Sharing with other road users
Police, fire and ambulance vehicles are emergency vehicles. Watch out for emergency vehicles by looking ahead and in your mirrors regularly. If an emergency vehicle is coming towards you sounding an alarm or flashing lights, you must move out of its path as soon as safe. You should:
- slow down
- move left to clear the middle of the road. If you cannot, remain stationary and let the emergency vehicle overtake
- not move suddenly or make an illegal turn
- not drive into the path of the emergency vehicle
If safe, you may drive on the wrong side of the road or through a red traffic light to get out of the way.
Emergency vehicles at intersections
Emergency vehicles often stop or slow near intersections to check they can proceed safely. Even if you are facing a green traffic light and the emergency vehicle appears to have stopped or slowed down, you must give way.
Overtaking a heavy vehicle
- Allow sufficient time to overtake.
- When preparing to overtake maintain the minimum following distance and don’t cross the centre line.
- When safe, indicate, accelerate and overtake quickly, without exceeding the speed limit. Changing down a gear may give you enough power to get past.
- After overtaking, maintain speed so you don’t make the heavy vehicle brake.
- Do not overtake a heavy vehicle when it is turning (unless safe).
Sharing the road safely with heavy vehicles
- Do not cut in front of a heavy vehicle as you reduce their braking distance.
- Do not speed up when a heavy vehicle overtakes, allow the heavy vehicle to maintain speed and pass safely.
- If you cannot see its a heavy vehicle’s side mirrors, the driver cannot see you.
- Do not tailgate a heavy vehicle - you can’t see or react to a hazard in time.
- Remember that heavy vehicles accelerate slowly.
- When a heavy vehicle is turning, keep back because it needs more space to turn.
- Give way to buses displaying this sign when required to do so.
- Heavy vehicles that show the sign DO NOT OVERTAKE TURNING VEHICLE are allowed to take up more than one lane to turn.
Heavy vehicles wider than 3.5m are escorted by pilot/escort vehicles that precede or follow it along the road. Pilot vehicles have yellow flashing lights and an OVERSIZE LOAD AHEAD roof signs. An escort vehicle has yellow flashing lights, yellow and white wigwag lights and an OVERSIZE LOAD AHEAD sign on its roof. In general, the bigger the vehicle and its load, the more pilot or escort vehicles it will have. When you see a pilot or escort vehicle approaching with lights flashing:
- slow down
- move over (if necessary)
- respond to gestures by the driver of an escort vehicle
- give way to the oversize vehicle
If you are following an oversize vehicle, wait until the rear pilot vehicle operator signals you can overtake. Pass both pilot or escort vehicles and the oversize vehicle in one manoeuvre within the speed limit.
Apply the same rules, such as giving way, when sharing the road with motorcycles.
Sharing the road safely with motorcycles
- Scan traffic and check blind spots – front, rear, left, right – especially when changing lanes and at intersections.
- Look for motorcycles lane filtering or riding on a road shoulder.
- Use your lights in poor visibility – it helps motorcycle riders see you.
- Be aware that motorcycles can accelerate quickly.
- Motorcycles can take up a lane so overtake them like any other vehicle.
- Give motorcycles plenty of room – in good conditions, keep a 2 second gap between you and the vehicle ahead.
|Motorcycle riders and cyclists must ride single file.|
|Two motorcycles or cyclists can ride side-by-side in one lane, as long as they are no more than 1.5m apart.|
Cyclists share the same rights as larger vehicles and deserve the same respect and courtesy. Obey the road rules and apply common sense around cyclists.
- Give way to cyclists at intersections (the same as you would to a car), and to cyclists riding across crossings.
- Cyclists can legally ride on any part of the lane – leave them room and only overtake when safe.
- Leave a safe distance between your vehicle and a cyclist when passing (at least 1m in a 60km/h or less speed zones and 1.5m if over 60km/h).
- Check for cyclists at intersections.
- Signal your intentions so cyclists can react.
- Check your blind spots (in mirrors and over your shoulder).
- Check for cyclists before opening your door.
- Do not sound your horn at cyclists – they may fall.
- Anyone can cycle on the footpath, so check when entering/leaving a driveway.
Sharing the road safely with pedestrians
- Give way to pedestrians when they’re crossing at pedestrian crossings, children’s crossings or marked foot crossings.
