Driving safely is drilled into you throughout your lessons when learning to drive, and is a vital part of your driving licence test. However, often even the simplest of rules can be easy to forget. It’s easy to get distracted, and to think ‘it won’t happen to me’, but as long as you follow these 9 simple tips, you can easily practice safe driving.
Make sure you keep enough distance between you and the driver in front. It sounds simple, but making sure there is enough space putting your brake lights on as soon as you can before braking, can prevent any shunts from behind. In an emergency or crisis, braking space is vitally important.
Since the seat belt was invented, it has become a vital part of in-car safety. You must wear a seat belt by law in the UK, with only a few exceptions. For most people, belting up is second nature once you get into a car, but you must also remember to take care of others in the vehicle, too. In 2014, it was announced that children in the UK were improperly restrained. To ensure safe driving, ensure that you and all your passengers are restrained correctly.
Speed limits are there for a reason. The national speed limit in the UK is 70mph, unless otherwise stated. Keep an eye out for the road signs to guide you. Breaking the speed limit could not only lead to points on your licence, or even getting your licence revoked; it will also put you and other drivers around you at risk – it’s just not worth it.
Tiredness can be lethal when driving. Make sure you are well refreshed before getting behind the wheel, and take regular breaks on long journeys. It is advised that you take a break every two hours when driving. A 15-minute break is advisable to have a rest, and grab a coffee. Natural alertness is at a minimum between the hours of 12am and 6am, so avoid embarking on a long journey during this period if possible.
If you have to pull over, never use the hard shoulder.
On 5th December 2014, a new drink driving limit was introduced in Scotland. The new law brought Scotland in line with the rest of Europe, by reducing the legal limit to 50mpg per 100ml of alcohol. The campaign pushed the message that there is no safe limit by which to drink-drive.
Last month, the drug-driving limit was also reviewed across the UK. Whilst these changes (which now include many prescription drugs) could land you in trouble with the police, it should be noted that there is of course a reason for that. Driving under the influence of drugs, whether illegal or legal, can greatly impair your driving ability.
Using a mobile phone while driving is incredibly dangerous. Even using hands-free can slow your concentration, and the most careful of drivers can still be distracted by a phone call or text. Why not download an app to prevent texting while driving?
It is against the law to use a phone while driving and even if you’re using hands-free, you can still be prosecuted under the same law that applies to handheld phones, if you are not in proper control of your vehicle. Don’t risk it.
Look out for other vehicles, and people on horses, bikes or pedestrians. Cyclists can be notoriously difficult to spot at night, and this has led to tensions between drivers and cyclists, but you must make sure that you stay alert at all times and watch the road in front of you to prevent collisions and accidents.
56% of UK drivers have experienced road rage and admit to losing their cool on the road. However, getting angry with other drivers won’t solve anything, and driving when you are already upset, annoyed or stressed can lead to a lapse of judgement that could be fatal. Make sure you’re calm and collected before getting behind the wheel.
Even if you exercise the very best in driver safety, you can’t stay safe on the road if your car isn’t up to scratch. Ensure your tyres are properly inflated as underinflated tyres can cause steering problems, which results in vehicle instability and decreased braking distances. Make sure all fluids are topped up to the correct level, and that you have a full tank of fuel. For long trips, you may want to take your car in for a full service to ensure everything is in tip-top condition.