IN Victoria, it is often said that you can experience four seasons in one day and, despite the unfailing dry nature of the conditions of late, the weather will break and when it does, drivers have to adjust.
A change to wintry conditions can come on fast and it’s often right at that moment of change, when rain hits previously dry, now greasy roads, that collisions can happen.
So, what should you do if you find yourself on a leisurely weekend drive or on the run home from work when the weather changes?
Adapt to the conditions.
Speeds on Victorian roads are set at safe limits for normal conditions but you need to be able to adapt to changing conditions, such as lowering your speed should you be hit with foul weather.
Driving at 100km/h isn’t going to cut it when that dark cloud looms, visibility is poor and the rain comes down.
Make a mental note that the trip is going to take longer than expected, adjust your speed, your use of the brakes and the distance between you and other vehicles, and be prepared for the unexpected.
Roads change throughout the day and you need to be able to adapt your driving style to suit the road you’re on.
Be aware that roads are often at their most slippery just after the rain starts. This is because all the oil and fluids that have built up on them over time are brought to the surface by the water on the road.
This is particularly so in rural areas where stock transports may have left some cattle gunk behind or other heavy vehicles have lost oil and other fluid.
Give other road users more room, make yourself more visible
“When conditions are bad we need to give ourselves and those around us more time to react. Simple things like increasing the distance between you and the car ahead, or turning on your lights to make yourself visible can make a huge difference,” said a spokesperson for the Transport Accident Committee.
Avoid sudden changes of direction and lane changing.
When conditions are really bad, the risks in driving are amplified. There’s less grip on the road when it is wet and sudden movements, like quick lane changes or swerving, and last-second turns into streets of gaps can lead to loss of control.
This is particularly true if conditions are icy. And don’t laugh. It actually snowed at Mt Buller last week, so it can happen.
As lead singer for the Doors, Jim Morrison sang “Keep your eyes on the road, keep your hands upon the wheel” in ‘Roadhouse Blues’, it’s the best advice you can get when road conditions turn particularly nasty.
Like risky lane changes, the potential for distractions like mobile phones to mess with your driving is increased.
When it’s wet, you have much less time to react and simple things like answering the phone or taking your eyes off the road for some other reason can lead to disaster.
Cranking up the stereo can be fun while driving, but turning the radio down or off is another way you can increase your concentration when you need to.
It’s going to rain eventually in South Gippsland so be prepared to drive to the conditions, no excuses.