Whether you’re on a long road trip, driving a truck to deliver essentials or going to pick up friends from an airport, chances are you're going to be behind the wheel at some point during your time in Australia. While many road rules will be the same as those of your home country, there are a few exceptions that come into play from Australia being such a large and remote country. Therefore it's a pretty good idea to have some essential road safety tips when driving.
Driving in the Territory has some unique challenges, and it's effortless to tire of the miles and miles of thin scenery.
Old fashioned road trips are exciting, but travelling in Australia can be a challenge. Huge distances, vehicle problems, fatigue, wildlife – are a few of the things you may encounter along the way. There is a lot of 'nothing' between each of the major towns in the outback, so it's important to stay sharp. You may travel for hundreds of miles without coming across another vehicle.
1. Be alert:
If we think of rules as guidelines rather than stringent commands, we know when they are and aren’t applicable. Always allow yourself the flexibility to choose the most suitable response to any challenge faced while driving.
Always pay attention to your activities and those of the other drivers on the road. Don't assume what other drivers are going to do or think about what they should be doing. Even if you don't make mistakes, there are chances for other drivers to create one. So always stay alert be cautious while driving on the road for the safety of everyone.
2. Stay on the Left:
Yes, driving on the left-hand side of the road is an essential safety tip on the streets in Australia. It might sound like an obvious one, but this means it's an excellent tip to begin. Many people mistake forgetting it's different to their home country and often catches themselves swinging over to the right, especially at intersections or roundabouts. If you are new to driving in Australia, then staying on the left can be more complicated than you think, but it's something you’ll need to follow.
3. Be prepared:
Make sure you have the right vehicle for the trip. Before departure, it's essential to ensure that the car and its load are in good condition. That way, you've done everything possible to guarantee consistency and reduce the number of hold-ups. Always avoid time pressures and prepare in advance so the schedule will help in a smooth journey.
4. Maintain your vehicle:
Vehicle maintenance is a way to increase the life span of your vehicle, but you must be aware that it also prevents accidents due to mechanical problems. It's essential to ensure your vehicle servicing is up to date and the tyre pressure, oil and water levels have all been checked before you leave.
Vehicle maintenance also prevents unexpected breakdowns and you from getting stuck in the middle of the road without any help. So it is always good to make sure the car is in good condition before driving, especially on long trips. It would be best if you also have your vehicle checked up regularly by a certified mechanic.
5. Expect the unexpected:
Bush fires, Floods and cyclones can occur with the slightest warning. Check the weather reports and be aware of the road closures. If a road is closed, do not drive past the warning signs.
The weather in the northern parts of Australia is excessive. We have two seasons; The ‘wet’ and the ‘dry’. The Dry Season is usually the adequate time to travel in the outback. The weather is milder, often excellent, and hardly ever rains, so travel is more predictable.
The Wet Season is often irregular, and travel planning is riskier. When the monsoon rains come, roads are likely to be slippery and usually add-ons and other problems: When the weather is bad such as snowy, Rainy, or foggy conditions, take precautions before driving. Bad visibility caused by these conditions can lead to significant accidents. If the weather worsens, it is advisable to find a safe place to stay until the weather gets cleared.
6. You're tired, avoid driving:
You may be smart enough not to drink and drive, but did you know that driving when you’re tired or sleepy can be just as dangerous as driving while drunk?
Always ensure that you have taken enough sleep and feel active before driving, especially on long trips. Sleepiness impairs a person’s concentration, working memory and coordination skills — all key for safe driving.
According to studies, tiredness is a significant factor in more than 10% of accidents. Take a break of 15 minutes every two hours on long trips. If you are not confident about driving due to drowsiness, it is advisable to take an extended break until you feel fit. Tiredness can cause burning eyes and blurred vision leading you to make mistakes.
7. Stay within the speed limit:
Over speeding is the primary reason for significant accidents and Collisions. It is essential to follow the speed limit imposed on the road where you are driving. State authorities have set speed limits to regulate all the drivers on the road. These limits are determined based on the efficiency of the road and the history of accidents on it. The driver will lose control when speeding, and during abnormal situations, there won't be enough time to react to the conditions. So it is always best to follow the speed limits.
8. Handle intersections:
The best way to drive smoothly in traffic is to judge traffic flow and blend in. There’s no skill in rushing up to a red light and braking suddenly, but there is a skill in slowing speed early and judging the correct approach speed and gear so that you are still moving when the light turns green.
Traffic lights should always be approached with the idea that red light is a potential green one, but more notably, a green one is a potential red one. If you're looking sufficiently far ahead, then you'll know how long the light has been turned on. By approaching a roundabout in this method, you'll need only to steer and look as you drive through, instead of braking, gear changing and steering with one hand.
9. Watch out for animals:
Australia has many large wild and farmed animals that wander across the road right in front of you. This is a crucial safety tip for safe driving, especially if you’re going to be on the road in some more remote or rural areas. Particularly common during sunrise, sunset, and night, getting passengers to help to spot wildlife on the road can be a great tip. This is also a good reason you should keep your solo driving time at these most dangerous times of the day to a minimum. Even better if you can avoid driving during the nighttime or at dawn or dusk.
10. Avoid using mobile phones:
Distraction is the main reason for a driver to commit a mistake. Mobiles phones can always keep you distracted while driving. Texting or talking on the phone can disturb your focus on the road and other vehicles. So, avoid using mobile phones for the safety of everyone, including you. Australian state law implies that you are not even supposed to use phones for GPS purposes; either the phone is mounted or not.
Also, mobile phones are not the only distractions; avoid other distractions like operating a music player, doing makeup, watching billboards, etc.
So even if you're feeling fairly confident on the road here, it's probably a good idea to keep in mind these important safety tips for driving in Australia – to check you and your passengers are aware of all of them.
Drive safe in Australia and stay alive!