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9 Safety tips for long distance driving in Australia


Australia is one of the most beautiful countries in the world and what better way to explore it than with a road trip! If you want to discover all Australia has to offer, then long-distance driving is often unavoidable. We all know the journey to the destination is half the fun, but a long-distance road trip does require some planning to make sure you arrive safely.

Below are a few long-drive tips to consider before you jump in the car.

1. Leave with a road trip plan

Having a plan is essential when going on a long-distance drive to make sure everything goes smoothly.

Step one of your long car ride is to plan ahead, choose the route you want to take and know where the nearest service stations are. There’s no better way to ruin a road trip than running out of fuel! It’s also helpful to know where rest stops and public bathrooms are located along your journey. An easy way to do this is by using one of the many fantastic camping apps available.

Step two is making sure you pack all the essentials before you get behind the wheel. It’s important on any long-distance drive to pack any medications you may need and to have a first aid kit.

Not sure what to put in your roadside safety kit? Read more about what to pack on our travel first aid checklist.

If you are a bit more adventurous and choose to go off the beaten track on your road trip, you also need to consider bringing recovery equipment in case you find yourself bogged in the middle of the bush!

2. Stay alert while driving long distances

Going on a holiday is exciting, and it can be tempting to drive non-stop until you reach your destination. However, with long drive trips, it’s easy to become fatigued and lose concentration on the road.

Keep alert while on the road leaving a reasonable distance between your car and the car in front. When there is wet weather, slow down and take your time. On rural Australian roads it’s also important to keep an eye out for wildlife which may be attempting to cross the highway.

3. Take breaks during your long-distance trip

‘Survive The Drive’ sign on Australian road - a rest stop for long-distance travellers.

‘Survive The Drive’ sign on Australian road - a rest stop for long-distance travellers.

A good tip for driving long distances alone is to make sure you take regular breaks by pulling over and resting. Listen to your body if you’re feeling tired and take frequent breaks every two hours and avoid using cruise control for long periods.

You can pull into rest areas or a fun way to avoid driver fatigue is to stop at interesting attractions along the way. Australia is full of amazing sites to see, whether it be a picturesque beach, a big statue or a heritage site, there's something for everyone.

Not sure how to find the best places to see? Why not try a free online travel itinerary planner to start organising your next holiday!

4. Bring snacks and stay hydrated

Depending on where you’re headed, there may not be many places to stop and buy food, so it’s important to take your own on long-distance road trips.

Who doesn’t love a good mid-road-trip snack to keep you going?

Not only will snacks keep you energised on your road trip adventure, but they also help in avoiding fatigue and reaching your destination safely. You should also bring a water bottle to stay hydrated. Just be sure to keep two hands on the wheel and always pull over before you have something to eat.

If you want to go the extra mile, we have some amazing the 17 best healthy road trip snacks!


5. Listen to some road trip music

Another way to keep awake on long-distance drives is to make a road trip playlist. What better way to keep your mind awake on the open road than to sing along to all your favourite tunes! It’s a must for long drives.

Need some ideas of what to add to your playlist? We've got you covered! Here is a list of the 15 best road trip songs when travelling Western Australia.

6. Share the drive

Fatigue is more likely to occur when the driver is alone, so if you can avoid doing long-distance drives by yourself and can bring a friend, then do so. Make sure you both have enough sleep and are well rested and make a plan of when and where you are going to stop to switch drivers.

Not only does switching drivers help, but simply having someone there to make conversation and keep you company is also a great way to stay awake.

7. Be cautious of Wildlife

Australian animal crossing sign with images of a kangaroo, koala, bird and wombat.

Australian animal crossing sign with images of a kangaroo, koala, bird and wombat.

Australia is home to some of the most unique wildlife species in the world, including the beloved Kangaroo. Unfortunately, Kangaroos can be a big problem for road users as they can jump out in front of cars without realising the danger. This means that you need to be alert at all times when travelling through bushland or areas where Kangaroos are known to be.

The majority of our Aussie wildlife species are most active around dusk and dawn. Try to avoid travelling at these times and travel during daylight hours on your next long-distance drive.

If you do see a roo on or near the road all you can do is slow down, sound your horn and wait for it to hop away. The loud noise of a horn can help move them along and you can also try flashing your lights if it’s dark.

What do you do if you find a sick or injured animal on the side of the road? You need to make sure you pull over safely, approach the animal with caution and contact the Wildcare Helpline for advice.

8. Obey the road rules and be considerate

An important part of any road trip is making sure you follow the road rules. Speed limits are set with the safety of the driver in mind, so as tempting as it may be to put that peddle to the floor and reach your destination faster, it's important not to speed on Australian roads. Wearing a seatbelt is also essential for your safety, so buckle up!

You should also try to be considerate of other road users by dimming your headlights and overtaking safely. On country roads, it's common for drivers to raise a finger off the steering wheel as a kind of ‘country wave’.

Give it a try next time you hit the road!

9. Keep in mind the local WA weather conditions

Stormy weather down the highway in Marble Bar in the northwest of Western Australia.

Stormy weather down the highway in Marble Bar in the northwest of Western Australia.

Australian weather can be unpredictable, so it’s a smart idea to look at the weather forecast and research bushfire and flood-prone areas before you leave.

During the heat of the summer months, temperatures in Australia can reach up to 45 degrees in some areas. This makes bushfires a common occurrence which can be dangerous on long-distance drives, as many of Australia’s roads and highways are surrounded by bushlands.

To see a map of bushfire-prone land, you can visit the Department of Fire and Emergency Services website.

On the other end of the scale, Australia can also experience some severe floods which can block roads and wash away bridges. So, it’s also important to take note of the areas where flooding is most common if you plan to travel during winter.

Frequently asked questions

  • What is the risk of driving tired?

    Driving tired can pose many dangers for the driver, passengers and other road users. In fact, drivers who have been awake for 17 hours pose the same risk as people with a blood alcohol content reading of 0.05!

    Always take regular breaks, stay hydrated and pay close attention to your energy levels when driving on West Australian roads. Where possible, share the driving and plan your stops ahead of time.

  • How can I drive long-distances without getting tired?

    To drive long-distances without getting tired you need to:

    • Take regular breaks during the road trip.
    • Share the driving responsibility with your travel group.
    • Stay hydrated and bring snacks.

    We have outlined a few ideas in our long-distance driving tips blog to help you on your next trip.

  • How often should I take a break when driving long distances?

    We recommend taking a break every 2 hours when driving long distances. This can include just stopping off to get some petrol, a coffee or even a bite to eat. Plan your journey in advance with multiple breaks along the long-distance road trip.

15 November 2022

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