THE road environment is constantly changing and as a driver it's something you need to consider each time you get behind the wheel.
Even a road you travel on every day can produce different conditions and hazards each time you drive on it. So it's important not to become complacent.
While there is a potentially endless list of variables that you may encounter on the road, there are a couple of key principles that will put you in good stead should you need to deal with any road environment.
The first is your level of visibility.
Just how far you can see ahead and your ability to see what's happening around you will ultimately dictate what you can do as a driver.
Weather conditions such as rain, fog or smoke are some of the obvious ones, but there are other scenarios where your vision can be compromised.
These relate to the road environment itself and can include driving at night, other traffic, trees or bushes that block your view of a corner or intersection, the crest of a hill where you can not see what's coming towards you or dust from a vehicle in front of you on a country road.
Aside from visibility, your car's ability to brake, accelerate, steer and grip the road can all be affected by changes in the road surface. Things like water, dirt, gravel, oil, painted surfaces and ice reduce the grip your tyres can achieve.
Of course these are just a few examples and I'm sure you've experienced others as well, however you've probably also noticed that it's not uncommon to see drivers continuing to drive in these conditions without adjusting the flow of their car.
While you can't necessarily control the conditions, you can control what you do behind the wheel.
The most critical aspect is to understand that if grip and visibility are compromised in any way, you must modify your driving to suit those conditions.
It's a case of reducing your speed and increasing your safety margins to a level where you can manage the conditions.
Russell White's experience in the driver training industry spans more than 24 years. He is widely regarded as one of Australia's leading road safety advocates. His business offers the complete range of driver training and fleet management services, visit driversafety.com.au
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