With current international travel restrictions in place due to COVID-19 and expected to remain in place for some time, now is a great opportunity to explore your backyard here in Western Australia.
Driving long distances, however, often means long periods behind the wheel on high-speed roads presenting a host of risks that can be potentially lethal if you don’t take the necessary precautions.
So, before you pack up the car and family for a weekend away in the South West of WA check out our handy safe driving tips to help get to your destination safely.
Get Familiar With Road Conditions and Know Your Route
Spend some time mapping the route you’re going to take on your trip down south. Whether you use a traditional road map or Google Maps, you’ll be presented with a few options of how you can get there. Decide before you set off so that you’re more likely to pay attention to the road rather than your map, sat nav or mobile phone. If you need to look at your device or map, pull over your vehicle when it’s safe to do so.
The weather can get hairy in the South West creating an additional risk when driving. Try and plan your drive around when the conditions are safest. You can use the Main Roads Travel Map to view the latest updates in the region you’re travelling to, it also has a handy journey planning feature.
Similarly, to metro driving keep left on country roads which have more than 1 lane unless you’re overtaking. If you are wanting to overtake, never accelerate past the listed speed limit and only ever overtake when you’re sure it’s safe to do so.
If you’re in a truck or caravan it’s better to wait until you have access to an overtaking lane before trying to do so. Limited vision of what’s ahead of you may increase accident risk.
On roads where there is only one lane, you can only overtake when the line down the middle of the road is broken. Continuous white centre lines indicate that it isn’t safe to overtake.
While it’s easy to get frustrated sitting behind other cars, trucks and caravans following these simple road rules will help ensure a safe journey.
Watch Out For Wildlife
It’s not uncommon to see kangaroos on the road, especially when driving at sunrise or sunset.
Expect the unexpected when driving on country roads especially during these times. Animals’ movements can be unpredictable so if you see one near the road demonstrate caution, slow down or sound your horn and don’t swerve around it as gravel roads can cause you to lose control and potentially crash.
Fatigue is a major factor in causing accidents on rural roads. Driver fatigue can lower your reaction time which can be particularly dangerous when travelling at speeds up to 110km/h.
Some early signs of your fatigue might include:
- Finding it difficult to keep your eyes open
- Losing focus
- Not remembering the last few kilometres of driving
- Stiffness or cramps
- Slower reaction times
If you are feeling fatigued on your journey down south keep an eye out for a Driver Reviver location where you can enjoy a free cup of coffee and take a break from driving to rest and refresh.
Alternatively, consider delaying your journey until you’re well-rested and feeling ready to make the drive.
Driving in the country means travelling on roads that are vastly different from your everyday commute to work. Any number of hazards can arise from train tracks, unpaved surfaces or even bends or turns.
Exhibit extra precaution because all these hazards will require your full attention on the roads. Keep a safe distance between you and the vehicle in front of you and drive below the posted speed limit if you’re on unfamiliar roads. If you happen to be driving at night increase your visibility by driving with your headlights on as this will help oncoming traffic know you are there.
Take It Slow
Finally, take it slowly.
There’s no rush getting to your destination and half the fun is the journey. Travel at a sensible pace that’s within your limit of skills as a driver and ensure you have ample time to respond to any hazards that might arise.
Living in Western Australia we’re spoilt for choice with road trip destinations in the south-west region. Hitting the road with your family or friends can be a lot of fun but the dangers of country driving should never be underestimated. Manage your risk by making good decisions and taking responsibility for your behaviour when making the journey. Most importantly remember to have a good time!
In the unfortunate event you do have an accident when travelling down south, Gino’s Panel and Paint can help. Our team of professionals are approved smash repairers for Western Australia’s best insurance providers including RAC and Allianz and are committed to getting you back on the road faster. Talk to our friendly staff today to find out more.