School Zone Traffic Offences – Do You Know Them All?

We all know that travelling over 40km per hour in a school zone during school pickup times is an offence but you may not be aware of the other offences in school zones that could cost you plenty of money and demerit points.

I received a flyer with last week’s school newsletter, put together by our local council and the NSW Police, detailing the various offences and their penalties.  I thought I would share the info with you here.

SCHOOL ZONE TRAFFIC OFFENCES

SPEEDING OFFENCES

School Zone speeding offences attract higher fine and demerit points than other speeding offences.

MAXIMUM PENALTY: $3,149 + 7 Demerit points

MOBILE PHONE USE

Driving while using a hand-held mobile phone in a School Zone

PENALTY: $353 + 4 Demerit Points

CHILDREN’S CROSSINGS

Disobey hand-held stop sign at Children’s Crossing or approach Children’s Crossing too quickly to stop safely

PENALTY: $441 + 4 Demerit Points

U-TURNS

Make a U-Turn without giving way to a pedestrian or vehicle in a School Zone

PENALTY: $353 + 4 Demerit points

SCHOOL ZONE PARKING OFFENCES

NO STOPPING

Means that in the area in the direction of the arrow, you must not stop your vehicle at any point on the road or kerb, unless there is a medical or other emergency

MAXIMUM PENALTY: $353 + 2 Demerit Points

NO PARKING

Means that you have no more than 2 minutes for drop-offs or pick-ups of passengers or goods and the driver must stay within 3 metres of your vehicle

PENALTY: $147 + 2 Demerit Points

BUS ZONE

Means that in the direction of the arrow or arrows you are not allowed to stop your vehicle unless you are driving a bus.

PENALTY: $265 + 2 Demerit Points

DOUBLE PARKING

You are not permitted to stop or park your vehicle alongside another vehicle that is already parked parallel to the kerb.

PENALTY: $265 + 2 Demerit points

STOPPING ON OR NEAR PEDESTRIAN CROSSING

PENALTY: $353 + 2 Demerit Points

STOP ON PATH/STRIP IN BUILT UP AREA

PENALTY: $147 + 2 Demerit points

STOP OR PARK IN A DISABLED MARKED AREA WITHOUT A PERMIT

PENALTY: $441

Be careful – you know that money could be better spent on your next school holiday trip!

What to do if you accidentally hit an animal with your car

Keep your furry loved ones from becoming an animal collision statistic

I’ve lost count of amount of times I have nearly hit a cat or dog driving around suburban streets.  Each time, I feel an overwhelming relief that I haven’t killed someone’s beloved pet, but I often wonder what I would do if I found myself in that situation.  At this high rate of near misses, I figure a collision with an animal is, sadly, almost inevitable.

A research paper by AAMI and Lori Smith Animal Hospital (January 2009), highlights some interesting facts about domestic animal car collisions.

In a sample of 2,503 drivers, half of the respondents had hit an animal with a car.  32 per cent had hit a dog while 23 percent had hit a cat.

Only a third of animals involved in car collision survived.  More dogs (70 percent) were seen for treatment as they were more likely to survive the impact due to their size.

The report also revealed that over 60 to 70 percent of the animals presented at the Animal Hospital were not de-sexed which made them more likely to roam the streets.  A lot of these animals were also lost or stray with no owners.

So, what do you do if you accidentally hit an animal on the road?

  • Firstly, and most importantly, consider your own safety. Pull over to the kerb, park the car in a safe spot and put your hazard lights on.
  • Take a deep breath and compose yourself before leaving the car. Stressing out in front of an injured animal could make its condition worse.
  • Approach the animal with caution.  If the animal is still alive and injured it will be frightened and may bite or scratch you.
  • If the animal is dead, move it to the side of the road when it is safe for you to do so.  Call the police to inform them of the situation. They can arrange removal of the animal.
  • Avoid picking up an injured animal.  Keep it warm with a jacket or blanket and try to keep it calm but don’t feed it.
  • Contact the local veterinary hospital or police as soon as possible and stay with the animal until help arrives if you feel safe to do so.  You may feel safer waiting in your car with the doors locked if it is dark and isolated.
  • If there has been damage to your car, contact the police within 24 hours to file an accident report and contact your insurance company as soon as possible.

