The most misunderstood road rules in country areas

As part of Road Rules Awareness Week 2015, Transport for NSW asked Road Safety Officers working in local government to highlight the issues they have found most misunderstood in their local area. These were the results for officers working in country areas.

STOP MEANS STOP: You must stop completely at a stop sign, before reaching the stop line.

STOP MEANS STOP: You must stop completely at a stop sign, before reaching the stop line.

1. Stopping at children’s crossing
These part-time crossings operate when the orange children’s crossing flags are present. This could be just before and after school hours, during school excursions and at lunch time. When approaching a children’s crossing you must stop at the stop line if a pedestrian is on or entering the crossing. Some of these crossings also have school crossing supervisors, and you must stop when they display a hand held ‘stop’ sign.

2. Giving way at T-intersections
If you are travelling on a road that ends with a T-intersection, give way to pedestrians or vehicles travelling on the road that you are approaching, unless otherwise signposted.

3. Stop signs and stop lines
You must stop completely at a stop sign, before reaching the stop line.

4. Overtaking
Overtaking is one of the riskiest manoeuvres on the road. There are a number of rules about overtaking to make it safer, including not overtaking across a continuous line and not overtaking a turning vehicle. It’s important that you have a clear view of any approaching traffic and that you can safely overtake the vehicle ahead.  All other road rules apply, including the speed limit, when overtaking. If someone overtakes you, don’t increase your speed, keep left and give them reasonable space to pass and then move back into the lane.

5. Default speed limits
The default rural speed limit, which applies in non-built-up areas without signposted speed limits, is 100km/h.

“Learning to be a good driver doesn’t end with getting your driver’s licence – it requires practice and staying up to date with the road rules. Driving is all about risk management and we need our drivers to not only develop the knowledge and experience but also the attitude to become safer and smarter drivers,” says Centre for Road Safety General Manager Marg Prendergast.

“Whether you’re a driver, rider, pedestrian, cyclist or passenger – we all have a role to play in keeping our roads and each other safe so make sure you know what the road rules are and stick to them.”

Do you agree that these road rules are often not followed in the country?

Road Rules Awareness Week and the Top 10 Most Misunderstood Road Rules guide were launched in February 2013 following a community call for a clearer explanation of the road rules.

To learn more, call 13 22 13 or find the NSW Road Users’ Handbook.

The worst areas for drink-driving in NSW revealed

UNWANTED RECORD: Police laid 759 drink-driving charges on drivers stopped in the Manly-Warringah district since the start of the year.

UNWANTED RECORD: Police laid 759 drink-driving charges on drivers stopped in the Manly-Warringah district since the start of the year. Pic: courtesy of NSW Police Force.

Motorists on Sydney’s northern beaches have been exposed as the worst drink-driving offenders in New South Wales, following a 12-day police crackdown triggered by a spike in the road toll.

Police laid 759 drink-driving charges on drivers stopped in the Manly-Warringah district since the start of the year, beating out the Tweed-Byron zone where 753 motorists tested positive.

But the NSW north coast also took third place on the podium with 672 detections in the Coffs Harbour / Clarence River area, just ahead of the 657 tests tallied in Richmond in Sydney’s north-west.

Traffic and Highway Patrol commander John Hartley said Operation Saturation – which started on February 7 and finished just before midnight on February 18 – had been a great success, cutting the number of serious or deadly crashes by 38 per cent compared to the previous year.

“The current 2015 road toll at 50 fatalities from 46 crashes is five deaths and seven crashes less than this time last year,” he said.

“Those that run the risk of drink-driving will be breath-tested and prosecuted off our roads, which will have an impact not only on their drivers licence, but also on their families, and their livelihoods.”

Operation Saturation has been succeeded by Operation Drink Drive 1, which will run until 11.59pm Saturday February 21 and focus on drug-driving, fatigue, seatbelts and speeding as well as random breath testing.

Are there any areas that you’ve noticed a higher risk of meeting drunk-drivers?

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?

dog-in-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+.