Happy New Year for 2016 and the many months ahead to plan your long distance driving holiday. Maybe it is your first long road trip or motor rally or motor challenge which lasts for a few days or several weeks. Whatever it is, during your planning and preparation stage as well as the event itself, you want to enjoy your motoring adventure, explore the world, create new friendships, come home with pleasant memories and still be speaking to your driver or navigator. On my previous blog posts you will find specific advice for successful communication and teamwork within the car cabin. Under ‘Expert Tips’ you can read about other people’s experiences on long distance drives. Now read on and discover the the hazards of driving at dusk with the danger of hitting wild animals on the road.
Recently I drove into the Australian countryside through bushland on unsealed roads. Usually I avoid the early evening hours because of the danger of hitting wild animals. A kangaroo or wombat can do serious car damage as you will read later. The setting sun can also play havoc with your vision especially on dusty roadways or when the low rays flick past tree trunks hitting your side vision like a strobe light. So take care if driving westwards with the evening sun.
A wild rabbit will not damage your car but you have to come to terms with running it over. If you try and brake hard or swerve to avoid it, not only is it likely to scamper across the road but you could lose control of your car causing serious damage and personal injury.
In the UK wild animals often run over are the endangered hedgehogs and badgers, in Europe the wild foxes, in the USA the grey squirrels. On Indian roads, watch out for the sacred cows.There are plenty more examples around the globe.
Now meet Kirstie, an eighteen year old Australian woman who had to drive forty kilometres each way to attend High school in a New South Wales country town, of which sixteen were on dirt roads ( unsurfaced). Over a couple of years she has hit several kangaroos when individuals dashed across the road to join their mates in an unpredictable direction. Each time, she’s learnt how to replace damaged bumper bars, headlights or internal engine parts.
However this time it was very early one morning, and she hit a wombat.
‘It was on the tar road going into town for work, about 4 or 5 o’clock in the morning. I was going over a hill and just over the crest, there was this wombat sitting in the middle of the road, right in front of my path. I tried to slow down but it was too late and I ended up hitting it on the driver’s side bumper bar. That pushed the bumper bar in and pushed me off into the left hand side of the road onto the gravel and I ended up spinning round into a 180 ( spin) and facing the other side of the road. My car ended up locking up manually.”
After waiting for her new bumper bar, Kirstie commences fixing the car damage at home.
If you are on a long distance driving trip, consider what skills you have to fix and repair any damage whilst en route, especially away from habitation and mechanics. I have seen fencing wire holding together exhaust pipes, suspension springs and car body parts, an empty tin can wrapped around a magneto and household ground pepper can temporarily block up a leaking radiator.
No matter whether you are driving a modern, classic or vintageant car, two wheel or 4-wheel drive, be as prepared as possible. Minimize hazards and enjoy your long distance drive.
Until next month, safe long distance driving.