Vehicle and Driver Safety
- Accident Statistics and Facts
- Driving With Mobile Phones
- Avoiding Reversing Collisions
- Avoiding Rear End Collision
- Driving on Country Roads
- Safety Hints
- Four Wheel Driving
- Right of Way
- ABS Brakes
- Driver Safety Tips - Series 1
- Driver Safety Tips - Series 2
- Driver Safety Tips - Series 3
- Driver Safety Tips - Series 4
- Driver Training
- Want to Know More?
The AGF has compiled a range of Vehicle and Driver Safety information and advice, including links to related websites. This information has been provided in order to assist entities to meet their obligations under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011.
- Fatigue is thought to be potentially as serious an issue as alcohol in Australia.
- Fatigue is a major killer on our roads and a factor in 20% of fatal crashes.
- A recent study by the Centre for Sleep Research in South Australia revealed that if you have been awake for 17 hours then drive, the risk of crashing is as great as being at the 0.05 legal drinking limit.
- Driving after 24 hours without sleep gives you the same risk as someone with a blood alcohol level of 0.1.
- Take regular breaks on long journeys. Plan to stop for at least 15 minutes every two hours.
- It is estimated that speed is a factor in around 1 in 5 serious crashes. This increases to around 40% for fatal crashes.
- Research suggests that travelling at 65 km/h in a 60 km/h zone doubles your chance of having a crash that injures someone. At 70 km/h, the risk increases 11 times.
- Stopping distances increase at a higher rate when the speed increases. For example, even though 80 km/h is 25% faster than 60 km/h, the stopping distance increases by nearly 70%.
- An article published by the National Roads and Motorists' Association (NRMA) titled Lethal Weapons states 'small things unsecured in your car can turn into life threatening projectiles'.
- A typical deceleration in a severe crash is at least 20 times the force of gravity, making the potential impact of an object 20 times its weight. This means a one litre bottle of water packs a 20 kilogram punch in a sudden stop.
- Station wagons and hatchbacks are particularly dangerous, and unless a cargo barrier is fitted, the only safe way to transport goods in these vehicles is by using the tie down hooks or by using a cargo net.
The Australian Government Fleet recommends the fitment of cargo barriers in station wagons and like vehicles.
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It is the responsibility of a driver to ensure safe control of their vehicle at all times. Using a mobile phone while driving is distracting and increases the risk of an accident by as much as four times.
Using a mobile phone while driving significantly impairs your:
• reaction time
• visual search patterns
• ability to maintain speed and position on the road
• ability to judge gaps in the traffic
• general awareness of other road users.
It is illegal in all Australian States and Territories to use a hand-held mobile phone while driving. This includes:
• playing games
• taking photos/videos
• using any other function on your phone.
Using a hand held mobile phone is also illegal when your vehicle is stationary but not parked (i.e. when stopped at traffic lights). Drivers who break this law can face on-the-spot fines and incur demerit points.
For experienced drivers, the use of a hands-free phone can be legal in defined circumstances. However, the rules concerning hands-free devices can vary between States and Territories.
Drivers must ensure that any hands-free unit complies with the rules and regulations of their relevant jurisdiction.
Using a hands-free phone
A hands-free device can reduce the physical effort to make and receive calls, but it doesn’t necessarily make it safe to use a phone while driving. It is illegal to use a hands-free phone while driving if it causes a person to lose proper control of a vehicle. The penalty is a significant fine and the loss of demerit points.
If you must talk on a hands-free phone while driving, you should ensure:
- that the phone is placed in a commercially-manufactured cradle
- the device does not obscure your view of the road
- that conversations are kept as short as possible
- calls are ended if it’s too distracting
- where possible, the device is activated without touching the phone
- calls are not made during heavy traffic, poor road conditions or bad weather
Remember, if you don’t have proper control of your vehicle while using a hands-free unit, you are guilty of an offence.
In reality, the use of a hands-free phone can distract from the careful control of a vehicle, just as hand-held phones can. Therefore, the safest way to use a hands-free phone is to stop the vehicle before making or receiving calls.
For the employer
Employers must ensure that their employees drive safely and within the limits of the law. It is essential an employer provides a safe working environment.
Assess the vehicle
A vehicle's windows should always be clean, both inside and out. The driver should also ensure the mirrors are clean and positioned correctly for their height. If the vehicle is fitted with a reversing monitor, the driver should check it is functioning correctly.
