Fostering safer drivers

NRMA Safe Driving School

SKILLING UP: Research also tells us that the more supervised driving practice a learner driver undertakes the lower the chances of an incident.

While safer roads and safer cars are fundamental to minimising crashes and fatalities on our roads, an often overlooked – but crucial factor – is driving ability.

A responsible and well-trained driver is far less likely to be involved in a crash, and prevention is better than cure.

The RMS Safer Drivers Course gives participants background knowledge about safe driving practices they might not otherwise have picked up while getting their L-plates or passing their driver knowledge test. It is also valuable for learner drivers, as it counts for 20 hours in their logbooks.

The first module includes an interactive classroom session where students learn the importance of low risk driving. The second module is a practical in-car session where an instructor helps each student put into practice the low risk mindset explored in module one.

It is not possible to ‘fail’ the course, so students can’t waste their money, but both modules must be completed before the 20 hours will be recorded in their logbooks.

The NRMA is one of the leading providers of the Safer Drivers Course. So far, more than 20,000 – or 33 per cent – of participants have completed the course through the NRMA. When asked what their initial motivation was for attending the course, many said it was the incentive of obtaining 20 hours credit in their log books. Upon finishing the course, however, many leave with a greater respect for the journey to becoming a safe and independent driver.

You can find out more about the Safer Drivers Course from NRMA Safer Driving. Gift vouchers for this course are available from the NRMA Online Shop.

If you were offered a free driving lesson from an expert, would you take it?

Reviewing the facts about side mirrors

REFLECTION: While most modern vehicles now come standard with convex side mirrors, according to the Australian Design Rules (ADRs) side mirrors can be also be flat.

REFLECTION: While most modern vehicles now come standard with convex side mirrors, according to the Australian Design Rules (ADRs) side mirrors can be also be flat.

In recent weeks, NRMA’s magazine Open Road has received hundreds of emails about convex side mirrors, with some readers questioning whether they pose a safety risk because they make it difficult for a driver to judge the distance of traffic approaching from the rear.

The benefit of a convex side mirror is that the shape acts like a wide-angle lens, reducing a driver’s blind spot and thereby lessening the risk of a collision while changing lanes.

“There is a strong argument that the first priority in rear-view mirror design is to enable the driver to sight a vehicle to the rear, rather than judge its distance accurately,” says a spokesperson from the NSW Government’s Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development.

“Drivers also need to be aware that while a rear-view mirror assists in overall road awareness, a look over the shoulder is still essential to ensure safe manoeuvring.”

While most modern vehicles now come standard with convex side mirrors, according to the Australian Design Rules (ADRs) side mirrors can be also be flat. In fact, a convex mirror can be replaced legally with a flat mirror, provided the mirror conforms to design rules and its reflective surface is made of shatter-proof material or safety glass.

Side-mirror-diagram

The reflective surface of a driver’s side mirror must be at least 120mm x 200mm. Australian Design Rule 14/02 requires a driver’s side rear-view mirror to provide a field of view (as shown in the diagram below) of the road to the side and rear of the vehicle.

The ADRs specify that the driver’s side can have either a flat reflective surface or a convex reflective surface with a radius of curvature that is at least 1200mm.

The Road Users’ Handbook states that “before you change lanes, give your signal in plenty of time, check your mirrors and look over your shoulder for other vehicles”. The head check is necessary to ensure it is safe to change lanes – drivers should not depend on their mirrors alone.

What is your opinion on convex mirrors? Do you like or dislike?

Convex mirrors on cars

Can you participate in a new driving study?

OPEN ROAD: Annually around 1,300 people die and 33,000 are seriously injured on Australian roads. Using a new research method, the Naturalistic Driving Study (NDS), this study aims to provide Australia with answers to some significant road safety questions.

OPEN ROAD: Annually around 1,300 people die and 33,000 are seriously injured on Australian roads. Using a new research method, the Naturalistic Driving Study (NDS), this study aims to provide Australia with answers to some significant road safety questions.

Car drivers are needed for Australia’s first Naturalistic Driving Study (NDS), being led by the University of New South Wales in collaboration with several other leading universities. This study is part-funded by the NRMA.

The aim of the study is to improve road safety in Australia by better understanding how people drive in normal and safety-critical situations.

For the study, 360 participant drivers will have their own vehicles equipped for four months with a compact data collection system that records their driving behaviour, the behaviour of their vehicle and their interactions with other road users. The equipment is designed so as not to damage the vehicle or interfere with normal operations of the vehicle.

