Get it right on roundabouts.

Roundabouts have been in Australia for about 30 years, and their introduction has caused some confusion for many drivers.

Over the years there have been many interpretations of the ‘rules’ on roundabout, and no matter who you talk to there seems to be many variations on the road rules.

Let’s help clear it up:

Indicating on the roundabouts:

Left and right turns a driver must have their indicator on at least 30 – 60 metres before the roundabout to give sufficient warning of their intentions.

Turning left: Indicate to the left before you get to the roundabout and leave your indicator on until you are off the roundabout.

Turning right: Indicate to the right before you get to the roundabout and leave your right indicator on until you get to the exit before your exit, then turn on your left indicator to signal off the roundabout.

Straight ahead: This is the one that doesn’t seem to make sense to drivers, however, there is NO indicator to enter the roundabout, when you get just past the halfway point indicate left to signal you are leaving the roundabout where practical.

U Turn: Proceed the same as a right turn, and change to the left indicator at the exit before your exit.

Who has right of way?

The person already on the roundabout. This does NOT mean a driver can speed into a roundabout to be the first one on. We must approach the roundabout with caution and most importantly – be polite and safe.

Cyclists MUST be treated as a vehicle and have the same right of way as a car. LOOK for cyclists before entering.

To enter the roundabout:

When approaching the roundabout slow your speed in the last 30 metres to approximately 25 km/ hr, this will give you sufficient time to assess the dangers on your right side which is where the imminent danger is.  Once you have sufficient clearance enter the roundabout taking care to assess the left side of any drivers entering in front of you. If a driver does enter by mistake in front of you slow and take caution to avoid a collision. All drivers have the responsibility under the road rules to avoid a collision where possible. Common-sense must prevail, do not risk your life to assert your right of way if someone is entering in a dangerous manner.

More and more we see drivers approach the roundabouts at high speed and not look at their right or left side and go through at a dangerous pace. To make these work all drivers need to understand the road rules and slow down. Be courteous to other drivers and understand that an accident at low speed on a roundabout will cause major injuries and possible death. Our behaviour and attitude to these traffic situations must change to reduce the risk to other road users.

Not indicating on a roundabout incurs a penalty and loss of points. The current fine is $ 173 and 2 demerit points.

But rather than focus on the penalties as drivers let’s focus on keeping everyone safe and alive.

To see an animated video of how to indicate on a roundabout go to

A downloadable brochure is available from the RMS website.


How do we know how safe a car is? ANCAP car safety ratings are based on a star rating which awards points for each vehicle from 1 to 5 stars. These tests are conducted by independent specialist laboratories. 

New vehicles are awarded or deducted points based on a combination of test categories and scientific criteria. All vehicles are assessed under identical testing standards and conditions.

During the testing, crash test dummies are used to measure specific criteria such as movement of the dummies and the structural impact on the occupant’s compartment within the vehicle.

Additional points can be awarded to the vehicle for safety features such as ABS braking systems, ESC or electronic stability control and seat belt reminder alarms.

The highest rating is an ANCAP 5, which requires the vehicle to achieve the highest International recognized safety standards in all test categories.

Every fifteen minutes, someone in Australia and New Zealand is killed or seriously injured in a motor vehicle crash - that's 35,000 adults and children every year.

While road deaths have been declining, about 5 people per day still die each year on the roads.

Let’s explore some of the safety features that are considered in the ANCAP system:

Structural integrity:

The ANCAP rating is looking for vehicles with sound structural integrity where most of the crash energy is absorbed and dissipated. A higher rated car will keep its compartment shape and the floor panels, pillars, steering column and dash will not move excessively.

Air bags:

Air bags when deployed in a crash significantly reduce the chance of death or serious injury. It is recommended that when purchasing a vehicle you look for front, side, curtain and knee air bags for maximum safety.

ABS: Anti-lock Braking Systems (ABS) prevent the wheels of a vehicle locking as brake pedal pressure is applied - often suddenly in an emergency or short stopping distance. ABS increase the driver’s control of the steering which prevents skidding.

Both ESC and ABS are complementary technologies, working together to provide greater control of the vehicle.


Sudden movement when avoiding a hazard can lead to the vehicle swerving sharply one way and then sharply back the other way causing the vehicle to slide or skid uncontrollably and often resulting in a serious crash. ESC helps avoid this situation.


All occupants should wear retractable three-point sash style seat belts with pre-tensioner technology that helps prevent or deal with the forces of impact during a crash. Child restraints should be fitted and conform to Australian Standards and can be fitted an at authorised fitting station in our local area. The test results are not designed  to prove which is the safest car in all types and severities of crashes. ANCAP evaluates the likelihood of serious injury for drivers and front seat passengers involved in frontal crashes and side impact crashes. It is recommended drivers look for 4 star rating and over for their car.

