Yes, it is officially spring even though the weather may not be co-operating. As we roll into a new season, there are ways we need to prepare both our
vehicles and ourselves as drivers. Here are 10 tips to help you enjoy spring driving in safety.
- Don’t be too eager to take off your winter tyres. They should be left on your car (if you have them) until the ambient temperatures stay above 7 degrees
- We can still get some freak snow fall which means the warm spring sun can melt ice and snow near the road. This melt water can freeze when the sun
stops shining on it and the temperatures drop below zero. If you notice wet-looking roads and the temperatures have dropped below freezing, expect
there to be surface ice so make sure that you slow down and pay attention.
- As the weather warms it will bring out motorcyclists and cyclists. Every motorist has to practise good vision techniques and stay focused on their
driving to spot these smaller road users. We must share the road with all users. Looking out for and respecting these two-wheeled travellers is
an important part of safe motoring.
- On the other side of the safety equation, cyclists and bikers need to ride wisely and be visible to motorists. Cyclists should wear brightly coloured
clothing or safety vests, use lights, keep left and ride in single file. The Laws of Physics are not on the side of the smaller vehicle in a collision.
- Warmer weather brings more children outside. Slow down and pay very careful attention in residential and school zones. School kids are easily distracted
by play and don’t always notice traffic. Be alert for teenagers who tend to be fixated on their texting, socialising, ipods and mobile phones and,
as a result, won’t be paying much attention to traffic and what is happening around them. We have all seen people walking down the street busy
texting on their phones we have even seen cyclists texting on phones. Pay attention to children doing paper rounds in the mornings, sometimes they
have headphones on listening to music and perhaphs cannot hear you coming. Be vigilant for them!
- This time of year is when we can get the wide fluctuations in temperatures and freeze-thaw cycles. This combination causes pot holes to form - as if
we don;'t have enough we hear you say!. Stay well back of the vehicle in front and stay focused on your driving and you can give yourself more
time to see these wheel-bending potholes. Staying farther back from the vehicle in front of you will also reduce your chances of being hit by kicked-up
rocks and stones - it doesn't take a lot to crack your windscreen. Keeping your vision high is critical to safe driving. Do not become fixated
with looking downward at the road looking for potholes and debris. Use quick glances to look for dangers on the road surface. Making sure you have
the correct tyre pressures will help protect your vehicle from damage caused by driving over potholes - read our pot hole blog for more tips. If
you do experience damage be sure to take your car to your local independent garage for repair straight away to minimise additional
damage and costs.
- Heavy spring rains coupled with melt water can cause localised flooding - with the recent heavy rainfall and saturated ground it doesn't take
a lot of rainfall for floods to occur at the moment. When encountering a flooded road never try to cross the flooded section as the roadway under
the water could have been washed out. Instead, turn around and look for an alternate route.
- Spring wreaks havoc on gravel shoulders. They can be much softer than usual from all the melt water. Coupled with that winter erosion, gullies can
form on the shoulders. Use extra care if you’re pulling off the road or if you drop a wheel off on to the shoulder. Smooth steering inputs will
help you maintain control. Never jerk the steering wheel to rush your return to the road and never slam on your brakes - this could cause you to
skid and loose control.
- Rural gritters tend to use a lot of sand mixed with salt to increase traction on snowy roads. Any residual sand will act as tiny ball bearings under
your tyres causing a noticeable reduction in grip. When exiting off of a major rural road onto one less travelled, you may be driving from a road
with good grip to one with very little grip as you encounter these sand-covered roads. Look where you want to go, slow down and expect the road
to be slippery adjust your driving to meet with the current road conditions.
- Many animals hibernate through the winter months and will now be on the move as they forage for food. Being prepared for this can help prevent animal
deaths and damage to your vehicle. Slow down in rural areas or where animal traffic is high. If you are not sure of your skill level, it is better
to hit smaller animals than to risk your safety and that of others by taking evasive actions. Motorists have died or have been seriously injured
trying to swerve to avoid animals. Slow down - especially when you are driving down roads you are unfamiliar with.
Driver distraction is a leading cause of traffic crashes. Take regular breaks when taking road trips in order to stay alert. It is so important to
remember to stay focused on the task of driving and let your passengers enjoy the sights, sounds and smells of spring in safety.