Dangers Of Night Time Driving in Australia
There are few things as exciting as planning a holiday road trip. Especially if this road trip is in one of our campervans or motorhomes.
Australia is a prime holiday destination when it comes to doing a self-drive holiday: large open spaces, lovely long stretches of uninterrupted roads and breathtaking scenery.
However, driving in Australia at night is a whole other experience and one that we strongly advise all our customers against doing.
Below is a list of things to look out for while driving in Australia ,especially at night.
1. Australian wildlife are nocturnal
Our animals (kangaroos, wallaby’s, wombats, possums to name a few) come out to play when the sun goes down and they tend to like to play in the roads. As the temperature drops at night, the roads remain warm and make for the perfect place to have a sleep for many Australian wildlife. They also tend to get startled in headlights and are not known for their quick reaction times. The likelihood of either one of you being able to react in time is slim to none and a collision is almost always inevitable.
Dusk and dawn are also the times when our animals are at their most active and where visibility is compromised.
A scenario that we have had in the past, is where a family had the unfortunate experience of colliding with a red kangaroo one night on an isolated stretch of road. The vehicle was a write off and needed to be replaced. However, because the accident occurred at night there were no open towing companies and the family could not be reached until the following day. They had to spend the night, in the middle of nowhere, in a broken vehicle.
This is the type of traumatic experience that we don’t want anyone to go through, especially with young children.
2. Australia is big with long, isolated stretches of road
If you find yourself stranded along one of our vast stretches of roads between destinations, you will in all likelihood be there for the night. Australia is a beautiful country, but it is also a very harsh country weather wise, with summer temperatures that can soar well into the 40’s (Celsius) and can drop into the negatives. During winter, spring and autumn, roads are prone to forming black ice and can become very slippery and difficult to negotiate. We don’t want our customers to ever be in unsafe conditions, and being stranded overnight in the Australian outback is definitely not a safe place to be. Due to the size of the country, it is possible that you can be left stranded in an area where it will take up to 8 hours for a tow truck to reach you.
Another point to take into consideration is the lack of mobile coverage in some areas of Australia. Outside of residential areas, it is possible that you may be without coverage, meaning that if you were to have had an accident you would have to wait for another vehicle to pass in order to seek help and there is no telling how long that could take.
3. Visibility is decreased at night time
Driving at night becomes much harder as you are limited to the area that is illuminated by your headlights. Factor in the glare from oncoming traffic, your visibility is reduced even further with your reaction time in these conditions are slower…not ideal when confronted with wildlife in the middle of the road.
4. Open grazing livestock pose a potential hazard
In the outback, farms don’t always have fenced in areas for their animals, creating natural corridors for their life-stock to move freely to access food, shelter and water. This means that these animals cross roads without warning. Life-stock are not known for their fast reaction skills, so when startled by headlights, the likelihood of you hitting them is great. Additionally, these animals move in herds, so the chance of you encountering a herd across the road is great.
5. Driver fatigue is a major cause of accidents
Between 20 to 30% of all fatal accidents on Australian roads are caused by driver fatigue. Studies have shown that sleep deprived driving is the same as driving while intoxicated with alcohol.
Some of the effects of driver fatigue are:
- Difficulty concentrating and being easily distracted
- Poor judgement
- Reduced hand-eye coordination and visual perception
- Reduced vigilance
- Slower reaction time
These are just a few factors that contribute to the perils of driving at night. Factor in not being well versed in Australian road rules (for international customers), inexperience in driving a campervan or motorhome and not knowing the area you are driving in, driving at night is just not worth it.
We want our customers to have the best experience possible when they hit the road in one of our vehicles and that is why we strongly recommend that you do not drive at night.
How can you make the best out of your trip?
- Do your research: Australia is a large country with the distances between destinations being deceptively long
- Plan your trip: Make sure you allow for adequate driving time between stops so you have enough time to find your campground while it is still light out
- Know the rules: Research Australian driving rules so you know how to safely drive in each state in Australia
- Have a buddy: to avoid driver fatigue, make sure you have someone who you can share the driving with
- Rest: If you have decided to take a solo trip, give yourself time to recuperate between the different legs of your journey
- Be prepared: Always have enough petrol/diesel, drinking water and other necessities when travelling. Fuel stations are few and far between when travelling in some areas, with stations sometimes being up to 500km’s apart.
And above all: stop when the sun goes down. One of the greatest joys about hiring a campervan or motorhome for your road trip is so that you can enjoy your evenings relaxing under the stars after a day of adventuring.
Don’t compromise your trip by travelling in unsafe conditions.
More information on optimising your campervan/motorhome holiday experience: