This Christmas I ventured further than I usually do over the busy holiday period. I faced the gauntlet and made my first Christmas trip to Melbourne in 10 years. What I witnessed was a reminder of why I usually avoid being on the roads at this busy time of year. It has prompted me to share with others some safe travelling tips, bearing in mind that courteous and safe driving behaviours reduce the risk of road trauma.
Follow the vehicle in front at a safe distance – do not tailgate. It is recommended that you leave at least two seconds between you and any vehicle ahead. If towing, allow a larger gap as heavier rigs require a longer stopping distance. Remember, the faster you drive, the longer it takes to stop.
Ensure that your towing vehicle is in top mechanical condition. When did you last check the trailer wheel bearings? I lost count of the broken down trailers left on the roadside. It’s a long distance to the nearest repair shop when out of telephone range and on country roads.
When overtaking lanes appear, it is not a signal for you to increase your speed unless you want to overtake. An overtaking lane gives other drivers the opportunity to pass you legally and safely if you have not been sitting on the speed limit. It is ridiculous how many drivers I noticed sitting on 80km/h in a 100km/h zone, and then magically increased their speed once double lanes appeared. Of course once the road was back to one lane these drivers reduced their speed again - frustrating!
Be aware of what is going on behind you. If you are not comfortable sitting on the speed limit, pull off the road when it is safe to do so to allow traffic build up to overtake you. At one point in time, I was stuck behind a slow caravan who had at least four opportunities to safely pull over to allow traffic to pass. Perhaps he was not aware of the 1km of traffic behind him. He did not even pull over at Cann River, and continued at his slow steady pace. At one overtaking lane, only two vehicles were able to pass the driver because he then decided to increase his speed. Of course he decreased it again when the road went back to one lane.
Remember the road rule ‘left in a multiple lane road unless overtaking’. Again, this gives drivers the opportunity to safely overtake slow moving vehicles.
Manage fatigue by sharing drivers or utilising rest stops.
You must be able to see dangerous situations before they happen and be prepared to respond quickly to prevent them. Be aware of visibility, space and communicate effectively.
I hope you all arrive safely to your next destination.