Parent supervising teen driver

Driving down south for the first time, or anywhere long distance for that matter, can be a little daunting.

Navigating country roads requires greater concentration. Variable road conditions and driving for long periods of time can cause fatigue and reduce concentration levels.

Common sense says follow the same road rules as driving at home, but there are some extra things you can do to prepare your Leaver for their first country drive.

Before they hit the road

1. Make sure the vehicle being driven is safe and has had a mechanical check. Don’t forget RAC members are eligible for a free 30 minute fault check at any of our Auto Services centres and can also receive great discounts on car servicing and repairs.

Vehicle inspections

2. Educate your Leaver about the possible driving conditions on country roads, such as unfinished road shoulders, unfinished or more gravelly roads, the dangers of wildlife, and how to interact safely and courteously with other vehicles to ensure they arrive at their destination safely.

3. A great idea is to arrange a supervised drive on a regional road with a speed limit of 110km per hour. This will allow them to be prepared for the speed limit on parts of their journey.

4. Consider the time your teen plans to start their journey. Leavers is already a dangerous time to be driving with an influx of inexperienced drivers on country roads, most of whom are driving for a long distance for the first time.

5. It’s a bad idea for inexperienced drivers to drive on country roads at night. Wildlife tends to be more active after dusk, and can be a serious danger to drivers not used to country roads. It’s better to try leaving the metro area at or just after dawn, and making sure that the journey home happens during daylight hours.

6. Get them covered! As novice drivers under the age of 21, they are eligible for free standard Roadside Assistance for a year with RAC free2go. This will cover them to and from their Leavers destination and save you the rescue mission.

7. Make sure your teen and yourself have a copy of important details like accommodation and emergency contacts. This includes the contact details of everyone they are staying with. In an emergency everyone should have the details to contact others at the accommodation and their parents.

Make sure they know

1. Always keep to the left and only overtake on designated overtaking lanes, with extra space for road trains and cars towing caravans.

2. If driving at night on a country road, make use of the high beams when appropriate. Take the time to educate your teen on how to use them correctly. For starters, don’t high-beam oncoming drivers. Here are the rules for using headlights on WA roads.

side vision mirror view driving at sunset

3. Stay focussed on the road in front of you and be alert to what is happening around you. Try not to focus your vision on one point for too long.

4. Keep an eye out for pedestrians and animals– travelling at a higher speed than usual means they have to remain alert and ensure they have sufficient time to brake.

5. Limit distractions. Phones are always a no-go, loud music or friends can also be a distraction. Try to limit the number of passengers in your car.

6. Increase the distance between you and the car in front. This is really important if your teen is driving on a country road for the first time. This will give them more time to spot any hazards and react. A good rule of thumb is the two-second rule.

city road congestion

7. It’s important to have planned stops at least every two hours along the way. Encourage your teen to stop and stretch their legs to allow the driver to revive and take a break, preferably more than the recommended two hours if they have never driven a long distance. Check out some fun stops along the way they may want to visit here.

8. It is okay if they are uncomfortable or nervous about driving to Leavers. It’s smart to say no if they don’t feel safe. There are plenty of alternative ways to get to their Leavers destination safely.

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