Driving Safely

Developing good driving habits will not only make you safer on the road, but will also help to reduce your stress whilst driving. No matter how good a driver you are (or think you are), there is always room for improvement. The following tips may help.

1. Don't Rush

Always leave yourself plenty of time to get to your destination; drivers who rush because they are late tend to take risks and make mistakes. However, if you do find yourself running late, stop the car and telephone to let someone know. That way you can relax, which will ensure that you drive calmly and carefully.

2. Observe the Road

One of the most important driving habits to cultivate is the act of observing and paying close attention to the road. Noticing everything that's going on ahead and around you will ensure that you have plenty of time to plan ahead; the more time you have, the more options you have.

Make a conscious effort to look outside your central cone of vision; keep moving your eyes and head to notice what's going on in your peripheral vision. Perhaps there's a child with a football who might suddenly run out into the road, or maybe there's someone who's just got into a vehicle parked at the side of the road who might pull out without indicating? The better you are at spotting potential problems, the more time you have to react and avoid an accident. The majority of road accidents happen because the driver did not spot a problem, or if they did, spotted it too late for them to react in time.

You should also ensure that your wing mirrors are set correctly, so that you just lose sight of the back corner of your car; if you can see your tail end in them then you will have blind spots. However, even if your wing mirrors are set correctly, you must still always check over your shoulder when pulling out or changing lane.

3. Make Sure That You're Seen

Even if you become proficient at watching the road and spotting potential problems, never assume that other drivers can do the same. Always ensure that you make your intentions perfectly clear, making eye contact with other drivers if necessary. You should always avoid driving in another driver's blind spot, and make sure that you use the appropriate lights when there is poor visibility.

4. Watch Your Speed

Although it may be frustrating at times, you should always make sure that you keep to the posted speed limits. Reduced speed limits mean that there are particular hazards to watch out for, and driving at this lower speed will give you more time to react. A pedestrian hit at 20 mph stands a 90% chance of surviving, whilst one hit at 40 mph has only a 10% chance. It's also worth remembering that cars travelling at 70 mph can use up to 25% more fuel than those travelling at 50 mph.

5. Keep Your Distance

Although it's important to keep the flow of traffic moving, it's also essential to make sure that you keep enough space around you so that you have enough time to look, to think, spot potential risks and to react.

6. Keep Distractions Down to a Minimum

Whilst mobile phones can offer drivers security and help in an emergency, they also offer a distraction if used when driving, increasing the risk of a crash.

It is now illegal to use a hand-held mobile phone when driving, even when you are in a queue of traffic or stopped at traffic lights. This includes making or receiving calls, text messages or accessing the Internet. Doing so may result in a fixed penalty fine of £30, rising to a maximum of £1000 (£2,500 for drivers of vans, lorries, buses and coaches) if the matter goes to court.

However, even speaking on a handsfree phone can be distracting and can increase the risk of an accident. Keep calls to an absolute minimum, and avoid using the phone when conditions are hazardous or traffic is heavy. If you are already on a call, end it if traffic conditions dictate. You can find more advice on driving with your phone in the Mobiles Resource Centre.