Driving To Or In A Remote Area – Precautions

Everybody has a different definition of what a “remote” area means, however for the purpose of this article, we will look at the following –  Being physically remote (ie there is physically no one else around, no cars etc so that if you break down there is the possibility you will be stranded for a significant time), being in an area where there is none or bad phone reception, and driving in a new area where you have never been before (unfamiliar driving conditions).

Be prepared

It may seem the obvious answer, however many people simply do not believe that something will go wrong, or they lack the foresight to be fully prepared for the trip they are making, including the necessary equipment required if they are stranded or have an accident.  It is usually very rare that you just find yourself in a remote location, so remember to go over what you may need before making the trip.  Obviously what is required will vary depending on the trip you are making and where you are going, but some basic things to remember are below (but do not limit yourself to just these items).

  • Satellite phone or emergency beacon – If you are outside of normal phone coverage, make sure you do your research and get something that allows you to at least send a signal that you are in trouble.  Preferably a phone that works in the area, although costly, could save a life.
  • Extra fuel – Even if you know where all the service stations are, make sure you bring enough fuel that will get you to the next service station after that. 
  • Now your route – Have a trip planned.  Know where you are going to go, where there will be phone reception, and where the service stations are (there are a lot of apps for this these days).
  • Food and Water, especially water – If you are going to be somewhere remote like the outback, take food and water.  There are very few places that will leave you stranded in an area where you won’t see someone else at least in the next 24 hours but if you do find yourself having to walk in the heat, these will be essential.
  • An umbrella or something for the shade – As above, if caught in the outback, especially in summer, people have died from heat exhaustion waiting for the next car to come.  Cars can get hot and most time it is purely the sun exposure.  An umbrella can let you dwell outside the car while still keeping the sun off you.
  • Check weather forecasts – Know what potential weather you will be driving into as this can drastically change the road conditions
  • Pre-book accommodation stops – Book your accommodation stops in advance, and ask them to ring a contact number if you don’t turn up after the expected time, this could signal to someone that you may have broken down or had an accident.
  • First Aid Kit – Hopefully you won’t need it, but if you do, you will want it there.
  • Tools and basic car maintenance – You don’t want to be stranded on the side of the road in the middle of nowhere for a minor issue.  Remember to have the basics, extra fuel, oil, water, spare tyre (maybe even 2), maybe even a spare spark plug and fuses.  Of course make sure you have all the tools to do the job as well.
  • A spare key – It’s not as big a thing today with remote locking but still, you would hate something to go wrong.  It is worth having a spare key located in a hidden spot outside the vehicle that you can access in case you lock your keys in the car.

Don’t go where the vehicle can’t take you

Plan ahead and make sure you have the right vehicle for the right trip.  If you don’t, don’t risk unnecessary accidents by taking a vehicle where it should not go.  If you need a four wheel drive and don’t have one, turn around.  Turn back from running creeks and other hazards and obey all road warning signs.

Get the car serviced

Make sure your car is services before you leave home for a big trip.  If it is in peak condition there is less likely a chance that something will go wrong, especially if you are doing quite  a long distance.

Use A Satellite GPS

Getting lost can be just as bad as your car breaking down.  With technology these days if you’re travelling somewhere unfamiliar, a GPS is the best way not to get lost.

Tell Someone

Don’t forget – tell someone that you are going away, where to and for how long, including all the stops on the way.

Take A Break

Standard driving advice but more so in remote areas as often roads can be long and boring.  If you find yourself on a trip in the middle of nowhere, no matter how much you want to get there – take a break and stretch the legs.  IF you are feeling tired, remember to pull over for a sleep, however it is recommended to stop every two hours to get out and get the blood flowing through the legs.  Even if you feel like you can keep driving, your body will thank you for it as sitting in the same position can be unhealthy in itself.

Drive safely on country and rural roads

Many remote roads do not have the same condition as those that regularly used.  They may not even be sealed, ie may be dirt or dust and are often narrow.  Be extra careful on these roads, especially if you haven’t driven there before, as the conditions will often cause accidents in themselves.  Be extra careful for oncoming traffic and pull over to let people pass if you are unsure (it’s the polite thing to do, don’t forget to lift a finger in a wave!).  Another thing to look out for, and a reason to take a slow approach is for animals, both domesticated and wild.  Even a kangaroo can break a car, but hitting something like a cow or bull will almost make sure that  you won’t be driving away.