Tougher laws imposed for international drivers in Victoria

By Our Reporter
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Penalties for temporary visa holders who do not convert to a Victorian Driving Licence before 29 April, or within 6 months of arrival

In 2018, more than half a million migrants arrived in Australia under temporary visas. In most states and territories, they can legally drive on Australian roads if they hold an overseas drivers’ licence. International drivers face a mess of rules on arrival though, depending on which state they settle in and where they came from.

After a federal review, Austroads suggested states bring international driving rules for temporary visas into line with requirements for other visa holders and interstate drivers. Victoria is the first state to implement changes to make laws based on length of residency, rather than visa status.

Under new changes, temporary visa holders in Victoria will need to convert to a Victorian Driving Licence before 29 April, or within 6 months of their arrival or they will face severe penalties. Depending on where their licence is from, this may mean sitting theoretical and practical tests in Victoria. This law came into effect 29 October, 2019.

The tough new changes by the Department of Transport are aimed at improving Victorian road safety as “crash data indicates 2.7% of fatal and injury crashes in Victoria involve international drivers” (also Vicroads).

“International drivers on temporary visas need to take these changes very seriously, and act now to change their licence over to avoid penalties. We expect that lesson and test bookings will quickly fill up as the 6-month deadline approaches in April, and drivers may get caught out and unable to take the test in time,” says Jacques Lepron, Driverli CEO. Sydney-based Driverli’s online tool helps international drivers navigate the maze of rules and requirements.

Food deliveries at risk with thousands of drivers potentially affected by new laws.

Businesses relying on international students and temporary visa holders working as delivery drivers with international licences may be impacted by the new laws.

Delivery businesses such as couriers and food delivery are reported to have up to 75% of their delivery drivers on temporary visas (including include international students, working holiday and bridging visas). This means the additional requirements may hit hard if drivers either fail to convert their licences or attempt to keep driving unlicenced.

The department added that businesses will be held responsible if one of their employees is driving illegally with an international driving licence. They explain: “If they do not check this, they could be committing a serious offence by allowing an unlicensed person to drive.”(Dept of Transport).

“The new rules will improve international drivers’ knowledge of local road rules, making the community safer as a whole,” says Lepron. “At Driverli, our students understand they must unlearn some of their driving habits to learn the unique local driving rules and behaviour. This is vital to achieve road safety and we hope other States will follow.”

Lepron adds, “Navigating each Australian State licence information websites can be difficult to the point some people end up driving illegally without knowing it. This situation creates road safety issue. We have updated our online tool to reflect the Victorian driving licence law change.”

 

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