Most of us have gone for a drive in Australia. Not to the shops, or from one suburb to another, but a serious drive, either across a state or even multiple states. One thing we can all agree on, Australia is a big country and the distance between cities and lack of train lines mean that unless you jump on a plane, going for a long drive is the most likely way you’ll ever get anywhere.
With that in mind, driver safety is more important than ever and now that the mercury is dropping and more people are heading for the mountains, here are some safety tips when going for a drive this winter:
1. Prepare yourself and your car
The most important thing you can do before any trip is get a good night’s sleep before your journey, but even more so when you are travelling long distances. If you’re going to be doing a lot of driving, understand that it may take a little longer then you expected to reach your destination. Take short breaks every 2 hours to improve concentration and have plenty of water on hand to stay refreshed.
2. Be mindful of stopping distances
Always leave plenty of room between you and the vehicle in front at all times, particularly when trucks, buses or people towing trailers or caravans are ahead of you. These vehicles usually need more time to stop. You should also consider the weather conditions as stopping in the rain, in wet weather or on icy roads requires much more time.
3. Up the pressure
Regularly checking your tyre pressure is important because low tyre pressure increases the chances of a blow-out dramatically. Blow-outs at speed make it very hard to control your car and are a major cause of accidents on highways and freeways.
4. It’s no use cap’n, I cannae see where I’m going
This might seem like a no brainer but many people head off on drives with either foggy windows, too much gear in their car or other things blocking the windows. If the morning is frosty, run the demister for a bit before heading off to clear the frost. Use this tip to help prevent icy-windows on frosty mornings. Do not use warm water, as this may cause your windscreen to crack.
5. Warning Will Robinson!
Just so you know, the warning lights on your car’s dashboard are there for a reason. They’re not a guide and ignoring them is a pretty big safety risk. If one comes on, it’s best to stop the car and take a note of which warning light has come on. It’s always a good idea to keep your car’s manual in the glove box to refer to when needed. Not all warnings are well lit, so be mindful if your vehicle is doing anything that is a little out of the ordinary, like vibrating or making strange noises.