Western Australia is many things, beautiful, big, sparse and at times unforgiving. Each year a number of people meet their end while driving through WA. Most of the time a few bits of information would have helped them avoid that fate. So, let’s take a look at some road trip safety tips for Western Australia.
Whether you’ve just bought a second-hand backpacker bargain or your taking your long-trusted daily driver, get your car serviced before you leave. Having someone look over the essentials and making sure your car is in good running order might seem obvious, but its something not to be taken lightly.
Also, make sure you know some basics about your car. Like what tire pressure you should be at, what type of oil runs best for your your car and how far a tank of gas will take you. Your car is your lifeline out there on the road, take care of it.
Obvious statement – Australia can get hot. Take plenty of spare water with you. We’re talking over 20 litres of the stuff and make sure you refill it at a gas station after you’ve been camping or drinking a lot. Water will save your life.
Knowing how far you’ll get on a tank of petrol is one thing and knowing where you’re going to fill up again is another. If you are doing some serious touring, you will want to look very carefully at the distances between fuel stops. Also, just because you get 8 litres per hundred K’s when driving down Kwinana freeway, does not mean you’ll get the same when road tripping. Extra weight, roofracks and towing can reduce your fuel efficiency dramatically.
Check out Fuel Map as a way to plan your fuel stops
First Aid Kit
Another essential piece of road trip safety is a good quality first aid kit. Try to not completely cheap out on this item as there is a drastic increase in quality and capabilities. Also, try and buy locally made kits that are specifically designed for Australian conditions and will have things like snake bite treatment available. After you’ve bought it, get familiar with its contents. The last thing you want in an emergency is to be shuffling through the first aid kit not knowing what you’re looking for.
Being able to let people know where you are and what type of help you need is road trip safety 101. And no, your phone will not work everywhere in this country so make some other arrangements. Common communication gear is a UHF radio, a satellite phone or a personal locator beacon.
What to do if you break down
Breaking down is a fact of life. It happens whether you’re in a $100,000 dollar luxury road tourer or a $1500 beat up backpacker wagon. Although, probably more likely in the latter. It sucks, but it happens. If you do break down on West Australian roads; pull off the road to the left, turn your hazard lights on and your engine off (if running). Stay calm, and call for help. Ring your roadside assistance provider or call RAC. RAC will come out even if you are not a member but you’ll be charged.
If you’re in a place with no reception, stay with your car and wait for assistance. Wait a bit for someone to come past and try and hail them down. Or if you’re in a real remote area with no chance of help, it’s time to hit that emergency beacon or call emergency services with your sat phone. But always, stay with or close by your car if safe to do so. If rescuers are looking for you, you will be easier to spot. The car will provide shelter and you hopefully have a supply of food and water with you.
Driving can get stressful and it’s easy for people to get frustrated and angry on long journeys. Maintaining and following basic road etiquette will make everyone’s time on the road easier. In safe conditions, you should be doing the speed limit. People hate getting stuck behind slower cars or especially campervans and people towing trailers.
If you see cars backing up behind you and clear road in front of you, you’re likely the problem. Pull over to a rest area or just wait until an overtaking lane appears. And please, don’t speed up once you are in an overtaking lane, just let people pass you.
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