Moving from the UK to Australia brings a host of new experiences, not least of which is adapting to the differences in driving. While both countries drive on the left side of the road, there are several notable distinctions that can catch British drivers off guard. This post will explore these differences to help you prepare for driving in Australia.

Road Rules and Regulations

One of the first things you’ll notice when driving in Australia is that each state and territory has its own specific road rules. While many of these rules are consistent nationwide, some variations can affect everyday driving. For instance, the speed limits on highways can differ from state to state, and certain traffic laws, such as using mobile phones while driving, might be more strictly enforced in some regions.

In contrast, the UK has a more uniform set of road rules across England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland, making it easier to know what to expect no matter where you are in the country. This fragmentation in Australia means it’s crucial to familiarise yourself with the specific regulations of the state you are in.

Speed Limits and Fines

Speed limits in Australia are typically higher than in the UK. On motorways and major highways, you might find limits of up to 110 km/h (approximately 68 mph), whereas in the UK, the maximum is generally 70 mph (about 113 km/h). Additionally, speed limits in urban areas can vary, with some Australian cities implementing strict 40 km/h (25 mph) zones in residential areas and near schools.

Speeding fines in Australia are also quite stringent, with hefty penalties and a demerit points system that can lead to licence suspension. In the UK, while fines are also enforced, the demerit points system tends to be less severe for minor infractions.

Road Conditions and Infrastructure

Australia’s vast landmass means that road conditions can vary widely. In urban areas, roads are generally well-maintained, similar to the UK. However, when you venture into rural or remote areas, you may encounter unsealed roads, gravel paths, and even the occasional river crossing. These conditions are relatively rare in the UK, where the road network is more consistently developed.

Driving in Australia also often means dealing with long distances between destinations. A road trip that might take a few hours in the UK could easily turn into a day-long journey in Australia. It’s essential to plan ahead, ensure your vehicle is in good condition, and be prepared for limited access to services like petrol stations and rest areas.

Wildlife Hazards

One of the most significant differences when driving in Australia is the wildlife. Kangaroos, wombats, and even camels can pose serious hazards on the road, especially at dawn and dusk. In the UK, wildlife such as deer and foxes are less frequent road hazards and generally smaller, posing less of a threat to vehicles.

Roundabouts and Intersections

While roundabouts are common in both countries, Australian roundabouts can be larger and have multiple lanes. Additionally, the rules for giving way can differ slightly. In Australia, you must give way to all vehicles already on the roundabout, whereas in the UK, you give way to vehicles coming from the right.

Intersections in Australia may also have different configurations, such as the ‘hook turn’ in Melbourne, where vehicles turning right must do so from the left lane to avoid tram lines. Such setups are not found in the UK, making them a unique challenge for new drivers.

Driving in Australia offers a different set of challenges and experiences compared to the UK. Understanding the nuances of road rules, speed limits, road conditions, wildlife hazards, and intersection configurations is essential for a smooth transition. Before moving or travelling to Australia, it might be useful for you to familiarise yourself with these differences to ensure a safer and more enjoyable experience! Check your eligibility to move to Australia now!