- When turning, give way to pedestrians crossing the road you are entering.
- Give way to pedestrians in shared zones.
- Allow more time for people with a disability and senior pedestrians to cross.
- Lower your speed at night and be alert for people suddenly walking in front of you, especially where alcohol may be served.
- Watch out for children running onto the road, especially near schools and playgrounds.
- Prepare to stop near a pedestrian or children’s school crossings.
- You must give way to pedestrians on a slip lane.
|Drivers turning on a green light do not have to give way to crossing pedestrians.|
|Drivers turning must give way to pedestrians crossing the road they are entering, even when facing a green light.|
|School zones apply every day.|
|School zones do not apply on weekends, public holidays or during school holidays.|
Speed limits are lower in school zones (identified by signs) on school days, generally in the morning and the afternoon. This reduces the risk of death or injury to pedestrians. Speeds and times depend on the area, so check the sign carefully.
School zones at split campus schools generally apply for the duration of school hours.
Crossings at schools
There are two types of school crossings:
- single or dual children’s school crossings with CHILDREN CROSSING flags
- zebra or pedestrian-activated signal crossings.
Children’s crossings are temporary (only in operation when displaying the CHILDREN CROSSING flags) and may have crossing supervisors who display a STOP sign. You must wait until the crossing supervisor has returned to the footpath before moving.
At children’s crossings with people crossing, stop before the STOP line and wait. Do not begin to accelerate until all pedestrians and cyclists are safely on the footpath. If a vehicle has stopped at a crossing, do not overtake while it is stationary.
School buses display either the words SCHOOL BUS or an image of two children (black letters or images on a yellow background). School buses have flashing yellow lights fitted to the front and rear. The driver must flash its warning lights when children are being picked up or set down. Slow down when approaching a school bus, especially when the lights are flashing. Watch for children who may run across the road from in front of or behind the bus.
Driving safely in tunnels
Things to be aware of when driving in tunnels:
- Remove sunglasses (except prescription) before entering.
- Use your headlights (increases visibility).
- Turn your radio on - tunnel re-broadcast systems convey safety and traffic information via radio and public announcement systems.
- Avoid lane changing and overtaking.
- Stay out of closed lanes (signified by red crosses).
- Do not stop except in an emergency or if directed by the tunnel controller. Try to drive out even if your vehicle is damaged or has a mechanical malfunction.
- Do not reverse.
- Check and obey variable message and lane control signs.
- Look for variable speed limit signs and stay within the limit based on conditions.
- Do not enter if low on fuel.
- If overtaking is necessary (e.g. a car is broken down) make sure you are clear of traffic and it is safe.
Safe following distance
Driving too close to the vehicle in front means you are likely to crash if they brake suddenly. Maintain distance so you can stop in time.
How far should you travel behind?
- A car should drive at least 2 seconds behind in ideal conditions.
- A heavy vehicle should drive at least 4 seconds behind.
- A vehicle towing a trailer or caravan should allow 2 seconds, plus 1 second for each 3m of trailer.
This distance should be doubled in poor conditions.
Use the time-lapse method to keep a safe distance behind vehicles.
- Pick a mark on the road or an object close to the road (power or light pole).
- When the rear of the vehicle ahead passes the object, count ‘1001, 1002’ (this takes about 2 seconds). In bad conditions count to 1004.
- If the front of your vehicle passes the object/mark before you finish, drop back.
The time for you to see and react (reaction distance) plus the time for the brakes to stop your vehicle (braking distance) may not be enough to avoid a crash.
Reaction distance + braking distance = total stopping distance
Total stopping distance
The faster you go, the further it takes to stop. It takes longer to stop if the road is wet, muddy, slippery, has a loose surface, or if driving downhill (adapt to conditions). By the time a car braking from 50km/h has stopped, a car braking from 60km/h would still be travelling at 40km/h. At 40km/h a pedestrian has almost a 60% chance of being killed.
Your vehicle’s stopping distance is also affected by:
- your reaction time (average of 1.5 seconds)
- your behaviour at the time of the incident
- your experience and age
- your car’s average deceleration
- your car’s physical condition
- your car’s braking capacity
- condition of the tyres
- nature of the road
- weather conditions
Refer to the owner’s handbook to familiarise yourself with how the anti-lock braking system (ABS) operates (if present).
