Want to be a pro behind the wheel? Whether you’ve recently passed your test or a seasoned driver, here are our top tips on how to improve your driving.
1. Maintain a two second gap
Always leave a gap of two seconds between you and the car in front in dry conditions, or four seconds in wet conditions. This will help provide the right stopping distance and will give you a much better view of the road ahead of any potential dangers or hazards.
Knowing average stopping distances can reduce the risk of an accident.
2. Correctly adjust your mirrors
It’s common for mirrors to get accidentally knocked by pedestrians walking along the pavement or by other cars, so check your mirrors before each car journey you make.
When viewed from the driving seat, wing mirrors should be positioned so that the horizon point is in the centre of the mirror.
Rear view mirror
When viewed from the driving seat, the rear view mirror should be positioned so you can see the entire rear window and as little of the car interior as possible.
3. Stick to the speed limit
- Refresh your knowledge on speed limits regularly, especially in local areas where you drive a lot. It’s easy to become complacent and assume you know the limit
- Keep an eye on your speedometer
- Take your time. It’s tempting to drive faster when you’re running late
4. Vehicle maintenance
This is essential for avoiding any issues on the road, whether it’s checking the tread on your tyres to make sure they’re safe (especially important in wet weather), or checking the levels of oil and coolant, to help prevent any engine problems.
Check your water daily and top up as required. Don’t forget your windscreen washer fluid level and keep windows and mirrors clean.
A lot of modern cars might seem complicated to look at under the bonnet, but you can still carry out these simple checks to help keep you safe on the road.
5. Focus on breaking
Be aware of how you brake. Where possible use “light breaking”. This is where light pressure is put on the brake and gradually increased to a point where the vehicle has almost stopped. This technique is good for all sorts of reasons including preventing wear and tear, skidding and saving fuel.
6. Anticipate other drivers
Always anticipate that the driver in front could do something out of the ordinary and be prepared for it; you can never assume people will do what you expect on the roads. You should also be aware of other road users such as motorcyclists, pedal cyclists and pedestrians who can all be less easy to see, especially in poor weather conditions or at night.
7. Remove distractions
It’s important to remain focused on the road when you’re driving. Ensure any distractions are kept to a minimum, including loud music or the behaviour of other passengers.
Mobile phones are one of the biggest distractions for drivers. It’s illegal to use a handheld mobile whilst driving and is never worth risking an accident for.
8. Take your time
Plan your journey ahead, especially when going on a long journey. Knowing where you’re going will increase your confidence. If possible, leave a little earlier so you don’t have to rush.
9. Get to know your car
Every car is different. The more aware you are of how your car handles will help you be a better driver. For example, familiarise yourself with how you can change your headlights for different types of weather, or how to accelerate and decelerate in a smooth manner.
10. Don't drive under the influence or when you are tired
Driving and alcohol
If you’re driving home after a night out, don’t be tempted to drink. If you are going out with friends, agree on a designated driver. Also, don’t assume you will be safe to drive in the morning. Alcohol can stay in the bloodstream many hours after your last drink and you may fail a breathalyser test if stopped.
If you’re feeling tired
If you’re going on a long car journey, it’s a good idea to have a rest beforehand to reduce the risk of feeling tired. Plan regular breaks along the route, and if possible, share the driving with another passenger.