Check for potential hazards
Prior to entering the vehicle, the driver should check the surrounding area for obstacles, pedestrians, animals and small children who may be playing nearby. Wherever possible, the driver should clear the area of danger. When driving commercial vehicles with high bodies or stacked loads, the driver should be aware of overhead objects such as awnings or bridges and ensure their vehicle will fit safely underneath. If hit, these may damage the vehicle or injure people nearby. When reversing a heavy vehicle, the driver should ensure the ground surface is strong enough to carry the vehicle's weight.
Ask for help
If, after checking the surrounding area, a driver is still unsure about reversing safely, they should ask for help. The guide should be positioned so that they are easily seen and are safe from other vehicles.
The driver should always reverse slowly, looking both ways so that all areas of potential danger are visible. In congested areas, a driver should sound the horn to alert others of their intention to reverse.
Avoid reversing onto busy roads
Wherever possible, drivers should avoid reversing onto busy roads. Sometimes reversing is unavoidable, however, it is safer to reverse from the roadway into an intended car space because the driver can then proceed forward to reenter the traffic. Reversing into traffic is more dangerous than reversing out of it!
Reversing in limited visibility
Extra care should be taken when reversing at night or when vision is limited by weather conditions. Reverse lights, brake lights and indicators can be used to illuminate the rear of the vehicle. If the driver still has trouble seeing, they should get out of their vehicle and check the surrounding area again.
Reversing in a truck
Truck drivers should be aware that they may not be able to see the rear of their trailer, especially if reversing to the left. If it is possible to reverse to the right, a truck driver should do so as they will have a clearer view of the trailer.
Avoid long distance reversing
Drivers should avoid reversing long distances. If the driver reverses further than intended, it is safer for them to drive around again rather than reverse. Remember, there is no right of way when reversing.
Before reversing an unfamiliar vehicle, the driver should practice reversing in a safe area to get a feel for the vehicle.
Reversing sedans and trucks can be difficult. Drivers must be aware of potential hazards and follow the reversing rules. By doing so, they will minimise the chance of having a reversing collision.
Avoiding Reversing Collisions [484 KB]
An average car, operating in good conditions, requires the following distances to stop:
|Speed (km/h)||Stopping Distance (M)|
If conditions are below average - for example rain, snow or loose gravel surface - the required stopping distance will increase.
The three second rule
When driving behind a vehicle, always adhere to the three second rule. The three second rule stipulates that three seconds must pass between the time the vehicle in front passes a stationary object to when the vehicle behind passes the same object. This allows for an extra three seconds of braking time, should it be needed.
For example, when the first vehicle passes a particular telegraph pole, those in the second vehicle should be able to count "1001. 1002. 1003" before their vehicle reaches that pole. If the vehicle reaches the point prior to 1003, the speed of the following car should be adjusted accordingly. If driving at night, in adverse conditions or if driving a commercial vehicle, this distance should be increased to four seconds.
Be aware of what's going on behind
A driver should glance in their rear-vision mirror every five to ten seconds. That way, they will be aware of what is happening behind their vehicle in case they have to stop suddenly.
What if the vehicle behind is travelling too close
If a vehicle is not following the three second rule, the vehicle in front should not increase its speed, above the speed limit, to gain the three second distance. Instead, it should gradually slow down and move over to the left hand lane. This will allow the other vehicle to overtake at the first safe opportunity.
Anticipate what is going to happen
Drivers should be aware of the traffic flow at least three vehicles ahead. This enables them to anticipate what may happen and react accordingly.
When stopped at an intersection
When stopped at an intersection or traffic jam, a vehicle should remain at least two metres behind the one in front. That way, it is possible to move forward if the vehicle travelling behind is not able to stop in time. Remaining two metres behind could also prevent a vehicle being pushed into the car in front should that vehicle have been hit from behind.
When recommencing a journey
When traffic flow recommences after stopping, a driver should allow three seconds after the vehicle in front starts to move before recommencing their journey.
Ensure brakes are maintained
Both the hand and foot brake of a vehicle should undergo safety checks regularly. A faulty brake might mean the difference of a vehicle being able to stop in time.
While ABS brakes are a great safety device they do not necessarily stop a vehicle quicker in emergency braking. A driver whose vehicle has ABS brakes should still follow the rules outlined above.
Following these procedures will not guarantee the avoidance of a rear end collision, however the risk of having this type of collision will be reduced.
Rear End Collisions [ 480 KB]
Planning and preparation
Vehicle safety check
Before embarking on a country or outback journey, a full service of your vehicle should be undertaken.
The service should include a check of the following to ensure they are mechanically sound and in good working condition:
- tyres and tyre pressure (including the spare tyre)
- oil level
- water level
- windscreen wipers and washers.
The service should take place at least two days before departure. That way, if repairs are needed, they can be completed before you leave.
