Outback Safer Driving Series Episode 13

Season 1 Episode 13 – Buffering & Overtaking

Season 1 Episode 13 – Buffering & Overtaking

Welcome to episode 13 of the Outback Safer Driving Series.

When we’re out there driving, positioning your vehicle correctly can help minimize the risks that may occur from time to time on either bitumen or dirt roads. When driving on bitumen and there is oncoming traffic, moving your vehicle over to the left to increase the distance between you and the approaching vehicle will pay dividends.

We call this buffering or crash avoidance space. So that means positioning your vehicle to the left of your lane so that you’re running along the fog line, if there’s one there. And this is also particularly important if you are being overtaken as well, especially if you’re towing, because this will reduce the amount of buffering that you get from the wind, from the overtaking vehicle in order to ensure excellent forward visibility.

It is essential that you maintain a big gap between you and the vehicle ahead of you, on outback roads this translates to about three seconds between you and the vehicle ahead.

If you’re towing, stretch that out to five seconds.

When it comes time to overtake, hang back from the vehicle ahead of you. And this will do two things. One, it will give you plenty of visibility beyond the vehicle in front, and it will allow you to build up speed before you begin to overtake, which will minimize the amount of time that you spend on the other side of the road. Don’t forget, on these outback roads, there are numerous straight stretches with great visibility. So don’t be in a rush and just wait for the right spot.

If you’re towing, the whole process is going to take a lot longer. And you could be on the other side of the road for up to 2kms depending upon what you trying to overtake. Remember, It’s illegal to exceed the speed limit even when you are overtaking, so  if you’re traveling within, say, five kilometres an hour of the vehicle ahead of you, It may be more prudent to just slow down, sitting behind. Take it easy or pull over for a leg stretch and a cup of tea.

If you are driving on dirt roads and there’s a vehicle ahead of you, please stay well back from the dust envelope of the vehicle ahead because it will limit your visibility. Trying to overtake in these types of conditions can prove absolutely horrific. In this instance, I would thoroughly recommend that if the vehicle was traveling at a similar sort of speed to what you are, don’t overtake and drive through the dust envelope because you don’t know what’s approaching in the opposite direction. So this is a great opportunity to stop, and maybe even take some photos of the spectacular scenery that you’re driving through. Something else that you may find on the roads out here that are reasonably common as well, is large pieces of equipment being moved along the outback roads. There’s a lot of mining and that going on out here. So there’s a lot of big truck movements.

Generally, they’ll be accompanied by at least one pilot vehicle, maybe in front. Maybe behind. If you see a pilot vehicle. Be aware that he could be in front of a wide load and that load will be close behind the pilot. The pilot vehicle may signal for you to move over and leave the road entirely. to give enough space for the wide load to pass. Please follow all of their directions.

Stay safe. See you on the road.


The advice in these videos is for general information and entertainment purposes only. Road users are responsible for knowing and following the road rules. Consult a professional before travelling.

Links to relevant road rules: