Skip to content

Safe driving tips

Sharing the road

Sharing the road with heavy vehicles

sharing the road with heavy vehicles

There has been a significant increase in the number of heavy and long vehicles on our roads over the past 20 years, a trend that is continuing in response to growing demand and supply of goods.

Heavy vehicles are large, not very manoeuvrable and often slow around the city. Therefore, it is important to obey traffic laws, be cautious and patient when near them.

On country roads drivers very often become impatient when behind trucks. Don't take unnecessary risks when overtaking. Always assess the risks.

Overtaking

Drivers on country roads should take extra care when overtaking long vehicles.

Before attempting to overtake, ask yourself the following:

  • What will I achieve?
  • What are the risks?
  • Is it safe and is it legal?
  • How far is it to the next overtaking lane?
  • How long is the truck I am overtaking and how long will it take to overtake it?
  • Can I see if there is oncoming traffic?
  • Is there a bend or dip ahead of the truck that might be obscuring oncoming traffic?

The following video provides tips on safely overtaking a truck

Many heavy vehicles travel at night when it is more difficult to judge their speed and distance from you. When following a heavy vehicle that you intend to overtake, stay well back from the rear of the vehicle while waiting for a safe overtaking opportunity. This will allow you to see further along the road past the heavy vehicle without having to move significantly to the right. It also allows vehicles approaching from the opposite direction to see you earlier.

Towing a caravan and being passed by a truck? Just maintain your speed and stay in your lane and give trucks room to move

Road trains can be up to 54 metres long and 2.5 metres wide, with up to three trailers and should only be overtaken with extreme caution:

  • allow plenty of time to overtake long vehicles
  • allow even longer in wet weather or changed road conditions
  • remember that trailers or caravans may sway from side to side
  • never overtake a long vehicle that is approaching a cross road or a dip or bend. It may be hiding another vehicle which could be turning on to your road in front of it and you could find yourself in a high-speed head-on collision

Road users should be aware of heavy vehicle manoeuvrability and adapt their driving behaviour accordingly

Slow moving vehicles, including cyclists and large agricultural machinery, such as tractors and harvesters, may be encountered on country roads.
Remember to:

  • overtake agricultural vehicles at slow speeds as they often swerve when approaching roadside posts or turning in to a property
  • travel carefully when overtaking, cornering or driving over the crest of a hill – a slow vehicle may be on or entering the road in front of you

Many trucks carry loads that could be dangerous either through fire, explosion, corrosion or radioactivity. Information about what is being carried is indicated on the vehicle’s emergency information panels.

Take extra care when overtaking a truck carrying a dangerous load

Overtaking lanes are provided on some rural highways, in particular the Dukes Highway (A8), National Highway (A1) between Port Wakefield and Port Augusta and the Sturt Highway (A20). They give drivers of faster vehicles the opportunity to safely pass slower moving vehicles.

When in an overtaking lane, you must:

  • always use the left lane, unless you are overtaking
  • at the end of an overtaking lane, indicate clearly that you intend to move into the other lane, giving way to any overtaking vehicle in that other lane
  • when changing lanes at any time, give other road users sufficient warning by indicating clearly and giving way to vehicles in the other lane.

Stopping distances

Braking distance is the distance travelled by the vehicle once the brakes have been applied. This distance is much greater for heavy vehicles, including buses, due to their additional weight.

Keeping clear of heavy vehicles that are stopping will help prevent crashes.

Take extra care when you enter a road or change lanes in front of a heavy vehicle. Leave plenty of road space, as their additional weight also requires greater slowing distance.

The following video highlights safe driving techniques to prevent a rear-end crash

Blind spots

A blind spot is where you are a driver lose sight of the vehicles around you. Know where a truck’s blind spots are:

  1. Beside the truck’s left door.
  2. Directly behind the truck for quite a distance – if you cannot see the truck driver in the truck’s mirror, then the truck driver cannot see you.
  3. Immediately in front of the truck.

Get clear of a truck driver’s blind spot as soon as you can. Move to a position well in front of or well behind (several car lengths), where the driver can see you.

Buses and trams

In a built-up area, you must give way to any bus displaying the give way sign if the bus is indicating to move out from the kerb. On a multi-lane road, this only applies to vehicles travelling in the left lane.

