Driving in the winter can be difficult for several reasons. Drivers need to use extreme caution in the winter, particularly on wet or icy roadways. While Sydney’s winters tend to be brief, heavy downpours can cause traffic jams, as seen lately in Windsor and North Richmond due to floods from the Hawkesbury River.
Melbourne has the highest rate of crashes in Australia, according to AAMI. Wednesday and Thursday evenings on Hume Highway in Liverpool are the deadliest on Sydney’s roads. There will be 153 fatalities in New South Wales in 2021, a rise of 2.7% over the previous year. On average, a fatality or serious injury occurs every 41 minutes on New South Wales highways.
Driving in the winter often involves driving in damp or hazardous conditions, such as fog or smoke. Check the forecast and use these 10 guidelines to stay safe on the road this winter.
1) Get Your Car Serviced
Safety features, tyres, windscreen wipers, batteries, lights and brakes should all be checked before setting out on the road. Also, make sure your windscreen and windows are clean so you can see clearly.
If it has rained, try applying the brakes to speed up the drying process of the pads and rotors. It lessens the possibility of having to travel further than necessary while using the brakes after exiting water.
Check the tread depth to ensure it is at least 1.5 centimeters deep, inspect for any signs of damage, and inflate the tyres to the recommended pressure. You should also be familiar with the windscreen wipers, fog lights, high beams and demisters.
In addition, carry a set of jumper cables and some blankets in case it gets cold. Food, water, warm clothing, a torch, and a glass scraper are all essential items to have in your vehicle during cold weather. Don’t leave home without at least half a tank of petrol in your car. And if your car is not driving worthy then sell it to get cash for cars in Sydney.
2) Space Out And Move Sluggishly
If it is pouring or has recently rained, you should not follow another vehicle too closely since stopping distances increase. When driving conditions are poor, such as when the road is wet or visibility is low, you should increase the space between your vehicle and the one in front by at least half again.
Winter is not a good time to be behind the wheel at high speeds. Even if it means going slower than the posted speed limit, slow down to avoid colliding with any vehicles that may suddenly brake in front of you.
3) Put on your Headlights
Daytime driving with your headlights on increases your chances of being seen by other drivers.
Headlight use is encouraged and, according to NSW Government, required when:
- To travel by car between dusk and dawn.
- When there is not enough light to see a person wearing black clothing from a distance of 100 metres, which is most of the time.
- Even if there are street lights, you can increase your visibility by turning on your high beams.
4) Turn on the Air Conditioner
When driving in damp conditions, turn on the air conditioner to clear the windscreen. Make due with the heater-demister if you don’t have access to central air. And if it doesn’t work, throw open the windows.
However, if the weather is poor and you can’t see the road’s boundaries or other vehicles, you should stop driving until conditions improve. Turn on your hazard lights if your car is parked in a dangerous spot where it could provide an obstruction for other drivers or pedestrians, or if you’re driving in hazardous weather like heavy rain or fog.
5) Make Sure Your Fog Lights Are On
Your fog lights should only be turned on in extremely low visibility conditions, such as fog or heavy rain, smoke, or dust. Front fog lights and headlights cannot be used together.
Your vehicle’s low beam headlights and hazard lights will suffice in the event of heavy fog or rain if you do not have fog lights. However, high beams should be turned off when visibility is poor, such as during a smoke or fog storm.
Daytime running lights or using low beam headlights during the day could prevent 3–12% of collisions, incidents, and pedestrian impacts, according to a submission provided by the NRMA.
6) Beware of Blind Spots
Before making any lane changes, merging, or entering a roadway, be sure there are no oncoming vehicles by using your mirrors and giving a brief glance to the side. Signal your intentions to other drivers whenever you make a lane change or merge.
Maintain clean automobile windows so you can:
- Watch out for drivers who are attempting to enter your lane from lanes that are adjacent to yours.
- If you need to switch lanes, do it carefully.
7) Prevent Wheel Spin
Please do not apply the brakes suddenly. Don’t yank the wheel; instead, slowly steer in the direction of the skid. If your vehicle’s front wheels start to skid, release the accelerator and let it slow down naturally.
If you want to avoid having to make an emergency stop, give yourself plenty of room between your car and the car in front of you.
8) Efficiently Limit Distractions
Stay away from collisions and fines from the authorities. Even when you’re not on a busy road, it’s important to minimize visual, manual, and mental distractions. – Distraction from lack of sleep or stress can be especially hazardous on the road during the winter, when conditions may be slippery or visibility low.
– Put your phone into “Do Not Disturb” mode. The proliferation of smartphones has been linked to an increase in distracted driving. You can’t afford the extra delay in reaction time that looking at your phone causes on the treacherous roads of winter.
– Don’t risk getting too close to the car in front of you or crashing into it by turning your head or slowing down to gaze at events happening outside the car (such as an accident).
– Keep your focus on the road and not on your passengers, and avoid using electronic gadgets while behind the wheel. It’s possible that you could skid off the road. Before you go behind the wheel, check that your seat is at the right height and you don’t need anything from your bag, like drink or food.
9) Keep Your Battery Charged Up
In the colder months, battery problems are typical. Choose a charger that keeps tabs on your battery life for you.
Experiencing spark loss when charging is a sign that your battery is getting old and should be replaced before it fails in severe weather.
10. Don’t Aquaplane!
Tyres slip and refuse to respond to your steering, braking, or accelerating as you drive along. Your car can even slide or spin out of control.
Hydroplaning, also known as aquaplaning, occurs when water is pushed under the tyres instead of being distributed by the tread. As a result, water will collect between the road and your tyres.
You shouldn’t brake or turn sharply if you experience aquaplaning; doing so could cause your automobile to skid. If you want to slow down and regain control of the vehicle, take your foot off the pedal gradually.
When applying the brakes, do it with a light pumping motion. Brake normally if your vehicle has anti-lock brakes. The computer in the car may simulate a pumping motion when required.
Extra Winter Driving Safety Advice: Flooded Roads Must Be Taken Seriously
In the event of flooding, avoid driving. Death from entering or moving through floodwater is the most common result of flooding. Drivers in flood-prone areas should plan for the worst and have an evacuation route in mind ahead of time. For information on road closures in your area, contact your local municipality, or check the Live Traffic NSW website.
A little car can be easily swept away by even 15 centimeters of moving water on a flooded road. If you become stopped in a flooded area and decide to plough through it, you could endanger your own safety by letting water into the gear case, the electrical system, or the engine. If your car has been submerged in water, you should probably take it in for an inspection.
Keep in mind that water, like any liquid, decreases friction, thus wet brake pads and rotors cannot perform as well as dry ones. The RAC suggests avoiding a stretch of flooded road by taking an alternate route. If this is not an option, proceed with extreme caution and drive slowly to lessen the likelihood of water being pushed into unwanted areas.