What to pack
The following supplies should be taken on all country and outback trips:
- fuel reserves
- fire extinguisher • jack
- tyre gauge
- tow ropes
- tool kit
- first aid kit
- local maps
- jumper leads
- CB radio (or similar)
Before leaving, lodge your trip details with a responsible relative or friend. Obtain advice on road closures in and around the area you plan to drive and seek advice from tourist centres on distances between towns. That way, you can make allowances for the amount of fuel and water you will need to carry.
While driving on country roads
The long distances between country towns and the vast stretches of road in Australia's outback can lead to driver fatigue. To avoid this, you should stop and rest, for at least 15 minutes, every two hours and never drive at the time you would normally sleep.
In rural and country areas, it is common for animals to wander onto the road. If you see an animal, slow down and prepare to stop. Many collisions are caused when swerving to avoid animals so drive with caution, especially at dawn and dusk.
Road trains often travel in outback areas of Australia and can be up to 55 metres long and 2.5 metres wide. If a road train is oncoming, slow down, pull over and let it pass. From time to time, you may also encounter farming vehicles. Be aware that they are often much wider, longer and slower than they appear.
Many country roads are unsealed. If driving on an unsealed road, slow down and be aware of hazards such as sand, loose gravel, potholes and dust. A reliable map should advise the location of unsealed roads.
If you break down on a country or outback road, the most important thing is to keep calm, remain with your vehicle and wait for assistance. Never stray from your vehicle as the weather can change with little warning.
Driving on Country Roads [ 546 KB]
Sitting in a vehicle
An important part of vehicle control and safety is positioning yourself correctly in the vehicle. When you first sit in the vehicle,
ensure your seat is the right distance from the pedals. If you are driving a manual, your left leg should be almost straight when the clutch is fully depressed. When driving an automatic vehicle, your left leg should be almost straight when your foot is on the footrest located next to the brake. With your shoulders resting against the back of the seat, adjust your seat so that your wrists sit on top of the steering wheel when your arms are fully extended.
The main aim of the headrest is to support and protect your head and neck in an emergency situation. To ensure it provides maximum protection, the top of the headrest should be level with the top of your head or, at a minimum, above eye level. With the seat correctly in position and the headrest set as above, there should be very little space between the head and the headrest.
Seatbelts are the primary and most effective means of injury prevention in a motor vehicle collision. The driver and passengers of a motor vehicle that is moving - or is stationary but not parked - must always wear a seatbelt. If a passenger is too young to wear a seatbelt, they must be restrained in an approved child restraint. Ensure the seatbelt is properly adjusted and fastened before starting the motor vehicle.
Adjust your mirrors so that all areas surrounding the vehicle are easily observed by slight head and eye movement. To be certain of what is going on around the vehicle, a driver should glance in their mirror/s every five to 10 seconds.
The steering wheel
Wherever possible, the driver should keep both hands on the steering wheel. To find the correct position to hold the wheel, picture the steering wheel as a round clock. Place your left hand on the number "nine" and your right hand on the number "three". The palms of your hands should face inwards and your thumbs upwards. You will keep your hands in this position for most driving conditions. However, do not cross your hands over each other. Instead, feed the steering wheel through one hand alternatively to the other. After turning or completing a U-turn, never allow the steering wheel to straighten up by itself.
Airbags are an excellent addition to seatbelts in saving lives and preventing serious injury. However, when activated, an airbag will open at approximately 200km per hour. If your hands are incorrectly placed on the steering wheel, the force may throw your hands back causing serious facial damage. To lessen the risk of injury, keep your hands at three o'clock and nine o'clock wherever possible.
Before commencing a journey, ensure:
- all tyres (including the spare) are inflated to the correct air pressure
- the correct specification of tyre is fitted to the vehicle
- the tyre tread is within acceptable levels.
Lumley Insurance recommends the tyre pressure be four to six PSI above the manufacturer's recommendations. It is estimated we would save five to 10 percent on our national fuel bill if everyone used higher tyre pressure. A tyre pressure that is below recommendation will reduce tyre life and will greatly increase stopping distance.
We hope the above techniques will assist you in becoming a safer driver and ensure your vehicle is as safe to drive as possible.
Safety Hints [ 486 KB]
Planning and preparation
Four wheel drive safety check
Before embarking on an off road adventure, a full inspection of the four wheel drive should be undertaken. The driver should check that the following are mechanically sound and in good working condition:
- tyres and tyre pressure (including the spare tyre)
- oil level
- water level
- windscreen wipers and washers.
The inspection should take place at least two days before departure. That way, if repairs are needed, they can be completed well before you leave.
