motorists.”

Mr Loades said he was concerned the extension would further add to the cost of motoring for many drivers in New South Wales and hit the hip pocket of M5 users who regularly have to suffer car-park like conditions on the road.

“Motorists are already heavily taxed through the fuel excise, registration and tolling and shouldn’t pay a cent more to drive on Sydney motorways – many of which are congested during peak hours.”

Do you agree that a toll should apply only to the road you are using? 

SPEAK OUT: The National Road & Motorists’ Association (NRMA) invites you to red flag the section of road that frustrates you most. Click here to let us know.

How to avoid the 5 most common crashes

Avoiding common crashes

DRIVE TO SURVIVE: In NSW, around 90% of road crashes are caused by just five types of situation.

In NSW, around 90% of road crashes are caused by just five types of situation. NRMA’s corporate driver-training program, DriveSafePro, explains how to reduce that risk.

1. THE REAR-ENDER
Keeping the right amount of stopping space between vehicles is the best preventative.

  • There are 9,000 serious rear-end crashes per year in NSW*
  • They account for 33% of all crashes for P-plate drivers and 40% for drivers with more than five years experience.

Reduce the risk:

  • Aim for a three-second following distance from the vehicle in front.
  • Leave more space in poor conditions.
  • Leave at least half a car length from the one in front of you when stopped.

Safety tip: To estimate a three-second gap, count “One – 1000, two – 2000, three – 3000” when you see the vehicle in front pass an object like a tree or telephone pole. If you pass the object before you finish counting, you are too close.

2. THE SIDE-ON
Thinking ahead and being ready with the brakes can avoid this situation.

  • In NSW, there are 6,000 serious crashes per year with vehicles approaching from the sides and an additional 2,000 crashes involving pedestrians.
  • These account for 19% of driver crashes*.

Reduce the risk:

  • Do not place trust in other drivers.
  • Estimate your stopping needs.
  • Prepare to use the brakes, slow down or move away from the hazard.
  • Check for vehicles running the red light before moving off at the lights.

Safety tip:
To set up the brakes, move your foot quickly and gently to the brake and apply light pressure – just enough to take up any free-play but not slow the car.

3. THE HEAD-ON CRASH
The width of your seat could be all you need to prevent a fatal head-on from happening to you.

  • There are 7,000 serious head-on crashes per year in NSW, including those from an oncoming vehicle turning across the opposite lane.
  • They account for 17% of crashes for all drivers and 60% of all fatalities.*
  • ANCAP performs 40% offset crash tests as part of its safety rating for new cars.

Reduce the risk:

  • Recognise the risk. Centre lines and median strips don’t stop vehicles crossing to your side of the road.
  • Buffer from oncoming traffic – a small movement can make a big difference.
  • Move left on crests and curves when you can’t see oncoming traffic.
  • Use the left lane where possible.
  • Be aware of vehicles waiting to turn across your path.

Safety Tip: As a guide, position your body in the middle of the lane, rather than your vehicle. This will keep your vehicle to the left of a lane and give you that extra car width from oncoming traffic. Of course, if there are hazards on your left, move away from them. Do what you can, when you can.

4 and 5. OFF-PATH STRAIGHT AND CURVED CRASHES
Tiredness and distractions are just a couple of the causes here. Alertness is key.

  • There are around 13,500 serious off-path crashes each year in NSW (6500 on straight roads, 6000 on curves)
  • Off-path straight crashes account for 9% of P-plate driver crashes and 6% for drivers with more than five years experience.**
  • Off-path curved crashes account for 8% of P-plate driver crashes and 6% for drivers with more than five years experience.**

Reduce the risk:

  • Manage driver fatigue.
  • Don’t drink and drive.
  • Avoid distractions such as using a mobile phone, changing music, and eating and drinking. Pull over – it only takes a minute.
  • Avoid driving in the blind spot of other vehicles. Many drivers don’t look over their shoulders or use their indicators before changing lanes.
  • Avoid dawn or dusk in country areas when wildlife is most active.
  • Keeping a three-second gap helps estimate vision – you should always be able to see at least twice as far ahead as the car in front.

Safety tip: Pre-book a hotel on long trips so you won’t be tempted to drive further than you should.