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Australians drive on the left hand side of the road with drivers seated on the right hand side of the car. Driving laws are strictly enforced in Victoria and personal and public safety is a high priority.
The speed limit in residential streets ranges from 40 to 70 kilometres per hour (km/h). School areas have a 40km/h speed limit from Monday to Friday during the school term:
Speeds on major roads range from 60 to 80km/h, and up to 110km/h on country roads and highways, unless signs indicate otherwise.
Seatbelts must be worn by all drivers and passengers in cars. There are also specific rules about children and child-restraints (or car seats) in Victoria. Most car seats brought from overseas don't comply with this standard, and are not approved for use in Victoria.
All cyclists and motorcyclists must wear a helmet on the road.
Driving under the influence of alcohol and other drugs is not tolerated. By law, fully licensed drivers must not drive if their blood alcohol level is 0.05 percent or higher. Probationary licence holders must have a 0.0 reading. Random breath testing is common on Victorian roads.
It is illegal to use a hand-held mobile (cell) phone when driving. You must use a hands-free earpiece or pull over to the side of the road to use your mobile phone.
An overview of all Victoria's road rules is available on the VicRoads website.
You can drive in Victoria without a Victorian driver's licence for the duration of your stay providing you have a valid International Driver Permit or overseas licence.
For more information on licence requirements for temporary visa holders, visit the VicRoads website.
You must apply for a Victorian driver's licence within three months of arriving (or from the time a permanent visa was issued to you).
To change over to a Victorian licence, you will need to undertake:
In some cases, you may be exempt from the tests. For more information about the test and exemptions, visit the VicRoads website.
The vehicle you drive must be registered with VicRoads. The cost of the registration of a car will vary according to the cost of the car and where you live. All registered vehicles in Victoria must have a roadworthy certificate. Visit the VicRoads website.
When you register your car, part of the cost is the Transport Accident Charge (TAC charge or TAC Premium). This is Compulsory Third Party (CTP) insurance. Transport accident charges are used to pay for treatment and support services for people injured in transport accidents but does not cover damage to cars. For more information on the transport accident charge, visit the Transport Accident Commission (TAC) website.
It is recommended that you purchase car insurance. There are many different insurers in Victoria that offer insurance across three levels:
For more information on car insurance, visit the MoneySmartwebsite.
The Melway is the most commonly used street directory for driving in Victoria. It covers all of Melbourne and its suburbs, and much of regional Victoria. Directions are often given in terms of their Melway map reference. The RACV and VicRoads also produce the RACV VicRoads Country Street Directory of Victoria,which provides detailed maps of Victoria's regional centres.
Maps and street directories are available at bookshops, service stations (petrol/gas stations), post offices and convenience stores. Free, online street maps and directions are available at Whereis.com.au or Street-directory.com.au.
A range of in-car navigation and portable GPS devices are also available with maps of Victoria.
There are different types of fuel (gas) options for cars. All cars built from 1986 onwards use unleaded fuel. Cars built prior to 1985 use lead-free super fuel or unleaded fuel with a supplement added. Unleaded fuel is available in two options at most service stations - regular and premium. Diesel is widely available as is liquid petroleum gas (LPG). Many people have cars converted to LPG as it is cheaper.
Many service stations are now offering unleaded fuel blended with up to 10 percent ethanol, which is made from renewable resources.
Tolls are charged on some Melbourne roads, including the CityLink freeways and Eastlink. To use these tollways you must either open an account (and receive a remote monitoring device, called an eTag, to attach to the car) or buy a pass before you travel on the tollway.
If you forget to purchase a pass prior to travel, you have three days to purchase a pass before you are issued with a fine.
The Royal Automobile Club of Victoria (RACV) is Victoria's largest car owner's organisation. Membership services include roadside service assistance, towing and vehicle testing. For more information, visit the RACV website.