School Zones back in operation

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

STAY ALERT: School Zones play a critical role in making sure kids have a safe and happy commute to and from school.

Motorists are being urged to slow down and observe the 40km/h speed limit around school zones, which come back into effect on Monday (18 July) after the school holidays.

The 40km/h school speed zones operate across NSW and ACT at all school sites on gazetted school days (including school development days). Motorists should drive no faster than 40km/h through school zones.

Most school zones operate from 8:00am to 9.30am and from 2.30pm to 4pm on gazetted school days in NSW and from 8am to 4pm in the ACT.

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.

There are a small number of non-standard school zone times in NSW and ACT. 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 find it difficult to keep up with school zone operating times?

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

To leave a note or not to leave a note?

DECENT PROPOSAL: Sorry note written by Ben Affleck in 2012, image from Daily Mail UK.

DECENT PROPOSAL: Sorry note written by Ben Affleck in 2012, image from Daily Mail UK.

Recently, I witnessed a truck knock the drivers’ side mirror off a parked car. I always wondered how this happened but had never witnessed it before. It was quite dramatic – the mirror flying across the road and glass everywhere.

I’m a fan of the honesty policy and would have been fuming if this had happened to me, so when I realised this truck wasn’t going to stop and leave a note, I took matters into my own hands.

When stopped at the lights, I managed to take down the truck’s registration. Later, when off the road, I contacted a local pub 100 metres from the scene of the accident and asked them to leave a note on the car. They did, I had a call from the police later that afternoon and phone calls from the owner of the vehicle thanking me for taking the time.

I have been told a few times over the last week how nice it was to do this and the owner of the car has been incredibly grateful, which makes me wonder how many people wouldn’t leave a note when hitting a parked car and how many would ignore it if they witnessed an incident.

And so, I did a little research. Back in 2011, NRMA Insurance conducted a survey of 450 NSW drivers and found that a note was left in less than 9 per cent of accidents. 9 per cent!

I’ve previously come back to my parked car and found a window smashed (benefits of living close to several pubs!), family members have come back to their cars with much worse damage including one hit and run that left the car undriveable and when asking around the office, it seems it’s a pretty common offence. In no cases was a note left.

I think it’s time to bring a bit of decency back to our roads.

Would you leave a note if you hit a parked car? And would you leave a note if you witnessed an incident? Share your stories in the comments below!

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

Keeping your car healthy in winter

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WINTER IS COMING: There are plenty of maintenance items you can tick off.

How time flies when your car has been running well throughout the summer months. Now the weather has turned cold and you’ve done nothing to it since spring, beyond changing the oil and replacing a tyre. 

Contrary to popular thinking, vehicles do require seasonal attention to be kept safe and dependable. More to the point, their owners may need a seasonal reminder to pay attention to their vehicles needs.

During winter a vehicle’s cooling system takes on a slightly different role and in colder areas the system’s antifreeze stops the coolant from freezing if you’re parking your vehicle overnight.However, if you have been filling your cooling system with water, you may have altered the ratio of water and anti-freeze, making it less effective in doing its job.

To avoid any hassles, you should have your car serviced or checked by an expert. We recommend NRMA MotorServe, which is currently offering a comprehensive winter health check for $39 (was $120), which includes wiper blades. However, there are still plenty of other maintenance items you can tick off yourself.

  1. Check your tyre pressures including the spare. If the load is greater than normal, inflate accordingly using the manufacturer’s recommendation on the tyre placard.
  2. Check the tyres’ tread depth while you’re at it, and if they are close to the wear limiters, consider replacing.
  3. If your windscreen wipers left fine lines on the glass last time you used them, now’s the time to replace the rubber blades and add some windscreen cleaner to the washer bottle. Windscreen wiper blades can deteriorate even on a new car that has been sitting in storage. The rubber in the blades is vulnerable to the elements as well as road contaminants. That’s why blades should be changed periodically, ideally twice a year, as a preventative measure
  4. Give the windscreen a good clean inside. If you’re travelling to alpine regions pack a plastic scraper in your kit to remove ice from the windscreen and door glass. Never use hot water on the glass, and remember, a small stone chip can grow into a large crack as the temperature lowers.
  5. Check that all the lights are operating – especially high beam.
  6. Cold temperatures put additional strain on your battery. If you’re driving an older car and the starter sounds sluggish on start-up on colder mornings, check the age and condition of the battery. Most batteries are maintenance-free these days, but if your battery has caps check the level and top up as necessary. Battery testing, as well as delivery and installation by a qualified technician, is free for NRMA Members.

Has your car ever got caught in cold conditions? Any advice to share? 

- Driving in the snow
- Tips for driving in the snow

 

Think twice on Queen’s Birthday

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We remind motorists that double demerits apply from 10 to 13 June 2016 inclusive. Please drive safely and take extra care on the roads. 

Also, on 4 January 2016 the standard penalty for mobile phone offences rose to four demerit points. Since the end of last year, mobile phone offences have been included in double demerit periods. This means those caught talking or texting illegally while driving during this Queen’s Birthday weekend will incur eight demerit points – a huge amount when the threshold on unrestricted licences is 13 points.

The double demerit point scheme now applies for the following types of offences:

  • Speeding
  • Illegal use of mobile phones
  • 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?

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

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Charging devices, pre-loading movies, planning safe rest stops and counting NRMA Patrol Vehicles are among a new list of safety tips released by the NRMA ahead of the start of the NSW school holidays this weekend.

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.

NRMA Senior Policy Advisor Dimitra Vlahomitros said bored children in cars could become an annoying distraction for drivers.

“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,” Ms Vlahomitros said.

“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.”

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 cost.
  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.

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

“With the right preparation, long road trips can be enjoyable and safe for everyone,” she said.

What tips do you have to share?

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

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