4 safe driving tips even seasoned drivers forget
01 January 2022
Whether you’re a seasoned driver or a P-plater, you should brush up on some safe driving tips. Here are four things you should know before you hit the road.
Know how tired is too tired
Everyone knows that nodding off behind the wheel is a big no-no, but it can be tricky knowing how tired is too tired, especially when it comes to the more subtle signs of fatigue.
It’s also important to remember that it isn’t as simple as getting seven hours of sleep at night – what matters is the quality of sleep, not the number of hours.
Driver-fatigue tests like Test Your Tired Self, can help you gauge how sleep deprived you are by measuring your concentration and memory.
You should also watch out for common signs of fatigue such as:
- erratic driving behaviour,
- not being able to recall the last few miles and
- feeling sluggish.
Remember, driving while drowsy impairs you the same way drinking too much alcohol does.
Consider your reaction time
According to the Queensland government’s website, it takes roughly 1.5 seconds for the average driver to react to a hazard and hit the brakes. It may take the average family car even longer.
That’s why it’s important to anticipate road hazards and respond ahead of time, a technique known as defensive driving.
How do you practise defensive driving? For starters:
- expect others to make mistakes,
- go slower after dark – objects appear to move in slow-mo in low light conditions, and
- leave at least a 3-second gap between you and the vehicle in front of you in good conditions.
Here at Suncorp Insurance, we don’t just encourage safe driving — we reward it. If you’ve been a Comprehensive Car Insurance customer for more than two consecutive years and you haven’t made a claim where an excess was payable, you may be eligible for Claims Free Driver Rewards.
The more consecutive years you go without making a claim, the higher the discount – up to a maximum of 15%.
Do you drive a car in Queensland? And do you know all the Queensland road rules?
You might be surprised!
Let’s take a look at some of the more forgotten road rules Queensland drivers sometimes get wrong.
When two lanes merge together without a dashed line, the driver at the rear must give way to the vehicle at the front.
If there are lane markings and your lane comes to an end, you must give way to vehicles in the lane you are entering.
At a give way sign, always give way to other traffic and only continue driving after you have checked it is safe to do so.
But there are other times you’ll need to give way Like at a stop sign…
When you’re doing a u-turn…
When you’re turning right across the path of oncoming traffic at a t-intersection….
You’re moving onto a road from a driveway, land next to a road or the side of the road…
Or when you’re at a crossroads and there are vehicles to your right.
Don’t cross double continuous lines….
Except when safely passing a cyclist.
If there is a single broken centre line, broken centre line to the left of a continuous line, or double broken centre lines,
….you can overtake when it’s safe to do so.
Don’t drive on a painted traffic island if it separates traffic moving in the same direction, like where an on-ramp merges onto a motorway....
or if it’s surrounded by double continuous lines.
You can drive on painted traffic islands surrounded by single continuous lines for up to 50 metres before enter a turning lane that begins immediately after the island,
or to enter or leave the road.
Before entering a roundabout, give way to all vehicles – including trams and bikes – that are already on the roundabout, and use your indicator to tell other vehicles which direction you’re heading.
Check that the lane you want to exit is free of traffic, and then enter when there is a safe gap
And remember to indicate left to tell other drivers that you’re exiting the roundabout.
Give way to an emergency vehicle when its lights are flashing or its alarm sounds, including at intersections.
In Queensland, there isn’t an enforced speed for passing emergency vehicles. But always safely slow down and move out of their way.
Drivers can also move onto the wrong side of the road or drive through a red traffic light to get out of the way of an emergency vehicle, but only if it is safe to do so.
When doing a U-turn, give way to all other vehicles and pedestrians... even if other vehicles have a ‘Give way’ sign or are turning right.
You must not perform a U-turn across a single or double continuous lines, across a double line that is continuous on your side, across a painted island, or where there is a no U-turn sign.
To perform a U-turn you must have a clear view of approaching traffic and be able to complete the turn without blocking the free movement of traffic.
Signal right and perform your U-turn without disrupting other traffic.
Remember: you can’t perform a U-turn over a single continuous line…
…a double line…
…or at a traffic lights, unless there is a ‘u-turn permitted’ sign..
Did you know that in Queensland, you must secure your vehicle if you’re moving more than three metres away? Failing to do so could result in 20 penalty units!
Secure the windows and lock the doors. In Queensland, ‘securing your windows’ means it can’t be open more than five centimetres.
When travelling in the same direction as cyclists and passing, motorists need to stay at least one metre away in a 60 kilometre per hour zone,
and one and a half metres away when the speed limit is above sixty.
If a cyclist moves to pass an obstacle, drivers should maintain this safe passing distance.
If a car doesn’t keep its distance, the driver could cop a $413 fine and this could increase to $5500 if it goes to court!
So only pass a cyclist if it’s safe to do so. To pass a cyclist safely, you can drive over a painted island
Drive over centre lines, including double unbroken lines…
And straddle or cross a lane line on a multi lane road
If a cyclist is in front of you and you want to turn left, wait for the cyclist to turn left or continue straight, before turning left behind the cyclist.
If there’s a ‘Give way’ sign or Give way line, you need to give way to any vehicle in, approaching or entering the intersection.
The same goes for a ‘Stop sign’ or ‘Stop line’, but you must also come to a complete stop before giving way.
If an oncoming vehicle is turning right, they need to give way to you if you’re going straight ahead or turning left.
If you’re turning right and the vehicle opposite you is turning left or going straight, they have right of way.
If you’re both turning right, you can both proceed when there’s no oncoming traffic
If an intersection is blocked, don’t enter it – only proceed if there’s enough room for you to exit the intersection.
