Looking after your car and keeping it in top condition is important if you want to be safe on the road. Being road safe isn’t just about protecting yourself: it’s also about protecting your passengers and other people who use the road. It never hurts to refresh yourself on some safe driving techniques, we thought we’d recap on some top tips for being the safest driver you can be.
Watch your speed
Whether you’ve got the fastest car model or you’re just in a rush, it’s easy to put your foot down and exceed the speed limit. Here are some simple tips to help you to keep your speed under control.
- Always remember that speed limits are not a target, they show the maximum speed that should be travelled on that road in ideal driving conditions
- It’s important to adjust your speed to suit the conditions around you; including weather, traffic and road conditions
- Speeding often happens when you’re in a hurry, and accidents are often caused by impatience. Take the stress away and reduce the temptation to speed by leaving more than enough time to reach your destination.
Distracted drivers cause crashes, and distractions come in a wide variety of shapes and forms. The easiest way to stay in control is to be self aware and prevent your concentration from being undermined. Watch out for these common distractions:
- Mobile phones can be really distracting when you’re driving, whether it’s because you receive a message or you’re using your GPS to get from A to B. Remember if your eyes are not on the road you aren’t going to be as prepared for any obstacle or hazard. If you can’t resist temptation consider switching your phone off while you drive
- Many drivers say they can concentrate better on driving with some music or audio to enjoy. That’s fine until the tunes run out and you find yourself driving at 80 kmph trying to select a new track. Either make your playlists as long as your journeys or take regular breaks where you can choose something new to listen to
- Regular breaks are also a good way of dealing with the twin distractions of eating and drinking. Eating invariably requires one hand to be fully occupied with moving food, and drinking usually commands a good percentage of our concentration. Focus on putting that attention back onto the road by avoiding the need to snack and drive.
Be ‘fatigue’ aware
Tiredness presents a very real danger for drivers. Fatigue slows reaction times, reduces your concentration, and diminishes your ability to understand and react to unfamiliar situations. That translates to a very difficult driving experience both for you and for drivers around you who are trying to interpret and react to your decisions. Avoid fatigue with some smart decisions:
- Make sure you are well rested and fully awake before you drive
- Try to avoid driving when you would normally be sleeping
- Plan rest breaks at least every 2 hours, ideally where you can get out and eat some fresh food
- If you’re going on a long journey try to take a friend or companion who can help you to stay awake and may be able to share driving as well
- Keep an eye out for medications that may make you drowsy and either avoid them or avoid driving.
Share the road with care
The road is shared by a wide range of vehicle types and sizes. It’s easy to become complacent and get used to looking for the same size of car whenever you pull out at an intersection. The reality is it’s our interactions with the biggest and the smallest users that can cause the most danger.
Driving around cyclists requires constant vigilance - they are a lot smaller than cars and need to be given space as well as consideration for the speed at which they travel. Large trucks and lorries can easily cause drivers to make mistakes, particularly if you underestimate the speed or manoeuvring space that trucks need to get around.
You can reduce the dangers of sharing the road with different vehicle types by remembering these straightforward tips:
- Whoever you are sharing the road with, giving them space will reduce the chances of collision and give you time to react to any manoeuvres they may make. That means keeping back, managing your speed, and giving them plenty of space if you choose to pass them
- Look out for cyclists at all times: they can easily be missed in a blindspot. Be extra safe and look twice - especially at intersections and junctions
- Always watch your speed
- Keep well back from trucks and bikes. Trucks in particular have blind spots immediately behind them and also restrict your visibility of any hazards on the road ahead.
Being a safe driver means being aware of the hazards you may encounter on the road and giving yourself the time and ability to react quickly and effectively. Taking time to remember some simple ways to be safer has the potential to be a positive benefit for everyone on the road.