If you are new to 4wd vehicles and planning to use your vehicle off road we recommend you attend a formal training course. These types of courses show the driver how to use the vehicle safely on varying terrains.
Lumley Insurance claims data shows many claims occur in 4wd vehicles due to driver inexperience.
Loading the vehicle
The four wheel drive's centre of gravity can rise dramatically. Therefore, all heavy equipment should be placed low in the vehicle and the lighter things up top. The driver should also avoid using the vehicle's roof-racks as loading them may lead to vehicle instability.
If the vehicle is overloaded, non-essential items should be given to other vehicles travelling with the party or left behind.
The driver should plan their journey carefully allowing adequate time to arrive safely at their destination. A four wheel drive is more like driving a truck than a car so speed will need to be reduced. The following supplies should be taken on all four wheel driving trips:
- satisfactory fuel reserves
- first aid kit
- fire extinguisher
- tyre gauge and pump
- four wheel driving permits
- CB radio (or similar)
- local maps.
Before leaving, trip details should be lodged with a responsible relative or friend and advice on track closures and fire bans, in and around the area they plan to drive, obtained. As most States have legislation restricting the use of vehicles in certain areas, the driver should check with the relevant Government department before heading off-road. They should also gain permission from owners of private property if they plan to use their land.
While four wheel driving
The speed limit must always be adhered to. If a speed limit is not available, a fully laden 4WD should not be driven more than 90 km per hour on sealed roads, or 75 to 80 km per hour on gravel roads or similar surfaces. The faster a vehicle is travelling, the longer the stopping distance required. For example, a vehicle travelling at 120 km per hour, (with all things equal) will need four times the stopping distance required than a vehicle travelling at 60 km per hour. This distance increases with a full load.
Alcohol and drugs
If planning to drive, the driver should avoid alcohol and drugs. Drugs, including prescription drugs, can affect one's driving. The driver should seek medical advice on whether their medication will adversely affect their motor vehicle driving skills.
All drivers have a duty of care when it comes to the environment. They should respect flora and fauna – stopping to look but never to disturb. Gates and fences are there to keep livestock off the road. If the driver opens a gate, they must ensure it is closed behind them.
Burning or burying rubbish also disturbs the environment, therefore drivers should always take their rubbish with them. In dry areas, always check for flammable material underneath the vehicle. Ensure sticks have not become wedged in and around the chassis and remove insects and other matter from the radiator.
On terrain where there are no defined tracks, it is better for vehicles to travel side-by-side rather than in single file. Doing so may reduce damage to vegetation that can tolerate only light traffic.
Before towing, seek advice from a four wheel drive equipment dealer. It may be necessary, depending on the load being carried, to have the suspension and chassis of a caravan or trailer adapted for off-road driving.
If planning to tow a caravan off-road, select the smallest van possible. If towing more than five metres in length, it may become difficult to negotiate the terrain. The driver should also expect and be prepared for a 10 to 20 percent increase in fuel consumption when towing.
The driver should always keep to formed tracks. When approaching unfamiliar terrain, be sure to get out and check it. This particularly applies to water, mud, sand and snow where the vehicle is at higher risk of becoming bogged. If driving over sand, follow existing wheel tracks, as they already will have compacted the sand. If the sand is soft, tyre pressure should be reduced to gain better flotation.
The four wheel drive should be driven up and down slopes using a "square on" approach. Travelling across the face of a slope creates a higher risk of rolling the vehicle. If in any doubt about the correct gear to use for a particular surface, always choose the lower one. When travelling in a convoy on sealed roads, the distance between vehicles should not be less than three seconds of time or five seconds on unsealed roads.
Four Wheel Drives [676 KB]
The driver at an intersection with a stop sign (or unbroken line) must come to a complete stop before giving way to all traffic in, entering and approaching the intersection.
Give way signs
The driver at an intersection with a give way sign must give way to all traffic in, entering and approaching the intersection.
This driver will have right of way if another driver at the intersection has a stop sign.
No signs or lights at a 'T' intersection
When approaching a 'T' intersection that does not have any traffic lights or signage, the driver turning left or right from the terminating road must give way to any vehicle travelling on the continuing road.
No signs or lights at a 'non-T' intersection
Where there are no signs or signals at a 'non T' intersection, the driver must give way to:
- oncoming vehicles that are heading straight through the intersection
- oncoming vehicles that are turning left
- any vehicle travelling on the driver's right.
These rules apply unless a stop or give way sign affects the driver of an approaching vehicle. If two oncoming vehicles are turning right at an intersection the vehicles should pass in front of each other.
