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DRIVING IN AUSTRALIA: A TRAVELLER’S GUIDE

Are you a foreign student? Are you a backpacker? Maybe you're simply a tourist in Australia? If this is the case, you may find yourself driving in Australia at some point in future. You might purchase a car while in Australia, or you might get one on rental basis. In any case, driving regulations in Australia differ from those in other nations, and they are carefully implemented. This article serves as an introduction to driving in Australia for tourists from other countries.


If you intend to drive in Australia, you must do so on the left side of the road. This is a huge adjustment for most as they are used to driving on the right side and you'll realize that everything is inverted when you get in the car. This is the primary difference between driving in Australia and driving abroad. The simple fundamentals are all the same. It won't be that hard to get used to, but we advise practising in a parking lot before heading out on the road.


One must always carry his driver's license. This is an absolute requirement. To drive lawfully, you need to have a valid driving license and carry it with you at all times. If a law officer requests it, you must show it to them. You'll also need an International Driving Permit if your licence is written in a language other than English. This is available through the Australian Automobile Association.


When it comes to gauging distance, Australia is much like the rest of the globe, despite driving on the left. Distance is measured in kilometres, while speed is measured in kilometres per hour (km/h). All measurements in Australia are made using the metric system. So, if you're travelling from the United States, or if you're a traveller or immigrant from the United Kingdom, it's better you get used to the same.


Wearing a Seat belt at all times is compulsory in Australia; everyone in a car must wear one, no exemptions! Not only are seat belts one of the best methods to make you safe in a car, but if you're found with someone who isn't wearing one, you'll be fined heavily. You may potentially lose your driving privileges in Australia. The authorities are quite strict in this regard.

You'll also get pulled over if you use your phone while driving in Australia. Most states don't allow drivers to touch their phones unless they are in an authorised phone cradle. To be safe, do anything you need to do with your cell phone before you start to drive (attach Bluetooth, play songs, etc.). Pull over first if you need to do something urgently.

Driving while intoxicated is likewise prohibited in Australia. You are driving unlawfully if your blood alcohol content is greater than 0.05 percent. You might be over the threshold after just one or two drinks, so it's better not to drive at all if you plan to consume alcohol.

If you're going to drive in Melbourne, you need be aware of a few additional restrictions since you'll be sharing the road with trams. While Sydney and Adelaide have light rail services, they do not engage with vehicles as extensively as Melbourne does. As a result, Victoria has a set of additional restrictions that apply to Melbourne trams, and police enforce them strictly. Here are a few Melbourne driving laws to remember:

  • You must not move into the route of a tram that is coming.

  • You must stop at the back of a halted tram at a tram stop until the doors have closed.

  • When overtaking a halted tram at a tram stop, do not exceed 10km/h.

  • You cannot park or stop within 20 metres of a tram stop unless there is a sign indicating that it is permitted.

  • To turn right, you can only drive in a tram lane for 50 metres.

Spend some time studying the regulations for the state you'll be spending the most time in, and while you're on the road, drive slowly! This will allow you to adjust to the new guidelines in the safest way possible.

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