Once you have your licence, you have the keys to freedom and it’s time to head off on your first road trip. Exciting times. You’ve packed your bags but what about your car?
What should you check to prepare for your trip?
1. Tyre pressures
The most common problem that you are likely to have when you head out on a road trip is a flat tyre. A couple of days before you go, check the tyre pressures with a reliable gauge and fill to the pressure recommended in the owner’s manual or tyre placard on the vehicle. If you find that one tyre is lower than the others, have it inspected for a leak before setting off. Don’t forget to check the spare tyre too. There is nothing worse than changing a tyre by the side of the freeway only to find that there is no air in the tyre you just fitted!
2. Tools and Jack
Make sure that you know where the tools and the jack for the car are. If you have never changed a wheel, it is probably a good idea to have a go at jacking the vehicle up and removing a wheel before you head off. By doing this you can test and confirm that all the tools you will need are with the car and in working order.
3. Fluid Levels
Depending on how old your car is, you should check the fluid levels. Use the owner’s manual to identify where the following fluids can be checked:
Power steering oil
Windscreen washer water
If you find any fluids are low, top up the fluid and have a mechanic check for leaks.
Often on a road trip some of your driving may be at night. On the freeway or on country roads there are no street lights. You will need rely on the quality of your headlights. Make sure that your headlights are working on both high and low beam and also check that the lights aim where you want them. While you are at it, check all the other lights on the vehicle, they will help you to be seen!
5. Carry Water and Food
It is good practice to carry some water and food with you out on the road. The amounts will vary depending on how remote you are heading. 10L of water and some food is good to have with you. The water can be used for hydration if you are stranded or can be used to top up overheating cooling systems to get you a bit further down the road.
Lastly, make sure that you have enough fuel for the trip. If there is an accident or a natural hazard like a flood or bushfire, you may have to take a detour. If you only have enough fuel to get you to your endpoint, you may end up stranded on the side of the road.
Keeping your driver’s licence ensures that you still have the freedom to move around. Older drivers licensing in NSW is set up so that there is a balance between the safety of road users and the general community with the continuing independence and mobility of older drivers.
Here is an outline of the requirements:
From 75 years, in order to keep their licence, all drivers need to undertake a yearly medical review with their General Practitioner to see if they are medically fit to drive.
Medical Review Forms are posted out by the RMS. If you do not undertake this medical review you cannot drive.
From 85 years, drivers still need to take a yearly medical review but have two options regarding their licence:
- Taking out a modified licence
- Keeping the unrestricted licence
A modified licence lets you keep driving, with restricted circumstances. These circumstances are usually time and distance restrictions and are printed on your licence. You must comply with these conditions.
By choosing a modified licence, you won’t need to sit any tests.
You can opt to drive within a certain radius from your home, or restricted to certain times of the day. These options should be discussed with your GP and your family to see what’s best for you.
When you are ready, visit your local Service NSW office to discuss options.
To keep your unrestricted licence from 85 years, you will need to pass a practical assessment every second year.
The practical assessment must be completed two months prior to your birth date and up to one month after.
If you do not complete this assessment or apply for a modified licence, you cannot drive.
There are two options for the Practical Driver Assessment:
- You can do a driving test with a Roads and Maritime testing officer. You can have up to three attempts free of charge. After three failed attempts, the applicant must obtain a Learner’s Licence and can only drive with a licenced driver beside them in the car.
- You can choose to be assessed by a Trent Older Driver Assessor. There is no limit to the number of Trent Older Driver Assessments you can attempt.
If you fail the test or assessment, you can still choose to have a modified licence.
Choosing to stop driving
If at any stage you decide that you would like to stop driving altogether, you can return your licence to a registry or service centre, or post it to Roads and Maritime with a short covering letter advising of your decision
You can apply for a NSW Photo Card, if you still need photo identification. There is no charge for a NSW Photo Card, if you are handing in your drivers licence.
For further information click on the following links:
Older driver handbook