NSW School Zones back in operation from today

STAY ALERT: School Zones play a critical role in making sure NSW kids have a safe and happy start to the school holidays.

STAY ALERT: School Zones play a critical role in making sure NSW kids have a safe and happy start to the school year.

We remind motorists that School Zones are back in action in NSW from today.

It is a staff development day today in NSW public schools. While most students will return on Wednesday for the start of term, some private schools have students returning today.

“If it’s a gazetted school day, school zones are in place, that means from today, slow down to 40km/h every morning and afternoon, and be extra vigilant,” Roads minister Duncan Gay.

“It is especially important as term begins as we have new starters in kindergarten and Year 7 who are not familiar with roads around their school, as well as children who are just very excited to see their friends after a long break and could easily get distracted.”

The 40km/h school speed zones operate across NSW at all school sites on gazetted school days (including school development days). Motorists should drive no faster than 40 km/h through school zones. Most school zones operate from 8 to 9.30am and from 2.30 to 4pm on gazetted school days.

School zones operate and are enforced on pupil free days because pupil free days can vary from school to school. Consistent operation of school zones aims to reduce driver confusion, which improves the safety of school children.

These are the schools starting next week (3 Feb) – all in the far west of NSW. There are a small number of non-standard school zone times in NSW. They are identified by red/orange school zone signs to show non-standard times. Signs at these schools show the times that apply.

Do you get stressed driving in school zones?

What should you do if you see a pet locked inside a hot car?


HOT DOG: Temperatures in a car can rise to dangerous levels and can rapidly reach more than double the outside temperature even on mild days. Six minutes is all it takes for a pet to suffer potentially fatal heatstroke.

Last month, we rescued over 100 pets from cars, with the majority of calls received by the vehicle owner.

You do not need to be a Member to call the NRMA in this situation, however you must be the vehicle owner. Because of the grave danger involved, we drop everything to respond to these calls which are managed through a priority line. Upon arrival, we provide skills and equipment to enter the vehicle or support emergency services.

The majority of these emergency calls are made by the vehicle owner, where permission has been given to access the vehicle. If you are not the vehicle custodian (eg, passer-by), try the obvious solution of checking if any doors are unlocked. If not, you should contact the emergency services immediately (000) who will liaise directly with the NRMA or who may break the window themselves, depending on the circumstances. 

While most vehicles can be unlocked by following appropriate lock-out procedures, there will be circumstances when breaking a window will be the most reasonable action.

Criminal Offence 

There are specific provisions in relation to ‘Carriage and Conveyance’ of animals in the Prevention of cruelty to Animals Act. In relation to dogs locked in cars, section 5 would apply: “a person in charge of an animal shall not fail at any time (b) where pain is being inflicted upon the animal to take such reasonable steps as are necessary to alleviate the pain”.

In relation to the provision of water, Section 8 (1) states that ‘a person in charge of an animal shall not fail to provide the animal with food, drink or shelter etc’.

These offences can carry fines of $5,500 and up to six months in jail. If a dog dies as a result of being left in a car, charges include $22,500 in fines and two years jail time for the owner.

We encourage all our Members to take the RSPCA Pledge to never leave your dog in a hot car.

Have you ever come across a pet locked inside a vehicle. What did you do? 

Keeping your pets safe when driving

Love That Pet - Dog in car

Every year in Australia over 5000 dogs are injured in motor vehicle accidents. Whether it is a short or a long trip, making sure your pet is properly secured protects you, your pet and other passengers from serious injury.

As a vet, I have seen some serious injuries from falls and crashes where pets were not properly restrained. For example, a young pup taking its first trip on the back of a ute in the centre of Sydney fell off. Thankfully he escaped with only minor injuries and it was a great reminder that dogs should always be tethered on utes.

Inside the car, an unrestrained pet can form a very heavy and dangerous projectile. Even at low speeds of around 20km/h your pet could end up flying through the windscreen should you hit another vehicle. If you really want to scare yourself, check out this YouTube video showing some crash test doggies in simulated crashes designed to test some common car restraints.

So how do we keep our pets safe?

Firstly it is illegal in all states of Australia to have our pets sitting on our lap during the drive. We’ve all seen it, we may have even done it before, but there are so many reasons why this is dangerous. While I consider myself to be an excellent driver, accidents do happen and of course they are never my fault!

The other legalities of travelling with pets are state specific, but country-wide a pet must be properly restrained and not interfering with the driver’s ability to concentrate. Owners can also be fined under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act if their animal is injured in an accident due to being improperly restrained.

So what sort of restraint should I use?

Pet-Seatbelts from petco.comThere are a number of different options available. Unfortunately not all of them set out to perform as they should..  If you are tethering using a seatbelt harness, check that it has been crash tested at a realistic speed, at least 35 km/h. If using a pet travel carrier ensure that it is very well secured as it can become a lethal object in a crash, with or without a pet inside. The best place for any pet or carrier is behind a cargo barrier in the rear of the vehicle. If this is not possible, secure the carrier with the seat belt around it.

Travel with cats and small furries

Cats and smaller creatures like ferrets and rodents should always be in a proper cat carrier in a vehicle. My favourite story to convince owners to ensure their cats are secure involves a tiny kitten that managed to escape its owner’s arms in a car and ended up hiding behind the steering wheel column. The car had to be taken apart to get the terrified kitten out. Cats love to hide so the best way to transport them is in a proper cat carrier behind a cargo barrier or with the seatbelt secured around it. Visit here to find some tips on how to safely and easily get your cat into the carrier.

So how do you keep your pets safe in the car? What sort of restraint do you have?

Dr-Eloise-BrightAuthor Bio: With 7 years of small animal vet practice in Sydney, Dr. Eloise Bright from www.lovethatpet.com is an animal lover and advocate for all animals from baby birds to stray kittens. Chat with her and her dog, Duster and cat, Jimmy on Google+.

Police hail RBT blitz as holiday toll falls but motorists are slacking on seatbelts


STRONG ARM OF LAW: The holiday period caps a mostly positive year on NSW roads, where the final death toll of 309 was down 24 on the 2013 tally and the equal-lowest figure in 91 years.

NSW police conducted more than a quarter of a million extra random breath tests over the Christmas-New Year holiday period compared to last year as part of a blitz that cut the road toll to historic lows.

830,670 motorists were tested between Friday December 19 and Sunday January 4, with 1273 charged with drink-driving compared to 1209 during the 2013/2014 operation.

There was also an increase in people caught speeding (up 2878 to 14,422) but the overall toll dropped from 11 to 10, despite Operation Safe Arrival running over 17 days compared to 15 days previously.

But a big jump in people detected not wearing their seatbelts over the period – from 1454 to 1881 – and an increase in fatalities related to not wearing seatbelts from 20 to 29 drew the attention of Traffic and Highway Patrol Command chief John Hartley, who noted that generations had grown up with compulsory seatbelt laws.

“It has been proven time and again, that proper use of seatbelts and occupant restraints saves people from being seriously injured or killed in crashes,” he said.

“We teach our children to protect themselves in a car by making sure they have their seatbelt on or are in the correct car seat.

“It’s unfortunate we have had more than 1800 people who did not want to give themselves that same protection during Christmas and New Year.”

The holiday period caps a mostly positive year on NSW roads, where the final death toll of 309 was down 24 on the 2013 tally and the equal-lowest figure in 91 years.

Roads minister Duncan Gay hailed the result, citing record road safety budgets and a swathe of new awareness campaigns as driving the decline.

“When you think our population has grown by more than five million since 1923 and there are now about 4.8 million more vehicles on our roads, it shows how significant this reduction is,” he said.

Centre for Road Safety general manager Marg Prendergast said the toll had dropped by almost 40 per cent in the past decade, since 510 NSW motorists died in 2004.

The statewide fatality rate of 4.1 per 100,000 population is the lowest since records began in 1908, driven by big drops in passenger (43, lowest since 1939) and pedestrian (41, lowest since 1928) deaths.

Fewer young adult deaths and a 35 per cent drop in fatalities from P-plate driver crashes were also welcomed, along with a reduction in motorcyclist and cyclist deaths, but a big increase in deaths of drivers over 70 (up by 16 to 55) was a sad counterpoint.

The explosion in fatalities related to drug-driving – responsible for 11 per cent of deaths, compared to 15 per cent attributed to alcohol – meant the issue would become a major focus for police in 2015.

“We are doing more data analysis and developing a range of initiatives to address drug-driving,” she said.

“We also know from the 2014 data that most fatal crashes occurred on Saturdays with 55 fatalities, which was five more than what was recorded on Saturdays during 2013.”

Despite reductions in speed related and fatigue related fatalities compared with 2013, speed still contributed to 41 per cent of fatalities in 2014 and fatigue was implicated in 17 per cent of fatalities.

NSW is the best-performed state in terms of road safety followed by Queensland, whose annual toll of 223 was the state’s lowest since 1952, and both states have consistently reduced motoring fatalities since 2010 at average annual rates of 6.6 per cent and 5.6 per cent respectively.

But WA and Tasmania have both recorded increases in their respective annual death tolls with fatal accident rates above 7 per 100,000, and the combined national result puts Australia surprisingly low in global road safety rankings.

The latest report from the OECD’s Joint Transport Research Group reveals 14 countries cut their road tolls by over 50 per cent between 2000 and 2012 with Spain, Portugal and Denmark leading the way with a two-thirds reduction.

The local cumulative fatality reduction of 28 per cent puts it just ahead of Nigeria and the report lumped Australia in with the US as the two countries were the least success was recorded.

Did you notice a strong police presence on our roads over the Christmas break?

Think twice this Australia Day weekend

Untitled-3 UPDATE: We remind motorists that double demerits apply from Friday 23 January to Monday 26 January (4 days) inclusive. Please drive safely and take extra care on the roads. 

During the Australia Day long weekend, substantial numbers of motorists will be on the road which has significant road safety implications. The double demerit point scheme applies for the following types of offences:

  • Speeding
  • 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?