The road is a dangerous place; drivers of every type face these dangers on a daily basis. From weather risks and environmental hazards such as fallen trees and powerlines to erratic road users and long hours, they will have seen it all. But there are lesser known risks lying in wait. Here are just a few of the things that you should think about before setting off on your journey.
Time of day
A recent infographic from Teletrac Navman has highlighted the impact that time of day can have on road fatalities.
The trends in New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria and Western Australia identify the period between 3.00pm and 4:00pm as the most fatal, while in the ACT, most fatalities occur between 4.00pm to 5.00pm. In the Northern Territory, this falls an hour later. South Australia is an outlier, with the highest road fatalities noted between 11.00am and 12.00pm.
Multiple factors influence these trends. For example, the busy roads during school pickup could be a reason behind the common 3:00pm spike. As a driver, you need to be more vigilant during these hours and exercise caution and patience when travelling through highly populated areas.
Each season brings environmental hazards that should be considered before you venture out onto the roads. While summer provides better driving conditions with clear skies, dry roads and long daylight hours, excessive heat, dust and even melting roads can impact drivers on rural roads. Taking frequent breaks and ensuring you have enough food and water for a drive is essential for longer summer hauls.
Winter brings about extremely different driving conditions. These include slippery and icy roads that cause aquaplaning, less visibility and shorter daylight hours, as well as fallen objects caused by storms.
Drivers must adapt to suit these new conditions, and it’s recommended that you check seasonal conditions and note any potential hazards before heading off on-road. Managing braking and monitoring speed will reduce the potential for road incidents in more dangerous seasons.
Road conditions vary across Australia and can differ vastly based on location and remoteness. Rural towns can often suffer from poor road quality, with over 69 per cent of rural Victorians unhappy with the state of their roads. Lack of maintenance can cause hazards to form such as potholes that cause extreme incidents and breakdowns. Rural roads are also more likely to be unsealed which can severely wear tyre tread, cause visibility issues due to dust spread and increase the risk of losing vehicle control.
Australia’s kangaroo population is now well into the 50 million mark, making them a hazard you’re likely to encounter on the road. What you may not know is that kangaroos cause extreme damage to vehicles and their occupants when involved in a crash. Kangaroos, as well as other wildlife, are most active at dawn and dusk, and more likely to be found on rural roads. This increases the likelihood of collisions, with around 10 to 15 cars damaged from kangaroo collisions a week in some rural towns, like Ballarat. Kangaroos represent an extreme hazard on the road, and should be watched out for – luckily, driving slowly during these times means that drivers are better able to avoid these collisions.
These are just some of the unseen dangers facing heavy vehicle drivers. While driving on the road is inherently risky, there are many big risks that are often not spoken about, but just as necessary to observe so that everyone on our roads can get home safely.