Schoolies Driving Tips

NRMA Safer Driving‘s Mark Toole has some important advice for young drivers heading off on their schoolies road trip.

Schoolies Driving Tips

WITH FREEDOM COMES RESPONSIBILITY: With Schoolies here, young drivers must drive responsibly.

The end of the school is an exciting time and many young drivers travel long distances to celebrate. The schoolies road trip can be their first long distance drive without supervision and, in some cases, their first driving experience on highways and freeways.

It’s important to start with making sure seat belts are worn. According to the NSW Centre of Road Safety, one person loses their life each week on average in NSW from not wearing a seat belt. Despite all the sophisticated safety features now present in cars, the seat belt is still the only thing stopping occupants being ejected from the car in a crash.

Drivers also need to ask themselves how they are feeling. Excited? Nervous? Stressed? Recognising your emotional state is important for safer driving.

Ensure you get enough rest before every trip and, for longer drives, make sure there is more than one driver ready to take over. Try to stop at least every two hours for 15 minutes and take advantage of rest stops along the way. Remember: Stop, Revive, Survive.

Planning your trip is also helpful for managing personal tiredness and comfort. Spending a little time researching and printing out a detailed map or writing down where the driver reviver sites are located (and opening times) is a good investment.

A long road trip can make driving difficult for new drivers. Noisy friends, higher traffic speed, challenging weather conditions and road works can be difficult if the young driver is not prepared for them. Ask yourself: How long will this trip take? Do I have a contingency plan if it takes longer than I planned? What is the best way to go? And when is the best time to leave?

It’s important, as a driver, to feel confident on all roads you are driving on. Highways require practice so ensure this occurs and you are confident in lane merging, overtaking and speed management.

What to do if you are a passenger

If you are a passenger, be prepared to speak up if you don’t feel safe. As part of NRMA’s Live Learn Drive program we found more than 50 per cent of students didn’t tell a driving friend they didn’t feel safe. Often they are scared of looking uncool in front of their friends, but speaking up can save lives.

Ask yourself how you can help the driver to drive at low risk. Unnecessary noise and distractions make driving that much harder. Be considerate of the driver, share the driving, help navigate, and offer suggestions for departure times, rest and fuel stops.

Finally, do you have roadside assistance? If not, sign up for NRMA’s Free2go before setting off. Free2go Membership entitles you to free roadside assistance, even is it’s not your car or you are a passenger.

Top 5 things to see at the 2016 Parkes Elvis Festival


The 24th annual Parkes Elvis Festival will be held January 6-10, 2016, and if last year’s event is any guide, it will attract more than 20,000 excited visitors.

The main street is closed off for the duration becoming known as the NRMA festival boulevarde, and the local businesses get involved, decorating their shopfronts for that year’s theme. Each theme is based on an Elvis Presley movie – in 2015 it was Roustabout (with a carnival vibe); this year it is Fun in Acapulco, so sombreros are likely to figure highly.

As the festival has grown from humble beginnings in 1993, it has become more and more a family event. In addition to the ‘Elvis tribute artists’, there is a Priscilla Presley lookalike competition, a classic car show, a chance for married couples to renew their vows Vegas style, markets, a photography competition, and more Elvis inspired goodness. We’re excited to play a part in the Elvis Festival for the second time, so visit the NRMA stand at Cooke Park and check out our vintage vehicles.

The local motels are often booked out a year in advance at festival time, so if you don’t have a motorhome or caravan, you might need to stay in one of the neighbouring towns such as Peak Hill or Forbes.

Another thing that books out quickly is the Elvis Express, which departs from Central Station in Sydney and takes 400 enthusiasts out to Parkes via rail. Al and his offsider get on the Elvis Express at Orange to do a meet and greet with the passengers.