However, if the left lane is a bicycle lane or is obstructed e.g. by a parked car, drivers in the lane next to the left lane must also give way.

Do not obstruct the safe and clear passage of trams. Drivers must follow these rules when sharing the road with trams:

  • you must not drive in the path of a tram
  • if a tram approaches, you must not obstruct the tram and must move on as soon as you can safely do so (e.g. if there is a tram behind you, don’t try to turn right as you will obstruct the tram while waiting to turn)
  • you must not attempt to overtake trams on Jetty Road, Glenelg.

More information

Sharing the road campaign - media release [PDF]
Heavy vehicle drivers

Slow moving vehicles, including cyclists and large agricultural machinery, such as tractors and harvesters, may be encountered on country roads.

Remember to:

  • overtake agricultural vehicles at slow speeds as they often swerve when approaching roadside posts or turning in to a property
  • travel carefully when overtaking, cornering or driving over the crest of a hill - a slow vehicle may be on or entering the road in front of you

Overtaking lanes are provided on some rural highways, in particular the Dukes Highway (A8), National Highway (A1) between Port Wakefield and Port Augusta and the Sturt Highway (A20). They give drivers of faster vehicles the opportunity to safely pass slower moving vehicles.

When in an overtaking lane, you must:

  • always use the left lane, unless you are overtaking
  • at the end of an overtaking lane, indicate clearly that you intend to move into the other lane, giving way to any overtaking vehicle in that other lane
  • when changing lanes at any time, give other road users sufficient warning by indicating clearly and giving way to vehicles in the other lane.

Pedestrians

Pedestrians can increase their safety in the road environment by making themselves more visible and using safe routes and road crossings where possible.

Drivers can help make the road environment safer for pedestrians by scanning for pedestrians at crossings and intersections, and being aware of the potential presence of a pedestrian affected by alcohol around entertainment venues and at festive seasons. Drivers should adapt their speed in locations where there is a high amount of pedestrian activity.

Pedestrian safety

Almost everyone is a pedestrian at some stage and, as such, is a vulnerable road user. Over the last five years, nearly 1 in every 10 road deaths in South Australia was a pedestrian. View more on pedestrians involved in road crashes [PDF] in South Australia.

FAQs

    When I am walking and crossing a driveway do I have to give way to an entering car?

Vehicles driving in or out of private property or a road related area must give way to pedestrians on the footpath. It is always best however to be cautious and make sure you make eye contact with the driver. 

    Do I have to use a designated pedestrian crossing to cross a major road?

It is always best to cross at pedestrian crossing if there is one available and you must cross at a crossing if there is one within 20 meters.

If there is not a crossing, always cross the road by the shortest and safest route, make sure you can be seen and allow plenty of time to cross. Some main roads have raised medians to help you cross the road in two stages.

    Can I cross at the traffic signals when the pedestrian signal is flashing red?

Only cross at pedestrian lights when the light is green. If you are crossing with a green light and the light changes to flashing red, you must cross to the other side of the road, or the nearest traffic island designated for pedestrians, as quickly and safely as possible.

What the Law says

Under the Road Traffic Act 1961 and the Australian Road Rules a number of offences exist in relation to walking without regard to other road users or without regard to safety. It is an offence to walk without reasonable consideration for other road users.

Under the Australian Road Rules:

  •     
  • It is an offence for a pedestrian to cross a road diagonally unless at an intersection where this is allowed.
  •     
  • A pedestrian must cross a road by the shortest safest route and they can only cross when the pedestrian lights are green.
  •     
  • A pedestrian must not cross a road within 20 metres of a crossing on the road, except at the crossing or another crossing.

Drivers should be aware of the Road Rules relating to pedestrians particularly when it is necessary to give way to pedestrians when turning or when driving in or out of road related areas and private property.

Penalties

Penalties apply for offences under the Australian Road Rules.

Links

The Driver's Handbook
The pedestrian council of Australia
Motor Accident Commission - Pedestrian Campaign
Australian Road Rules
Pedestrians involved in road crashes [PDF]

Mobility scooters

An increasing number of motorised wheelchairs (commonly known as mobility scooters or gophers) are being used in our communities. Retaining mobility is an integral part of living independently and motorised wheelchairs often provide those who are older and/or less mobile with an accessible, functional and cost effective way of maintaining mobility.

