If you’re driving in rural Western Australia, the conditions you need to be prepared for are considerably different to those of city driving. Traffic isn’t exactly buzzing in the outback, so the risk of collisions with other vehicles is low. But there are other dangers to watch out for.
Here’s our guide to driving in the outback.
A general point
If you’re not a regular outback 4WD’er, think about getting some lessons. They’re pretty cheap. But life isn’t.
The no brainers (you’d be surprised!)
- Don’t drive when you’re tired (take a break every couple of hours – the heat and the monotony can affect you more than you think. Before you know it, you could be stuck in a ditch!)
- Don’t drive after drinking alcohol (you can still kill yourself and others in the outback – and it’ll be harder for the emergency services to get to you so you’ll probably be more likely to die)
The ‘more specifics’
- 300-400km a day is enough driving when you’re on dirt or gravel roads (100-150km a day if you’re on a 4WD track)
- Slow down when passing other vehicles (dust and stones are less likely to block your vision/wreck your windscreen)
- Pull over to let big vehicles pass (it’s harder for them to pull over safely)
- Drive deftly in the dust – slow down, put on your headlights, put on your dust light if you’ve got one (make sure you know where this is if you do!) But if in doubt, PULL OVER until visibility improves.
- BUT be careful when pulling over! (watch out for ravines, ditches, trees etc.)
- Choose your speed by taking into account ALL conditions
- Drive slowly over cattle grids (there are often pot holes nearby the grids so watch out for these too)
- Keep an eye out for animals – cattle, roos, big birds, goats, sheep, they’re all out there and they travel in numbers so if you see one, chances are another will be along shortly.
Finally, DO NOT swerve to miss hitting an animal. I’m not advocating the killing of these creatures, but this is usually the safest thing to do.
You’re more likely to kill or injure yourself and your passengers by swerving (either into another vehicle or into something like a deep ravine). If an animal jumps out in front of you, BRAKE.
The best way to protect your vehicle from the damage caused in this situation is to install a bull bar (or ‘roo bar’). So if you’re planning a drive in the outback, come and talk to us here