Managing extreme weather events and public safety threats

Managing extreme weather events and public safety threats

Drivers are responsible for your own health and safety, including the specific requirements for complying with road safety laws and obligations such as vehicle roadworthiness, driver licensing and road rules (e.g. speed limits).

These requirements support Ola’s Safety Management System and includes a Driver’s responsibility to do all of the following:

  • Maintaining a safe and roadworthy vehicle
  • Ensuring relevant and appropriate driver licence
  • Driving only in compliance with speed limits and managing fatigue
  • Ensuring completion of all of Ola’s training program for Drivers
  • Ensuring adherence to Ola’s driver guidelines.

What is an extreme-weather event?

Extreme weather events are unexpected, unusual, severe, or unseasonal weather and weather at the extremes of the historical distribution.

The main types of extreme weather include:

  • Heat waves and cold waves
  • Heavy precipitation or storm events
  • Bushfires
  • Flooding or severe storms
  • Hail and snow

For Drivers, extreme-weather events may be encountered before, during or after a trip, with or without a rider or passenger in the vehicle.

What is a public safety threat?

A public safety threat means anything which is a threat to the safety or health of a community or neighbourhood, or any considerable number of persons within the community or neighbourhood.

Such threats include:

  • Disorderly conduct
  • Disturbing the peace
  • Juvenile curfew laws
  • Fireworks
  • Riots
  • Public demonstration or public protests
  • Terrorism
  • Unlawful obstruction to the free passage or use, in the customary manner, of any navigable passageway (by road or water transport).

How to eliminate or reduce extreme-weather events and public safety threat risks

In a culture of safety, vehicle, driver and rider safety is treated as part of the overall safety effort, and leadership has to be shown by making decisions about consequences of inappropriate behaviour and any other threats to safety of Drivers, Riders and the public.

Recommendations for extreme-weather events

Plan ahead

  • Drivers should avoid driving during unpredictable and severe weather events and conditions.
  • Before Drivers drive, check for storms, bushfires, hail, snow, dust storms and heavy fog.

Respond to changing conditions

  • If Drivers are driving and conditions get worse, pull over to a safe place. Wait until conditions improve.
  • When Drivers cannot avoid driving in poor conditions, Drivers must slow down, drive carefully and increase your visibility by using your day running lights or headlights.
  • Drivers must stay informed about the weather by listening to the radio.
  • Drivers may need to change your route to avoid driving into danger.
  • Drivers must also stay alert by taking regular rest breaks.

Wet weather

  • When driving in wet weather, the road can become slippery and Drivers should be aware that your vehicle takes longer to stop.
  • If it starts to rain, Drivers should turn on your day running lights (if you don’t come on automatically), break gently to slow down, and increase the gap between your vehicle and the vehicle in front (crash avoidance space).

Unsealed roads

  • Drivers should take extra care and slow down when driving on unsealed roads (dirt or gravel).
  • Your vehicle takes longer to stop and is harder to control.
  • If Drivers drive too fast, your vehicle may skid, slide or roll over.

Driving through water

  • Drivers should avoid driving through water. It can be very risky.
  • There’s a limit to the depth of water that a vehicle can drive through safely.
  • Drivers should note that it may be difficult to assess how deep and fast water is when it’s moving over a road. The road surface under the water may be damaged or there may be debris, or the water level may be rising.

Driving through flooded areas

  • Floodwater is extremely dangerous.
  • Drivers must find another way or wait until the road is clear. It’s safer to turn around than to drive in floodwater.
  • 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.

Driving on icy roads

  • Drivers 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 you know well.
  • Drivers need to slow down and use caution when driving in fog, wet or icy conditions.
  • If Drivers encounter ice, Drivers must slow down to maintain control of your vehicle and reduce the force of impacts that might occur.

Black ice

  • Drivers especially are required 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.
  • Drivers must take notice of variable message signs with up-to-date information about the weather and road conditions.

Snow and ice general precautions

Drivers must take the following general precautions:

  • Obey speed advisory signs and drive to the conditions.
  • Slow down and watch for difficult road conditions, especially in shaded or low-lying areas.
  • Drive with your headlights on a low beam. Only use 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.
  • 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
    • Add anti-freeze to the vehicle’s engine radiator.
    • Drivers will 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 the Driver stranded with an expensive repair bill. Most modern cars use coolant with wide temperature capabilities, but Drivers should check with your service provider if special coolant is needed. Adding anti-freeze to your vehicle’s 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 Drivers drive a diesel vehicle, Drivers should use fuel that’s formulated for use in cold conditions, such as ‘Alpine Diesel’. This is usually only available close to the snow fields.

Recommendations for Public Safety Threats

Prepare for emergencies

  • Drivers must prepare for emergencies. In the event of a major public threat such as a terrorist attack or public riot, there can be significant numbers of casualties and/or damage to buildings and the infrastructure.
  • Drivers must ensure that you keep a record about any medical needs you may have and on how to contact your designated emergency contact persons.
  • Drivers must also ensure you carry the appropriate preparedness kit for emergencies.

These include:

    • Torch, safety blanket, dry clothes
    • “Special needs” items
    • First aid supplies (including prescription medications)
    • Cash and copies of identification documents
    • Tow rope, spade and wheel chocks

How to manage emergency situations

What to do if you or your passengers are trapped

  • Drivers are advised to contact the following:
    • For emergency help in floods, call the local SES.
    • 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 local road rules.
  • Drivers may be fined if you fail or refuse to comply with the closure.
  • Drivers must report the incident to Ola as soon as a Driver is able to do so.

What to do during a public safety emergency event

  • Drivers must remain calm and be patient
  • Drivers must follow the advice of local emergency officials, listen to your radio for news and instructions
  • If the event occurs near the vehicle, Drivers must check that your passengers are well or have been injured. If Drivers are able to do so, you should give first aid and get help for seriously injured people.
  • Drivers must call Triple Zero (000) in life-threatening situations.
  • Police have the power to close a road to traffic during any major public event under local road rules and may advise a Driver to go home. 
  • Drivers may be fined if you fail or refuse to comply with the closure or police instructions. 
  • Drivers must report the incident to Ola as soon as a Driver is able to do so.

Getting back on the road

If your vehicle is damaged or if Drivers are involved in an accident, Drivers must follow Ola’s recommendations for Vehicle Maintenance and Emergency Management.
In addition, Drivers are required to provide evidence of repair and a copy of your vehicle’s roadworthiness certificate before you are allowed back driving with Ola.

Further information

If you have any questions or comments regarding anything in this document or if you require further information, you can email us at