Driver Knowledge Tests

Are you new to driving? Here’s why you need to learn the law

If it were only the mechanics of holding the wheel and pressing the pedals – everyone could be a driver within a matter of hours. But, the reality of it is that there is a lot more that needs to be understood and mastered before one sets off on their own. Because you are never alone on the road there are certain rules and guidelines that everybody must follow. 

Even if you consider yourself an accomplished driver – it is very likely that you do not know all the nuances of driving. The laws, the inside workings of your vehicle, or maybe even how to use modern technology in the car. This becomes even more of an issue if you have problems on the road, the worst being, of course – car crashes. But even when there isn’t such a scenario, knowing your legal rights and obligations is a must.

What if the police stop you?

In many places in the world, even in Australia, the idea that a police officer will stop you on the road makes people a bit nervous. After all, everybody’s heard or seen the horror scenarios where something goes wrong and it turns out bad for all those involved. But, luckily, in all developed countries police officers are highly trained and seldom try to make the situation worse than it needs to be.

In the most basic example, a routine control on the road – is simple. You are supposed to cooperate by giving them your information, usually, your driver’s licence, show them what’s inside your car if they ask and if there’s any technical problem the worst thing that can happen is that they’ll write you a ticket (unless they find something illegal like a gun or drugs).

After a car crash

In the case you end up in a car accident things can become tricky. Let’s say you drive to WA and get into a car accident. If you suffered an injury and want to press charges or see that insurance does its part, reaching out to a personal injury lawyer in Perth is a good start. You should be familiar enough with the law, and common sense, that if your reckless driving caused an accident in which someone got hurt – you can be sued for injuries caused, but the other case is also possible.

Though car crashes, in general, have been on the decline in recent years in Australia, still a majority of adult drivers have been involved in at least one. Injuries from them can be very severe and requesting compensation for them is your right. 

Work and driving

Some jobs require driving skills as a necessity and they are legally defined too. If you work in the transportation industry you will probably already be familiar with them, though it’s good practice for all drivers to know them. 

Truck, and other transportation drivers, have a right to:

  • work in a well-maintained and safe vehicle
  • adequate rest breaks
  • work safely in all aspects of their job

In practice, this is meant to make the roads safer as fatigued drivers are a threat not only to them but to others as well. It doesn’t matter if a certain package will arrive after schedule – if the driver has been at work for 12 consecutive hours they must take a several-hour break. Certain companies will allow for more free time or hand out schedules for several days in advance, though that is outside the legal scope.

Other issues

Knowing the law also implies knowing the basis and details of road signs and signalization. It’s one thing to be driving the same commute from work to home every day and knowing it by heart, every pothole, and every corner – and it’s another thing entirely when you’re actively driving around new places. 

Not being familiar with a certain sign can lead to dangerous situations, as interpreting it wrong and causing an accident makes it your fault, in which case you are held accountable for the damages. Another scenario, where you are not sure what a sign means so you suddenly slow down or stop, also causing an accident – makes you not at fault per se, but has anyway led to an unwanted situation.

It’s not enough to just keep your eyes on the road, you must also understand what is happening around you and what it implies in legal terms. Getting injured is something everybody wants to avoid, but in the case that it does happen you should at least try and get compensated as much as possible. It maybe wasn’t your fault to end up in such a situation, but it is your fault if you don’t react accordingly. 

Darren is an expert on driving and transport, and is a member of the Institute of Advanced Motorists

Posted in Advice