All vehicles will be equipped with the data collection system at a designated installation site by qualified technicians in Sydney or Melbourne. During the installation process, participants will be invited to complete a series of questionnaires, two physical tests (grip strength and rapid walking) and some non-invasive vision tests.

After that, participants will drive their vehicle as they normally would and, after four months, complete an exit questionnaire and have the data collection equipment removed by a qualified technician.

Participants, who complete the study satisfactorily, will receive two (2) $125 Coles-Myer Shopping vouchers (one after installation of study equipment and one after removal of study equipment).

To be eligible for this study, participants need to:

  • ​be between 20 and 70 years of age;
  • hold a valid NSW or Victorian driver’s licence (full licence only);
  • own a registered passenger vehicle (sedan, coupe, hatchback, station wagon, or sports utility vehicle/four-wheel drive) or have owner permission to use a registered passenger vehicle; and
  • drive at least 10 trips a week.

To register your interest, and for more information, please visit the study website at www.a​nds.unsw.edu.au or contact Dr Wu Yi Zheng by sending an email to ANDS@unsw.edu.au​. Thanks.

Australian Naturalistic Driving Study FAQs

How to keep your kids safe on their school commute

SAFE HANDS: Your child’s safety depends on you.

With school back across NSW this week, the NSW Centre for Road Safety has put together a list of tips for a safe start to the term. Parents, carers and kids, keep these in mind when travelling to and from school.

1. Make sure your children are in an appropriate child restraint that is fitted and used correctly.

2. Stick to the 40km/h speed limit in a school zone as children are about and can be unpredictable.

3. Look out for buses pulling out – watch for wig-wag lights.

4. Always park and turn legally around schools and avoid dangerous manoeuvres like U-turns and three-point turns.

5. Always give way to pedestrians particularly when entering and leaving driveways.

6. Drop the kids off and pick them up on the school side of the road in your school’s designated drop-off and pick-up area. Calling out to them from across the road can be dangerous because they may run to you without checking traffic.

7. It’s safest for the kids to get out of the car on the kerb side of the road to be away from passing traffic.

8. Plan your trip to school so you are using pedestrian crossing areas where possible.

9. Talk with your children about Stop, Look, Listen and Think every time they cross the road. STOP: one step back from the kerb. LOOK: for traffic to your right left and right again. LISTEN: for the sounds of approaching traffic. THINK: whether it is safe to cross.

10. Always hold your child’s hand. Children need your help to spot dangers such as vehicles coming out of driveways. They can also be easily distracted and wander into traffic.

For more information, please visit Transport for NSW’s Back to School Safety page: Transport for NSW’s Back to School Safety.

What tips do you have for making sure your kids stay safe on their commute to and from school?

Police demand motorists change attitude, after horror long weekend on roads

Police car Senior police are today pleading with motorists to take greater responsibility on NSW roads as the Easter long weekend road toll ended with four people dead, 189 injured and families torn apart.

Over the long weekend, four people died on NSW roads compared to two people last year, with 189 people being injured down 17 on last year (206 injured). Meanwhile, 243,888 breath tests were conducted resulting in 298 drink driving charges, and 4801 infringements notices were issued for speeding. 1300 Random Drug Tests performed that resulted in 222 positive tests.

Commander of Specialist Operations, Deputy Commissioner Catherine Burn said police are extremely disappointed that some motorists were not listening, and at worst, not thinking.

“Right now there are four people dead, including two young children, and families are left wondering why. One of the reasons is lack of attention. Not paying attention to the conditions. Not paying attention to their surroundings. And just not paying attention.

“While the Easter long weekend has ended, the school holidays have just begun, and there will be thousands of families taking a break.

“We are asking that all motorists change their attitude to driving, pay attention so they get to and from their destinations safely,” Deputy Commissioner Burn said.

Traffic and Highway Patrol Commander, Assistant Commissioner John Hartley said while some of the traffic offence figures were down the motoring public needed to show greater concentration.

“Why speed when it’s raining, why let yourself become distracted, why get into a car when you have been drinking and drive, and why when you’re tired – would you keep driving. If they could, that’s the question those who have been killed or injured would like to ask.

“It appears the answer is impatience and complacency.

“Today I’m asking everyone who uses the roads, those on holidays, those going to and from work, pedestrians alike, to think about what they’re doing, if not for their own sake but for the sake of their family and friends,” Assistant Commissioner Hartley said.

Do you agree that the attitude of some motorists is to blame for accidents on our roads?