The driver must give way to vehicles already in the roundabout. For more information on the use and rules of roundabouts refer to Lumley Insurance Superior Driving Techniques - Using Roundabouts.
Pedestrians & pedestrian crossings
Drivers must always give way to pedestrians. When approaching a pedestrian crossing the driver must drive at a speed at which they can, if necessary, stop safely before the crossing.
At a pedestrian crossing, the driver must:
- give way to all pedestrians on the crossing
- not overtake a vehicle that is stopped (or slowing down) to give way
- not start moving until all pedestrians have completed crossing the road
- adhere to the instructions of a person carrying a hand held stop sign.
When there are no marked lines, the driver who is merging must give way to any vehicle that is ahead of theirs. If lines are marked, the driver who is changing lanes must give way to all traffic in the other lane.
The driver must give way to a bus in front of them if:
- the bus is re-entering the traffic
- the bus displays a give way to buses sign.
Police and emergency vehicles
The driver must always give way to a police or emergency vehicle that is displaying a flashing blue and red light or sounding an alarm.
Lumley Insurance has merely provided an overview of the rules relating to right of way and give way in this brochure, however it's the driver's duty of care to know and adhere to all national road rules.
Right of Way [ 483 KB]
The Anti-Lock Braking System is activated when pressure is applied to the brake pedal. It continues whilst pressure is maintained and increases in intensity when force is applied suddenly. The system prevents a vehicle's wheels from locking up enabling the driver to maintain control of the vehicle.
How does ABS work?
If you brake hard in a vehicle without ABS, the wheels can lock and the vehicle may skid out of control. ABS prevents this by rapidly locking and unlocking the wheels via sensors that monitor lockup.
When braking with ABS a driver must maintain firm pressure on the brake pedal and should not release it until the vehicle has stopped or the danger has passed. If pressure is relaxed, the brakes are released and the vehicle's momentum increases.
The pulsating effect with ABS
When the brake pedal is pushed down fast and hard the driver might hear and feel things such as:
- the pedal pulsating or shuddering
- a knocking noise
This is normal and means the system is working.
ABS compared to standard brakes
It is important to be aware of other vehicles on the road. The driver of a vehicle equipped with ABS could be sharing the road with other, much older, vehicles.
It would be unreasonable to expect these older vehicles to brake as well as a newer vehicle. If an emergency situation arises, a vehicle fitted with ABS may avoid a collision by stopping or steering to safety, but unfortunately older vehicles may not be able to do the same.
It is better to avoid an emergency in the first place by maintaining awareness, a safe following distance and a "comfort zone" around your vehicle.
Do not think you will avoid a collision just because you have ABS brakes.
ABS won't stop you any quicker. It is important to note that ABS will not always shorten the braking distance. With this in mind drivers must always maintain a two to three second following distance in the dry and a three to four second following distance in the wet.
The slightly better braking efficiency provided by ABS will not be of much benefit if you are travelling too close to the vehicle in front.
Good tyres and correct tyre pressure help stopping and control, so conduct regular checks.
Correct tyre pressure will improve stopping distance, tyre life and fuel economy. An expert tip is to maintain tyre pressure around 6KPI (40KPA) higher than the manufacturer's recommendation. By doing this the ride may be a little bumpier, but it will help you stop faster and will provide a buffer allowance for the load you may be carrying.
Experience and knowledge of ABS
It is essential to become familiar with the operation of ABS. A great way to do this is by attending a driver-training program. Here, ABS can be used and tested in a safe environment
Remember these safety tips
- Avoid collisions by maintaining a safe following distance.
- To maximise the ABS in an emergency, press the brake pedal hard and fast and keep the pressure on until the vehicle stops or is safe.
- Ensure your vehicle is serviced regularly, your tyres are in good condition and the tyre pressures are correct.
We hope you never have to use ABS in an emergency situation, but if you do, by reading this brochure and attending a defensive driver-training program you will be prepared.
Using ABS Brakes [511 KB]
Driving to the Conditions
Regardless of the posted speed limit, drivers need to keep these factors in mind when determining how fast to drive:
- The number and speed of other vehicles on the road.
- Whether the road surface is smooth, rough, gravelled, wet, dry, wide or narrow.
- Bicyclists or pedestrians walking on the road's edge.
- Whether it is raining, foggy, snowing, windy or dusty.
Use of a Horn
Use Your Horn
- When necessary, to avoid accidents.
- To alert other drivers and animals of your presence. Tap your horn to alert another driver, who might otherwise turn in front of you.
Don't Use Your Horn
- If a driver is going slowly, and you want him or her to drive faster. The driver may be ill, lost, intoxicated or having problems with the vehicle.