Young drivers do not detect hazards as well as experienced drivers and react more slowly. That is why, to progress to a P2 or open licence, all P1 licence holders must pass the hazard perception test. If you follow the system of vehicle control, you will be correctly positioned on the road, travelling at the correct speed and in the correct gear so you can deal with any hazard. As a driver you should:
- recognise the hazard (scan continuously)
- know what action to take (system of vehicle control)
- act in time (give other drivers behind you ample warning)
System of vehicle control
Use the following system when approaching any traffic situation.
- Identify the hazard (for example, an intersection or a pedestrian).
- Ask, ‘Is my position on the road correct for the hazard ahead?’
- Check the rear vision mirrors to locate other vehicles. Indicate now if needed.
- Check your approach speed is appropriate (reduce or increase as necessary).
- If you change speed, you may need to change gears. Check the rear vision mirrors again to see what other vehicles are doing.
- Before you come to the hazard, check it is still safe to drive in the planned direction. Ask, ‘Do I have to take some action?’ This may mean stopping, slowing down or sounding the horn.
- After passing the hazard, resume the appropriate speed.
In a hazardous driving situation (brake failure, animals or debris on the road, tyre blowouts, skidding or aquaplaning) apply the system of vehicle control.
Skidding is caused by one or a combination of these factors:
- driving too fast for conditions
- accelerating too quickly
- sudden or too much braking or faulty brakes
- turning the too sharply causing the tyres lose traction
To prevent a skid, follow the ABC plan - accelerate, brake and corner smoothly.
Wet surfaces, gravel roads and inadequate tyre grip increase the risk of skidding. Reduce your speed in wet weather or on rough surfaces and always ensure your tyres have at least 1.5mm of tread depth all over.
Aquaplaning or hydroplaning occurs when water causes your vehicle to lose contact with the road. Reducing your speed can reduce the risk of aquaplaning.
Bad weather (rain, fog, dust)
Only use hazard lights if driving slowly in hazardous weather and you are likely to obstruct other vehicles, or stopped and obstructing the path of vehicles or pedestrians.
When driving in bad weather:
- keep your windscreen and all lights clean
- use headlights when you cannot clearly see people or vehicles
- keep headlights on low beam – in fog you see better using low rather than high
- during the day, you may drive in fog or other hazardous weather with front fog lights rather than headlights (if fitted)
- use fog lights only if in fog or hazardous weather with reduced visibility
- use the demister to keep the windscreen clear
- slow down – signed speed limit is maximum safe speed for good conditions
- double your following distance to allow for more time and stopping distance
Road closures due to flooding and wet weather
- Flood waters can be fast moving. Don’t drive on roads covered by water.
- Plan your route by seeking travel information.
- Be alert for changed road conditions, especially loose debris.
- Do not cross affected roads until declared open by authorities.
- Due to increased driver concentration in poor conditions, plan regular rest stops.
- Follow directions from roadworkers, transport inspectors and emergency personnel.
- Do not ignore ROAD CLOSED signs.
If a tyre blows, your vehicle will pull to the damaged side for a front tyre and sway to the sides for a rear tyre. If this happens:
- do not panic
- do not immediately apply the brakes
- grip the steering wheel firmly and compensate for any pull
Once the vehicle is under control slow down gradually and look for a safe place to pull over. Use this as a guide as vehicles behave differently depending on conditions.
Animals at night
Animals may cross without warning and can be hypnotised by headlights. If an animal is on the road:
- slow down
- be prepared to brake
- flash your headlights
- sound your horn (if necessary)
- apply the system of vehicle control
- keep control of the vehicle and do not swerve
Modern cars are fitted with a dual braking system. If either the front or rear brakes fail and you have trouble stopping, you may need to:
- ease the handbrake on, increasing pressure gradually (sudden pressure may lock the rear wheels and cause skidding)
- change to a lower gear
- use your horn and flash your headlights to warn others
Car stalls in a dangerous situation
If your car stalls in a dangerous situation, use your hazard lights. If you can’t restart the engine, get help to push your vehicle clear if there is no immediate danger.
