Working safely under your car

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Happy Holidays! For motoring enthusiasts lucky enough to have a bit of spare time over this busy period, you may choose to spend some of it working on your beloved car.

No matter if it’s carrying out a regular oil and filter change or perhaps something a little more involved, one of the most easily overlooked areas is safe practices while working under your car.

The potential safety risks associated with simply jacking up and incorrectly supporting your car are gravely serious. According to the ACCC, within the last decade there have been at least 46 reported cases where Australians have been killed and in excess of 160 injuries annually are caused  by failing jacks.

When preparing to carry out work underneath any car, here are some essential tips:

  • Ensure that the weight of the vehicle does not exceed the lifting capacity of the jack.
  • When preparing to jack up a vehicle,  it is essential that the vehicle is positioned on a hard level surface such as a concrete driveway or slab, ensuring that the vehicle’s jacking points are located (as outlined within the vehicles owner’s manual), the hand brake is applied with the non-suspended wheels choked.
  • Ensure that the head of the jack is located directly square under the lifting point of the vehicle. (Failure to do this will result in damage to the vehicle, or the vehicle slipping from the jack.) Commence jacking the vehicle, while paying close attention to the positioning of the head of the jack under the vehicle’s lifting point.
  • Once the vehicle has been raised, never allow any part of your person underneath the car, until the vehicle has been lowered entirely onto the jack stands.
  • If you do not own a set of jacking stands, placing the vehicle on car ramps is an alternative.
  • Once the vehicle has been mounted upon the stands, be sure to visually re-inspect the integrity of the jack stand mounting points and the positioning of the choked wheels. Only after this, may you then proceed to remove the jack and begin working under the vehicle.
  • Once your work is completed under the vehicle, make sure that the area around the vehicle is all clear of any objects. From here proceed to reposition the jack under the vehicle as previously described then once the vehicle is raised in the air be sure to remove the jack stands and gently lower the vehicle back to the ground.

PLEASE NOTE: Whenever you are preparing to raise or lower a vehicle using a jack and jack stands, it is vital to ensure that no part of your person and/or any animals remain near to or under the car during this time.  In addition, if you are not confident in correctly lowering and raising a vehicle using a jack and jack stands, it’s recommended that you consult your local mechanic who will be able to undertake any necessary work to your car on your behalf.

Have a safe and relaxing Easter break and look after yourself and your car!

How safe are your tyres?

Car tyre

As the Easter school holidays approaches and many families head off on road trips, it’s a good time to check the safety of your tyres. Here at NRMA we understand how critically important tyres are to road safety. They’re the only point of contact between your vehicle and the road, so they are fundamental to handling, braking and responsiveness on the road. In order for your car to operate safely on roads it’s important to ensure the tyres fitted to it are the correct size and type for your car and in good condition.

National Tyre Safety Week is a new initiative launched in Australia, aiming to raise awareness of the importance of tyre maintenance and safety on our roads. The campaign aims to build awareness of the need for regular maintenance by promoting expert safety checks at tyre dealers around the country. Tyreright has lent its support to the project and is offering free safety checks at any of its stores nationwide.

These checks include monitoring of tyre pressures, tread depths, tyre wear and a check of the spare tyre for the vehicle. National Tyre Safety Week is encouraging all motorists to have their tyres checked before their next roadtrip.

At NRMA, we are happy to support National Tyre Safety Week and the initiative to help keep our roads safe.

For more information on tyre safety visit the National Tyre Safety Week website.

How to help your Learner Driver

SDSLearning to drive is one of the biggest things in a young person’s life. Your supervision can get them on the right track to be safe and confident on the road, but before you sit down in the passenger seat make sure you’re prepared.

Before you get on your way

  • Check your insurance policy – does it cover young drivers? Call your provider if unsure.
  • Make use of available resources. The Learner Log Book provides an excellent overview of the right order to introduce new driving skills and experiences to your learner, along with key points that need to be covered.*

The keys2drive program is also great. Funded by the Australian government, it provides the learner and the supervising driver with a free session where both are in the vehicle. Both are able to learn from a  professional driving instructor, such as many of those from NRMA Safer Driving School.

Before you get into the car

  • Plan your trip: Sit down with your learner and discuss the drive you’re about to go on. Map out the trip and establish the learning goals and objectives. Follow a plan to reach them.
  • Supervise in all conditions and situations: Don’t be hesitant to let your learner drive when it’s raining, at night or even in fog. These are realistic situations they will face when they become a provisional driver, so the more they experience driving in these conditions the better.
  • Prepare yourself: Your mood and emotions can affect your teaching style, so never supervise when you’re tired, stressed, in a rush or anxious. It sounds simple but the best way to calm yourself down and prepare for a supervising session is to breathe. Take 10 mins to get yourself into the right headspace and maybe even think about what your fears may be. Discuss these with your learner to come up with a strategy to overcome them.

Before you head off

  • Prepare the learner: Ensure they are seated comfortably with the correct posture. This means ensuring they have a gentle bend in their knees, they are sitting up straight with the head support resting at least eye level, and that their wrists align with the top of the steering wheel, with a slight bend at the elbows. Make sure they are able to see all mirrors and adjust them if needed.

