Your vehicle Lessons Note

Driving a roadworthy and safe vehicle can help you avoid a crash, or increase your chance of survival if you’re involved in one. Ensure that your vehicle is roadworthy before you drive, which means the vehicle must meet the standards required by law and be safe to drive.

What should you check before driving?

Check your:
  • brakes - the pedal should stay above the floor when you step on it
  • lights - with faulty lights, others may not see you or understand your intentions
  • tyres - must have an adequate tread depth and air pressure to function correctly.
  • windshield, windows, and mirros - must be clean and working so you can scan effectively
  • seatbelts - make sure that they function properly
  • oil level - oil reduces the friction in your engine and makes it run smoothly

Tyres

This isn't a safe tyre pressure

Tyre pressure and tread depth need to be kept at safe levels. Use recommended tyre pressure and make sure you have a tread depth of at least 1.5mm deep.

Smooth tyres can easily lose traction in wet weather. Tyre problem is a frequent cause of defect-related crashes.

Adjusting the seat

You should always adjust the driver's seat to give you a good driving posture

Ensure you can easily reach the controls and have a clear view of the road. Your steering wheel should be adjusted low and face the chest in order for the airbag to fully work. Your head restraint should fit your height.

A good driving posture will improve your car control and allow for safety features to work as intended - e.g. your seatbelt and airbags.

Mirrors

The mirrors should be positioned so you can scan the area around your vehicle without changing your position. Many modern vehicles also have day/night mirrors that are adjustable to reduce the headlight glare from vehicles behind you at night.

Adjusting the rear-view mirror

Adjust the interior mirror to give you a clear view of the road behind. The rear-view mirror should be adjusted to complement the side-mirrors to give you the best possible view of the areas surrounding your car while minimizing the blind spots.

Adjusting your side mirrors (setting A/B)

Mirror setting (A) is the standard setting.

Setting A - the standard way to adjust your mirrors.

Most drivers use and are more comfortable using this setting. It’s also recommended by most driving schools.

When adjusted correctly, you should see the tip of the door handle in the lower inner corner of the mirror.

Setting B - recommended by Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE)

This setting aims to reduce blind spots and make it easier to change lanes quickly. However, many drivers find this setting disorienting. When using this setting, adjust the mirrors so far outward that the viewing angle of the side mirrors just overlap that of the rear-view mirror.

When adjusted correctly, you should see the front bumper of a passing vehicle in the side mirror as the vehicle disappears from your rear-view mirror.

Modifications and front protrusions

There are some bull bars and accessories that don’t comply with the requirements of the Australian Design Rules and Regulations. For example, spotlight mounts can be potentially illegal unless fitted correctly.

Modifications, however small, can affect your registration, insurance and manufacturer’s warranty cover. This is because some modifications can make the vehicle less safe (e.g. by affecting its handling) and can lead to the vehicle becoming non-compliant with regulations.

If your vehicle isn’t roadworthy

You can get a Defect Notice from police if the vehicle isn’t considered roadworthy. A vehicle given a Defect Notice needs to be repaired and officially cleared before it’s allowed to be driven again. It’s an offence to drive a defective vehicle even when you aren’t responsible for having it repaired. If the vehicle is considered a danger to other drivers, it can be impounded by police or banned from use.

Registration

In order to drive a vehicle, it must be registered. You aren’t allowed to drive an unregistered vehicle on a road or road-related area.

Compulsory Third Party insurance (CTP) isn’t valid for unregistered vehicles, which will make you personally liable if a person is injured in a crash. You will also be fined if caught driving an uninsured or unregistered vehicle.

Number plates must be permanently fixed to the vehicle and have a light to be visible at night. They must be clearly readable (i.e. not blocked, dented, dirty etc.) within a 45° arc at a distance of at least 20m, and be issued by RMS.

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