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Whether you’ve decided to head off on ‘The Big Lap’ around Australia, or just take a weekend road trip to explore some of the amazing places in your own backyard, planning ahead is key to staying safe on the road.

Regardless of how you intend to travel – caravanning, driving the family car and camping along the way, or staying in hotels every night – there are some important steps you should take to make sure you are adequately prepared.

Planning your trip

1.  Routes and rest stops

Google Maps is handy to show you how long each drive will take and prevent you from becoming lost. You can also search for local accommodation, restaurants, petrol stations along the route (although its best to plan these in advance).

There are plenty of tiny towns worth a visit in Australia. Stopping in a town gives you an opportunity to refuel (both your vehicle and your body) and stretch your legs. And a visit to the local gift shop, gallery or information centre can be an opportunity to learn about the area and find something unique to take home with you.

Remember, it is important to get a good night’s sleep before a long drive to avoid driving fatigued. You should not drive for more than 2 hours without a break andif possible, you should also share the driving.

Share your itinerary with someone you trust and take a list of your emergency contact details with you.

2.  Weather

Australia has a wide variety of landscapes… from the snowy Victorian Alps, to the hot and dusty Simpson Desert, to the tropical Daintree Rainforest. You don’t need to just consider appropriate clothing for your road trip destination, you will also need to ensure your vehicle is properly equipped for the weather. For example, depending on where you are travelling, you may need to carry snow chains, or fit your car with all-terrain tyres.

Depending on the time and location of your travel, you may need to be aware of potential emergency disaster risks – such as cyclone season in the northern parts of the country (November-April). Where possible, re-schedule visits to high risk locations for a safer time, and never travel to an area that has catastrophic fire danger rating forecast.

If you are caught in an emergency, please follow Emergency Service directions and advice. Some apps and websites you can use to assist you during your travels include:

And just a reminder – never drive through flood waters!

Packing your car

If you’re in the middle of nowhere you may not have quick or easy access to medical services, so its important to make sure you have a suitable first aid kit in your vehicle. Check that everything is within date (not expired or due to expire during your travels) and that you know how to use everything in the kit.

Some regional areas of Australia do not have, or have very limited, access to phone reception through some of our usual telecom providers. Consider whether it is appropriate for you to take prepaid SIM card with a different telecom provider, a satellite phone, or a Personal Locator Beacon with you.

You should always be prepared if you are planning to travel to a remote location. Ensure you pack adequate supplies of water and food, and know ahead of your trip where you can stock up on these items as needed. You will also need to have provisions for warmth and shelter.

Vehicle safety checks

Making sure your vehicle is well-maintained and in good working order before you start a road trip is vitally important.

Before you set off on a trip, you should:

  • service your car and check your oil, coolant and windscreen washer fluid
  • check your tyres are pumped up and not too worn
  • check your lights and indicators are all working and,
  • check your brakes.

Don’t forget, if you’re off on a longer trip, you may need to schedule further vehicle services along the way.

If you are planning on towing a trailer, caravan, or boat you will also need to ensure that you:

  • check the tyres, brakes and lights of your towed vehicle
  • review your towing limits (don’t assume similar models or updated versions of the same model share similar towing limits)
  • pack your trailer properly so that nothing comes loose on the road
  • check couplings and chains are correctly and securely fastened, and
  • during a rest stop, double check that connections are still secure, that wheel bearings are not overheating, and that all items in the towed vehicle have not come loose.

It is also worth checking your motor vehicle insurance before you leave for a trip, so that you know what you are covered for in case of a breakdown or emergency.

Driving safely

You’ve checked over your car, planned your rest stops, chosen your road trip music and snacks and you’re on your way!

The most important thing you can do to keep yourself, your family and other road users safe is to drive safely to conditions and obey the road rules. Remember, each state and territory has their own road rules, so it’s a good idea to familiarise yourself with local laws.

There are plenty of spectacular places to see and things to do around Australia, and a road trip can be the best way to see them all. By planning ahead and prioritising safety, you can enjoy your trip and return home safely to your loved ones.

If you or a loved one have been injured on the road, we can help you understand your next steps. Contact us today to speak with a road accident lawyer who can explain your entitlements and the compensation process.

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