If your windscreen shatters and you cannot see:
- slow down and look out the driver’s side window
- brake slowly and, if safe, pull off to the side of the road
- fill demister vents with paper or cloth (stops glass getting into the vents)
- carefully remove the whole windscreen from the inside
- wind up the windows
- drive at a slower speed
If the windscreen is cracked and there is no obvious danger, leave it and drive slower with all windows up. Replace your windscreen as soon as possible.
Fatigue is a factor in 1 in 6 crashes that result in serious injury or death. Driving without sleep for 17 hours is the same as a BAC of 0.05. Driving without sleep for 24 hours is the same as a BAC of 0.10.
Fatigue related crashes often occur on open roads, at high speeds, during the hours of 1pm–3pm and midnight–6am, with a higher incidence on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
How to avoid driving tired on long trips
- Take regular breaks – at least 15 minutes every 2 hours and an additional 30 minutes every 5 hours is recommended.
- Pull into rest areas, tourist spots and Driver Reviver sites when you can.
- Avoid drinking alcohol before and during the trip.
- Check with your doctor if any medications you’re taking affect your driving.
- Eat properly and just enough. Big meals can make you drowsy.
- Get plenty of quality sleep before your trip.
- Don’t drive for more than 8–10 hours in a day. Demerit points and fines apply if you commit a heavy vehicle fatigue offence.
- Get fresh air in the car and during breaks.
- Share the driving.
- Plan ahead – arrange stops and rest overnight.
- Check for warning signs of tiredness.
- As soon as you feel tired, stop and rest.
How to avoid driving tired on short trips
- If you feel tired before you start, consider not driving.
- Ask someone to drive you home or pick you up.
- Collect your car later when you are not tired.
Wake up to the signs. Do not keep driving if you show these signs of tiredness:
- tired eyes
- loss of concentration
- fumbling gear changes
- blurred vision
- reduced concentration
- dim or fuzzy vision
- sore or heavy eyes
- your car wanders across the road
- unintentional increases or decreases in speed
Driver Reviver sites
Driver Reviver sites operate along major highways during busy periods. You can rest while enjoying free tea, coffee and refreshments.
Correct seatbelt and child restraint use
A seatbelt is your defence against serious injury or death. Without a seatbelt, you are 5.5 times more likely to die in a crash.
Always wear your seatbelt correctly - incorrectly worn seatbelts cause neck, chest or abdominal injuries in a crash.
- Wear your belt with the buckle low on the hip, the sash running from the shoulder across the chest and above the stomach, and the lap part sitting across the pelvis and hips.
- Pregnant women must wear the seatbelt with the lap part sitting over the thighs, across the pelvis and below the unborn child, and the sash above the stomach and between the breasts.
- Check the seatbelt is not twisted, frayed or loose.
- Everyone in the car must have their own seatbelt – do not share.
- Replace the entire seatbelt assembly if the vehicle is involved in a severe crash.
It is a driver’s responsibility to ensure a child is restrained in an approved child restraint as they can easily be killed or injured in a crash. You must ensure a child is secured in an approved restraint until they turn 7. After this, the child must use a properly fitted seatbelt. The type of approved restraint to use depends on the child’s age and size.
Some children may be too small or too large for a specific type of restraint. If your child is too small for the next level, keep them in the lower level for as long as necessary. If your child is too large for a specified restraint, move your child to the next level of restraint. A child is too tall for a booster seat when the level of the child’s eyes is above the back of the booster seat.
A guide to appropriate child restraints
|Age||Standard AS/NZS 1754||Child restraint|
|0 to 6 months||Children should use the appropriate restraint until their shoulders reach the upper shoulder height marker.||Rearward facing infant restraint
|6 months to 4 years||Children should use the appropriate restraint until their shoulders reach the upper shoulder height marker.||Rearward facing infant restraint or forward facing child restraint with built-in harness
|4 to 7 years||Children should use the appropriate restraint until their shoulders reach the upper shoulder height marker.||Booster seat with lap-sash H-harness or a booster seat with a secured adult seatbelt
Restraints don’t prevent injury unless fitted in accordance with the manufacturer’s directions.
A child under 4 must not sit in the front row of a vehicle that has more than one row of seats, even if the child is 3 and large enough to be seated in a booster seat.
A child 4-7 years old must not sit in the front row of a vehicle that has more than one row of seats unless the other seats are occupied by children under 7 (this includes if 2 occupied child restraints in the back row encroach on an empty seat making it impossible to fit another child restraint).
