Overseas campervanner in wrong-side-of road scare

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Wrong way driver
Police speak to a foreign tourist after a campervan was driven on the wrong side of the Princes Highway. PIC: Morgan Hancock/ Warrnambool Standard

Any grey nomad who has travelled in a country where they drive on the right hand side of the road will empathise with the horror experienced by an international tourist who suddenly realised he was going down the Princes Highway in his campervan.

Police in Warrnambool, Victoria, said the hapless sightseer pulled out of Jubilee Park onto the highway and briefly headed east in the west bound lanes.

Police told the Warrnambool Standard that once the driver realised he was driving on the wrong side of the road he pulled over on the side of the road and became bogged.

“As soon as he noticed and saw the errors of his ways he’s attempted to pull over,” the police spokesman said.

The campervan was later removed from the scene.

Police told the Standard that the driver was embarrassed by the incident and he would not receive any infringement or penalty notice.

Of course, this sort of incident does raise a number of concerns and there has previously been serious discussion about whether overseas tourists should be better educated before being allowed on roads in this country.

Just last December, a European tourist reportedly driving on the wrong side of the road was badly injured after colliding head-on with a truck on Cape Otway Rd at Wurdiboluc near the Great Ocean Road.

Regular users of the region’s tourist routes told media at the time that international motorists were a daily danger and that it was not uncommon to find tourists travelling on the wrong side of the road, often in hire cars they were not used to driving.

The Geelong Advertiser said limited knowledge of local roads, road laws and conditions were also a factor and, in some cases, drivers had difficulty reading English and understanding road signs.

“In 14 months we have had more than 34 people injured and two people are dead within a 20 kilometre radius from the Twelve Apostles,” Corangamite councillor Simon Illingworth said at the time. “We have international tourists driving hire cars on footpaths, stopping and parking on major arterial roads and highways for koala photo ­opportunities, 10-tonne Winnebagos photographed travelling at 80km/h on the wrong side of the road and hire cars driven and bogged on beaches.”

Cr Illingworth, a former police office, called for tough new laws and education programs. He said he would like to see:

  • Car impound laws strengthened to empower police to confiscate and seize vehicles driven dangerously because of a driver’s lack of road knowl­edge, driving experience, skill or capability;
  • Keep Left stickers manda­torily affixed to the steering wheels of all hire cars; and,
  • Driving information booklets written and distributed in relevant languages.

– Do you think overseas drivers should have to take a test before renting vehicles in Australia? Comment below.



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7 Responses to Overseas campervanner in wrong-side-of road scare

  1. Its not that simple.
    You may understand that your in a country that drives on the other side of the road as to your own, but when your not 100% concentrating instinct can take over and its very easy to make the mistake of choosing the wrong side when turning. The real danger is when entering the road from a property etc as you dont have the lines as a guide.

  2. I Agree…KEEP LEFT stickers on the steering wheel in a couple of other languages as well as English would be a bonus.

  3. Along the Great Ocean Road at sightseeing points there are signs stating ‘In Australia we drive on the left’, however for those overseas visitors stopping elsewhere there’s no reminders hence where the natural tendency to drive on the right kicks in. We saw this recently north of Jurien Bay in WA where a hire car pulled out from a lay-by onto the wrong side of the road as we passed. Also there’s no guarantee that overseas drivers will even understand ‘In Australia we drive on the left’ so agree that KEEP LEFT stickers with arrow diagram would have more effect.

  4. The steering must always be on the middle of road does not matter what country you are in

  5. Would go a long way to explaining the fatal head-ons involving backpackers in FNQ.

  6. The Mareeba Shire Council hand out free yellow wristbands to backpackers wear on their left wrist to remind them to drive on the left .. I have emailed government ministers to see it could be handed out to visitors on arrival into Australia if they intend to drive here but I think it’s fallen on blind eyes or deaf ears !!!!

  7. Why can’t we drive on the same side as majority of countries do? Only 35% drive on the left. Think of the billions saved in manufacturing cost.
    More importantly potentially lives saved by uniformity of driving on same side worldwide.

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