Top 5 things to see at the 2016 Parkes Elvis Festival

Wednesday January 6 6pm:
Elvis at the Dish: The Brightest Stars in Heaven
Parkes Shire’s two great icons are brought together again as Shakin’ Rick Mackaway and The Wilsonics perform the King’s greatest hits in front of the world famous CSIRO Parkes Radio Telescope.
Where: CSIRO Parkes Radio Telescope, Telescope Road, Parkes
Admission: $15

Thursday 7 January 4pm: Elvis Express Arrival
See Al and his offsider emerge from the Elvis Express with all the mad Elvis fans who have made the trip out from Sydney.
Where: Parkes Railway Station, Welcome Street, Parkes
Admission: Free

Friday 8 January 10am: Screening of Fun in Acapulco Get acquainted (or reacquainted) with the Elvis film that inspired this year’s festival!
Where: Parkes Library, 25 Bogan Street, Parkes
Admission: Free

Saturday 9 January 10am: Northparkes Mines Street Parade Enjoy a parade packed full of Elvis-themed floats, Elvis and Priscilla look-a-likes, vintage cars and motorcycles, and marching bands.
Where: Clarinda Street, Parkes.
Admission: Free

Sunday 10 January 2pm: ‘The ’68 Special’ Travel back to June 1968 with US Elvis tribute artist Donny Edwards as he lights up the stage with his scorching tribute to The King. Where: Parkes Leagues Club, 194 Clarinda Street, Parkes
Admission: $66 This is just a small taste of what’s on offer during the festival. For the full rundown of events, visit

Are you an Elvis fan? Have you been to Parkes?

If you are driving to Parkes, make sure your NRMA Membership is up to date or join here! Or give your vehicle a free health check with NRMA Premium Care before you head off.

Tips for preventing accidental lock ins

NRMA Patrol helping kid locked in car

PRIORITY CALL: Children locked in cars are always a top priority for our patrols: they will drop everything to rescue a child, regardless of whether the caller is an NRMA Member.

In the past 12 months NRMA patrols across NSW and the ACT have rescued almost 2,500 young children accidentally locked in cars, a 16 per cent increase over the last four years.  But what is causing this increase?

“Human error is not always to blame. Over-zealous pets knocking internal door locks and auto lock car technology result in calls to the NRMA,” says Dimitra Vlahomitros, NRMA Senior Policy Adviser, Road Safety.

“More than 40 per cent of survey respondents that have driven with a young child in the last year said they had felt anxious or pressured by another driver waiting for them to put their child in the car or load shopping.

“This additional pressure can often lead to accidental lock-ins with the majority of calls for help coming from car parks. Residential driveways are also notorious locations for lock-ins,” Ms Vlahomitros said.

The NRMA is reminding the community that it is illegal and dangerous to leave children inside a car at any time, however today’s temperatures raise the risk even further.

On a 40-degree day it won’t take long at all for temperatures inside a locked car to reach 80 degrees – that’s cooking temperatures and obviously no place for a child or pet.

Today’s high temperatures across the state could expose children and pets to organ failure within minutes so the message is clear – don’t leave children or pets in the car, regardless of the circumstances.

With this in mind, The NRMA encourages parents to follow these tips may reduce an accidental lock-in:

  • Find an alternative to car keys being used as a ‘distraction toy’ for a young child.
  • Try and place keys in a clothes pocket.
  • Focus on where you put your keys, particularly when taking a phone call, loading the boot or placing a child in a car seat.
  • Leave the driver door ajar or window down when packing the boot or moving away from the car.
  • Don’t rush because another driver is waiting for the parking space.

The NRMA call centre receives an average of 12 anxious calls every day from Members and non- members.

“We are the primary responder to these situations, taking almost half of all calls for help for kids or pets accidentally locked in cars,” Ms Vlahomitros said.

“NRMA Members and non-members alike, think of us first when they find themselves in this stressful situation. The other half call friends or family to bring a spare key, carry their own spare key or call 00.”

Have you ever accidentally locked your keys in your car? What caused you to do it?

