Getting your provisional license can be one of life’s most exciting moments. Finally, the freedom to drive without logging every single trip or having to ask a full licensed driver to accompany you to get a coffee from 200m down the road. And if you’ve already been taking your adulting 101 lessons, you’ll already know this new found freedom comes with great responsibility.
We wanted to share our top 5 tips for P-Platers to check off before hitting the open roads, to hopefully ensure you a memorable, trouble-free road trip.
1) Make sure you have enough P-Plates
Stocking up on plates to keep in your car is never a bad idea. P-Plates fall off. It happens. Before starting any journey, you should always check that your front and rear plates are always on to avoid any demerit point deductions or fines. You can pop in to your local Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) to grab some freebies or purchase at the servo along the way.
Keeping an extra stock of plates will put your mind at ease. This is especially important when you’re going on a road trip as you’re driving longer distances than usual and you may find yourself in an unfamiliar town that doesn’t stock any.
2) Check on your tyres
Before heading off on any road trip, it’s important to check on your tyre pressure and spare tyre (if you have one). Different cars have different tyre pressure recommendations and these can typically be found listed on a sticker inside the driver’s side door frame or in the owner’s manual.
Most petrol stations have automatic tyre inflation so you can easily set your desired tyre pressure, measured in PSI (pounds per square inch), and fill up each of your tyres. Maintaining inflated tyres is important for ensuring that you are getting the most out of your wheels, fuel efficiency and control. Another necessary step is checking that your spare tyre is in good condition. Additionally, ensure you’re equipped with tools to change a tyre including the jack and all its accessories.
3) Remember your provisional restrictions
This might be the most important one of all. As you have recently been introduced to driving, you might not have had these road rules stored in the memory bank. As a P-Plater, you are not allowed to make or receive a phone call, use any audio functions (music via Bluetooth/AUX) or use any drivers’ aids such as GPS or speed advisor apps. All of these are considered as road violations and will incur varying fines and demerit point losses depending on which offence you get caught for. Additionally, the laws on speed that you can travel change between each state.
For example, a NSW provisional driver is required to drive to the speed limit displayed on their P- Plates. Alternatively, Victorian provisional drivers can drive to the sign posted speed limit. Therefore, ensure that you have read up on your road rules if you are crossing different states during your road trip.
4) Ensure that you’re insured
Sounds like a no-brainer however it’s commonly forgotten. Ensuring that your vehicle’s registration is up to date is much easier online. You can visit the NSW service website and check your car’s registration status for free: https://www.service.nsw.gov.au/transaction/check-vehicle-registration. This is important to check as driving unregistered on a public road in Australia will incur large fines depending on the state. You also won’t be covered by CTP green slip.
Speaking of insurance, ensure that your comprehensive cover is up to date and tailored to your needs. For example, this might be important if you plan on towing something during your road trip as some insurance companies will require another policy to be added in to cover any accidents that might occur.
Don’t forget about roadside assistance as well! You might run into trouble in rural areas with people and service centres few and far between.
5) Driving to the conditions
Driving to the conditions is a large factor of ensuring a successful road trip. When travelling on country roads or highways, be cautious of animals on the road including wombats and kangaroos, especially at dawn and dusk. If you’re driving at high speeds and an animal is in front of your car, a safer approach is to slow down and hit the animal rather than swerve and get into a more serious incident yourself.
Additionally, when driving in slippery or wet conditions, don’t use cruise control because the grip of the tyres may be impacted. Take note of road signs warnings such as ‘animals cross here’ or ‘reduce speed’.
Actions you take play a large part in preventing accidents that put yourself, passengers or other drivers in harm’s way.
Written by Anika Misir and Nik Balakrishnan
Smarties at the Ford Smart Lab Sydney
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