Getting behind the wheel in a foreign country can be enough to test the nerves of even the most experienced driver. The best advice? Always give yourself plenty of time!

The high number of exhausted and stressed travellers driving unfamiliar cars at airports increases the risks for everyone on the road. Racing to save a few seconds could well turn out to be a false economy.

Despite relatively high-quality, well-signposted roads, driving in Brisbane and beyond can be challenging when you’re not used to it. Read on to find out how to stay safe with our Brisbane Airport Car Hire tips.

Whether you’re visiting Australia for business or for a family road trip to see the sights of the Sunshine Coast, or the Gold Coast, knowing how to drive safely is crucial. Let’s have a look at our top tips to keep you safe on the road.

Make It Official

The authorities consider those from overseas without a permanent visa as “visiting drivers.” Your average tourist will therefore be able to use their valid overseas licence.

If you’re planning to stay in Australia for several months, it’s worth remembering that the Northern Territory has stricter rules than elsewhere. It’s a requirement to obtain a Northern Territory-issued driver’s licence after 3 months or to apply for an exemption.

If you’re planning a lengthy stay, you should check with other states and territories about their rules.

Ensure you keep your licence with you at all times when driving. It will save any time-consuming issues should you ever get pulled over by the police. If yours doesn’t have an accompanying photo, carry your passport with it as well.

Visiting drivers can only drive vehicles that their overseas licence permits. If your licence is not in English, you must have a translation with you or obtain an International Driving Permit before arrival. The motoring association of the country that issued the license will generally issue these as well.

Driving on the Left and Manoeuvring Roundabouts

64 countries, including the UK, India, Japan and South Africa drive on the left-hand side like Australia. Far more countries and territories (163, in fact) drive on the right, including Canada and the US.

Drivers used to driving on the right tend to find it relatively easy to switch but if it’s their first time, they may be understandably nervous. They should take extra time to get used to the changes.

Setting off early in the morning when sleepy and manoeuvring roundabouts tend to cause stress which can lead to confusion. This can cause critical errors which may put your and your family’s safety in jeopardy. In contrast to Australia, some European countries tend to use the nearside lane when taking the third exit of a roundabout with 4 exits. You must always give way to traffic from the right when approaching a roundabout.

Because roundabouts can be such causes of confusion, check out the rules about how to use roundabouts in Queensland. Americans and South Africans sometimes refer to roundabouts as traffic circles.

Safety on Australia’s Roads

It’s worth remembering that in 2022, there were 1,194 road crash deaths in Australia. It’s a relatively high number when compared to other countries like the UK for example which has a greater and far denser population.

Driving laws and regulations vary between each state and territory. Driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs is strictly illegal. The penalties are severe.

Ideally, it’s best not to drink at all before you drive for at least 24 hours. Some might argue that this is excessive but there is no one-size-fits-all rate at which we process alcohol. It depends on how much you drink and your body’s individual tolerance level.

You should be particularly mindful of this if you are stepping off a long international flight which had free drinks on offer. Here are some more tips:

  • Take regular rest breaks (at least every 2 hours) when driving long distances
  • If you’re driving to remote areas, plan well, use GPS, carry water & inform others
  • Check road conditions and weather before you set off
  • It is an offence to use a hand-held phone while driving

If you are driving with children up to 7 years old, you must make sure they are safe by using a correctly fastened and adjusted Australian Standard (AS) approved restraint for children. Babies under 6 months old cannot travel in the front seat of a vehicle.

Speed Limits and Road Signs

When setting off in your hire car, ensure you know the speed limits. In most states and territories, the speed limit in built-up areas is 50 km/h. In the Northern Territory, it’s 60 km/h.

The speed limit in rural areas is 100 km/h, except in Western Australia and Northern Territory where it’s 110 km/h. The maximum speed limit on highways is 110 km/h, except in the Northern Territory where it can be up to 130 km/h and in Australian Capital Territory where it’s 100 km/h.

You may have the novelty of seeing signs that alert you to the dangers of passing kangaroos or koalas on the roads. It’s well worth checking out all the road signs you’re likely to come across in Queensland here.

Before You Set Off In Your Holiday Hire Car

Responsible Brisbane Airport Car Hire means preparing well before you leave the airport. Ensure you understand the terms of your insurance, particularly around any excess you may have to pay in the event of damage or an accident. Understand what you need to do if you have a breakdown.

Have a really good check around the vehicle before you set off and take pictures on your mobile phone, especially of the wheel trims and bumper undercarriage. Here’s a quick and helpful checklist:

  • Adjust the seats and mirrors
  • Ensure you know where the reverse gear is
  • Strap the kids in properly
  • Check the fuel level and take a photo of the fuel gauge
  • Make sure the locks all work properly
  • Note which side to fill the car with fuel (most cars have an arrow on the gauge)
  • Understand the fuel type that the car takes

Driving in Brisbane and Beyond Made Simple

Brisbane Airport Car Hire is your key to a happy holiday or business trip on the Gold Coast and beyond. Take extra time when driving your holiday hire car, particularly if you’re used to driving on the right.

Make Betta Auto Hire your first choice whether you’re driving in Brisbane or further afield. Book your holiday hire car today!