With plenty of road safety messages in the media over Christmas, it’s easy to become complacent or forget the importance of safe driving – until you learn the alarming road incident statistics.
So far this year WA’s seen 172 road fatalities and an estimated 2,594 serious injuries, with increased incidents typically experienced during the festive period.
Christmas is a time best spent with loved ones, so make sure you’re set for travelling this season by following these simple road safety tips:
Check your tyre tread
When was the last time you checked your tyres? They’re often overlooked (maybe because there’s no warning sign for them on the dashboard!).
Your tyres must have 1.4mm or more tread depth to be legal. Tyre wear can increase through incorrect tyre pressure, so make sure you routinely check them – especially before a long journey
Get some polarised sunglasses
It’s safe to say we’ll have some sunny weather in the coming weeks, which can produce a nasty glare that may inhibit your vision when driving. Invest in some polarised sunglasses and keep them handy for the car rides ahead.
Remember those drinks from the night before
You’re still labelled a drink driver if you drive under the influence the morning after a night out. It’s a common scenario: the morning after the Christmas work party, you think you’re fine to drive. You’re stopped to be breathalysed to discover you’re over the limit.
Up to 20% of drink drivers are caught between 6:00am and midday. Unsure if you’re OK to drive? You probably aren’t – use public transport or grab a cab.
Keep a safe distance
Around 30% of all crashes are rear-ended. With busy roads come frustrated drivers, you won’t get there any quicker by tailgating.
As soon as you start to feel annoyed about the traffic ahead, take a deep breath and slow down until you’re a safe distance away from the car in front. This should be roughly a two second gap, or four seconds if conditions are poor.
Get some sleep
It’s a busy time of year, full of Christmas parties, family gatherings and trips away. Have you ever fallen asleep for a split second behind the wheel? Sleep experts call this a ‘microsleep’ and it can be fatal.
Signs of fatigue include yawning, squinting and blinking more than usual. You may also wander into a daze, forgetting the last few kilometres. Sound familiar?
If you experience any of these signs it’s always better to avoid driving. Take another mode of transport or, if already driving, take a break and have a nap if needed
Use indicators properly
Indicators are designed to warn the car behind that you’ll be turning soon. Too often drivers will brake or start to turn before indicating, which is pointless.
Not only is this frustrating for the car behind but it’s dangerous. Assume that every other car on the road isn’t paying attention and give them plenty of opportunity to react.
Do not swerve to avoid animals
Animals on the road can be a huge hazard. There are many videos on social media showing drivers stopping to let animals cross the freeway, or swerving dangerously only to miss them by inches. Although it’s nice to know an animal is saved, it could quite easily have turned out differently. Don’t risk your own and other road users lives by swerving.
Put your phone out of sight
Our phones are now integrated into most aspects of our lives – they travel with us to work, to school and out socialising on a weekend. One place they don’t belong is in direct line of sight while driving.
According to Road Safety Commission’s Driver Distraction Education Campaign, two seconds looking at your phone is 33 metres driving blind. Ninety percent of WA drivers acknowledge the danger of texting while driving, yet 57% still offend.
Replying to a message can always wait. If it can’t wait, pull over at a safe place. To avoid distraction entirely, just put the phone in the glove box until you arrive.
One last reminder…
You’ve checked over your car and the family are packed ready to go. Double check if you need to pick up some Kwik-Gas for the BBQ – you’ll be in serious trouble with the family if you run out of gas on the big day!