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Driving Tips

From OCAU Wiki

Common Driving Courtesy

  • Keep left unless overtaking (on motorways, freeways, and dual lane roads 80km/h or above). Failure to do so is illegal and annoying. We don't care if you're turning off 5km up the road, sit in the left hand lane and yield to faster traffic until you're ready to turn, at about 800m before your turn off, THEN move into the right hand lane. Doing this allows traffic to flow freely. The excuse "...but I was doing the speed limit", doesn't mean anything. The law is there for a reason. Always yield to the faster vehicle.
  • Check your blindspot before changing lanes. That 0.2 seconds could prevent you hitting someone, causing unnecessary hassle. If you do hit someone, don't get out and abuse them for sitting in your blindspot.
  • Trucks = big. Pass them as fast as possible without breaking the speed limit. Don't attempt to overtake a truck at 90km/h going up a hill, he might want to pass the truck infront of him. If he hasn't seen any movement for 20 seconds, he's going to presume there's no car there and merge.
  • Motorcycles = little. They are small compared to a car and can sometimes get overlooked in your car's blind spot. Most good motorcyclists ride defensively i.e. they conciously try to avoid being in car blind spots, and never assume that the driver has seen them and act accordingly by not staying too close.

Emergency Vehicles

This section is largely taken from Flash!'s comprehensive post here. He's an intensive care paramedic and Officer in Charge of an Ambulance station in Queensland.

What I/we would like:

  • For you to get out of the road safely, whilst not impeding our progress.
  • Don't slam on the brakes under any circumstances, you've got no idea how much fun it is, when you're already closing on someone at speed in a 4.5 tonne truck, and all of a sudden they stop - bad things happen when people do this.
  • Try to be decisive in your actions. If you can, move off to the left side of the road. If you can't, don't. If you start to move off, don't change your mind half-way through. E.g. if I decide you're not moving and go left around you and you change your mind, you're moving into my way. If you go left, and I go right, then you decide that there is a guide post in the way and swerve back, again you've suddenly changed the rules.
  • It is also worth considering that if you are blocked in at lights, or if there are 5 cars in the left lane and you're the only one in the right, speed up slightly (let's not do 170km/h for the next 50 kilometres to stay out of the way), to overtake and pull in in front of them. Don't try and brake to tuck in behind, as this increases our rate of closure.
  • People who resolutely don't move and sit in front of us when it is safe to get out of the way, are incredibly frustrating, and are committing an offence. How bad an offence, well if you're prosecuted and it sticks, deliberately impairing an ambulance officer in the line of his/her duty carries a fine of 50 penalty units (Each is worth ~$70 at the moment) and/or six months in prison. (A penalty unit is a generic amount in Queensland law which equals $x or x amount of time in prison, which can be updated across all legislation without individual rewrites.)

Where do you stand legally in terms of the Traffic Act when running red lights or speeding to get out of our way?

  • First no police officer is going to fine you for doing something sensible to get out of the way of an emergency vehicle, simply because it won't stick and its a waste of their time and effort. This doesn't mean that you can do whatever you like though. (An ambulance is exempt from the Traffic Act, but I still don't get to travel at 170km/h in a 60 zone. That's a criminal code offence called dangerous driving, or run straight through a red light at speed, that's a criminal code offence called negligent driving.)
  • If you get a red light or speed camera fine, then writing a letter stating the circumstances is usually enough. If you want to back it up with a bit more weight, approach the local officer-in-charge of the service involved, state the circumstances, the date, the time and we will be able to attest that we were present and that you are justified in doing what you did - if appropriate, and in doing so the conviction gets squashed.
  • Be aware though that *SOME* of the red light and speed cameras actually take a series of photos not just the ones you see on the ticket, anywhere up to 30 seconds afterwards. So if you make a false declaration that you were giving way to an emergency vehicle, than you are also subject to making a false statement under the Oaths Act.
  • In short, if it is safe, you are not going to get in trouble for getting out of the way, even if it means mildly speeding or running a red light. Failure to get out of the way when it is safe to do so is a criminal offence. If you do get charged when acting in good faith, you will usually get the support of the relevant service to get rid of the charge. Edit by another Ambulance Officer - (Note legislation states "...only if safe to do so." Which means if there is an accident then you are at fault because it obviously wasn't safe to do so.)
  • Police are out to do whats best for the community, not the persecution crap that some people think they are about. I work with police, and they are reasonable, sensible and intelligent people.
  • I scrape up people who thought they were better drivers than most and who should be allowed to do whatever they like on the roads.

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