Be alert and drive carefully around suburban streets at night.  Cats and dogs often dart out from behind parked cars leaving you little time to stop or avoid hitting them.

Also, remember to keep your own pets safely in your yard or indoors to avoid them becoming another sad animal collision statistic.

Important numbers to keep in your mobile or in the glovebox:

RSPCA :

NSW:      02 9770 7555

VIC:        03 9224 2222

QLD:       07 3426 9999

SA:          08 8231 6931

WA:        08 9209 9300

ACT:       02 6287 8100

NT:          08 8984 3795

TAS:        03 6332 8200

WIRES (for native animals) :

1300 0WIRES ( 1300 094 737)

10 Things That Drive Me to Insanity On the Road

Here’s a list of what makes me put on my cranky pants in traffic:

1. Drivers who don’t indicate:

I’ve often wondered if Volvos actually have indicators at all or whether their drivers are simply so confident in the safety of their cars that they don’t care either way about preventing collisions.  Until cars allow us to read the minds of other drivers, all we have is that little lever on the right (or left in Euro cars) to help communicate the fact that we want to turn…USE IT!!!

Note: I actually know some very nice Volvo drivers, so please don’t slap me with your driving gloves!

2. Bullies who won’t let you merge

They can be seen in your rear view mirror smirking while you’re using hand gestures to plead with them to let you merge.  These drivers, often in larger vehicles, are the bullies of the road and have real issues that can only be fixed with a good slapping.  The best you can do is hope Karma will catch up with them later and pray that the driver behind him is more generous.

3.  Parents who smoke in cars with child passengers

These people are clearly so self-centred they couldn’t even give a toss about their own young.  Even though laws have been introduced against smoking in cars with children, these drivers ignore them to satisfy their own selfish habit and are happy to tell the world, and their children, to go to hell.

4. Lunatics who speed in 40K School Zones

Everyone else has slowed to 40K but these idiots decide to speed on, weaving in and out of lanes, risking the lives of children, only to be joined by the rest of us at the next set of lights.  Slap, slap, slap!!

5.  Doof Doof Drivers

Have you ever been waiting at the lights and felt your car jumping and windows vibrating because the P-Plater next to you is aiming to get industrial deafness?  He doesn’t need a slapping cause he’ll be wearing hearing aids to his 21st birthday party, that’s punishment enough.

6. Swirvers

These drivers are all over the shop, running over lines, narrowly missing other cars.  It’s clear that they are either drunk, high or using hand-held mobile phones.  Funnily enough, a lot of these drivers also display P-Plates.

7. Parked Drivers who Don’t look before opening their car doors into traffic

Our necks are amazing things – they allows us to move our heads from left to right.  Seriously, how much effort does it take to look before swinging your car door wide open into traffic?

8. Parents who stick prams into traffic while waiting to cross the road

Pedestrians are not exempt from my wrath.  Yes, you may be a safe distance away watching traffic while waiting to cross a busy street – BUT YOUR CHILD’S PRAM IS ON THE ROAD!

9. Smokey cars

Quick, close your windows and turn your air con to recycle – it’s another defective car spilling its guts all over the place.

10. They’re never around when you need them

My top peeve is that there’s not enough Police around to book all the above!  How satisfying is it though, when you do actually get to see an idiot getting pulled over!!  – Karma’s a bitch.

When Rebellion Drives Bad Habits

In a previous post, The Turning Circle of Life, I mentioned the arguments I had with my dad many moons ago when he was teaching me to drive.  One of those arguments was about putting the car into gear when parking.  I was a rebellious teenager, and many of my rebellions were pointless and senseless, but I was also stubborn.  I persisted with parking the car in neutral and it finally became a habit lasting many years until one day in 2001…

I was married, had a lovely little house on a hill overlooking a reserve and had just had my third child.  I was on my usual afternoon taxi run picking up my young son from soccer training and my little girl from dance class with my newborn strapped in her capsule in the backseat.

It was winter,  the sun had set early and it was very cold and dark.  My husband was waiting for me to arrive so he could go to his evening job and I was running a little late so I parked the car at the top of our steep driveway, told the older kids to go inside and took the capsule out of the car.  I left the car running for my husband and went inside.