Useful links:

What should you do if you see a child locked in a hot car?
NRMA Advocacy Hub

Road tripping with pets

Dogs in car, secured.Summer holidays are on their way, which means family road trips will be on the rise.

And family holidays wouldn’t be the same without mans’ best friend. If you’re planning on hitting the road with your pet, there are a few things you need to know before you set off:

  1. The law. In all states across Australia, it is an offence to drive with your pet on your lap and if on a motorbike, your pet mustn’t ride between the handlebars and the rider. Also, fines can exceed $400 and you can lose three points if caught and if an animal is injured as a result of being unrestrained, the fines and penalties increase dramatically under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, including jail time.
  2. Safety is paramount. Not only is it illegal for pets to sit on drivers’ laps, it also isn’t safe, for you or your pet. Pet restraints are highly recommended by all authorities. You can find out more about restraints here.
  3. Head to the vet and get any new vaccinations that are needed and the ok that your pet is healthy enough to travel.
  4. Ensure you book pet friendly accommodation and that you will spend plenty of time with them there to make them feel at home.
  5. Get your pet microchipped and/or update your contact details before you take off. Also, make sure your microchip register is recognised nationally if travelling interstate.
  6. Check your Road Assist membership level. If you’re an NRMA Premium Care member, you automatically get Pet Plus coverage which includes pet transportation, access to vets and an individually numbered pet tag to help return your pet safely. You can even buy a cute pet tag linked to your NRMA membership number.
  7. Get your pet used to car travel before embarking on a long trip. Take a few short trips first.
  8. Keep your pet’s things separate for easy access during the road trip – bowls, food, water, leash, toys, plastic bags and any medications should all be within easy access.
  9. Never leave your pet unattended in your car, especially on a hot day. NRMA rescued 1,500 pets from cars over the last 12 months. Keep these tips in mind to avoid accidental lock-ins.
  10. Stop for plenty of toilet breaks. Road trips can be exciting for your pet and with excitement can come accidents. Stop more frequently than you normally would.
  11. As tough as it is, don’t let your pet ride with its head out the window as they can risk being hit by moving objects, or worse, falling out of the car.

Do you have any tips to add? How do you find travelling with pets?

Caravanning with pets? See our guide here:

Find out more about NRMA’s Pet Plus product:

Ever accidentally locked your pet in the car?

Dog in back seat

WOOF LUCK: We know accidents happen.

Ever accidentally locked your pet in the car?

You’re not alone.

In the last 12 months, the NRMA rescued 1,500 pets from locked cars across NSW and the ACT. The number is even higher for locking kids in cars.

This can be terrifying for pets and pet owners, particularly on hot days when your pets can be at risk from dehydration and in some cases, death. There are hefty fines and even jail time for offenders who injure their pets as a result of being locked in a car.

But we know accidents happen. You’re busy with the kids, you’re unloading groceries or you’re trying to get your misbehaving dog into the car and in a split second, you’ve closed the boot with the keys inside or that lovable pet has bumped an internal lock.

This week at a media event, the NRMA provided guidance on avoiding accidental lock-ins and advised that it is never ok to leave a pet (or child) in a car, even with the window rolled down.

To avoid accidental lock-ins, NRMA Member Service Manager Robert Younes, who has rescued many kids and pets from cars, offered this advice:

  • Leaving the driver door ajar or window down when packing the boot or moving away from the car.
  • Keeping keys in a clothes pocket as opposed to a bag or inside the car.
  • Focus on where you put your keys, particularly when taking a phone call, loading the boot or putting your pet in the car.
  • Don’t rush because another driver is waiting for the parking space.

But what to do you do if you do accidentally lock your pet (or child) in the car?

Call the NRMA, or your respective motoring organisation.You do not need to be a member to call the NRMA in this situation, but you must be the vehicle owner. NRMA will drop everything to respond to these calls which are managed through a priority line. Call us on 13 11 11.

Have you ever locked your pet in your car before?

Have you ever seen a pet locked in someone else’s car? Read this to find out what to do.