Guide to Driving in WA

Western Australia is a vast state bigger than the whole of Western Europe.

A road trip through remote WA is an amazing experience and we know you’ll enjoy viewing our unique landscape, wildlife and Aboriginal culture, but we also urge you to drive carefully in unfamiliar conditions.

As the voice of road safety in WA, the Road Safety Commission is dedicated to tackling road crashes: one of the biggest and most sustained causes of death and injury in the community.

We are proud to have produced this brochure in conjunction with the Consulate of Italy in Perth, that is now available in nine different langauges.

Enjoy your travels in WA!

km/h speed zone where most fatalities occur in WA

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trucks are common in outback WA

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and 3 demerit points using a hand held mobile phone whilst driving

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of water minimum, per person per day when on outback trips.

Driver's licence

You must carry your current overseas licence and a translation, or an International Drivers’ Permit (IDP) with you while driving.

If your foreign licence does not have a photo ID, you should get an IDP before travelling to Australia if you intend to rent a car.

Use the right vehicle

If you are hiring or borrowing a car for a trip in WA, get advice on the best model for the road conditions.

If you purchase a vehicle, make sure it is in good mechanical order.

A four wheel drive (4WD) track is no place for a conventional vehicle.

Wildlife on the road

It is exciting to see Australian wildlife, but beware of roaming animals.

  • Kangaroos, cattle, camels and even large birds can stray onto the road or appear suddenly in front of your vehicle.
  • Put on your brakes and sound your horn.
  • Be aware that animals on the road will be unpredictable, sometimes heading towards your vehicle rather than away from it.
  • Drive slowly and do not try to swerve around an animal as you may lose control on the gravel verge.

Driving on gravel and sand

The roads outside WA cities and towns usually have gravel edges, or, further afield, are made up of red dirt and small stones.

Gravel is like ball-bearings under car tyres. Please slow down on bends and do not brake suddenly as you are likely to skid.

Be aware that gravel and dirt roads also create big clouds of dust and impede visibility, so keep a safe distance behind other vehicles.

Be prepared for dust and stones from cars travelling in the opposite direction.

Driving on sandy tracks requires plenty of skill and often the only suitable vehicle is a four-wheel-drive.

Sand tracks often form pockets like snow drifts which create extra hazard.

Low visibility

Hot and dry conditions in Western Australia make the beaches attractive, but they also create a bushfire risk. Avoid driving when there is smoke on the road.

Torrential rain in the wet season reduces visibility and increases risk on the roads. Switch on your headlights, use the vehicles windscreen wipers and do not attempt to cross flooded roads.

Plan your journey to avoid roads which have been affected by bushfire smoke or flooding. 

It is also dangerous to drive directly into the sun. Take a break until the sun rises higher in the sky, or in the evening, wait until the sun sets and drive within the visibility of your headlights.

Towing

  • If you are going to tow a caravan, trailer or boat, be 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.
  • Add 200kg to the weight shown on the vehicle licence paper to allow for bedding, travelling gear, stores and equipment.
  • The legal speed limit outside a built-up area, unless otherwise signposted, for a vehicle towing a trailer or caravan is 100 km/h.
  • If your car and caravan is more than 7.5m long you must keep at least 200m behind any similar car/caravan or long vehicle on all roads outside built-up areas, unless you are overtaking.
  • Be courteous and check regularly to see if traffic is building up behind you. If you are holding up traffic, pull over when it is safe to do so and allow the traffic to pass.
  • It is not recommended that you tow a caravan on unsealed roads in remote areas. If you take a camper-trailer, make sure it has four-wheel-drive tyres with a high clearance and can handle rough road surfaces.