As winter approaches, it’s a good time to review some top tips for safe driving in all weather conditions. The climate across Australia varies greatly; while there’s snow and ice blanketing some Tasmanian, Victorian and New South Wales roads, across the top of the country, it’s hot hot hot! Most of us drive every day and while we should be relaxed while driving, we shouldn’t become lackadaisical about safe driving in any weather condition.
Snow, sleet, rain and other wet road conditions
– Even a light sprinkle can make roads slippery, especially after oil and other substances build up on the road over a long, hot, dry summer so take extra care even in mild weather.
– Always slow down in wet weather; knocking a few kilometres off the speedo will give you more time to judge the conditions and act in the case of a sudden change in the road ahead. Often, wet weather conditions affect visibility so make sure you keep your eyes peeled, reduce your speed or, if conditions are extreme and it’s safe to do so, pull over and wait for the weather conditions to ease.
– Turn your headlights on – it not only increases your ability to see the road conditions but also to be seen by other drivers.
– Increase the distance between you and other vehicles to give yourself extra braking distance.
– Storms often result in debris on the roads; take care to avoid objects that may litter the road after a storm, including tree branches, rubbish bins and power cables. If you come across a downed power line, do not get out of your vehicle or approach it in any way – call 000 and alert the local authorities.
– Localised flash flooding may also occur during or following wet weather. Never attempt to cross a flooded road or bridge.
– Avoid driving in hail; your visibility may be compromised and your vehicle damaged during hail storms. Seek cover for your vehicle and wait it out.
– Many roads around Australia, particularly in rural and remote areas, are unsealed. Wet conditions may mean muddy roads, so if you’re attempting to navigate these roads, a four-wheel drive is essential.
– Always heed road caution signs; if snow chains are recommended for mountainous snow-prone areas, take notice and fit your car as appropriate.
Fog, Frost, Smoke and Ice
– Always use your lights in foggy/smoky conditions; if you have fog lights, use these too.
– Allow extra time to get your destination. Whatever the changed road conditions, if everyone’s proceeding cautiously, it will take longer to get to your destination. Be patient and plan for your journey to take longer than usual.
– Increase your braking distance and the distance between your car and the car in front of you. Fog decreases your ability to see other objects and hazards on the road, so give yourself more time to react without causing an incident.
– Clear frost off your windscreen, windows and side mirrors to ensure you maintain full visibility.
– Beware of black ice. Black ice accumulates on roads when surface moisture or dew freezes on the road surface. Black ice is nearly invisible and is extremely dangerous, so proceed with caution along roads that may be affected by black ice.
– Check your coolant. If you have low coolant levels, your engine temperature will go up- and that’s pretty bad in extreme weather! Fix this by flushing your radiator and adding coolant. – If you start seeing a puddle underneath your car, this is probably your coolant- so take it to a mechanic ASAP.
– Check your tyres. Tyres are extremely sensitive to heat, so make sure there’s adequate tread for traction and always check tyre pressure.
– Don’t leave kids or animals in a car unattended, even with the windows down.
– Plan ahead and make sure your car is properly maintained. Check the oil and fluid levels before departing on long journeys.
– Check your windscreen wipers; we often forget about these small, inexpensive safety devices but they are key to visibility in many types of weather, so it’s worth replacing them regularly.
– Make sure you have a spare tyre and the tools and knowledge to replace a flat tyre, if necessary.
– Consider Roadside Assistance. Roadside Assistance cover protects you against a breakdown and will make sure you’re not left stranded on the side of the road, no matter what the weather conditions!
Although the climate is different state to state, we all experience varying road conditions throughout the year. Whatever the condition, driving a vehicle in inclement weather or in visibility compromised conditions requires extra concentration. Take these all-weather driving tips under consideration and stay safe on the roads.