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Wet or snowy conditions
Rain, hail, sleet and snow make driving a vehicle a challenge and extra concentration is always needed. Even the lightest of showers can make road conditions slippery, particularly when mixed with oil and other substances that have accumulated on the road way over time. Rain, hail, sleet and snow also affect visibility when driving and can result in additional hazards like localised flooding or debris on the roadway. Motorists driving in wet or snowy conditions are urged to remember the following.
- Slow down in wet weather. The posted speed limits are the maximum speed with good conditions so if conditions are hazardous drivers should always reduce their speed accordingly.
- Increase your braking distance and leave ample room between your vehicle and the vehicle in front of you.
- Turn on your headlights to increase visibility.
- Ensure your windscreen wipers are working effectively and your vehicle is mechanically sound. Make sure your tyres have ample tread and are inflated to the required level.
- Exercise patience. With wet weather there will inevitably be increased volume of traffic on the road due to those who generally walk or ride a bike using their vehicle instead.
- Allow extra time to travel to your destination.
- Apply your brakes in a steady and controlled manner. Braking hard and suddenly in wet weather can cause you to loose control.
- Do not accelerate quickly after stopping. Apply gentle pressure to your accelerator to avoid skidding.
- Unless you are fully aware of the water depth, flow and any road damage or impediment, do not attempt to cross a flooded road, bridge or causeway. Never ignore a warning sign.
- If heavy rain, hail, sleet or snow make driving too difficult pull over safely to the side of the road and wait until conditions ease.
- Always heed advice about avoiding roads which may be affected by snow, debris, mud, flooding or a motor vehicle collision.
- Fit snow chains where required.
Foggy and frosty conditions
Due to Canberra’s colder climate, motorists often have to tackle foggy and frosty conditions. Good concentration and observation is needed when driving in these conditions as is some basic commonsense.
- Turn your lights on in foggy conditions. Seeing and being seen is crucial in foggy conditions.
- In fog, reduce your speed and increase your braking distance. This will allow you more time to react to unexpected vehicles or hazards that emerge in the fog and also allows others to react to your presence. Also allow extra time to arrive at your destination.
- If you have to stop because of thick fog move well off the road into a lay-by area.
- Ensure that any frost that has accumulated in your vehicle does not affect your driving vision. Both the front and rear windscreen and all side windows must be clear enough to allow you full visibility. Mirrors must also be clear.
- During the colder months, surface moisture or dew can freeze and become ‘black ice’. Take particular care when travelling on roads that may be affected by ‘black ice’.
With Canberra located close to the Snowy Mountain ski fields, it is common to see a mass exodus of motorists, from both the ACT and from interstate, heading to the snow during the winter months. Typically on Friday afternoon large volumes of traffic head south along the Monaro Highway toward the slopes while Sunday afternoon sees the weary travellers entering and passing through Canberra again as they head home. Police urged all motorists not let the rush of a planned trip to the snow influence their driving manner. Here are some tips for drivers to ensure your trip to the snow does not take a turn for the worst.
- Ensure you are adequately rested before embarking on your trip.
- Be alert and patient when driving in heavy traffic conditions.
- Counter fatigue during your trip by taking regular breaks to rehydrate, replenish and allow your concentration levels time to recharge. Driver-Reviver stations are generally in operation over busy ski weekends and police encourage a break every two hours.
- Be aware that seasonal drops in temperature can lead to road conditions changing suddenly, potentially bringing hazards such as high winds, snow, ice or fog. Be prepared for sudden changes and tailor your driving accordingly.
For advice on roads and traffic to the NSW snowfields, Roads Traffic Authority provides a recorded information service by phoning (02) 6450 5551.