Western Australia observes the same driving laws and regulations as the rest of Australia.
The Road Rules
Vehicles travel on the left hand side of the road and wearing of seatbelts is compulsory. Accidents do happen and you are much better off "belted up". Make sure that you and all your passengers wear seatbelts.
When approaching roundabouts you must give way to vehicles already in the roundabout. Always use the left hand indicator prior to exiting.
U-Turns are not permitted at traffic lights unless there is a displayed 'U-turn permitted' sign.
You are required to give way to a public bus and always be alert when approaching a railway crossing, country trains do not always run to schedule.
You are permitted to drive on a current out-of-state or overseas licence for a period of one year. If you hold an out-of-state or overseas driver's licence it must be carried with you when you are driving and produced on demand to a police officer if requested.
It is illegal to use your mobile phone if you are driving, unless you are making or receiving calls 'hands free'.
Safe Driving Tips
Plan your trip in advance and make sure you:
Get a good night's sleep before departing
Stay somewhere overnight if you are on a long journey
Share the driving if you can
Plan to travel for no longer than eight or ten hours a day
Take a twenty minute power nap when drowsy
Stop at a roadhouse for a coffee break and to stretch
Don't drive during hours when you are normally asleep
Speed limits vary across the State; however the maximum limit is 110 kilometres per hour. It is an offence to travel above the speed limit.
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, 1.5 hour periods at the beginning and end of the school day.
Freeways and highways vary from 80 kilometres to 110 kilometres per hour.
The Western Australia Police Service employs radar and other speed monitoring devices, and fines are enforceable - even for visitors.
Unsealed roads can change condition quickly without warning. Dust can obscure other vehicles, so slowing down on dirt roads is the safest option.
Western Australia experiences heavy rains and there are usually several cyclones each year that create flooding and sometimes destroy crossings. Some Western Australian roads are subject to flash flooding. Check the depth, force of the water and look for submerged objects before crossing. Do not cross if the water level is to deep or fast flowing.
Alcohol and Drugs
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 per cent, in order to drive within the legal limit.
For further information go to the Alcohol Laws page.
Driver fatigue is a major road safety hazard. The most dangerous time for driver fatigue is between midnight and 0600. In this time you are twenty times more likely to have a crash.
Take regular breaks at least every two hours to walk and have a stretch and get plenty of sleep the night before.
If you are feeling sleepy stop immediately and take a break, once fatigue sets in, there is nothing you can do about it except stop immediately and take a break or a nap.
Long Distance Driving
Long stretches of road, and wide open spaces can lead to unintentional speeding, so you need to be aware.
For drivers not used to the conditions, and not taking adequate rest breaks, the combination of warm sun through the windscreen, long, straight sections of road, the soothing hum of wheels and lack of traffic, can have a hypnotic effect.
There is 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. Search for tour operators.
World's Longest Trucks
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 vehicles can stretch for almost 50 metres.
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.
Once you have made the decision to pass do it as quickly, efficiently and safely as possible. Be patient. Only pass if you are sure the road is clear, be prepared to wait for a passing lane!
Western Australia also has some of the largest oversize loads in the world. The width may cover more than one side of the road.
Depending on the dimensions and mass, oversize loads may be escorted by pilots and police. If you encounter such a situation, you are legally required to follow the instructions indicated by the pilots / police to assist the safe passage of the load.
If you are going to tow a caravan, trailer or boat make sure you know the legal load limit for your vehicle and make sure your load is well secured. Heavy or poorly secured loads can cause rollovers and accidents.
The legal speed limit outside a built-up area, unless otherwise signposted, for a vehicle towing a trailer or caravan is 100 kilometres per hour.
Nearly 50 per cent of vehicle crashes reported to police in outback Western Australia are vehicle versus animal. Even a minor collision with an animal can disable your vehicle and require expensive repairs.
Many Australian animals such as kangaroos are more active during dusk and dawn. It is best to travel during the day and slow down in populated areas. If you see an animal on the road in front of you, brake firmly in a straight line and sound your horn. Do not swerve as it is safer to stay on the road.
For further information on road safety please visit the Office of Road Safety website.
Another helpful resource is the Department of Regional Development and Lands' Travelling in Outback Western Australia.