- If slowing or stopping your car will prevent an accident. It's safer to use the brakes than honk the horn.
- To show other drivers that they made a mistake. Your honking may cause them to make another mistake.
- Because you're angry or upset.
Turning beyond an intersection
- If you plan to turn just beyond an intersection, start signalling when you are in the intersection.
- If you signal too early, the other driver may think you plan to turn into the intersection, and he or she may pull out in
front of you.
In the event of a tyre blowout;
- Hold the steering wheel tightly, and keep the vehicle going straight.
- Slow down gradually.
- Take your foot off the accelerator and use the brakes lightly.
- Do not stop on the road if at all possible. Pull off to the side of the road in a safe place.
Electronic Stability Control is very effective in assisting a driver to maintain steering control in this situation by limiting acceleration
levels of the other wheels.
While driving, take some personal safety precautions;
- While in your car, keep the doors locked at all times.
- If you find yourself being followed while driving, try to keep calm and maintain your driving skills. Go to the nearest Police station, petrol station or well lit convenience store. Only leave your car when you feel the threat has passed. Report the incident to the police.
- Plan your trip in advance so that you are not sitting in your car with the light on reading the street directory at night.
- Be prepared in case of breakdowns or trouble.
- Carry a pen and paper, a torch, a phone card or mobile and emergency numbers with you at all times.
- It is also a good idea to invest in a personal alarm for safety reasons. A cheaper alternative is a whistle to blow and attract attention if you are in danger.
- If you break down, try to leave the car in a safe, well-lit spot. Put your bonnet up and turn on your hazard lights. If you have to call for
assistance, ensure the car is secure and go to the nearest phone.
- If someone stops to assist, do not get into a stranger's car. Give them your details and ask them to call for assistance.
Safety in Car Parks
- Try to park in a place where there will be plenty of people around and that is well lit.
- Avoid parking too close to walls and hedges.
- Never leave valuables like purses, wallets or mobile phones in your car. Move things into the boot before you leave, rather than when you arrive at the destination.
- Have your keys ready to open the car, rather than rummaging through your bag or pocket to find them.
- If it is dark, have someone accompany you to your car. Try to avoid unsecured multi-story car parks.
- Never double park or park in a clearway.
Parking on a Hill
When you park;
- On a sloping driveway, turn the wheels so the car will not roll into the street if the brakes fail.
- Headed downhill, turn your front wheels into the curb or toward the side of the road. Set the parking brake.
- Headed uphill, turn your front wheels away from the curb and let your vehicle roll back a few inches. The back of the front wheel should gently touch the curb. Set the parking brake.
- Headed either uphill or downhill and there is no curb, turn the wheels so the car will roll away from the centre of the road if the brakes fail.
- Always set your parking brake and leave the vehicle in gear.
Driving at Night
- Use your high beam lights when driving in rural areas and on open highways away from urban and metropolitan areas.
- If you are driving with your high beam lights, you must dim them before coming within 200m of any oncoming vehicle so the oncoming vehicle is not blinded by the glare.
- When following another vehicle, you must use your low beam lights, with your fog lights off, if you are within 200m of the vehicle ahead.
- Never look directly into an approaching car's headlights. As the car draws near, watch the left edge of your lane, noting the position of the oncoming car out of the corner of your eye.
- When driving through fog at night it is best to use your low beam lights and fog lights, if you have them. In this situation driving with high beam lights on is like shining your lights on a mirror.
- Be alert to vehicles, particularly darker vehicles, travelling after sunset without their headlights on.
- Don't try to "get back" at another driver by keeping your high beam lights on if they haven't turned theirs to low beam. If you do, both of you may be blinded.
- Fog lights should NOT be used unless driving in fog or other hazardous weather conditions causing reduced visibility.
- When you are tired, you are less alert. The body naturally wants to sleep at night, and most drivers are less alert at
night, especially after midnight. You may not see hazards as soon, or react as quickly, so your chances of having a crash are greater.
- If you are sleepy, the only safe cure is to get off the road and get some sleep.
To keep from getting tired on a long trip;
- Get at least a normal night's sleep before you start.
- Don't take any drugs that can make you drowsy.
- Don't drive long hours, and try not to drive late at night.
- Take regular rest stops, even if you are not tired.
- Keep shifting your eyes from one part of the road to another. Look at objects near and far, left and right.
- Try chewing gum or singing along with the radio.
- Roll your window down, and get some fresh air.
- If you are tired all the time and fall asleep often during the day, ask your doctor to check for a sleep disorder.
