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Buying a car

What to expect when planning a road trip

7 February 2019

When you’re planning an epic road trip, the last thing you want to think about is all the things that can go wrong. And why would you - you’re too busy daydreaming of all the amazing stuff you’ll see, endless car games you’ll play, and servo snacks you’ll indulge in.

Although it’s not always exciting to do, making sure you’re prepared and know what to expect when you head out on an outback trip can be super important. That way you can feel more ready to tackle whatever comes your way, and hopefully continue on with your road trip without it being affected too greatly.

Things that can happen when you’re on the road

You may get hot

Australia enjoys some pretty glorious temperatures, especially over summer – which, of course, can be prime time for that road trip adventure. It’s important to note though, that temperatures can get dangerously high depending on where you are. In the outback, for example, you can expect averages of 35-40 degrees every day.

That incredible heat can get old pretty fast, especially if you’re not adequately prepared. It’s incredibly important to make sure you have plenty of hydration on hand, including extra water or electrolyte-packed sports drinks in an esky in the car. If your car is a bit older, you might want to consider having your air conditioning re-gassed before you set off, too.

Aside from being in the car, you can also escape the heat by taking advantage of air-conditioned rest stops you come across, and shady spots under trees to relax in while you stretch your legs or have some lunch.

You may get sleepy

According to Victoria’s Transport Accident Commission (TAC)*, around 20% of fatal road accidents involve driver fatigue. That’s 1 in 5 fatal accidents, which is a significant number when you think about it (and how easily it could be avoided with some extra preparation).

Sleepiness can catch up to all of us. Driving on long stretches of road (which are incredibly common in the outback) can make you particularly tired. So if you feel yourself zoning out or your eyes getting a little heavy, take a break or switch drivers.

Most expert transport authorities suggest taking a break of at least 15 minutes every 2 hours when you’re behind the wheel – but, of course, if your body is asking for a rest sooner, you should most definitely listen to it.

You may get bogged

Getting your car bogged can be a real stick in the mud – pun intended. It can be especially stressful if you’re somewhere isolated with no one immediately on hand to help.

However, if you do find yourself in this kind of situation, the worst thing you can do is panic. Don’t keep stomping on the accelerator hoping your car will jolt out of it. If anything, that will most likely just bury your wheels even deeper or damage your tyres.

If it’s not safe to get out of your car, you may need to call emergency services. However, in most instances, it’s best to safely get everyone out of the car, and stay with the vehicle while you call roadside assistance. Suncorp’s Roadside Assist can tow you up to 20km in metro areas and 100km in the country (for free!) to a repairer, so if the bog has caused damage you may be able to get some much-needed help. Of course, you need to be towed further, this can be arranged at an additional cost.

Discover Suncorp Roadside Assist

You may encounter wildlife

When you’re out on the open road, you may come across some of Australia’s animal inhabitants. It’s important to remember that in these more remote areas wildlife aren’t as used to seeing cars, and therefore might not be as careful around the speedy foreign objects we’ve suddenly introduced to their homes.

Obviously, trying to prevent accidents from occurring is the best step. You can do your best to avoid being in a collision with wildlife by:

  • Keeping an eye out for animal signage. Usually, in areas that are particularly susceptible to wildlife living, there will be signs cautioning drivers to pay extra attention. Don’t just ignore these warnings; take them seriously by slowing down and taking notice of any movement you catch at the edges of the road
  • Being really vigilant if you’re driving at dusk and dawn, because this can be a popular time for wildlife to be on the move, and it can be more difficult to see
  • Slowing down if you encounter an animal on the road and it’s safe to do so, even if it’s not directly in your path. An animal might be startled by the lights or noise of your vehicle, and it may cause them to run directly into danger
  • Being cautious of other vehicles on the road, both in front and behind you. It’s important to give space when following another car, in case they need to suddenly brake. It’s equally important to be careful of cars following you too closely, which may mean you need to slow down further to minimise risks, or encouraging them to overtake you if it’s safe to do so

If you are in a collision with wildlife, try to remain calm and pull over to the side of the road as soon as you safely can. Try to avoid swerving unnecessarily, as this could put you in danger of losing control of your car, or colliding with other vehicles on the road.

You should then contact the local wildlife rescue group and let them know what has happened. They can inform you of the next steps, including whether or not it is safe to approach the injured wildlife to provide it with further assistance. If your car is damaged, you may need to report the incident to your insurer, and potentially call for roadside assistance if your vehicle is no longer safe to drive.

You may make lifelong memories

As important as it is to be prepared for the worst case scenario, don’t let that take away from the fact that your road trip is likely to be an incredible experience. Australia is a unique and beautiful place, and there are so many great spots to explore within our backyard.

So, after you make sure you’ve packed your car with the essentials (including spare water, snacks, and emergency repair kits), you’ve serviced your vehicle, and got your car insurance and roadside assist cover all up to date, there’s only one thing left to do – have a ton of fun!

*Source: Transport Accident Commission - Fatigue Statistics

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Insurance is issued by AAI Limited ABN 48 005 297 807 trading as Suncorp Insurance. Consider the Product Disclosure Statement before making a decision about this insurance. This advice has been prepared without taking into account your particular objectives, financial situations or needs, so you should consider whether it is appropriate for you before acting on it.