Motorways are often fast and efficient ways to get from one city to another or even just from A to B! But accidents are common on motorways, and if you’re motorway driving, safety is paramount and there are certain mistakes you should avoid at all costs.
Multitasking at work is beneficial, but multitasking while driving is a big no-no. While you might pride yourself on being able to do lots of different things at once, getting distracted by your mobile phone, your screaming kids or by eating food is one of the best ways to cause an accident. Remember, eyes on the road – at all times.
Overtaking a vehicle on the left, inside lane – also known as undertaking – is not illegal in Australia, but it can be dangerous. Unless you’re on a multi-lane motorway where the left lane is clearly marked and/or the car in front is indicating right, undertaking should be strictly avoided.
Drifting out of your lane is a common mistake, especially on long stretches of motorway or when you’re tired or fatigued. If your car does drift out of its lane, be careful not to overcorrect or quickly whip your wheel back in the other direction. This can cause your car to lose control and in top-heavy vehicles, it could potentially lead to a rollover. Instead, avoid knee-jerk reactions and correct your position smoothly.
If you think your blind spot is bad, imagine how hard it is for a truckie! Blind spot areas generally occur on both sides of trucks and behind them. Hanging around in a truck’s blind spot is highly dangerous, so keep your distance, avoid overtaking and try to keep the truck’s mirrors in view to help you evade any blind spots.
Does your car have a crush on the vehicle in front of it? If not, why are you driving so close? If the car brakes suddenly, you’re likely to crash straight into it and when it comes to legal implications, you’ll be at fault. Always make sure you leave at least 3 seconds between you and the car in front and increase this to 4-5 seconds when driving in hazardous conditions or at night.
Turning off the motorway or changing lanes? It’s important on motorways (an any other road) to let other drivers know exactly what you are doing. This is because everyone is driving at high speeds and unexpected moves can cause serious accidents. If you’re turning or changing, always indicate!
If you’re going the wrong way, it’s not always okay to turn around on a motorway. Remember to only conduct U-turns at designated U-turn areas and check for traffic before you pull out onto the road again. If in doubt, avoid U-turns altogether and instead take a motorway exit and get back onto the road via the entry ramp that will lead you back in the opposite direction.
Most drivers let their eyes fall on the immediate section of road in front of their car. But when driving on a motorway, you should be looking at least 12 seconds ahead of you. At 90 km/hour, this is roughly 300 metres. Looking ahead means noticing any obstacles before you get to them and avoiding any serious collisions.
High beam lights are essential in hazardous or wet weather conditions, but leaving your high beams on when it’s not necessary is unsafe for other drivers. High beams can distract other drivers, create blinding glares and subsequently cause crashes, so be sure to turn them off once you’re out of danger zones.
In a 2011 report by AustRoads, speeding was revealed to be one of the top mistakes made by Aussie drivers. Speeding, whether intentional or not, is not only a major cause of accidents and deaths, but also involves heavy fines, penalties and even jail time. Make sure you know the limits and pay attention to changing speed limits, particularly in wet weather, where the speed limit is often much lower.