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.

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


HELP: Bored children in cars could become an annoying distraction for drivers

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

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.

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.

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 coast.
  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. Premium Care Members can get a free child restraint installation from the NRMA.

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

What tips do you have to share?

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

Towing? Do your research

Four wheel drive with caravan

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. 

LPG vs. Petrol

Untitled-2While the price of petrol is currently low, compared to what it has been for the past few years, some observers say it must go up again eventually.  If it does, you may want to think about  converting your car to LPG.

The Federal Government rebate is no longer available and, due to the complexity of modern engines, the conversion cost has increased, so make sure you get a firm quote from an LPG installer before proceeding. Your pay-back period will depend on your vehicle and how far you drive each year.

But have you got all the facts?

Environmental impact

The environment wins if you make the change, leading to lower greenhouse emissions. The Australian Government has calculated that the mass of CO2 (greenhouse) gas released from the exhaust pipe by the burning of one litre of fuel is:

  • 2.3 kg for Petrol
  • 1.5 kg for LPG.

LPG = Fewer kilometres per litre

You can expect a 15-30 per cent increase in fuel consumption over petrol per kilometre because the lower energy content of gas requires more to be burned in the engine compared with petrol and you have to factor this into your calculations.

In knowing all this, is a change to LPG worth it?

You have to be sure all the figures add up and that you are going to be better off economically if you convert. Another option is to buy a second hand car that was manufactured with LPG fitted, such as the Ford Falcon LPi models. These are LPG-only (ie, no petrol system is fitted at all). They are no longer available new but were produced for several years up to 2014, so there are a good number of low kilometre examples available on the market at reasonable prices. The Holden Commodore was also offered for a couple of years with a factory-warranted LPG system.

You can keep up to date with daily fuel prices by monitoring NRMA’s fuel pages. Thinking about purchasing a LPG vehicle? NRMA Car Loans offer great rates to NRMA Members.

- Renew your NRMA Membership
- Join the NRMA
- Find more about Membership options

Roundabout rules


The rules for using a roundabout are quite simple. But, as common as roundabouts are, the number of crashes at intersections with roundabouts suggests that when we approach one, we still aren’t quite clear on the rules.

Part 9 of the Road Rules 2014 details the legislation that covers roundabouts. Motorists should know what a roundabout is and what they’re for. It is the way they should be approached and used that seems to be causing the confusion.

Rule 114 explains how to give way when entering or driving in a roundabout:

Giving way when entering or driving in a roundabout

A driver entering a roundabout must give way to:

(a)  any vehicle in the roundabout, and
(b)  a tram that is entering or approaching the roundabout.

For this rule, give way means the driver must slow down and, if necessary, stop to avoid a collision.

There is no specific legislation stating one must give way to the other if entering the roundabout at the same time, only that you must give way to any vehicle already in the roundabout.

However, common sense must prevail. As the rule states, a driver must slow down enough to be able to stop to avoid a collision if necessary.

Many drivers enter/approach roundabouts too fast and if there was a collision and it was a result of them not slowing to be able to avoid a collision, then they may face penalties from the authorities.

These are the rules and you can be fined for not abiding by them. If involved in a crash, you might be liable when you thought you weren’t.

View the full road rules for roundabouts.

Have you had problems at roundabouts? Are the rules clear enough and easy to follow?


Ethanol in petrol

Dollarphotoclub_31429154Ethanol has been widely available now for around 10 years, being sold as E10. It is a colourless alcohol, the same as in alcoholic drinks and is manufactured from grain or sugar.

The CSIRO has calculated that an E10 blend cuts overall greenhouse emissions by around 3 per cent. However it’s more costly than petrol to produce and requires special storage facilities.

Testing shows that fuel consumption can increase by 3-4 per cent when using an E10 blend in vehicles that do not have the capability to take advantage of E10’s higher octane, in which case the fuel consumption impact is small. 10 per cent ethanol mixed with petrol should not affect the majority of vehicles on our roads.

The motor industry’s website advises which cars can use E10, E5 or no ethanol at all.

Ethanol is currently rebated at the normal fuel excise, so E10 should be marginally cheaper than standard unleaded petrol at the bowser.

What’s your experience with E10? Is your car cheaper to run overall and has E10 had any effect – good or not so good – on your car’s performance or reliability?

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

- Renew your NRMA Membership
- Join the NRMA
- Find more about Membership options