NRMA Policy Team

About NRMA Policy Team

The Government Relations and Public Policy Team carries out most of NRMA’s advocacy work to improve issues affecting motorists, such as safer roads, safer drivers, safer vehicles, transport economics and sustainable transport. The team also supports the NRMA Board in lobbying governments and organisations on behalf of our Members.

Tips for preventing accidental lock ins


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.

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

Towing? Do your research


When we’re in the market for a new vehicle it’s customary to take into account its looks, level of comfort and fuel economy, as well as other factors like safety and handling, before we even contemplate signing the dotted line.

But if you intend to use it to tow a caravan, boat, trailer etc., you must do your research. Otherwise you might find out on the wrong part of your holiday that your SUV can’t tow 3000 kilograms of caravan after all. Sometimes the towing limits change with specification levels, tow bar type, engine or transmission choice and with model updates.

Before purchasing the vehicle you need to understand a few things:

  • the legal requirements for towing;
  • the manufacturer’s recommended towing specifications;
  • the vehicle’s towbar specifications – many manufacturers offer different levels of towing ability depending on the tow bar package purchased.

Did the dealer explain the towing capacity when the trailer is braked or unbraked?

Most vehicles are able to tow up to 750kg without the need for brakes to be fitted to the trailer. However, if you do want to tow a caravan, boat, horse float or trailer that weighs more, it will need to be fitted with its own brakes that activate when you press the brakes in the vehicle. We recommend an inertial or motion sensing brake controller for the best performance.

While they may assure you the car is up to the task, you can’t take their word for granted. If you’re not provided with enough information, you might feel like they just want a sale – and you could be right.

On the other hand, when buying a caravan you’ll need to shop within the limitations of your car. There’s no point buying the perfect caravan that weighs 200kg more than your vehicle can tow, or one that will put too much load on your tow ball, because you’ll never be able to tow it anywhere or you’ll have to buy a new car. Again, double-check the facts. If you’re not provided with the necessary information, don’t do the deal.

Do you have any other tips?

- For more information on towing, check out our Learning how to tow story.
- Make sure your caravan or trailer is covered next time you hit the road. NRMA Road Assist Premium Care covers up to 3.5 tonnes including trailers and caravans and Premium Plus covers anything up to 10 tonnes including up to $3,000 in breakdown benefits. 

Road rules for pedestrians


Blog updated on 20 August 2015.

Road aren’t only for motorists and cyclists - they are for pedestrians too. As with cars, there are a number of rules, some better known than others, that govern how pedestrians use the road - as well as fines for breaking them.

Part 14 of Road Rules 2014 covers pedestrians. Some of the key rules in this section are:

230  Crossing a road – general

  1. A pedestrian crossing a road:
    (a)  must cross by the shortest safe route, and
    (b)  must not stay on the road longer than necessary to cross the road safely.

Maximum penalty: 20 penalty units.

236  Pedestrians not to cause a traffic hazard or obstruction

  1. A pedestrian must not cause a traffic hazard by moving into the path of a driver.
    Maximum penalty: 20 penalty units.
  2. A pedestrian must not unreasonably obstruct the path of any driver or another pedestrian.

238  Pedestrians travelling along a road (except in or on a wheeled recreational device or toy)

  1. A pedestrian must not travel along a road if there is a footpath or nature strip adjacent to the road, unless it is impracticable to travel on the footpath or nature strip.

Read the full road rules for pedestrians.

Most of the Rules for pedestrians are taught to us as children. However, pedestrian deaths continue to be significant. As the road is a shared zone, it is important that all users respect and adhere to the rules to make it the safe place that it can be.

Do you obey these road rules?

Learning to drive at 50

Not everyone gets their learner’s permit when they turn 16. We speak to two new drivers who put it off for nearly three decades.


L PLATED: Armed and ready to go, James Powditch (pictured) has enlisted the help of  NRMA Safer Driving School to obtain his license.

When you drive past a car wearing L-plates you typically expect to see a teenager behind the wheel. But from time to time there will be a mature age learner – someone who has, after years of being a non-driver, decided to head to their local RMS office and take their learner’s test.

Michele Cranston, 52, a food editor and cookbook author, and James Powditch, 49, an artist, are mature age learner drivers who have enlisted the NRMA’s Safer Driving School to supplement supervised driving with friends and family.

People are curious and often ask both James and Michele why now, after more than 30 years, have they decided to become motorists?

“I grew up with my brothers and dad spending the weekend fixing their cars,” Michele says. “I was under the false impression that driving a car went hand in hand with fixing it all weekend.

“I moved to London early in my career and didn’t need a car, then moved to Sydney’s inner west and didn’t need a car, and then I had a child plus a job that involves travel, now I need a car and I need to know how to drive it!


