Australia – vast, remote and beautiful. It’s both a country and a continent; a place where neighbouring towns are sometimes separated by hundreds of miles; a place where it’s not unusual to go days without coming across another living soul in the most far-flung corners of the country.
All that landmass makes for some epic drives – but with winter just around the corner, there’s more to think about than just the scenery you’ll see along the way. Whether you’re planning a trip to the shops or a trip across the country in your budget rental car, we’ve put together a list of winter driving tips to help you stay safe on the road and get where you’re going without a hitch.
This is important at every time of year, but especially important during the winter months when the weather is particularly unpredictable; always prepare for the journey ahead. Make sure you’re rested and alert and have taken some time to acquaint yourself with the directions if you haven’t travelled on that route before. Keep water, snacks, a torch and something warm in the car in case anything goes wrong, and if you’re feeling tired on the road then pull over and take a break. Treacherous driving conditions mean you need to be as alert as possible, so don’t be proud – if you can, take a break every few hours and leave yourself extra time to get there so you don’t feel stressed or overcome with exhaustion.
Winterise your car
Before the worst of the winter weather hits it’s a good idea to make sure your car is winter-proof. Check your windscreen wipers are in good condition and all your lights are working. Keep an eye out for any engine lights on the dashboard and upgrade to tires with extra traction if you’re going to be driving regularly in wet and wintery conditions. Before a long drive, take a quick walk around; check your tyre pressure, oil and water and make sure everything is in good working condition before you set off.
Leave enough room
Poor visibility, rain, fog, wildlife and icy roads are just a few things you might face on the roads of Australia during the winter. Leave plenty of room between yourself and the car in front of you in case someone needs to stop quickly. Buses, trucks, caravans and trailers all need more time and space to come to a complete stop. Leaving plenty of room will help make sure everyone stays safe, even in slippery conditions.
It seems obvious, do you practice it? One of the best things you can do to stay safe on the roads is to slow down and take your time. Roads can be more slippery than they appear and poor visibility can cause delays on busier roads. Leave yourself plenty of extra time to get to your destination and take the drive at a slow and steady pace.
Copyright: Rovenko Photo
Drive in daylight
Fewer daylight hours mean it’s not always possible to drive when the sun is still out, but it’s still best to avoid too much night driving in the winter if you can. Plan your journeys during the day when it’s still light out – heavy rain, snow, and ice are all much easier to drive in when it’s still light enough to see the road ahead of you.
You can provide your car with extra traction in particularly snowy regions by fitting chains on the driving wheels. The diamond pattern on the chains will give you some extra grip, but work best on low speeds and only when tyres are in good condition. Some areas will require tyre chains by law so make sure to check ahead if you’ll be travelling in an alpine region – if you do need chains, it’s easiest to fit them when you’re parked rather than when you’re already part way through the journey.
What are your top winter driving tips? Let us know in the comments section below!