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Top tips for safe rural and regional driving 

By  AAMI


With Rural Road Safety Month wrapping up at the end of September, we reached out to our partners at the Australian Road Safety Foundation (ARSF) to pull together some handy tips for rural road safety. And since summertime roadtrips are on our doorstep (or should that be at our car door?), this list will help you identify what you need to do or look out for when driving in rural and regional areas to keep yourself, your passengers and other road users safe. 

Planning for your journey

The first step to any successful expedition is: planning. They don’t say organisation is key for nothing! So to help ensure a smooth journey, make sure you:

  • Map out your trip – include things like your final destination, fuel stops (for both the car and yourself!) and where you will be taking those all important breaks (during the day and overnight).
  • Print out your map/itinery – while it is great to have a copy on your smartphone, you shouldn’t be looking at your phone while driving (not only is it illegal, but incredibly dangerous), but you never know where you may not have reception – so it is a good idea to keep a paper copy.
  • Pack extras – snacks, water, and other important must-haves.  

 

Vehicle maintenance

Rural and regional driving can be hazardous due to high speed zones, an increase in potential debris or roadside hazards. Research shows 25% of Australian drivers are more likely to break a road rule (like speed limits!) when in regional areas1. This means it’s especially important to check the maintenance of your vehicle prior to departure and during. Things like your car’s tyre pressure, oil and water levels, windscreen wipers and lights are all things you could check out on your own. It may also be a good idea to ask for a mechanic to do a once over if you’re planning a big trip, especially to check if your brakes are in good shape.

 

Keep an eye on fatigue

With nearly half the population (49%) more likely to drive longer trips in light of the pandemic2, it’s important to remember to take breaks. Especially when driving in rural or regional areas, drivers need to be extra alert to dangers such as wildlife, hazards and higher speed zones which means that fatigue is likely to onset quicker. Don’t forget that it’s recommended drivers take a break every two hours, so make sure you try to plan these breaks in advance – that way you remember to check in with your loved ones when you do. 

 

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Let others know about your plan and keep in touch

It’s a great idea to give a copy of your plan to loved ones prior to departing. This way, they can keep an eye on expected arrival times and check in when needed. When stopping for breaks or otherwise, you should make sure to keep your loved ones updated about your whereabouts, how things are going and where you intend to go next. Deviating from the plan may seem like a small change – but it could be the difference between a fuel stop to fill up, and running out of fuel on the roadside with no reception! 

 

Watch out for animals and wildlife

Don’t forget that livestock or wildlife are unpredictable! A lot of the time, animals will be shocked by the incoming glare from your headlights at night. They may not immediately, or ever, attempt to move out of the way of your oncoming vehicle. That’s why it’s important to, if you can, slow down as quickly and safely as possible around any animal, whether it is on the roadside or directly in your path. Make sure to watch your mirrors for vehicles behind you, and use your horn or headlights to try and scare the animal safely out of your way. Use caution when proceeding and remember not to swerve your vehicle, as this could cause injury to yourself or damage to your car. 

 

It's not just cars out here!

Driving on rural and regional roads can be very different to metropolitan roads due to the different types of vehicles you’ll encounter. . Sgricultural machinery, road trains, industrial traffic, livestock trucks, railways and varying large vehicles hauling even bigger large vehicles are just some of the things you’ll need to be mindful of. There are often vehicles that are speed-limited, oversized, or long – these can make narrow lanes, one way roads and cattle grids even harder to navigate. Make sure you are extra-aware of these as you approach any vehicle, and you are double checking before manevouring around or near.

When it comes to rural or regional driving, the most important thing you can do is to make sure you are aware of the hazards and potential dangers, and that you are prepared for them. Mr. White, from the Australian Road Safety Foundation specified that in terms of road safety, motorists should focus on their “preparedness to face new, different and more dangerous driving conditions”, whether that is wildlife, weather or rural hazards as they venture to regional areas. 

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1 2Australian Road Safety Foundation 

Insurance issued by AAI Limited ABN 48 005 297 807 trading as AAMI. Consider the Product Disclosure Statement before making a decision about this insurance. AAMI Roadside Assist an optional extra only available in conjunction with AAMI comprehensive car insurance. Terms and conditions for coverage apply. 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. The information is intended to be of a general nature only. We do not accept any legal responsibility for any loss incurred as a result of reliance upon it – please make your own enquiries.