Motorised wheelchairs can be configured in a variety of ways, with mobility scooters or gophers often having ‘T bar’ steering and a longer wheelbase than ‘conventional’ motorised wheelchairs. The Australian Road Rules however only refer to motorised wheelchairs and for the purposes of ‘The Rules’ a mobility scooter or gopher is considered a type of motorised wheelchair.

What the Law says

Under the Australian Road Rules, a person using a motorised wheelchair is classified as a pedestrian and:

  • cannot travel at a speed greater than 10 km/h on level ground
  • must have an unladen weight of less than 110kg
  • can only travel on the road where a footpath is not available, is being repaired or is unsafe due to damage
  • must observe all the same road rules that apply to pedestrians.

A motorised wheelchair can only be used if the person has a reasonable need due to their physical condition.

A motorised wheelchair does not need to be registered and the rider does not need a licence to drive it.

Moving Right Along

Moving Right Along: Obligations and Opportunities for Older Drivers is a program that encourages safer, greener and more active travel for older South Australians.

Moving Right Along workshops include a Motorised Mobility Scooter Safety session.

Further information about the Moving Right Along Program can be found at
www.movingrightalong.sa.gov.au  

A motorised wheelchair does not need to be registered and the rider does not need a licence to drive it.

Tips for riding motorised wheel chairs on footpaths
Watch out for cars turning into or reversing out of driveways
When travelling in congested areas, use as slow speed as possible to ensure the safety of yourself and other pedestrians
Do not assume that other pedestrians have heard your approach or are aware of your presence on the footpath
Never assume that motorists have seen you and will give way
Use pedestrian crossings or cross at areas of high visibility

Links

Independent Living Centre
Motorised Mobility Scooters
Moving Right Along Program

Cyclists

While cyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as other road users, they are more vulnerable when travelling on the road. Both cyclists and motorists need to consider each other and share the road safely.

Cyclists must obey all road rules - just like motorists - including stopping at stop signs and traffic lights, riding on the left side of the road and giving way to pedestrians on crossings and at intersections.

Drivers - how to share the road safely with cyclists:

  • Scan the road for cyclists.
  • When turning or entering an intersection look for cyclists and give way as you would for any other vehicle.
  • Allow at least one metre when passing a cyclist where the speed limit is 60 km/h or less or allow at least 1.5 metres where the speed limit is over 60 km/h.
  • Before opening your car door look behind, including checking blind spots for cyclists.
  • Do not drive, stop or park in a bicycle lane you can cross a bicycle lane to turn left, enter private property or park in a parking lane.
  • Cyclists can legally ride two abreast, be patient as you approach and overtake only when safe.

Cyclists - how to share the road safely with motorists:

  • Obey the road rules including stopping at traffic signals and stop signs and giving way at intersections.
  • Ride predictably in a straight line, signal your intention to turn or change lanes.
  • Look for other vehicles at intersections; never assume a driver has seen you.
  • Keep to the left and ride at least 1m clear of the kerb and parked cars; watch for unexpected opening car doors.
  • Be seen. During the day wear bright coloured clothing. At night wear light coloured clothing and use a white front light and red rear light.
  • Riding two abreast is legal however allow others to overtake.

What the law says

To find out more on what the law says in relation to cyclists responsibilities and motor vehicle responsibilities towards cyclists when on our roads see Cycling and the Law.

For information on new cycling laws including minimum distance for passing cyclists and riding on footpaths see New Cycling Laws.  

Penalties

When riding a bicycle you can be charged with a traffic offence in the same way as a motor vehicle driver. This includes incurring demerit points against your drivers licence. You incur demerit points even if you don't hold a drivers licence (which can prohibit you from obtaining one).

Publications and links

Road traffic offences and penalties in South Australia
More information on cycling in South Australia
South Australian cyclist statistics

Scooters and skaters

People riding skateboards, roller skates or scooters are vulnerable road users and can increase their level of safety by making themselves visible, wearing brightly coloured clothing and using safe travel routes and road crossings.

What the Law says

Under the Australian Road Rules:

  • anyone is allowed to skate or use a scooter, provided they wear a safety helmet
  • skating is allowed on most residential streets and footpaths, but is not allowed:
    • on roads with a dividing line or median strip
    • on roads which the speed limit is greater than 50 kilometres per hour
    • on a one-way road with more than 1 marked lane.
  • skating is not allowed at night or during periods of low visibility
  • skaters must not hold on to another moving vehicle.