On a long and uneventful drive, it's sometimes easy to find yourself staring down the middle of the road, as if you're in a trance. In such times, it's important to remind yourself to keep your eyes moving and scan the scene. Take in the whole scene – If you only look at the middle of the road, you will miss what is happening on the side of the road and behind you.
Scanning helps you see;
- Cars and people that may be on the road by the time you reach them.
- Signs warning of problems ahead.
- Signs giving you directions.
Watch for hazards – Look beyond the car ahead of you.
- Don't develop a "fixed stare."
- Keep scanning.
- Check you rear-view mirrors every two to five seconds so you know the position of vehicles near you. On a highway or freeway, be ready for changes in traffic conditions.
- Watch for signals from other drivers.
- Expect merging vehicles at on-ramps and interchanges.
- Be prepared for rapid changes in road conditions and traffic flow.
- Know which lanes are clear so you can use them if necessary.
Never drive off the paved or main-travelled portion of the road or on the shoulder to pass a vehicle. Also, passing other vehicles at crossroads, railroad crossings, and shopping centre entrances is dangerous.
When you approach a vehicle towing a trailer;
- Watch for any sway or possible hazards, such as crosswinds or slippery curves.
- Be aware that sudden braking might cause the trailer to jack-knife.
- Use extreme caution while passing a trailer and the towing vehicle, it may take almost a kilometre or more of clear roadway to safely pass.
Reversing with Trailers
When reversing a car, straight truck, or bus, turn the top of the steering wheel toward the direction you want to go.
- When reversing a trailer, upon starting to reverse, you turn the steering wheel in the opposite direction.
- Once the trailer starts to turn, you must turn the wheel the other way to follow the trailer.
- Whenever you back up with a trailer, try to position your vehicle so you can reverse in a straight line. If you must reverse on a curved path, reverse to the driver's side so you can see.
- Reverse slowly. This will let you make corrections before you get too far off course.
- Use the mirrors. The mirrors will help you see whether the trailer is drifting to one side or the other.
- Correct drift immediately. As soon as you see the trailer getting off the proper path, correct it by turning the top of the steering wheel in the direction of the drift.
- Pull forward. When reversing a trailer, re-evaluate and move forward if necessary to reposition your vehicle as needed.
Sharing the road with cyclists
The most common motorist caused car-bicycle or car-motorcycle collision is a motorist turning right in front of an oncoming bicycle or motorcycle. Drivers may fail to see cyclists or may fail to judge the speed of oncoming cyclists.
As a driver, remember to look for cyclists at the left side of the lane or on the shoulder and then look again. Make sure you see any cyclists and know their speed before you make your right turn.
- If you are aware of the effect of the below conditions and drive with care and attention, you can help reduce motorcyclist injuries and fatalities.
- When you change lanes or enter a major thoroughfare, make a visual check for motorcycles. Also use you mirrors. Motorcycles are
small, and they can easily disappear into a vehicle's blind spots.
- Allow a four-second following distance. You will need this space to avoid hitting the motorcyclist if he or she falls.
- Allow the motorcycle a full lane width.
- Never try to pass a motorcycle in the same lane you are sharing with the motorcycle.
- When you make a turn, check for motorcyclists, and know their speed before turning.
- Remember that road conditions that are minor annoyances to you pose major hazards to motorcyclists. Potholes, gravel, wet or slippery surfaces, pavement seams, railroad crossings, and grooved pavement can cause motorcyclists to change speed or direction suddenly.
- Be aware that motorcycles may travel faster than traffic during congested road conditions and can travel in the unused space
between two lines of moving or stationary vehicles.
If you're behind a car that's stopped at a pedestrian crossing, don't pass around it. A pedestrian you can't see may be crossing.
For example, if you've both been waiting to make a left turn and the light has just turned green, don't jump to the conclusion that the driver in front of you didn't notice the light change. There may be someone crossing the street on foot who is out of your sight line.
Avoiding Collisions with Animals
Here are some simple tips about how to avoid hitting an animal when on the road;
- Avoid driving at dawn and dusk and a few hours after dark in areas populated by wildlife as this is when animals are more likely to be moving around and feeding.
- Keep alert in areas likely to be populated by wildlife. Be cautious, scanning both the road ahead and the roadsides. Get any passengers to help and pay attention to any warning signs (eg Kangaroos next 10km). Be aware of traffic behind you, as well as oncoming traffic.
- Driving slower when visibility is poor or where you expect there are animals gives you a greater reaction time and a better chance of avoiding a collision with an animal
- Throwing food scraps out of your car is illegal and it may also attract wildlife to feed on the sides of roads, increasing the risk of injury.