THE MORE STARS THE BETTER – Look for ANCAP 5 star ratings on new and used cars.

For more information:

Driver awareness.

One of the most important skills a driver can develop for themselves and their learner drivers is awareness.  When we are tired, distracted or emotional (both happy and sad) our awareness levels decrease and this leaves us vulnerable to an accident.

Ask any driver and they will agree it takes spilt seconds for a situation to develop into a potential accident. At most accident scenes the driver will say “I didn’t see it happening”, if we had developed awareness skills we may see it happening and avoid it.

So what is awareness and how can we develop it in ourselves and our learner drivers?

Awareness is the ability to monitor yourself (self awareness) and to gain knowledge of the situation.

As a driver it is important to monitor and become aware of how we feel; what is effecting us and how this can alter your driving abilities.  By reflecting internally we can also draw upon many life skills we have learnt along the way and put these into our driving experience.

For many drivers the process of externalising their experience can help create negative situations in driving. Another driver cutting you off in the lane or someone pulling out from the kerb, pedestrians walking in front of you, these are all negative situations. An aware driver will not externalise these things by blaming the other person, instead look at what they could do to avoid the situation and realise that everyone can have  a bad moment, after all we are all human – we make mistakes. A heightened awareness would allow the driver to respond to these situations – slowing and avoiding a collision or seeing the potential danger well before it occurs. Instead some drivers externalise and blame the other party, flaming the situation into a dangerous one.

Of course the other part of driver awareness is knowledge. A driver may believe they are right and their belief is the correct one, we all have our opinions, especially when it comes to road rules. However, road rules change, they get amended and new technology gets introduced that can alter the rules. If we do not keep up to date with these changes our beliefs and opinions just may be wrong. To be aware is to be informed; this information is readily available from the RMS website or

Next time, don’t get angry at the driver who may have made a mistake or used poor judgement and pulled out of the kerb in front of you without performing a head check, ask yourself, could I have been more aware that it was possible and could I have slowed the vehicle to accommodate that person’s error? There is no place for anger on our roads, it solves nothing, yet we see angry driver’s everyday. Ask yourself, once you have gone past the driver that has annoyed you to this state, how good are your driving skills and awareness, how will  this affect your ability to drive and will you make a mistake that will annoy another driver – becoming the very thing that angered you.

Be aware and stay safe.

As of 1st August the restricted car list for P1 and P2 drivers has changed allowing more V8, turbo and supercharged cars on the list around 6500 more models are now allowed. Go to the website to check if your car complies
Car Modifications: Vehicle Safety Compliance Certification Scheme

In NSW regulations cover modifications to vehicles and the safety standards of these vehicles. The scheme is called the Vehicle Safety Compliance Certification Scheme or VSCCS.

Under the VSCCS, modified vehicles and non-standard vehicles may be assessed to check if they comply with legislated vehicle standards. Vehicles that comply with the standards and do not pose a safety risk are issued with a VSCCS compliance certificate. Non-standard vehicles include individually constructed and some imported vehicles.

As a vehicle owner if you are looking at getting your vehicle certified to use on road you will need to find a licensed VSCCS certifier. These are listed on the RMS website at

The Road Transport (Vehicle Registration) Regulation says that a person must not use a registrable vehicle on a road or road related area unless the vehicle complies with the applicable vehicle standards (clause 52). These standards are available in the form of information sheets on the RMS website – see link below. A person who modifies a vehicle has an obligation to ensure that it continues to comply with applicable vehicle standards (clause 55).

It is important to comply with these regulations for your safety and other road users, and of course your insurance may be voided if the vehicle does not comply or you have not let your insurer know of the modifications. In the event of an accident this may leave the owner without insurance coverage.

Once you have your compliance certificate you need to go to the RMS with a copy of your compliance certificate to have the registration records of your vehicle updated to reflect the modifications. You will be issued with a new certificate of registration to reflect these changes. Depending on the modification, there may be a refund or a fee payable.

Anyone modifying a vehicle must make sure it complies with legislated vehicle standards.
Under the VSCCS there are no changes to NSW vehicle standards.

Vehicle standards cover many aspects of vehicles including:

Bull bar fitting – shape, size, overhang, spotlight fitting, rod holders, rack holders and antenna fitting.

Raising and lowering vehicles- minimum and maximum standards.

Modifications for drivers with disabilities – include spinner knobs, accelerator, brake modifications, mirrors and controls.

Windscreens and tinting – legal tint allowable.

Alternative wheels and rims on cars.

Carrying bicycles on cars and number plate visibility.

These are a few of the downloadable information sheets on vehicle modification available on the RMS website at:

For more information please visit your local RMS registry or website or your  local VSCCS licensed certifier.