The same goes for pedestrian crossings: only proceed through a crossing if there’s enough room for you to cross it completely.
If a vehicle is making a U-turn, they must give way to you.
At T-intersections, you must give way to all vehicles on the continuous road.
In this interesting scenario, do you know who would proceed first?
Because the other three vehicles are facing give way or stop signs, white would go first. The other vehicles would then give way to their right. So next would be yellow, green, and then red..
In Queensland motorists must keep a two second gap between them and the car in front. Don’t get caught out if visiting rellies in New South Wales, where drivers must maintain a three second gap.
So does Car Insurance cover you if you have an at fault car accident, like bumping into the rear of the car in front?
It depends on your policy, and your level of cover. A Suncorp Comprehensive Car Insurance policy may provide cover for damage to your vehicle in an accident, whether you’re at fault or not. For more details head to the Suncorp Insurance website to get a quick online quote and read the Product Disclosure Statement.
Queenslanders love their beaches. But are they allowed to drive barefoot after jumping into the car right after a swim?
Legally, yes… but that doesn’t mean you should. It’s recommended drivers wear tight fitting shoes in order to have the best control.
We all know we can’t text and drive.
But did you know you can’t use your phone to check your maps?
It’s illegal to hold your phone or have it resting on any body part for any purpose while driving, even if the phone isn’t in use, or is turned off.
That still applies if you’re stopped in traffic or at a red light. If the phone is in a pocket or pouch that is part of a driver’s clothing, they must not use it, including operating it with voice control.
Learner and P1 drivers under 25 can’t use hands-free, wireless headsets or a mobile’s loudspeaker function.
Passengers of learner and P1 provisional drivers are also banned from using a mobile phone's loudspeaker function. So, if a parent is teaching their child who is on their L’s to drive, they can’t answer a phone call that comes through on loudspeaker.
So when can you hold a phone? Well, only when you’re safely stopped, like when you need to pay for something…
…. To gain access to or from a road-related area, like a carpark…
… or to show police a digital drivers licence or other document.
You can also use your phone when safely parked. Parked means stopped with the intention of staying at that place.
If you're an open or P2 licence holder, you’re allowed to touch your mobile phone for hands-free use if it’s in a cradle attached to the vehicle, for things like accepting a call….
… using navigation apps…
…or skipping a song.
Following these rules won’t only keep you and other road users safe – it’ll also mean you’ll avoid a hefty fine of over a thousand dollars for using your mobile phone illegally!
If there are no speed limit signs, the default speed limit is 50 kilometers an hour in built up areas and 100 kilometers on roads in rural areas. Drivers still need to adjust their speeds based on conditions if necessary.
Did you know you can cop a fine of up to two thousand six hundred and eleven dollars for honking your horn for the wrong reason?
That’s right – you can’t honk your horn unless it’s to try and get animals off the road, to warn other road users that your vehicle is approaching, or as part of an anti-theft or alcohol device.
So whether it’s a friendly honk to say hello to a friend passing by, or road rage, it isn’t legal, and could leave you out of pocket.
In Queensland, you aren’t allowed to sleep in your car unless you’re on a designated camping ground.
Unlike in some other states, in Queensland there cannot be opened alcohol in the car. That means your passengers can’t sip on alcohol while you drive. Of course, drivers also cannot consume alcohol, even if they’re under the limit.
Eating while driving isn’t technically illegal, but you could be fined for driving without due care and attention.
Make sure to do your own research on Queensland’s road rules.
Accidents happen… even when we follow all the road safety rules.
That’s why it’s important to have insurance cover for your car.
Plus, did you know you can get $50 off a new Suncorp Comprehensive Car Insurance policy when you quote and buy online?
Visit the Suncorp Insurance website to find out more.
This may sound obvious, but distracted driving is a lot more common than we think. A recent study conducted on our behalf revealed that 25% of people have texted while driving and 31% have taken a phone call by holding the phone in their hand.
Stay safe – keep your eyes on the road and your mobiles out of the way.
Don’t drive under the influence - this includes certain prescriptions
Australia has a strict 0.05 Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) limit, and that limit is reduced to 0.00 for Learners and Probationary drivers.
Studies show that those with a 0.05 BAC reading are twice as likely to have a crash than before drinking, and those who are over a 0.08 reading are ten times more likely. So, to be on the safe side, never drive if you think you could have a BAC reading about 0.00.
And remember, alcohol takes a long time to leave your system – that’s why so many people are found guilty of drink driving the morning after a big night out.
The same principle applies for legal and illegal drugs. Most people aren’t aware that even drugs as seemingly harmless as prescription meds (for e.g. certain cold and flu tablets) can slow reflexes, blur vision and cause drowsiness. When in doubt, talk to your doctor.
Make sure you're insured
Unfortunately, accidents can still happen to the safest of drivers — that’s why you should consider car insurance.
All levels of Suncorp Car Insurance cover you for:
- legal liability for loss or damage to other people’s cars and property (up to 20 mil) and
- damage to your car by uninsured drivers (up to $5,000).
To make sure your own car is covered, check out Comprehensive Car Insurance. If your car is less than two years old and you’re the first registered owner, you may even qualify to have it replaced ‘new for old’ after a total loss – by that we mean we’ll replace it with a new car of the same make, model and series, if one is available. Otherwise, we’ll find you something similar!
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Insurance is issued by AAI Limited ABN 48 005 297 807 trading as Suncorp Insurance. Read the Product Disclosure Statement before buying this insurance. Go to Suncorp.com.au for a copy. This advice has been prepared without taking into account your particular objectives, financial situations or needs, so you should consider whether it's appropriate for you before acting on it.