Before using University vehicles please complete the Driver and Vehicle Safety Quiz. Further information on driver and vehicle safety can be found below and in the Driver and Vehicle Safety Procedures.
The five main causes of road trauma in Australia are:
Before you drive...
- Think about safety. Know and assess the risks and be prepared.
- Complete the university Driver Safety quiz.
- Know the road rules.
- Be licensed. Ensure that your driver's licence or permit is current, appropriate for the vehicle you are driving and with you.
- Ensure your vehicle is roadworthy, registered and insured.
- Check road conditions and weather reports.
- Don’t drive tired, plan for rest stops every two hours.
- Remember that driving is on the left side in Australia.
- Drivers are responsible for payment of any parking and traffic infringements incurred.
- If towing, refer to trailer guidelines.
The use of University vehicles or rentals is the preferred option for University business. However, where this is not possible or practicable, privately owned vehicles may be used for University business.
Being fatigued makes us less alert to what is happening on the road, and less able to react quickly and safely if a dangerous situation arises.
If a driver hasn’t had enough sleep or is driving at a time when they would usually be asleep, sleepiness becomes a risk factor that compromises the safety of that trip. Circadian rhythms are our in-built body clock that determine when we’re at our most alert, and most sleepy. Generally, humans are programmed to feel sleepy between 2am and 4am, and then again between 2pm and 4pm. Sleep-related car crashes peak during these times. Other factors include being awake for long hours, highway boredom, road and weather conditions.
A Journey Management Plan should be completed for journeys of 2 hours or longer, if not covered by the field trip process.
Alcohol and drugs
Your ability to drive safely is seriously affected by consuming drugs and alcohol and you risk causing serious injury or death to yourself and others if you drive under the influence. Alcohol is a leading contributor to road crashes.
People who drive after drinking alcohol have a greatly increased likelihood of being involved in a crash. For example, a driver with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.05 has doubled his/her risk of crashing as compared to having a zero blood concentration.
Alcohol is one of the four major causes of road traffic deaths. Driver fatigue, failure to wear seatbelts and speed are the others.
How drugs and alcohol affect driving skills
- Slower reaction time when something unexpected happens (e.g. a car approaching from a side street, traffic lights changing, or people crossing the road).
- Poor judgement about your speed and the speed of other vehicles, and in judging distances (e.g. other cars seem farther away than they really are).
- Visual attention and hearing are reduced. After drinking alcohol, drivers tend to focus on the road straight ahead ("tunnel vision") and avoid what is happening in their side vision (e.g. you won't hear or see things like cars approaching from side streets, or people crossing the road).
- Poor coordination when trying to do more than one thing a time, especially in an emergency.
- A false sense of confidence but alcohol will leave you less able to cope with unexpected events. You may take risks you would not normally take. This can be extremely dangerous as most drivers are not aware how badly their driving skills have deteriorated after drinking. Some people may show these effects after drinking only small amounts of alcohol, whereas others may demonstrate little or no change in their appearance or behaviour. Regardless of this, their driving skills will be impaired.
- Other effects of drugs include aggressiveness, hallucinations, paranoia, fatigue, dizziness and tremors
Don't combine alcohol with other drugs or medicines
Taking other drugs with small amounts of alcohol can severely reduce your ability to drive safely. This also applies to prescribed medication, medicines you buy over the counter from pharmacies or supermarkets and illegal drugs such as cannabis, heroin, amphetamines or ecstasy.
The law and drink driving
It is an offence to drive a vehicle, or attempt to put a motor vehicle in motion, while so much under the influence of alcohol or a drug as to be incapable of exercising effective control of the vehicle.
Seat belts must be worn by all occupants of a motor vehicle when it is in motion or is stationary but not parked. A person must not occupy a seat without a seat belt if other seats with seat belts are unoccupied.
How do seats belts work?
- Prevent ejection from the vehicle.
- Reduces contact with the interior of your car.
- Decrease the time for an occupant to stop on impact.
- Spread the impact force by spreading it over a larger area of your body.
Drivers must ensure that they and any other passenger in the vehicle are wearing their seatbelt, regardless of their age. However, passengers are still accountable, as both drivers and passengers aged 16 years and over can be fined if they fail to wear a seatbelt.
