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.

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?

Know the road rule: using headlights

Road rule using headlightsIn many daytime situations, driving with your vehicle’s headlights on can improve the likelihood of being seen by other road users. Roads and Maritime Services says your headlights must be on when:

  • Driving between sunset and sunrise.
  • At any other time when there is not enough daylight to be able to see a person wearing dark clothing at a distance of 100 metres.

Dazzling lights
Do not use or allow any light fitted to your vehicle to dazzle another road user. Avoid looking at the headlights of oncoming vehicles. If you are dazzled by glaring or high-beam lights, look to the left side of the road and drive to the left of your lane, slow down or pull over until your eyes recover.

High beam
To see further ahead, use your headlights on high beam on any road, even if there are street lights. You must dip your headlights to low beam:

  • When a vehicle coming toward you is within 200 metres.
  • When driving 200 metres or less behind another vehicle.

When you overtake another vehicle, you may briefly flash high beam immediately before starting the overtaking manoeuvre.

Fog lights
Front and rear fog lights must only be used in fog or rain, or when conditions such as smoke and dust limit your vision. It is a legal requirement that once conditions improve and you can see more clearly, the front and rear fog lights are switched off. If your vehicle is not fitted with fog lights, use your headlights during the day in these adverse conditions.

Article was taken from the January/February 2014 issue of Open Road.

Opinion: Top 10 road rage-causing drivers

KERMIT

It doesn’t take much for bad drivers to drive us crazy and if you drove today, chances are you’ve witnessed it, experienced it or are guilty of causing it. Here are the top 10 road rage-causing drivers – can  you relate?

Holiday season is unforgivably winding up and that means the odds for road rage will gradually increase as more drivers are commuting to and from work.  There’s nothing pretty about road rage, and traffic congestion coupled with bad drivers equals a stressful start to the day even before you step foot into work! Interestingly, in the NRMA BusinessWise Congestion Survey, we found more than half of small businesses in NSW and ACT say traffic congestion is contributing to employee stress, with almost one in 10 saying it’s responsible for staff sick days.

Researchers from Sweden even found couples where one partner commutes for 45 minutes or more were more likely to end in divorce.

So, to help you stay safe on the road here are the 10 types of drivers who I believe cause road rage.

10.   Drivers who don’t give a ‘thank you’ wave

kevin hart meme

We’ve all been in this situation, follow it with me: you’re driving (safely) along and the lane beside you is ending, forcing cars to merge into yours. Because you’ve been stuck in the same lane for what seems an eternity, you think ‘well, another car won’t make too much of a difference, come on in’.

You give them the inviting nod and they merge in front. You look ahead anticipating a friendly wave of the hand to meet your generosity but you get nothing. You wait a further few seconds with hope but you get zilch. ‘What the …?!’ Cue road rage.

A simple wave of your hand to say thanks goes a long way on the road, yet drivers refuse to do it. Not sure why, but it happens so often. Next time a driver generously lets you in front, do the right thing and give them a friendly thank you wave – they’ve helped you change lanes safely, so it’s the least you can do.

9. People slamming brakes unnecessarily

yellow-woman-in-car

Nothing makes your more awake – or enraged – when you suddenly slam your breaks because the person in front unnecessarily stops. It’s common for this to happen at the first sign of a yellow light. Sure, you shouldn’t speed through a yellow light but suddenly planting your foot on the brakes isn’t the safest way to handle the situation, either. In Section 57 of the NSW Road Rules, a driver approaching or at a yellow traffic light must stop if there is a stop line at or near the traffic lights or as near as practicable to but before reaching the stop line.

To avoid this road-rage cause, remember to check the rear-view mirror every few seconds because if someone is following close behind there’ll be a risk of being rear-ended if you suddenly stop. Be aware of other motorists on the road before suddenly braking.

8.   Merging onto freeways/motorways without indicating

merging lanes - blinker

Motorways and freeways are commonly used by commuters to get to work and, considering the higher-than-average speed limits, it would be expected that drivers merging into such fast-paced traffic would indicate their merging motive. Well…no, not so much, and so this makes number three on the list.

It’s no surprise that many other drivers feel the same way.  Interestingly, an overwhelming 41 per cent of survey respondents in our BusinessWise pulse-rate 3D roadside stress test grieved that a car trying to merge in front without indicating or any warning was one of the top 10 most stressful experiences. I can see why.

Be a responsible driver and check mirrors and speed up or slowdown in order to avoid disrupting the traffic flow. Also indicate at intersections and roundabouts so other drivers know what you are doing – they are not mind-readers.

