Think twice this ANZAC weekend

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We remind motorists that double demerits apply from 22 to 25 April 2016 inclusive. Please drive safely and take extra care on the roads. 

Also, on 4 January 2016 the standard penalty for mobile phone offences rose to four demerit points. Since the end of last year, mobile phone offences have been included in double demerit periods. This means those caught talking or texting illegally while driving during this ANZAC weekend will incur eight demerit points – a huge amount when the threshold on unrestricted licences is 13 points.

The double demerit point scheme now applies for the following types of offences:

  • Speeding
  • Illegal use of mobile phones
  • Not wearing a seatbelt
  • Riding without a helmet

The scheme is designed to encourage safe and responsible driving. Working in conjunction with financial penalties, demerit points provide a strong incentive to drive within the law.

Double demerit periods were introduced in 1997 in NSW. By law, double demerit periods must be advertised and awareness campaigns are co-ordinated with traditional enforcement and increased police numbers. See the RMS Demerits points page for a full rundown of offences and penalties.

Do you think the Double Demerits scheme is an effective way of preventing dangerous driving?

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Sydney Harbour Tunnel Fire and Evacuation Exercise 17th April

Be prepared, plan ahead during Sunday night's Sydney Harbour Tunnel fire and evacuation exercise.

Be prepared and plan ahead during Sunday night’s Sydney Harbour Tunnel fire and evacuation exercise.

APP: Motorists are being encouraged to plan ahead and take alternative routes with the Sydney Harbour Tunnel closing to traffic on Sunday night.

“The Sydney Harbour Tunnel Company will close the tunnel from 8.30pm on Sunday, a few hours earlier than the usual closure for maintenance, so we can carry out an emergency exercise to test incident management under real conditions,” a Roads and Maritime spokesperson said.

“Fire and evacuation procedures must be tested to ensure incidents can be cleared quickly for the safety of all motorists.

“As with all tunnels in NSW, it is a requirement for robust measures to be in place should a fire or evacuation occur.

“Closure of the tunnel is not taken lightly but when it comes to safety, we need to ensure our procedures are seamless.

“Sunday’s exercise will involve simulating a vehicle fire and the subsequent emergency procedures required.

“Key learnings from this exercise will be shared with other tunnel operators with the aim to advance safety in other tunnel operations,” the spokesperson said.

Northbound lanes will be closed from 9:30pm and reopen at 11pm.

Southbound lanes will be closed from 8.30pm and will remain closed until 5am to allow routine tunnel maintenance to be carried out.

The Sydney Harbour Bridge will be open but is expected to be busy. Motorists planning on travelling through the city after 8.30pm are encouraged to use the Anzac Bridge or Gladesville Bridge.

For full details of the tunnel closure, go to www.livetraffic.com or call the Traffic Information Line on 132 701.

10 tips to keep the kids safe while driving these school holidays

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Charging devices, pre-loading movies, planning safe rest stops and counting NRMA Patrol Vehicles are among a new list of safety tips released by the NRMA ahead of the start of the NSW school holidays this weekend.

Almost 40 per cent (36%) of crashes caused by distractions occurred as a result of distractions from within the vehicle. As many as one in 10 fatalities in NSW have been attributed to driver distraction.

NRMA Senior Policy Advisor Dimitra Vlahomitros said bored children in cars could become an annoying distraction for drivers.

“Kids aren’t used to road trips as part of their normal routine so they’re more likely to become bored, agitated or fight with their siblings,” Ms Vlahomitros said.

“Parents need to remember: reducing the risk of distraction means reducing the risk of a crash that could result in a devastating end to the holidays.”

Road trip recommendations from the NRMA include:

  1. Load up fully-charged smart devices with family-friendly movies (in case of poor internet service) and make sure each child has their own headset so the only tunes the driver hears are the ones they choose to play through the radio
  2. Refreshments are also important for a stress-free journey. Pack healthy snacks and plenty of water.
  3. If packing toys, try to make sure they’re not sharp (crayons or pencils) as these can become dangerous in the event of having to stop the car suddenly.
  4. Play games to take the monotony out of the trip, these can include getting children to follow their route along a map, count windmills or even count NRMA Patrol Cars!
  5. Sleep is the only effective guard against tiredness: so don’t cut your sleep short to reach a destination sooner.
  6. Drive to the conditions of roads, not to the speed limit.
  7. Make sure you stop in a safe place every two hours and get out of the car; plan a beach stopover for the kids if driving on the cost.
  8. Pack plastic bags and baby wipes for unexpected spills or accidents.
  9. Pack a ball to encourage the whole family to actively enjoy rest stops.
  10. Make sure your child restraints are fitted properly and if you’re not sure, have them professionally fitted or inspected.

Ms Vlahomitros said sticking to these tips as well as applying a good amount of common sense can help make a family holiday a safe one.

“With the right preparation, long road trips can be enjoyable and safe for everyone,” she said.

What tips do you have to share?

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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 NRMA Free2Go. Free2go Membership is specifically designed for the needs of 16 to 20 year olds who are learning to drive or have their licence. Membership is free for the first year if you’re 17-20 years old or free for two years if you’re 16 years old.
  • 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.

Do you have Road Assist from The NRMA? Don’t get caught without it.

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Five tips to drive safely on country conditions this Easter

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Easter is a really busy time on our roads, but unfortunately it’s also a period of high risk. That’s why the NRMA has teamed up with local councils surrounding the NSW and ACT border to remind motorists that they “don’t have to be speeding to be driving too fast on country roads.”  

The Easter Country Road Safety campaign was launched early this month after local data analysis by Yass Valley Council found as many as 33 per cent of local accidents involved drivers from other Local Government Areas. The campaign encourages motorists to consider the following:

1. Slow down on country roads, driver to the conditions
2. It takes longer to stop on gravel roads and no time to lose control
3. Expect the unexpected – animals, livestock, machinery and trucks
4. Don’t swerve for an animal – break, flash your lights, hit your horn
5. Remember: country road conditions change rapidly

Research has shown that a high number of country road crashes are ‘off road’, suggesting motorists may be selecting inappropriate speeds while driving on lower standard roads, and that interstate traffic may be unfamiliar with more varied road environments.

“Those unfamiliar with country roads might get a little nervous when they hit gravel roads or are confronted with animals crossing the road,” says NRMA Director, Kate Lundy.

“Likewise, those who are familiar with the roads and conditions may get complacent, and this can be a recipe for disaster when combined with long drives or night time conditions.”

Will you be driving on country roads these Easter Holidays?