Australians’ driving skills tested during storms

Brad Buzzard 5 December 2017

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Poor decision-making and lack of confidence plague Aussie roads.

With wet weather continuing to drench pretty much all of Australia’s east coast, now is a good time for drivers to brush up on their defensive driving skills.

Melbourne has received the brunt of the downpour, which has caused highways to close down and SES staff to respond to numerous traffic incidents. One man learned his lesson the expensive way when he tried to drive his Maserati through flood waters, completely destroying the car.

According to new research by NRMA, situations like these are not uncommon. In fact, 41% of Australians have admitted to driving through flood water.

“It only takes a small amount of floodwater to make even a large vehicle unstable and potentially float away. So the message is clear: it is never safe to drive through floodwater,” head of shared value for NRMA Insurance Ramana James said in a statement.

NRMA’s research shows that a full 95% of Australians feel unsafe when driving during a storm, mostly due to events outside of their control. These include the lack of visibility, the behaviour of other drivers and the adverse effects wet conditions have on a car (like losing traction).

Even more concerning is the percentage of drivers who lack confidence in bad conditions, suggesting a lack of education in defensive driving. A full 24% of people are not confident driving in wet weather, with young drivers being the least assured (30%).

James says there are a few steps people can take to become more confident and to ensure a safe journey.

“Firstly, it’s important to check weather forecasts before you start your journey. If you encounter heavy rain while on your trip, make sure your headlights are on, and pull over when it is safe to do so until the storm has passed,” James said.

Other tips include making sure your car is serviced (including windscreen wipers and headlights), leaving enough room between you and the car ahead of you, carrying an emergency kit, checking the weather ahead of time and having alternative routes or plans in place.

For emergency help in storms and floods, call the NSW SES on 132 500. For life-threatening emergencies, call 000. For more information on how to prepare for severe storms, visit www.ses.nsw.gov.au.

In car news

Picture: Shutterstock / paintings

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