Are you planning a road trip across Western Australia?
Maybe you’re hoping to take the kids to a caravan park in WA’s south-west during the school holidays. Or maybe you want to get away on a quick weekend retreat. No matter the occasion, it’s always important to adequately prepare for your trip and follow the local WA road rules.
If you’re travelling to Western Australia from another country or state, the local road rules may be different to what you are used to. Here are some handy information sheets from the Road Safety Commission to give you a brief understanding of rules that apply when driving on WA roads. There are even PDF info documents you can download in a variety of languages.
Before starting your West Australian adventure, here are some handy driving tips (note: these tips are for official state roads, if you’re travelling off-road, you’ll need to take additional precautions):
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Plan your trip
Before you head off, make sure you know where you’re going and plan your trip. Mobile phone coverage is sparse once you’re outside of main towns, don’t rely on your phone to show you where you’re going, make sure you have a good old-fashioned map handy.
Also be sure to check road conditions before you set-off. Rainfall, bushfires and other natural events can cause havoc on our roads. These can lead to major detours and travel delays.
” Always check the road conditions before doing a trip. Rainfall can rapidly cause roads can be closed due to floods.” Reni and Marcel, Swiss Nomads
Travelling to Remote Areas
Your vehicle should always have a spare tyre and car jack in case you sustain a puncture in your travels. Installing dual batteries in your vehicle will also help prevent your battery running flat, so you don’t end up stranded when trying to start your car after making a prolonged stop. Always pack ample food and water, let friends or family know your expected travel route and keep a list of local emergency numbers in case an emergency occurs.
” When making a new start each day, make a habit of popping the bonnet and doing a quick check of your fluid/oil levels. Do the usual walk around and have a quick look under the vehicle for leaks, caught sticks etc..” Jimmy, GRABmeGear
Animals on The Road
Western Australia is home to thousands of unique animals that can often get misplaced and end up crossing our country roads. This puts not only them at risk but also road users, so precaution and care must be taken if you see an animal on or close to the road.
“If travelling at dawn, dusk or night and you have passengers, ask them to keep an eye out for Roos or Cattle – avoid driving at these times if you can.” Jimmy, GRABmeGear
This is even more important at night time due to reduced visibility and vehicle headlights which could cause animals to scare – rushing in front of your fast-moving vehicle.
If you do unfortunately hit an animal or see an injured animal in your travels, contact the Wildcare helpline straight away on (08) 9474 9055. The volunteers will be able to give advice on how to help the sick or injured animal or refer you to a wider network of experts for more detailed advice.
Staying Fuelled Up
While many parts of Western Australia have fuel stations available quite regularly, in more remote locations they are much less consistent – often hundreds of kilometres between stations. That’s why proper planning before making the trip across WA is vital to ensure you make it the full distance.
“Each time you fill up, take note of how many litres you used and then calculate average fuel consumption so you have a rough idea of how far you can travel (needed for WA as long way between fuel stations).” Jimmy, GRABmeGear
Head over to the fuel watch website and try out their free trip planner tool. This will allow you to input your starting and finishing locations and will point out fuel destinations along your journey.
For example, if you were planning to travel from Perth to Albany, you can stop at Williams (approx. 170km from Perth) to refill, and then at Mount Barker (approx. 370km from Williams), before making the final drive to Albany.
“Plan your trip and check where you can get fuel. In rural areas petrol stations are sparse.” Reni and Marcel, Swiss Nomads.
Towing Laws in Western Australia
If you’re planning to travel WA with a camper trailer or caravan in tow, it’s important you read up on the local laws. Knowledge of the laws related to towing is crucial to keep all road users safe and reduce the risk of serious crashes.
Fines can be handed out to any road user that is seen to be breaking the local towing laws and ignorance of these laws is not an excuse.
A few of the most common laws related to towing in Western Australia include:
- While towing, you must not exceed 100km/h – you must also obey posted speed limits
- All trailers and caravans must have a rear non-obstructed licence plate visible
- You may only tow one trailer at a time
- Your vehicle will have a towing limit you can’t legally exceed – refer to your vehicle manufacturers handbook for more information
There are many more laws related to towing in Western Australia. To ensure you have a comprehensive understanding of local laws, refer to this Vehicle Safety and Standards Information Bulletin on Safe Towing pdf supplied by the WA Department of Transport.
One issue that many road users fail to take control of when travelling long distances is fatigue management. A quick ‘microsleep’ of three to five seconds when behind the wheel could cause devastation.
“Take breaks and when you do play a game like frisbee or throw a ball, kick a footy, something to get blood flowing and keep you alert.” Jimmy, GRABmeGEAR
When on a road trip across Western Australia, try to take it in turns driving to reduce the risk of severe fatigue. Stop regularly to have a stretch, take your mind off the road and enjoy some coffee at one of WA’s many Rest Areas.
It’s recommended that you have a minimum of 6 hours of sleep every night to help prevent fatigued driving. You may want to get to your holiday destination as quick as possible, but it’s not worth putting the lives of other road users, your loved ones and yourself at risk. Check out the fatigue page on the WA Government’s Road Safety Commission website for more information.
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