It is easy to learn to drive – that is to put a car into gear and drive around for a few miles. It is an art to become a good driver. An enormous number of people die in traffic accidents every year in the UK. One thousand seven hundred eighty-four deaths and 25,500 injured were reported in 2018. Motoring Advice is essential to learn how to drive safely without causing damage to either life or property.
We share a few tips that are indispensable for enhancing your driving skills.
Safe Motoring Advice That Every Driver Must Know
Reduce or remove distractions
The primary cause of accidents is not automobile failures but human error. It is easy to believe that an accident is most often the result of poorly maintained vehicles, but study after study has shown that drivers are the prime cause.
Most drivers do not pay enough attention. The usual modes of distraction are a conversation with passengers, music, and of course the ubiquitous phone call on cell.
Also, it has been noticed that drivers often pay more attention to the GPS screen than the road. Modern vehicles are fast. They cover a couple of hundred feet in the blink of an eye, especially on the motorway.
To reduce the chance of accidents, be mindful. What is mindfulness while driving? It is learning how to keep distracting thoughts at bay when you are behind the steering wheel. Driving is not the time to plan your daily calendar in your head or chase a promising lead.
Keep your distance
The number of cars has increased enormously in the past two decades. From 27.2 million vehicles at the turn of the century, the number now stands at almost 33 million – a rise of nearly 20%.
The road area has not grown commensurately because most cities in the UK are old and it is quite impossible to increase tarmac.
What is the best defense? To drive while trying to keep some distance for front and rear vehicles. This can definitely be quite hard to accomplish especially on congested highways such as M25 (parts of which see 200,000 cars using it daily).
However, you should be at least 150-300 feet behind the vehicle in front of you at speeds higher than 40 miles.
The rule of thumb is if you are close enough to read the license plate of the car in front you are too close for comfort.
Don’t drive when drowsy
Are you feeling sleepy and tired? In our books, you are as much a danger as a drunk driver. The physiological effects of drowsiness are almost the same as drunkenness – limited spatial awareness and impaired motor skills.
What most motorists do not like to acknowledge is that you might fall asleep at the wheel even if you have had umpteen cups of coffee to remain awake. With a one-ton vehicle moving at 50 miles an hour, you are a danger to everyone around you. Be responsible and check into a lodge when sleepy. Otherwise park the car and take an hour-long nap.
Handling tyre burst
This is a must-have skill, but most driving instructors do not spend time teaching about it.
The human brain is hardwired to slam on the brakes when a tyre goes thump-thump-thump. Nothing can be worse.
Loss of a tyre causes an imbalance of traction, and hard braking might cause the car to swerve or skew out of its line. You would ram into oncoming traffic or the car behind would slam into you.
The best course of action is to take your foot off the accelerator slowly. The drag caused by the burst tyre would slow you down faster than usual. At the same time, turn on the left indicator and move towards the hard shoulder. Using engine braking and not wheel brakes are the trick. If you are stuck with a broken vehicle call White Recovery. Once you’ve called, your only responsibility is to remain safe while help arrives.
Avoid night driving
If possible, avoid nighttime driving. The reason is poor visibility. At night it is hard to estimate the distance between vehicles using the bright red glow of taillights.
Even the best headlamps are no match for the sun. Also, the Circadian Rhythm kicks in and does its bit to slow down the brain. We are not nocturnal creatures, and when it is dark, our mental faculties slow down.
At the same time, most drivers tend to drive faster at night because the motorway is less deserted. Taken together – the perfect cocktail for disaster.
City driving – a different kettle of fish
It is hard to say which is more arduous – cruising the motorway at 70 mph or navigating through Manchester at ten mph.
The key to city driving is patience. If you want to get somewhere quickly plan your trip beforehand, know the bottlenecks and busy hours.
Be prepared for unnecessary delays and do not hurry. After all the most you would accomplish is end up at the jam three hundred feet up the road instead of the one you are in.
Avoid changing lanes unless required, and make sure other drivers understand your intention. A sudden crisp U-turn looks great in movies, but you are not super spy Ethan Hunt trying to save the planet from baddies. Remain calm, cool and composed.
Take care of your car
It is your duty to ensure that your car is perfectly working. This is not in the narrow sense that your engine is well-tuned but that the brake fluid is topped up and brake pads are in good condition.
The tyres should have minimal wear and tear. The tread is the point of contact between the vehicle and the road and most neglected.
It is also important that the wheels be aligned. Otherwise, the car may pull sharply to the right or left when you brake suddenly.
The headlamps and other lights and indicators should be replaced as soon as they are broken. They are your primary means of communication with other drivers.
Take care of your car, and it will take care of you in hazardous situations.
Motoring Advice – FAQs
1. Can I wear prescription eyeglasses?
A very good question and there are special types of coating for drivers. It is known as anti-reflective coating and does not cause the headlamp beam of oncoming cars to reflect inside the lens. Moreover, do not use tinted glasses while driving at night. Your ability to look ahead would be considerably diminished.
2. Should I flash headlights at oncoming vehicles?
Since most modern vehicles are air-conditioned, the horn only works for warning pedestrians, cyclists and stray animals. It is better to use a headlamp to communicate between drivers. Quick switching between high and low makes it possible to tell another driver that you want to be the first to pass a narrow section of the road.
Of course, take care that you use the on-off between high and low beam to alert other drivers about your presence and not intimidate them.
3. Can I use a cell phone while driving?
Cell phones have been a menace for at least the past 20 years. Recently the government has banned the use of cell phones while driving. You get six penalty points and a hefty £200 fine. Of course, this rule applies only to handheld devices and not for Bluetooth and any other remote means of calling.