Congratulations on clicking on this article. It suggests you’re open to improving your driving, even though you may be skilled and experienced behind the wheel.
After all, there is always room for improvement and sometimes it’s helpful to have a reminder of some of those basics you were taught when you first learnt to drive.
Here’s a selection of 10 tips from road safety and motoring experts:
1. Take your time
IAM RoadSmart, a road safety charity, says: The speed limit isn’t a target. Don’t be pressured into driving faster than you feel happy with. Ignore drivers who hang on your bumper to make you go faster, that’s their problem, not yours. And always allow more time than you think for your journey – plan ahead and add extra minutes to the amount of time you allocated to the drive.
2. Familiarise yourself
Mark Barclay of GSF Car Parts says: Being a better driver isn't just about improving your habits while behind the wheel: there's lots to consider before you switch on the ignition, too. Even if you're quickly borrowing a friend's car, always take the time to put your seat and mirrors in the proper positions, familiarise yourself with important controls like the lights and wipers, and check the dashboard for potential issues like warning lights or low petrol.
3. Watch out for others
Lisa Burger, chief operating officer at Addison Lee, says: Preventing accidents is everyone’s responsibility and it’s important to look out for other road users when exiting your vehicle. According to research by Addison Lee, two-thirds of cyclists have been hit by a carelessly opened car door or know someone who has suffered similarly.
4. Use ‘The Dutch Reach’
Ian McIntosh, CEO of RED Driving School, says: A lesser known road safety tip that can prevent injuries to pedestrians and cyclists is ‘The Dutch Reach.’ Typically, people use their hand closest to the car door to open it, without looking outside to check for cyclists or pedestrians. With the Dutch Reach, you reach across your body to open the car door with your inside hand. This forces your body to swivel, giving you better visibility of bikes and traffic.
5. Keep it quiet
Rebecca Jackson, race driver and motoring journalist, says: Be strong enough to ask your passengers to keep the noise down. If your friends or family are being loud, tell them it’s distracting and preventing you from concentrating.
6. Keep up your car maintenance
Mark of GSF says: If you have your own car, make sure to conduct regular maintenance checks. The condition of your tyres can seriously affect your safety on the road so, every month or so, pump them up to the pressure stated in your owner's manual and check the tread depth using a 20p coin. You should also check your fluid levels and lights. Don't just rely on servicing and MOTs to keep your vehicle in a drivable condition — especially if you drive a lot of miles.
7. Check your vision
Ian of RED Driving School says: To get your licence, you must be able to read a number plate from 20 metres away. But a more comprehensive eye test from an optician can not only help prevent sight loss, but also improve safety on the roads. Crashes involving a driver with defective eyesight are estimated to cause 2,900 casualties every year on the UK’s roads.
8. Consider others and give them space
Rebecca says: Be courteous. You will be calmer and less likely to make poor decisions. You don’t know how others may react, so it is always sensible to be courteous on the roads, give people space.
9. Free your mind
IAM RoadSmart says: There is no such thing as multitasking when it comes to driving! Never talk on a mobile phone, even a hands-free one. Avoid playing with sat-nav controls while on the move. And if your car has an interactive dashboard, learn where everything is before setting out. The middle of a journey is no place to find out how to adjust the suspension settings.
10. Drive less
Road safety charity Brake is encouraging people to take is Brake Pledge to help people get around in ways that are safe, green, healthy and fair. One of these is simply to minimise the amount you drive, or not drive at all. “I'll get about by walking, cycling or public transport as much as I can, for road safety, the environment and my health” says its pledge.
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