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How to be ready for anything on your next road trip
Whether you’re hitting the road with your family for the school holidays, or planning the trip of a lifetime with your mates, it’s important to be prepared before you embark on a road trip. The network of roads around Australia allows us to travel from large urban hotspots to more remote areas, all the while taking in some of the most beautiful landscapes the world has to offer. If you’re thinking about heading off in the not-too-distant future, make sure you read these helpful tips so that you can be ready for anything.
Don’t forget your manners
Even if you drive everyday, it never hurts to brush up on the rules of the road, especially if you’re heading interstate. Though they’re generally the same across the nation, there are some deviations you might be surprised by. For example, if you’re cruising through Victoria with a bicycle rack attached to your car sans bike, you could attract a fine. Or in NSW, if you leave your car unlocked and wander 3 metres or more away (yes, they’re that specific), you could also find yourself getting slapped with a fine.
Aside from reading up on the road rules of whichever state/s you’ll be visiting (which you’ll be able to find on the relevant transport authority site), always keep an eye on road signs and observe the speed limit. And, finally, don’t forget to check if there are any interstate quarantine restrictions before you leave so you don’t get caught out.
Make sure you’re familiar with basic vehicle maintenance
Something going wrong with your vehicle is always a risk when driving, but it’s amplified even more when you’re spending long stretches of time out on the road. It’s good to brush up on (or learn for the first time) some basic maintenance skills, like how to change a tyre, what to do if you break down, and how to deal with hitting an animal.
At the very least, you should keep a number to call for someone to come help you – like roadside assistance. They’ll usually be able to come sort out most problems pretty easily, or tow you to a nearby mechanic if they can’t fix the issue on the spot/it’s not safe for them to do so where you’ve broken down. With AAMI, we can tow you to a repairer up to 20km away in metro areas, or 100km away in the country.
Know the conditions
If you’re going to be driving through terrain that you’re unfamiliar with, chances are you’ll encounter challenging road and weather conditions. The best way to prepare for this is to make sure your vehicle can handle the roads, to be aware of the weather forecast in advance and to include buffer time within your itinerary in case you need to make any unexpected stops or it takes longer to drive through an area than you originally thought.
There are many ways the weather can affect the roads, particularly after rain. Roads can become slippery or soft, depending on their surface, so be prepared to drive slowly and with caution. In the event of a flood, follow the advice of local authorities and never attempt to make a crossing on a flooded road.
Watch out for wildlife
Did you know that Australia is megadiverse and boasts more species, many of which are native, than any other developed nation? Not only are we spoilt with incredible landscapes, but also by the variety of unique critters we share them with. It’s important to know that a lot of Australia’s wildlife, including kangaroos and koalas, are most active at dusk, so take extra care if you drive at night.
You’ll likely see signs – especially in the outback – asking drivers to be careful of certain animals within areas. Pay special attention to these signs, and keep an eye out for animals on the road or movement from the edges of the road.
In the event that you do hit an animal, try to stay calm. Stop your car safely, and check on the injured animal – if you’re able to do so without risking putting yourself in danger. You can then call the local wildlife rescue group for further assistance – they should be able to provide you with the next steps that you need to take.
Get plenty of rest
When you’re putting your trip itinerary together, be sure to include days for rest. It can be tempting to drive for long periods of time to reach your destination sooner, or cram as much sight-seeing into your trip as possible. However, driver fatigue is incredibly dangerous and is a major factor in accidents. To best handle whatever challenges the road and weather conditions present, avoid driving at night where you can and take a decent break every few hours. Don’t forget to schedule days off so that you can take time to enjoy the sights.
AAMI Car Insurance, Motorcycle Insurance, NSW and ACT CTP Insurance, and Caravan Insurance are issued by AAI Limited ABN 48 005 297 807 AFSL 230859 (AAI) trading as AAMI. AAMI Roadside Assist is an optional extra only available in conjunction with AAMI Comprehensive Car Insurance. Consider the Product Disclosure Statement before making a decision about this insurance. This advice has been prepared without taking into account your particular objectives, financial situations or needs, so you should consider whether it is appropriate for you before acting on it.