Western Australia observes the same driving laws and regulations as the rest of Australia. Vehicles travel on the left hand side of the road and the wearing of seat belts in compulsory for all passengers.
Speed limits vary across the State, however the maximum limit is 110 kilometres per hour. Major metropolitan arterial roads are generally capped at 60 kilometres per hour while suburban streets are almost exclusively limited to 50 kilometres per hour. School zones are clearly marked and restricted to 40 kilometres per hour for two hour periods at the beginning and end of the school day. The Western Australian Police Service employs radar and other speed monitoring devices, and fines are enforceable – even for visitors.
Alcohol, drugs and driving are a lethal combination.
Western Australia has severe penalties for anyone caught driving under the influence of alcohol or other drug stimulants. Drivers must maintain a blood/alcohol level below 0.05%, in order to drive within the legal limit. Visit the Western Australian Department of Health’s website for further information on alcohol consumption and blood alcohol levels.
The long stretches of road, and wide open spaces – particularly in the outback – can lead to unintentional speeding, so you need to be aware. And for drivers not used to the conditions, and not taking adequate rest breaks, the combination of the warm sun through the windscreen, long, straight sections of road, the soothing hum of wheels and lack of traffic, can have a hypnotic effect.
Frequent stops and coffee breaks are recommended for anyone undertaking long distances, to refresh the driver and provide passengers with an opportunity to stretch their legs and have a look around.
Western Australia has plenty of native wildlife, so travellers need to be watchful for roaming animals such as kangaroos, cate and even large eagles that often settle on the road. Wildlife is more active around dusk and dawn, and are often confused by the sound of a vehicle, running towards the sound instead of away from it. The most effective way to keep the local wildlife and yourselves sales is to reduce your speed (particularly at dusk and dawn) and to be aware of unpredictable nature of animals.
Although Western Australia’s paved roads are among the best in the world, there are many gravel roads throughout the State, which pose challenges to drivers unused to driving in these conditions. Driving on gravel can be a lot like driving on snow and just as hazardous as it is easy to lose control of the vehicle. The best way to drive safely is to drive more slowly.
There are also the option of hiring a vehicle and travelling in the safety of a small convoy led by an expert guide. There are several reputable operators conducting tag-along tours in remote areas of Western Australia.
In the state’s north and east, road travellers will see some of the largest trucks on earth. Colloquially known as road trains, these massive vehivles can stretch for almost 50 meters. A combination of a prime mover truck with up to three large trailers, all sitting on a total of around 60 wheels – it’s an awesome sight.
Road trains travel up to a maximum of 100 kilometres per hour and may take more than a kilometre to stop. Drivers should also be aware that it can take around 30-45 seconds – and several kilometres – to overtake a fully laden road train safely so always allow plenty of open road.