Given the current state of things across the globe, travel seems to be something we’ll be doing more of by car and closer to home than we’ll be able to do by plane and further abroad for some time to come…
Luckily, we have so much in the way of natural beauty, vibrant cities, entertainment, turquoise beaches, rivers, forests and bushland to explore here in our own backyard – without needing to venture more than a couple of hours away from home!
Australia is an epicentre of extremes – the unforgiving outback and oceans, dangerous animals and extreme weather all present great potential to derail your fun adventure.
Whether you’re driving in an unfamiliar location or caught up in a torrential downpour, here are some seasonal driving tips on how to manage the many situations you may encounter whilst travelling the countryside.
Driving in wet or hazardous weather
We’ve all been there when a sudden, torrential downpour hits out of nowhere and you can barely see 2 feet in front of you. Making things worse, moisture brought inside (like being rained on just prior to climbing in) evaporates and settles on the cool glass, fogging it up and making simple tasks, like turning into traffic, extremely dangerous.
To improve safety when driving in wet weather:
- Make sure the windscreen is kept clean inside and out.
- Ensure the windscreen wipers are in good condition.
- Turn the headlights on to low beam.
- Use the air conditioner to prevent the windscreen from fogging up.
- If there’s no air-conditioner, use the heater demister and, if necessary, open the windows.
- Do not use your fingers or a dirty rag to clear a fogged-up window.
- Increase the gap between you and the car in front to 4 seconds. Remember, it takes much longer to stop when the road is wet.
Driving in fog
Fog forms when water vapour condenses into tiny water droplets that are suspended in the air – often, just above the ground. Fog settled over the road can severely impact your ability to see what’s ahead of you.
It can be tempting to put your lights on high beam, but that makes things worse by the light reflecting back at you as it hits the tiny water droplets.
To improve safety when driving in fog:
- Dip your headlights so you can see more easily.
- Drive slowly.
- Maintain a safe distance from other cars, increasing the gap between you and the car in front so you can stop safely.
- Use fog lights if you have them.
- Do not stop in the middle of the road. If you can’t see ahead, those behind you won’t see that you’ve stopped either, so pull over to the side.
Driving near bushfires
Bushfire smoke can greatly impact your ability to see the road. Where possible, avoid driving near bushfire by seeking an alternate route.
If you are caught near one, remember these tips:
- If surrounded by fire, park in the most cleared area possible–away from tall grass, trees, shrubs, dried leaves or buildings.
- Try to park with the rear-facing towards the oncoming fire.
- Close all windows and air vents tightly.
- Shelter on the floor and cover yourself with blankets or floor mats.
- Only emerge from the vehicle once sure that you are upwind of the blaze.
The roads are more crowded during peak holiday periods so remember these tips for a safe and happy journey:
- Share the driving if possible.
- Take rest breaks regularly. A good excuse to stop off and see the sights!
- Take a power nap if you’re feeling tired or drowsy. You’d be surprised at how energised you’ll feel after closing your eyes for 20 minutes.
- Don’t drive at times you’d normally be asleep.
- Ensure your car is well maintained and serviced before a lengthy trip.
- Ensure all tyres (including the spare) are inflated to the correct pressure.
- Ensure windows and lights are kept clean to ensure optimum visibility.
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