7.   Driving at erratic speed – stopping, starting and slowing down all in a few seconds.

erratic driving

So, you’re driving along, singing the wrong words to the song and not caring because you’re alone…(or is that just me?) and the driver in front slows down unexpectedly and then speeds up and then slows down. I first think the car is something out of Stephen King’s Christine horror novel, but then I realise the driver is looking for an address or just lost.

Look, we’ve all been there but it’s worth remembering that you’re not the only vehicle on the road – to prevent accidents it’s best to maintain a healthy speed limit to match the other cars on the road. If lost, pull-over in a safe place – it’s safe for you, your passengers and others on the road.

6.   Slow drivers in right-hand lane in motorways and freeways

overtaking

Section 125 of the Road Rules states that a driver must not unreasonably obstruct the path of another driver or a pedestrian. This obstruction doesn’t occur merely by the fact a driver is stopped in traffic or driving more slowly than other vehicles, but it does occur if the driver is driving ‘abnormally slowly’ in the circumstances. (An example of a driver driving ‘abnormally slowly’ is a driver driving at a speed of 20 kilometres per hour on a length of road to which a speed limit of 80 kilometres per hour applies, when there is no reason for the driver to drive at that speed on the length of road).

‘Keep left unless overtaking’ – we’ve all seen the sign, yet drivers on freeways/motorways stick to the right lane without the intention of ever overtaking.  This frustrates many especially because it’s a NSW road rule: ‘Because traffic travels at high speed on motorways and freeways, you must be especially alert.

  • Do not stop on a motorway or freeway, except in an emergency. If you must stop, move off the roadway completely
  • Do not make a ‘U’ turn or reverse on a motorway or freeway
  • Keep to the left, unless overtaking’

See here for more information: http://www.rms.nsw.gov.au/usingroads/internationalinterstate/driving.html

NRMA’s Courtesy Driver campaign survey also found motorists in NSW and the ACT placed slow drivers hogging the right hand lane (36%) as one of the biggest bug bears for drivers.

Overtaking can be risky business so it’s worth reading this guide on How to overtake safely http://www.rms.nsw.gov.au/geared/your_driving_skills/driving_skills/getting_past_it.html provided by the RMS.

5.   Not letting a driver into your lane

merging lane meme

We’ve all heard the saying ‘the road is there to share’, yet there are times when drivers forget what that means. Changing lanes isn’t easy and it only gets worse when a driver sees you – with your indictor flashing – but speeds up, not allowing you room to change lanes. It’s a greater gripe when you’re in a lane that ends and so you have to change lanes.

It’s frustrating and dangerous, so be courteous on the road and allow a driver to safely merge into your lane – you never know, you might even get a thank you wave in return.

4. A driver intentionally cutting in front of you

cutting in front

This is a road rage no-brainer. You’re driving at a healthy speed, minding your own business when a driver out of nowhere cuts right in front of you. Needless to say this is not only frustrating but highly dangerous.

NRMA’s Courtesy Driver campaign survey found more than half (51%) of the respondents had another driver intentionally cut in front of them. Unfortunately, many drivers have experienced this and so it’s no surprise why this has made the list.

Be mindful of other drivers not only for their safety but for your own. Remember to drive to the speed limit and to keep a healthy distance between you and the car in front.

3. Distracted drivers – texting and driving

texting and driving

It’s widely publicised that using mobile phone while driving is a no-no, yet it still prevalent on our roads. It’s a familiar scene: driving behind someone who is erratically driving and then successfully (and safely) overtaking them to find them on their phone.

That is not a LOL matter. You’re four times more likely to have a crash when you hold and use your phone while driving. The Centre for Road Safety research also found that in the past five years mobile phone contributed to at least 216 crashes, 100 of which resulted in someone being killed or injured.

Do the right thing and ‘get your hands off it’ – you’ll get another chance to call/text but you only get once chance to live.

2.Tailgaters

tailgating

Argh – just writing the word makes my blood boil. Nothing is more infuriating – or dangerous – than someone tailgating you. Wait, it gets worse if they do it with high-beams on. And I’m not alone on this being my top driver gripe.

Tailgaters have been branded as the biggest aggravators on our roads according to the NRMA’s inaugural Courtesy Driver campaign. The survey found that NSW and ACT motorists (42%) believe tailgating is the biggest pet peeve on the roads. The survey also found 69 per cent have been tailgated.

Tailgating won’t get you to the destination faster nor is it beneficial for everyone else on the road, including yourself. So, please, do us all safe drivers a favour and leave your tailgating to dogem cars –it’s where those types of childish games belong.

I’ve listed nine here and I’m leaving the top one to you. Let me know your thoughts on  the driving behaviour that drives you crazy on roads – comment below or on our Facebook or Twitter communities using #safedriving.