“Where did you park the car?” asked hubby from the front door. “Right in front of you.” I replied.  He came inside and said “Well, it’s not there!”

I ran outside and couldn’t see the car anywhere.  I panicked and immediately thought the car had been stolen and called the police to report it.

While we waited for the police to arrive, we got a knock on our front door.  It was a gentleman who had been driving down our street when he saw a car roll out of our driveway and into the Reserve across the road.  I started to feel sick.

We ran across the road into the pure darkness. The reserve was very big and had a dam in the centre.  My husband grabbed a torch and headed down to the dam expecting to find our Sonata in the water.  Just as he found the car stuck in the reeds, the police turned up.

My husband had taken over from my father in hassling me about parking in neutral and he was more than happy to watch the Officer lecture me on how dangerous the situation could have been.   I stood there with a red face, nodding and feeling very stupid.

I was extremely lucky.  So much could have gone wrong, the car could have rolled into another on the road, it could have killed someone walking their dog in the reserve.  I got off lightly with a few minor scratches on the Sonata and a lecture from a smirking policeman.

So, What is The Moral of this Humiliating Story?

Keeping a bad habit to spite others can really come back to bite you on the butt!

The Turning Circle of Life

We really do take driving our cars for granted.  We have fleeting moments of appreciation, like when our car is out of action for one reason or another,  but it is never greater than when you are either at the beginning of your driving life or at the end.

My son is fifteen and like many teenagers, counting down the days until he can get his Learner’s Permit while his grandfather, my dad, is counting down the days until he can no longer drive because of his illness.

My dad was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease about seven years ago.  He lives alone and is a fiercely independent man who loves and is loved dearly by his family.  Dad lives in the next suburb so we visit each other almost daily.  However, lately it has been us visiting him as he becomes less mobile.

My dad was enjoying life traveling the world, climbing mountains and trekking.  He was in great health, especially for a 60 year old man, when he started experiencing stiffness in his muscles and dizzy spells.  For a year, he dealt with the symptoms taking  anti-inflammatories and going to physiotherapy.  Eventually, after many doctors and tests, he was told he had Parkinson’s Disease.  My sister and I didn’t know how to take the news. He seemed fine and his hands only shook as much as someone who had drunk too much coffee.  It was hard to imagine our fit, strong dad deteriorating to the advanced state of Mohammed Ali or Michael J Fox.

Seven years later and my dad has managed his Parkinson’s better than a lot of other sufferers with his healthy lifestyle and extreme determination and stubbornness.   Recently though, the expression of pain has completely taken over the brave face and his shaking has become much worse.  He jokes about it all the time, especially in front of my children but it’s getting harder for him to smile.  He doesn’t like to talk about it, but lately he has been talking about the fact that he won’t be able to drive anymore.

About a year ago he stopped driving long distances and has only been driving locally to my house or the shops.  Now he’s realising it’s becoming dangerous as well as painful and he probably won’t be cleared to drive by his neurologist on his next visit.

I really don’t know anyone who enjoys their independence and freedom as much as my dad does.  As kids we never got the chance to watch TV on weekends because he was always packing us into the car for drives.  “Where are we going now?” we’d ask.  He always responded with “I have no idea, we’ll find out when we get there.”

Even now with my kids at home on school holidays he’ll phone them and say “Put your shoes on, I’ll be picking you up in a few minutes”.  The kids bolt for their shoes and wait on the front step to go on one of Poppy’s adventures.

As my son starts talking about learning to drive, I can’t help but think of the days when my dad taught me to drive.  We laugh now, but we had some mighty yelling matches in empty supermarket car parks but he taught me skills that have stayed with me every day since.

I find myself in the middle, watching my children on the brink of adulthood, gaining independence, needing me less and finding their place in the world. My parents on the other hand are losing their independence, relying  on me more often but they quietly know their place in the world.

So, next time you see an elderly person driving slowly in front of you, or even a Learner, don’t be so quick to go for the horn. Think about where they are in the turning circle of life and acknowledge the fact that you were once at the beginning and will one day be at the end.

Useful Links:

The RTA have a 4 page PDF brochure – Worried about the driving ability of an older driver

The RTA also has a website exclusively for younger drivers with all the information they need to get them on the road www.geared.com.au

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