A WHOLE NEW WORLD:  “I’m looking forward to exploring the Hunter Valley and driving the Great Ocean Rd.”

“I decided it was time to stop filling taxi coffers and sit on my own four wheels! I am looking forward to exploring great restaurants in distant suburbs and visiting specialty suppliers and food producers who up until now have been voices at the end of the phone. Plans are also being made for driving trips to far flung places; I’m looking forward to exploring the Hunter Valley and driving the Great Ocean Road.”

James, on the other hand, says his partner Diane gave him a gentle push towards their local RMS at Marrickville two and a half years ago.

“Diane has wanted me to drive for a really long time. I passed the Driver Knowledge Test, I was on my way, no turning back. In 2013, I was given an NRMA driving lesson for Father’s Day. It’s still unused, all intentions to learn stalled until recently,” recalls James.

“How have I lived without a licence until now? Living in the inner city made it easy, my friends had licences as did past girlfriends, it didn’t cross my mind that I should hold my own golden plastic rectangle. Impending births of two children weren’t even enough of an incentive, for the first arrival my mother drove us to the hospital and the second Diane drove herself.

“I can see a few changes in my life once I get my licence – the who’s driving question which hasn’t been part of my social life to date may be raised regularly.

“The upside: my son will be able to play soccer again as his games are often in distant locales across Sydney and most importantly, I will be able to take jobs that I have had to decline previously because I couldn’t get a lift or move my equipment.”

Both James and Michele will take 10 driving lessons with NRMA Safer Driving School, aiming for one each week and an additional 60 to 80 hours of drive-time with supervising family and friends. As both are over 25 years of age, they are exempt from completing the Learner Driver Log Book and the mandatory 120 hours of supervised driving

Did you take up driving at a later stage in life? What were the main challenges you faced as a Learner driver?

Crash risk and the colour of your car


The notion that there is a relationship between car colour and crash risk may initially sound ridiculous, equivalent to the belief that red cars go faster.

Nor is it likely that many people in the market for a new car would have ‘colour’ amongst airbags and electronic stability programs on their list of desired safety features.

Yet when light conditions are taken into consideration, there is a clear statistical relationship between a vehicle’s colour and its crash risk, as detailed in a report by Monash University Accident Research Centre (MUARC) in 2007. Compared to white, colours such as black, blue, grey and others ranking lower on the visibility index were associated with higher crash risk in daylight hours.

MUARC’s research remains the most up to date research on this topic. It suggests crash severity is linked to vehicle colour, with “low visibility colours having higher risks of more severe crashes.”

Previous studies

A study in Epidemiology from 2002 found white and yellow cars had a slightly lower risk of being passively involved in a crash. This was followed by a study published in BMJ (British Medical Journal) in 2003 concluding that silver cars were 50% less likely than white cars to be involved in a crash resulting in serious injury. The association between silver and reduced risk continued even when confounding factors were adjusted.

Both these studies, according to MUARC, were inconclusive. These two studies, as well as prior ones, left the role of colour in influencing crash risk as being uncertain, prompting MUARC to undertake a more in-depth study.

The MUARC study

NRMA vehicle specialist Jack Haley said the MUARC study remains arguably the most comprehensive to probe the link between vehicle colour and crash risk.

“Previous international studies have examined vehicle visibility and colour but have not fully taken into account other factors that may have an impact on crash risk, such as driver demographics,” Mr Haley said.

Using crash data from Victoria and Western Australia, MUARC used the colour classifications black, blue, brown cream, fawn, gold, green, grey, maroon, white mauve, orange, pink, purple, red, silver and yellow, with all variables considered under the nearest category. Also included in the study were conditions such as light at the time of the crash, vehicle type, crash severity and state. Commercial vehicles and taxis were excluded.


The result compared white vehicles with all other coloured vehicles. MUARC’s research showed there were a number of colours related to high risk, including:

  • Black
  • Blue
  • Grey
  • Green
  • Red
  • Silver

None of the colours tested were statistically safer than white, though some had equal relative crash risk.

The association between colour and crash risk was highest during daylight hours, the risk associated with the above colours during this period up by 10%. The link was reduced during darker driving hours due to colour being less distinguishable and headlights further reducing colour’s effects. Results also showed that environmental factors had an impact on the relationship between colour and crash risk.

Of the study, Dr Soames Job of the RTA’s NSW Centre for Road Safety said the results were useful but other factors were more influential on crash risk and for drivers to be aware of this.

“Driving a darker coloured car can increase your crash risk,” Dr Job said, “but that is nowhere near as influential a factor as your driving behaviour. By driving within the speed limit, not driving after drinking and avoiding driving when tired, you increase your safety on the road.”

Is colour something you’ve taken into consideration when buying a car? Are there any colours you have difficulty seeing in certain conditions?

BLOG first published in 2007 – updated  23/6/15