Driving during floods
Never drive into floodwater. Stay safe and avoid any unnecessary travel.
Drivers in high-risk flood areas should be aware of evacuation routes and be prepared before extreme weather events. During floods, follow the advice of authorities and adjust your route accordingly to avoid driving into danger.
Conditions in floodwaters can change quickly. Roads or crossings that may have looked safe a short time ago can quickly become dangerous. If you're not sure it's safe to cross, the safest choice is to not enter floodwaters.
What to do if you’re trapped
- For emergency help in floods, call NSW SES on 132 500.
- In life-threatening situations, call Triple Zero (000).
Police have the power to close a road to traffic during any temporary obstruction or danger under the Road Transport Act 2013. You may be fined up to $2200 if you fail or refuse to comply with the closure. Under the Road Transport Act 2013, you must not drive a motor vehicle on a road negligently.
Driving through flood waters can damage your vehicle. If your vehicle has been affected by flood waters, take it to a mechanic to assess the level of damage. The safety of your vehicle could be compromised. It could also be deemed unrepairable.
The NSW State Emergency Service website has more information on the dangers of driving through floods, including how a small car can be moved by floodwater only 15cm deep.
Icy roads and wet weather
You must take extra care driving during the colder months, especially on wet or icy roads. Unpredictable winter weather can suddenly drop temperatures and create poor road conditions, even in unexpected locations.
Travelling on wet or icy roads increases the risk of a crash, even for experienced drivers on routes they know well. You need to slow down and use caution when driving in fog, wet or icy conditions.
If you encounter ice, slow down to maintain control of your vehicle and reduce the force of impacts that might occur.
You especially need to take care when driving at night or at dawn/dusk, when surface moisture and dew can freeze into black ice. Difficult to see, black ice can remain on the road even during fine days in shaded or low-lying areas.
Take notice of variable message signs with up-to-date information about the weather and road conditions.
Tips for safe driving in icy and wet conditions
- Obey speed advisory signs and drive to the conditions.
- Slow down and watch for ice on roads, especially in shaded or low-lying areas.
- Drive with your headlights on low beam. Only use your fog lights if driving in fog, mist, or other atmospheric conditions that restrict your visibility.
- Watch for wildlife warning signs – many road accidents in snow and ice affected areas involve native animals crossing roads, particularly at night.
- Keep a safe distance from the vehicle in front. Braking in icy or wet conditions should be gentle to avoid skidding and losing control. Brake early and accelerate slowly.
Visit the Live Traffic NSW website or call the Transport Management Centre on 132 701 (24 hours) for details on road and weather conditions.
Driving in snow
Before you go
Get a national park pass
Find details about buying passes on the NSW Government Environment and Heritage website. Passes allow you to use the National Park pass holder lane on Kosciuszko Road at Sawpit Creek and Alpine Way Visitor Entry Stations. Look for the signs about which lane to use for pass holder entry.
Kosciuszko Road between Perisher Blue and Charlotte Pass is often closed for most of the snow season to all vehicles except residents. There's no overnight parking beyond Sawpit Creek. Check alpine conditions on the Live Traffic NSW website.
Have your vehicle checked
Snowfield conditions may highlight existing faults in your vehicle, particularly in the electrical system. Have your tyres, battery, brakes, cooling system, engine and windscreen inspected.
Add anti-freeze to your engine radiator. You’ll need to match the amount of anti-freeze to the capacity of the coolant system. If the coolant freezes, the engine block and radiator may crack, leaving you stranded with an expensive repair bill. Most modern cars use coolant with wide temperature capabilities, but you should check with your service provider if special coolant is needed. Adding anti-freeze to your windscreen washing fluid will prevent it from freezing on the windscreen when driving.
Use cold-weather diesel
Diesel ‘waxes’ at low temperatures, which will block the fuel system and immobilise the vehicle. If you drive a diesel vehicle, ensure you use fuel that's formulated for use in cold conditions, such as ‘Alpine Diesel’. This is usually only available close to the snow fields, so plan your journey to arrive with plenty of room in your fuel tank for this fuel.
Allow enough time for your trip
Ensure you allow enough time for the trip. Weather can change quickly in the mountains and make progress slow. If authorities order a ‘snow chain day’, you may face delays at snow chain bays to fit and remove chains.
Avoid travel fatigue
Most people have to travel a long way to the snowfields. Ensure you take regular breaks to stop, revive and survive.
Driving to the snowfields can be tiring because of bad weather, darkness, and narrow, winding roads. Watch for signs of travel fatigue, and stop and rest as soon as you feel tired.
Prepare for emergencies
Carry a torch, blanket, dry clothes, tow rope, spade, wheel chocks and first aid kit.
On the road
Watch your speed
Adjust your speed to the weather. Slow down when conditions deteriorate and drive with caution, particularly in fog, snow, or ice conditions.