- Some animals may act unpredictably, so where possible, give them plenty of time and room to move off the road when passing them. Brake safely and, if necessary, sound your horn in a series of short bursts, then drive slowly past the animal.
- Always maintain full control of your vehicle. Sometimes, it may be impossible to avoid a collision with an animal if avoiding it puts yourself and other motorists in danger.
Driving in Wet Conditions
When it is raining, or the road is wet, most tyres have good traction up to about 60kph. However, as you move faster, your tyres will start to ride up on the water. This is called "aquaplaning". In heavy rain, you tyres can lose all traction with the road at around 80kph. Bald or badly worn tyres will lose traction at a much lower speed. The best way to keep from aquaplaning is to drive slower in the rain, or when the road is wet.
If it feels like your tyres have lost traction with the surface of the road;
- Ease your foot off the accelerator pedal.
- Keep the steering wheel straight. Only try to turn if it's an emergency. If you must turn, do it slowly, or you will cause your vehicle to skid.
- Don't try and stop or turn until your tyres are gripping the road again.
Less than one inch of water can cause a driver to lose control of a car and most vehicles can float in two feet of water or less.
If you encounter a flooded road, don't attempt to drive through it. Turn around and seek an alternative route or wait until the water subsides. Although it may look like just a few inches of water on the road, you have no idea if the road has washed away underneath providing a hazardous situation for drivers. It is also difficult to determine the depth of floodwaters.
If you vehicle stalls in rising flood water, and you can safely do so, abandon it immediately and seek higher ground. Rapidly rising water may engulf the vehicle and it occupants and sweep them away.
Once vehicles begin to float they move toward deep, faster-moving water where escape is even more dangerous and top-heavy vehicles may roll over. Deaths often occur because people mistakenly believe that vehicles provide protection from rising, swiftly moving waters.
However, if you find yourself in this situation you must make a judgment call about whether you can make it to higher ground or if you would be better off remaining with your vehicle. The only sure safety rule is to turn around and avoid flooded roadways in the first place.
- Be especially cautious at night when it is harder to recognize flood dangers.
- Avoid already flooded areas and areas subject to sudden flooding. Do not attempt to cross flowing streams or water flowing over the roadway.
- If you are driving and come upon rapidly rising waters, turn around and find another route.
- Move to higher ground away from streams, creeks and flood control channels.
- If your route is blocked by floodwaters or barricades, find another route. Barricades are put up by local officials to protect people from unsafe roads. Never drive around barricades. Driving around them can be a serious risk.
Driving Near Bushfires
If you are driving in a bushfire prone area, remember to stay alert at all times. Fires can start and become dangerous quickly. If you see smoke ahead, don't delay – U-turn to safety.
- Monitor district Fire Danger Ratings and daily weather forecasts.
- Always carry maps of the area you're entering, and note exit routes.
- Always keep a bag in your vehicle, with long sleeved clothing made from natural fibres (eg. Cotton), sturdy shoes, drinking water and any medications needed
- Keep a woollen blanket in the car for added protection from radiant heat.
- Be prepared to change travel plans to avoid bushfire prone areas on hot, dry and windy days.
Driving during a bushfire is a last resort as road travel during bushfires could be fatal. Always avoid areas where fires are burning. If you find yourself in a vehicle during a bushfire;
- Always U-turn to safety if you can.
- If you can't, stay in the car. It offers better protection from radiant heat than being outside. DO NOT get out and run.
- Park behind a solid structure to block as much heat as you can. Otherwise, pull into a clear area at the side of the road, if possible, away from debris and surrounding trees that may ignite.
- Turn off the ignition, wind up your car windows, close air vents, turn on headlights and hazard warning lights.
- Cover exposed skin as much as possible with natural fibre clothing.
- Get down as low as possible below window level.
- Cover up with woollen or cotton blankets until the fire front passes. If you have water, drink it.
- Only get out of the car once the fire has gone.
Note: It is highly unlikely that a person will survive while sheltering in a vehicle during a bushfire but it will offer a slightly higher chance of survival than being caught in the open.
DON'T LEAVE IT TOO LATE AND GET CAUGHT OUT ON THE ROAD DURING A BUSHFIRE
The Fleet Services Contract (FSC) includes provision for the conduct of driver training at an agreed discounted rate. Under the FSC, sgfleet can arrange driver training for personnel nominated by FSC participants through nationally accredited providers. Under the arrangement training can be tailored to address particular problems individual drivers may have.
The following are some useful links:
The Department of Infrastructure and Transport  provides information on a number of vehicle safety issues including standards, crash tests, recalls and safety measures.
Last updated: 02 November 2016