GPS, Compasses, Cows: How to find your location when broken down


MOO: There have been instances where the name of a farmhouse or breed of cow in a paddock has helped our staff to locate a breakdown.

No one ever plans to breakdown, especially in an unfamiliar area when away from home. When this happens the first instinct is to look for help, more often than not from the NRMA.

On receiving your call, the call centre representative will ask: “What is your location? Are you in a safe place?”. If you don’t recognise your surroundings, this can be hard to answer. Fortunately, there are a few different ways you can help us find you, so we can get you back on the road again in no time.

NRMA Smartphone App

The NRMA Smartphone App is free to download and is available for Apple, Android and Windows devices. When you first download the app, enter your membership number and postcode details. These will then be stored for future use. When you need to request Roadside assistance, simply log on to the app and follow the steps. You don’t need to call and wait in the queue. The location of the callout will be sent using your smartphone’s GPS so we will find you.

GPS Units and Mobile Phones

Global Positioning Systems (GPS) are available through Satellite Navigation Units and many smartphone mapping applications, including Google Maps. Most of the time, your GPS device or smartphone will provide the street or road name where you are broken down within a 1km radius in Metropolitan Areas or a 5km radius in rural locations.

Coordinates from a GPS unit or Compass App (under ‘Utilities’ on an iPhone or you can download on other smartphones) can also be used if you are unfamiliar with your location. Our call centre staff can also guide you through the process of retrieving this information from your phone or GPS unit.

Local Area Knowledge

If you don’t have a smartphone or GPS, any details about a location can help us find you, especially in rural areas. Information such as the direction you are travelling or approximate distance from the last town can be helpful.

There have been many instances where local information such as the name of a farmhouse or breed of cow in a paddock has helped our staff to locate a breakdown. Our call centre staff will try to obtain as much information through questioning and often conference a call with a local contractor to help us work out where you are so we can get to you quicker.

Emergency Phones 

You may have seen various emergency bays with phones in your travels along freeways and highways and wondered what they do. Each emergency phone has a three digit serial number which provides its exact location and direct calls to 13 11 11 so we can arrange Roadside Assistance. In the event of an emergency or accident, our staff can transfer a call to an emergency service or insurance provider.

If you happen to break down in an area you are unfamiliar with, don’t panic. Just contact the NRMA, follow the tips above and be sure to find a safe spot to wait. Then a friendly NRMA Patrol will attend as soon as possible. In the meantime, safe driving!

Have you ever broken down in an unfamiliar location? What did you do?

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Road safety is in your hands – take the Fatality Free pledge

SIGN UP: Let’s make every day fatality free on our roads.

We remind NRMA Members to drive safely and take the Fatality Free Friday pledge today.

Fatality Free Friday (29 May 2015) is an initiative of the Australian Road Safety Foundation which calls for road users to make a promise to themselves, their family and friends to consciously drive safely and obey road rules.

Deputy Premier of New South Wales and Minister for Police, Troy Grant, has encouraged all motorists to join the initiative and take the pledge.

“Throughout my career I have seen countless road accidents, many of which could have been avoided, so I encourage all motorists to get join the initiative, follow the road rules, drive to the conditions and help avoid more accidents,” the Deputy Premier said.

So far this year, 137 people have died in road-related collisions across NSW, and Fatality Free Friday is a reminder to stay safe on our roads.

Traffic and Highway Patrol Commander, Assistant Commissioner John Hartley, said road safety is everyone’s responsibility.

“Pedestrians, cyclists, motorcyclists, passengers, and drivers alike, play an important role in keeping themselves and others safe on the road,” Assistant Commissioner Hartley said.

“We all have a responsibility to make good decisions and act safely, whether behind the wheel, controlling the bike or crossing the road.

“Police will be out in force tomorrow, targeting the fatal five: speeding, drink-and-drug-driving, seatbelt use, driving tired and driver distractions.

“Take the pledge to reduce fatalities. Say ‘road safety is up to me’. Show Australia you are dedicated to keeping roads safe for everyone,” Assistant Commissioner Hartley said.

Road users are also able to make their road safety pledge in person between 8am and 3pm tomorrow at World Square Shopping Centre, or by visiting or on the Fatality Free Friday Facebook page.

Fatality Free Friday is run by the Australian Road Safety Foundation, a not for profit organisation established to reduce road trauma across Australia.

Will you take the pledge?

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.


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

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?