Operation Snow Safe
The police and transport authorities work together to target speeding, drink driving, and seatbelt offences committed by people travelling to and from the snow.
Daytime running lights
Ambient light in the mountains can be poor, especially in winter. Drive with your headlights on low beam during the daytime so other road users can see you. Make sure you turn on your vehicle’s fog or headlights when the weather turns bad.
Obey traffic signs
Always obey the speed limit and other traffic signs, especially wildlife warning signs. Many road accidents in the alpine areas involve native animals crossing roads, particularly at night. Take notice of variable message signs with up-to-date information about the weather, road conditions and if snow chains must be fitted.
Snow poles and road edges
Don’t drive if you can’t see the edge of the road or the next snow pole. These are painted orange and are tall enough for drivers to find their way in heavy snow.
Take care when driving at night or at dawn/dusk, when surface moisture and dew can freeze into black ice. Difficult to detect, black ice can remain in shaded or low-lying areas even during fine days.
Snow chains are recommended when driving in bad conditions to help drivers and reduce accidents. Yellow lane line markings and signs identify possible ‘snow and ice’ risk sections.
National Park regulations require all vehicles (except four-wheel drive vehicles) in the National Park to carry chains between the June and October long weekends when driving through designated ‘snow and ice’ risk sections. These risk sections are identified by black and yellow signs within the Kosciuszko National Park. The current designated ‘snow and ice’ risk sections are:
- Alpine Way – Thredbo to Tom Grogin
- Kosciuszko Road within the National Park boundary
- Guthega Road within the National Park boundary.
- Although four-wheel drives (4WD) aren't required to carry and fit chains, it’s recommended that drivers of 4WD vehicles (including off-road vehicles, all-wheel drive vehicles and sports utilities), except those fitted with winter tyres, carry snow chains and fit them when directed. They improve traction on roads that are slippery with ice and snow. Chains are also helpful in extreme weather conditions.
- Winter tyres are designed for driving on roads affected by snow or ice. They provide the same benefits as snow chains on 4WD vehicles when driving on snow. They also provide better performance than standard tyres when driving on clear roads in cold conditions. Sometimes known as ‘snow tyres’, they shouldn't be confused with ‘snow and mud tyres’ that are commonly fitted to off-road vehicles. Winter tyres are marked with a standard logo symbolising a snowflake and a mountain.
- As an alternative to snow chains, 4WD vehicles not fitted with winter tyres may be fitted with snow traction devices, such as items made from textiles, that comply with the Austrian Standard ONORM V5121.1.
When directed by signs or authorities, fit the chains to your vehicle’s driving wheels. There are special chain fitting bays along the route.
- Fit the chains to the driving wheels, which are the back wheels on rear-wheel drive cars and front wheels on front-wheel drive cars. If in doubt, check your car user’s manual or with your service provider.
- Make sure your chains are suitable for your vehicle’s wheel diameter and tyre size. If possible, practise fitting the chains in good conditions, so you know how to put them on.
- Avoid using certain ladder chains. To be effective, some part of the chain must always be in contact with the road. You shouldn’t use snow chains that have too much spacing between their chain rungs, as this allows the bare tyre to come in contact with the road surface.
- Keep your tyre pressure at 25 PSI or higher when using chains. Cars with radial tyres shouldn’t travel faster than 40km/h when fitted with chains. Stop and check the tension of the chains after driving about 200 metres.
- Remove the chains promptly when you're told it’s safe to do so.
- Remember random chain inspections take place throughout the ski season and offending drivers face fines of over $300.
Chain bays are located on Kosciuszko Road at:
- Sawpit Creek
- Wilsons Valley
- Dainers Gap
- Prussian Creek.
Chain bays are located on the Alpine Way at:
- Thredbo Diggings
- Ranger Station.
When you’re there
You must parkonly in designated parking areas and follow the directions of parking attendants. It may mean a slightly longer walk but it’s better than finding your car damaged at the end of the day by snow clearing vehicles.
- Don’t apply the handbrake
Moisture can freeze cables and brake linings. Instead, chock the wheels, but don’t use rocks as they may damage snow clearing machines.
- Leave the car in gear
Leave the car in gear with the front wheels turned away from the slope. Removethe wheel chocks from the parking area when leaving.
- Fit snow chains
Even if chainsweren't required to enter the area, it may be advisable to fit them when parking. It’s easier to do this early in the day rather than later when weather conditions may have changed.
- Clear ice from windows and mirrors
Clear all glass and mirrors of ice beforedriving away from snowfields. Carry an ice-scraper to clear the bulk of the snow, ice, and frost, and use the vehicle’s heater and fan together with the air conditioner.
- Protect windscreen wipers
If you’re parking for an extended period, lift the wipers off your windscreen or place them in a plastic bag so they don’t stick to the glass.
- Warm the engine
Warm the engine for a few minutes before driving off.
For more information
For more information on safe driving in snow