Capital city traffic varies in each state. Yet, there are a few things each city has in common.
Peak travel times
Peak traffic times now extend well beyond ‘peak hour’; this is pretty much a given in every city in the world.
In the morning, some cities have peak traffic time starting around 7am and not ending until after 9:30am. Then, again in the afternoon, any time between 3pm and 7pm can be a time of very heavy traffic.
The afternoon peak time can run longer as most Australian schools finish between 3:00 and 3:30pm, meaning that the time school pickup time collides with people travelling home from work.
Avoid peak time if you can
So, if possible, avoid driving in peak times if you’re visiting a capital city. However, if you’re driving to work, it can be hard to avoid peak traffic times.
And if you can’t
The only advice is to allow for plenty of time to reach your destination, ensure you know the best route to get there, and a few alternatives.
If possible, tune into a local radio station in your car that provides regular traffic updates. This can give you up-to-date information about delays, break downs, accidents and other events that can make peak traffic worse.
Seat belts, road rules and speed limits
It is compulsory to wear a seat belt at all times when driving anywhere in Australia.
Driving after drinking alcohol or taking drugs is treated very seriously in all parts of Australia, with heavy penalties enforced, including imprisonment.
Each state has similar yet different speed limits and road rules. Speed limits are signed on all roads. However, the best advice is to check the road rules online for each capital city before you drive.
Cameras are used in capital cities to check speed and to ensure that red lights are obeyed. Photos of vehicles that violate the speed rules and red lights are used to generate fines. Multiple violations can result in the loss of your licence.
Driving in and around schools in capital cities and, in all towns and cities involve reduced speed limits compared to other streets and roads. These speed limits are in place any time that a school operates and are designed to minimize the risk of accidents occurring near schools.
In each state and capital city, the speed limit in school zones is 40km/hour. The one exception is in Adelaide where the limit is 25km/hour.
Brisbane has several major roads that lead in and out of the city. There are motorways, bridges and tunnels with and without tolls.
Tolls are paid in two ways:
- If you are living in Brisbane, you can obtain an electronic tag that is linked to your back account and fees are automatically paid when you use any of these routes
- Or, after the event, you will need to go online and pay the fees. Each route will have signs that indicate where you need to go online to make the payment.
The Brisbane CBD is a grid of streets named after English royalty. Several of these streets are one-way only, so ensure that you know your exact route.
Parking in the CBD is on street and in parking stations, both of which can be expensive. In the suburbs, parking is unmetered and usually easy to find. Most shopping centres outside of the CBD provide free or low-cost parking.
Sydney is Australia’s oldest and most populous city, and the traffic reflects this. The older parts of the city have small, winding roads that sometimes abruptly end.
There are many tolls roads, tunnels and bridges across the city. Similar to Brisbane, you can acquire an electronic tag for your vehicle or pay after you have travelled.
Parking in some parts of Sydney is difficult. City parking is expensive and, in many inner suburbs, permits are needed to park near your home. Guest parking in these areas may not be permitted and fines can be imposed if you are caught. Always read the signs to ensure you can park in the spot you have found.
Like Sydney and Brisbane, there are toll roads and bridges in the city. Peak hour lasts a long time, parking is expensive and restricted to residents in some areas.
However, in Melbourne you also have to contend with trams on many city and suburban roads. In most areas, the trams share the road with the cars.
This means that when the tram stops and the lights are flashing, you must stop behind the tram. This is to allow passengers to safely enter and exit the tram.
Having trams sharing the road also means that at some intersections in the CBD, in order to turn right, you are required to pull into a lane to the left and then perform a hook turn. It can be quite disconcerting the first time you do this, but the intersections have lights that indicate when to wait and, when to turn.
Driving in Adelaide is slightly less congested than the other, larger cities outside of peak travel times. Parking is also easier compared to other capital cities.
South Australia has slightly different road rules around things like U-turns at traffic lights. Speed limits may also be lower than in other capital cities.
Outside of peak traffic times, Perth is an easy city to navigate. Like other large cities, parking can be hard to locate and expensive. Check your route, know alternatives and, understand the local road rules to avoid traffic hotspots in this capital city.
Although it’s a small city, the traffic in Hobart can be very congested in peak times. This is due to the fact that almost all roads lead through the city centre, rather than having inner city bypasses. This will mean patience and planning for your route will be an essential part of driving in this capital city.
Driving in this capital city is easy outside of the peak travel periods. There are many options for parking in the CBD and surrounding suburbs.
Each capital city has different traffic hotspots and the most useful advice is:
- Obey the road rules for the capital city
- Know which route you need to take, and have a back up plan
- Listen to a local radio station for regular traffic updates