While driving

  • Coach rather than instruct: Get your learner thinking. Rather than telling them everything they should be doing, ask them and let them come up with some of the decisions. The tuition style of NRMA Safer Driving School is focused around independent learning. This can involve the instructor ‘talking forward’. For example, when approaching an intersection with a set of lights, they will ask the learner what the next step will be, ie, “We will be turning right at the next set of lights. What do you need to do to prepare for this?”
  • Give them more independence: As your learner gains more experience let them choose the route, have music on or other people in the car. Otherwise, the day they get their provisional licence will be the first time they experience this and they may not be adequately prepared.
  • Let them drive in all types of environments: Including when it’s raining, in fog and at night. They will experience these conditions once they are a provisional driver.
  • Debrief: Talk about the lesson once completed. Did you meet the learning goals and objectives? Document the outcomes and talk about what you should focus on next.

What about you? Have you ever supervised a Learner? What tips do you have to make it a good lesson?

*Other good reference tools for NSW learners are The Road User Handbook and A Guide to the Driving Test. For ACT learners, the ACT Road Rules Handbook and Supervising a Learner brochure are downloadable from roadready.act.gov.au.

They’re learning – please be patient

WE'VE ALL BEEN THERE: Allow learner's time and space

WE’VE ALL BEEN THERE: Allow learner’s time and space

Learning to drive can be an anxious time, so it is important for other motorists not to make life difficult for new drivers.

If you’re sharing a road with a learner, be aware that they might make mistakes. And we should make sure that we’re driving safely as well.

So if you see a learner driver:

  • BE PATIENT: Learning to drive takes practice and can be very scary. Take this into consideration when sitting behind a learner driver. Don’t use your horn or speed around them.
  • GIVE THEM SOME SPACE: Sitting right on the tail of a learner driver can make them extremely anxious. They become very aware that they are holding you up and can easily make a mistake.
  • LOOK OUT FOR MISTAKES AND ALLOW FOR THEM: By allowing enough space between you and the learner driver you have more time to react if something goes wrong.
  • WATCH OUT FOR LEARNERS ON FREEWAYS AND HIGHWAYS: Learner drivers in NSW are only allowed to go a maximum of 90km/h, even on roads with a higher posted limit. Ensuring learners receive lessons on all roads and conditions is an important part of their learning journey. Be patient and overtake at a safe speed and distance.

Can you remember being on your Ls? Are you mindful of learner drivers when you drive?

NRMA Safer Driving School teaches low risk driving skills that you need to enjoy a lifetime of safe driving.

Motorcycle lane filtering to be legalised in NSW – what does it mean?

filtering-lane

From July 2014, New South Wales motorcyclists will be the first in the country to be legally allowed to lane filter, which is riding between cars that are stopped in traffic on multi-lane roads. So what does this mean for motorists and riders?

This decision to allow lane filtering legitimises something that is already common practice and for which penalties are rarely enforced. The practice is common elsewhere in the world but Australian riders can currently be penalised by police.

It follows a successful trial from 1 February until 1 May 2013 in part of the Sydney CBD last year where motorcyclists were exempt from existing lane filtering laws, in an attempt to ease road congestion and measure potential safety issues.

NSW Transport Minister Duncan Gay says the new move is part of a package of changes to ease road congestion and improve motorcycle safety.

“As a result of the trial we will introduce a new law that will permit fully licensed motorcyclists to legally filter past stationary vehicles at intersections, when it is safe to do so,” said Mr Gay.

“Riders will be able to filter at a speed limit of 30 kilometres per hour. It is important to note the new law will not apply to school zones during hours of operation where there might be an increase in pedestrian activity.”

“The new rule changes will give us the opportunity to communicate with riders so they better understand the risks involved with lane filtering and educate them on safe filtering practice.”

NRMA supports this commonsense approach, – in many circumstances, 30 km/h will be too fast.

Motorcyclists agree lane filtering is safer for riders because it reduces the chances of them being rear-ended; by getting bikes to the front of the queue, they are removed from the risk of being hit from the rear by another vehicle.

Key points:

  • Motorcyclists will still be banned from travelling left of cars in kerbside lane, from travelling in breakdown lanes and must be cautious when filtering around trucks and buses.
  • A new offence will be created for riders who lane filter at speeds over 30km/h
  • To reduce risk of inexperienced riders having accidents, filtering will only be allowed for fully licenced riders (i.e. excluding Learner or Provisional riders).
  • Lane splitting will still not be allowed – this involves motorcyclists travelling between moving instead of stationary traffic.

Drivers are urged to check both their mirrors regularly, even when stopped, and look for motorbikes filtering through the traffic; motorcyclists need to watch out for pedestrians crossing between cars and vice versa. Riders are also advised by the Motorcycle Council of NSW’s Christopher James Burns that “if it looks risky, it probably is, so manage your risk and ride accordingly”. 

Are you confident that these new laws will protect motorcyclists and help traffic flow?

Other Resources:
Lane filtering to be made legal
Should motorbikes be allowed to ride through stationary traffic?