Driving and mobile phones
Using a mobile phone while driving impairs your driving performance through distraction and increases the risk of crashing by at least four times. The most common types of crashes associated with mobile usage are 'run-off-the-road' crashes and 'rear end' crashes.
Using a mobile phone while driving significantly impairs your:
- reaction time
- visual search patterns
- ability to maintain speed and position on the road
- ability to judge safe gaps in the traffic
- general awareness of other road users.
If you need to use your mobile phone, stop and park safely where you will not endanger yourself and other road users.
You must not use a hand-held mobile phone while your vehicle is moving or is stationary in traffic (e.g. at traffic lights). You may, however, use a handheld phone while parked.
You are permitted to use a mobile phone fitted with a "hands-free kit" while driving. But you must always drive with due care and never attempt to dial a number while driving.
Speed is a key factor in crashes and road trauma. Exceeding the speed limit increases the likelihood of a crash. As your speed increases, your ability to react to emergencies and stopping distances increase. Other road users also find it more difficult to judge how fast you are travelling.
It is important to recognise that inappropriate speed can put you and other road users at risk, examples include:
- travelling more than the speed limit posted for a particular stretch of road
- travelling at a speed that is unsafe for the road surface and traffic conditions (e.g. gravel road, fog or heavy traffic) even though you may be within the designated speed limit.
The law and speeding
Exceeding the speed limit is illegal. If you break the law and speed, you may be subject to heavy penalties (e.g. fines, loss of demerit points or loss of license).
Speed cameras and radar assess speeds being travelled and the Police vigorously enforce speed limits, so if you speed there is a good chance you could be caught.
If you break down in a remote area, remain with the vehicle at all times. Do not attempt to walk to safety. Stay in the shade and stay hydrated.
Details of who to call for roadside assistance in university pool vehicles in both remote, rural and metropolitan locations can be found in the vehicle e.g. on the sticker on the windscreen.
If you are involved in a crash, you must:
- stop at the scene
- assist anyone who is injured
- move your vehicle off the road
- exchange information with other drivers and anyone else involved
- report the crash to police.
Call 000 for emergency, fire, police and ambulance throughout Australia.
If you were driving on Flinders University business, you must report the crash to your supervisor and as an incident on FlinSafe within 24 hours. For university vehicles, the crash or any other vehicle damage must also be reported to the vehicle manager for insurance and repair purposes.
Distractions may include:
- using mobile phones
- physical and visual distraction
- even when using a hands-free set-up, cognitive distraction remains high
- talking with passengers
- navigation systems
- eating, drinking
- using audio equipment
Distraction while driving leads to riskier decision making, including:
- reduction in ability to judge distances, speed, space and environmental conditions
- slower reaction times
- less controlled braking – tend to brake later, with more force and less control
- fluctuations in speed and following distances
- wandering from the lane
- reduced awareness of the surroundings
- spending less time checking mirrors and monitoring the traffic and road environment.
A risk assessment must be conducted for driving in situations where there is an increased risk, such as driving to isolated and/or remote locations, long-distance driving, 4WD/off-road, bushfire prone areas and driving in adverse conditions (e.g. extreme terrain, temperatures, flooded areas) The person undertaking this travel must in consultation with those who are to be involved with the travel, and before the driving starts:
- identify relevant hazards
- identify control measures to manage the risks associated with driving as far as is reasonably practicable and
- document the risk assessment in either the field trip process or other relevant risk assessment process.
A car is one of the deadliest places to be in a bushfire. The only sure way to survive is to be nowhere near the fire.
Bushfire risk needs to be considered as part of the driving risk assessment process, particularly if there are catastrophic weather conditions or total fire ban days. Managing the risks may include postponing the trip or not entering areas of high fire danger.
The current daily Fire Danger Rating is available for states and territories of Australia on BOM National Weather and Warnings under the relevant state or territory link, under Forecasts.
For the fire service relating to each state and territory, please refer to the bushfire safety page.
If private vehicles are used for university business, they must as a minimum be:
- covered by insurance
- fit for purpose.
If private vehicles are used, the University is not liable for any damage to the private vehicle or any other damage caused by that vehicle, or for any cost of repairs, towing, insurance excess or any other associated cost that may arise.