Highlands Drive Safe have worked in collaboration with Red Car Driver Training to present the RMS Safer Drivers Course for learners in the Southern Highlands. The course allows learners aged 16 - 25 years old to complete a 5 hour training session and receive a 20 hour credit in their log books.

To be eligible for this course and credits learners must have a minimum of 50 hours in their logbooks, these are actual hours so any driving instructor hours counted as 3 hours can only be counted as 1 hour in the total.

The course is in two separate modules - Module one covers three hours of safer driver behavior and Module two is a two hour in car session looking at low risk driving strategies.

The course is fun and interactive and costs $140. The course is held every month in Bowral and limited spaces apply. To book call us on 0428844473.

Driving with Asperger’s.

Asperger’s is a condition diagnosed within the autism spectrum and is increasing in prevalence within the community. Asperger’s can often be misunderstood; individuals with Asperger’s have a wide range of symptoms although they share many similar symptoms. The main areas of concern are impaired communication, difficulties with social interaction, restricted and/or repetitive interests or behaviors and often sensory sensitivities.

For a person with Asperger’s driving is a complex, multi task that requires a lot of focus and concentration. Where a person that does not have Asperger’s may cope with multi tasking and are often referred to as multi channeled, a person with Asperger’s finds it difficult to cope with this wide range of tasks and sensory overload.

Once a diagnosis has been confirmed there are many things that can be introduced to help these people learn to drive and to develop management strategies for driving. Areas that need to be developed and introduced are problem solving skills, multi tasking and being able to read the multitude of social cues that we take for granted when driving. For example a driver may flash their high beam at another driver, this could mean a few things to a driver: police ahead, an accident ahead or “please turn your high beams off your blinding me!!”. To a driver with Aspergers it would be difficult to read these cues and they may not realize what the other driver is trying to say to them.

It is important if you are taking lessons to learn how to drive, let the instructor know you have Asperger’s. A trained instructor can incorporate teaching skills to help make the learning process easier and more fun.

Some simple things parents can do to help the training process are:

* Have an exercise book to communicate with your instructor. Problems or issues can be easily and quickly resolved.

* Collect resources, brochures and online support from car dealers, RMS or car magazines, go through them with the driver and teach them all aspects of driving a car.

* Start driving in quiet areas and build up over time, it may take a little longer to build up the skills but a driver with Asperger’s if taught patiently and correctly will follow all the safety rules and road rules consistently.

* Predicting and sequencing skills are often difficult for drivers with Asperger’s and when drivers around them become unpredictable it becomes difficult to ‘read’ the other driver.  Sitting down with road maps and discussing issues within that area help these drivers learn predicting skills.

* Sitting at the side of the road watching traffic and discussing what’s about to happen next , can help them understand the unpredictable nature of drivers and how they can read the cues or body language of other drivers.

People living with Asperger’s are highly intelligent individuals that require a tailor made training plan to help them achieve their goal of being an independent, safe driver.

For more information on Asperger’s see the following web pages.

For information on driver training contact us at Highlands Drive Safe ,

Recently there  has been many questions asked about the new changes to learner conditions and requirements.
As it is at the moment the Roads Minister Duncan Gay announced that as of the 1st July 2013 all learners will be able to travel at 90 km/h in posted areas rather than their current 80km/h limit.
Other changes included the hours learners had to complete if under 25 yrs.

Option 1 : Do 120 hrs including 20 night hours in your log book
Option 2 :  Do 100 hrs including 20 night hours, as well as 10 hrs with a driving instructor and have a total of 30 hrs included in your log book - these are called structured lessons and are written in the back of your log book for accreditation.
Option 3 : Do 80 hrs including 20 night hours and complete 10 lessons equivalent to 30 hrs as well as a one day Safer Driver Course which will give you 20 additional hours.
Option 4 : Do 100 hours in your log book including 20 night and complete the Safer Driving course to have 20 hours added to your log book.

The Safer Driver Course is still being developed and is not yet available, the structured lessons with a driving instructor have been available for more than a year and can be done at any time.

Speed limit and the safer Driver course changes do not come into effect until 1 July 2013.
All four options add up to 120 hours total
Driving 20 hours of actual night hours is required for all NSW learners. These night hours must be logged in your log book in the night column.  Remember a night hour is counted as anytime between sunset and sunrise. If you are unsure check the sunset/sunrise table for your area by searching google. If you attend a night lesson with a driving instructor the actual hour can only be placed in the night column, a driving instructor cannot allocate 3:1 for night hours in the night column. Difficulties when driving at night include dealing with glare from other cars headlights, both in front of you and behind. For learners it can help by starting the night lesson at dusk and gradually progressing into the darkness.