Be aware of your surroundings when driving
Being aware of what is going on around you can help you avoid crashes. To improve your own road safety:
Check your mirrors and adjust them, if necessary, every time you drive. Glance regularly in the rear and side mirrors so you can see what is happening behind and beside you. This is especially important when you are overtaking and changing lanes.
Do a head check to check your blind spots when you want to change lanes, pull out from the kerb, turn, or temporarily enter a bicycle or bus lane. That is, turn your head to the left and the right, and quickly look over your shoulder, to ensure there are no vehicles where you want to move to. A head check can also be a life saver when you are getting into and out of your vehicle. Check that no vehicles or bike riders will be at risk when you open your door.
Take care in car parks, and near trams and buses too. People can be hard to see and can behave unpredictably, especially children, so drive at a safe speed and be prepared to take evasive action if necessary.
Keep a safe distance from the car in front of you. Under ideal conditions, VicRoads recommends a two-second gap between you and the vehicle in front. But in wet weather and at night you should extend that distance to four seconds. This is also the case if you’re less experienced, tired, towing or if you’re carrying a heavy load. (To work out this distance, choose something beside the road. When the back of the car in front passes this object, count ‘one thousand and one, one thousand and two’. Your car should then reach the object. That’s a two-second gap.)
Have your headlights on low beam during the day, to reduce your risk of a crash. Always use low beam headlights when it is raining and in conditions with reduced visibility.
Try not to drive at times when you would usually be asleep, or at night on unlit roads. If you do have to drive at these times, try to keep the journey as short as possible.
Share the driving over long distances, and take frequent breaks – at least every two hours.
Try not to drive if you are feeling unwell. If it cannot be avoided, try to drive when there are fewer cars on the road, be especially alert, and try to use routes that use traffic lights.
Keep left unless over overtaking. Stay out of the right lane when driving on a multi-lane road with a speed limit of more than 80 kilometres per hour or where a ‘Keep Left Unless Overtaking’ sign applies (unless you are overtaking). A multi-lane road is a road with two or more marked traffic lanes in the same direction.
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