A child can sit in the front seat if there is only one row of seats and the child is properly restrained. If a passenger airbag is fitted, don’t use a rearward facing restraint.
The driver’s responsibility
The driver is responsible for ensuring everyone is correctly restrained. Penalties include being fined in excess of $330 and 3 demerit points. The driver will also be fined and accumulate demerit points for each incorrectly restrained child in the vehicle.
The only exemptions are:
- taxis and limousines for children under the age of 1 where no child restraint is provided and children aged 1-7 years
- on medical grounds where a doctor’s certificate is provided
Towing a trailer or caravan
Towing a trailer or caravan requires extra concentration and skill - gain experience before towing at high speeds or in confined spaces.
Before you start
Ensure your vehicle and trailer/caravan are safe to drive/tow. Check:
- tyres and tyre pressure
- wheel bearings and suspension
- brakes – trailers with a loaded weight of more than 750kg require an efficient braking system
- trailer coupling (including lights and safety chain) must take the fully loaded weight and be marked with the rated capacity and manufacturer’s trademark
- safety chains should be short enough to stop the trailer hitting the ground if the couplings break
- the bulk of the load is distributed over the axles
- your vehicle’s towing rating to ensure it can legally tow the weight
How to tow safely
- When turning, allow additional space for the extra length and width.
- Steer smoothly to avoid swaying, especially in wet conditions.
- Allow for greater stopping distance and scan for changes in traffic conditions.
- Avoid braking unnecessarily. If the trailer begins to sway or snake, remain at a steady speed or accelerate slightly until the swaying stops.
- Keep left – don’t hold up traffic unnecessarily.
Restraining your load
You must ensure all loads are securely restrained by:
- Choosing a suitable vehicle.
- Positioning the load so it does not affect stability, steering or braking.
- Securing a light material load properly (e.g. covering with a tarpaulin).
- Using suitable restraints in good condition.
- Preventing load movement with adequate restraint.
- Driving carefully (preparing for stability, steering and braking capacity changes).
- Checking any load overhang is legal.
What to do at a crash
What to do
You must stop if you are involved in a crash. Report it to the police (immediately or within 24 hours) if:
- a vehicle involved needs to be towed
- an involved driver does not give their details to other involved drivers
- any person involved is killed or injured
It is important you know your rights when having your vehicle towed. Tow truck regulations apply to towing at crashes and police seizures in regulated areas (most major populated areas of Queensland).
Tow truck licence holders must be licensed to tow any vehicle from a crash or police seizure by the Department of Transport and Main Roads. Their vehicle must be clearly marked with the licence holder’s name, business address and phone number.
Organising your vehicle to be towed
- An accredited tow truck driver is the only person allowed to approach you about towing. If you can’t make decisions, a person with you (agent) may act for you.
- The tow truck driver must show their certificate, even if you do not ask.
- You (or your agent) must sign a towing authority before your vehicle is towed.
- Make sure the towing authority form is fully completed (including tow cost, storage cost, and address to be towed to) before you sign it.
- A police officer or Department of Transport and Main Roads officer may sign the form if you or your agent cannot. In this case, the tow truck licence holder must inform the department where your vehicle was towed within 7 days.
- A tow truck licence holder must not charge more than the regulated towing fee for a standard tow which includes:
- loading and moving the vehicle to a place of storage (includes the first 50km from the incident scene – a fee per kilometre may be charged for each kilometre over 50km)
- up to 60 minutes working time
- cleaning the scene of the incident
- storing the vehicle for up to 72 hours
- The services provided are detailed on the towing authority form under, Fee details. You may negotiate the price at the crash site.
- You do not have to use the first tow truck on scene. You may negotiate with one or more operators.
- Your comprehensive insurance company may pay for the towing.
- Once in storage, your vehicle cannot be moved without your permission.
- You cannot be charged to view your vehicle in a storage yard during business hours, or for it to be moved near the entrance for collection.
- Property in your vehicle must be inventoried and kept in storage by the tow truck licence holder.
Continue reading the Your Keys to Driving in Queensland Summary:
4. Safe Road Use
Check out the other QLD Driving Test resources available to help you pass the written road rules test and get your learner licence (L plates):