What you can do about safe skating and scooting

It is the responsibility of skaters to ensure the safety of themselves and other road users. Skaters should:

  • be alert and courteous to other road users to avoid danger and inconvenience
  • observe all regulations and obey all directions of police or local law officers
  • skate at speeds which are safe and within their ability
  • if travelling on footpaths or shared use paths, give way to pedestrians and stay to the left and avoid areas of high traffic
  • wear appropriate, brightly coloured, protective clothing, and accessories - elbow and knee pads, long pants
  • learn how to skate in safe environments
  • check that they have adequate insurance cover
  • take extra care near senior citizens’ homes, retirement villages and nursing homes, child care centres, premises for people with disabilities, and hospitals.

In the interests of public safety, skaters should:

  • give warning of their approach by calling out to pedestrians on a footpath or shared use path
  • stay off the road when riding their skateboard or skating on rollerblades or roller-skates
  • always remember to Stop Look Listen Think when crossing the road and only skate across if you have control of your board or skates.

And never:

  • overtake a vehicle moving in the same direction
  • ride alongside a vehicle
  • ride within 2 metres of the rear of a motor vehicle for a distance greater than 200metres.

Road safety experts recommend that children under 9 years of age should not skate unsupervised on roads or footpaths.

Publications

Skateboarders and Rollerbladers – Did you know?

Links

SAPOL Road Safety tips

Horses

It is not unusual to encounter horses and their riders on our roads.

Horse-riders have little protection from other vehicles and horses may behave unpredictably at times.

Crashes with horses typically involve:

  • High speed roads – 70 km/h speed zones and above.
  • Outer suburbs or rural areas.
  • A vehicle hitting the horse from behind or side-swiping a horse as the vehicle overtakes.
  • The horse being spooked or bolting.
  • The horse straying from a paddock or enclosure.

What can motorists do to minimise risk?

  • Watch out for horses being led or driven on the road – leave as much space as possible to allow for unexpected movements by the horse.
  • Take extra care on bends, crests and on narrow roads, particularly in areas close to horse riding schools, trail ride businesses and on rural roads.
  • Slow down when passing a horse so your vehicle does not startle the horse, and allow plenty of room when overtaking.
  • Don’t use your car horn around horses – it will startle even the most placid horse.
  • Allow for inexperienced horse riders – especially young children.

What can horse-riders do to enhance their safety on the road?

As a horse-rider, you should:

  • know and obey the Australian Road Rules
  • ride on the left hand side of the road with the flow of the traffic
  • use clear hand signals
  • wear an approved helmet and footwear safe for horse riding
  • wear fluorescent clothing during the day and reflective clothing if you ride in the early mornings or evenings when the light is poor
  • always ‘look, check, and look again’ - the lifesaver look
  • where possible, use horse trails and horse crossings
  • if you’re an inexperienced rider, always be accompanied by experienced rider/horse combinations when in road-related areas
  • ride single file or two-abreast
  • ride carefully and be a courteous road user
  • if you are involved in an incident on the road, report it
  • always ride with a positive attitude.

What the Law says

Under the Australian Road Rules, horses are regarded as a vehicle and riders are subject to the same road rule as apply to other drivers. However there are some specific additional rules including:

  • Horses are allowed on footpaths and nature strips, unless specifically prohibited.
  • Horse riders must give way to any pedestrian on a footpath or nature strip.
  • If you are riding two-abreast with another rider, you must not ride more than 1.5m apart.  This will allow other road users room to overtake safely.
  • Lights on animal drawn vehicles – when ridden at night or in conditions of reduced visibility they must display a white light on each side at the front of the vehicle, a red light on each side at the rear (visible for 200m) and be fitted with a red reflector towards the rear of each side of the vehicle.
  • A person must not lead an animal while also driving a motor vehicle or riding a bicycle.

Penalties

A horse is considered to be a vehicle and therefore permitted to be ridden on the road, horse-riders are subject to the same penalties for road traffic offences as other drivers.

Publications

Horse Riding and Road Safety in Australia

Links

Horse SA

Copyright 2017 | Disclaimer | Privacy Policy | Contact us | Page ID: 93524