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Top tips and expert advice on how to be a safe driver...

10 minute read

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Driving and owning a car can be overwhelming at times, so we’re here to give you some top tips on how to keep you and your car safe...

  • It's important to care for our cars
  • Follow our experts' plan to become a more confident driver
  • How to control your car in challenging situations

From school runs to commuting, whatever part your car plays in your busy life, it's crucial to keep your driving skills in tip top shape. In this article, you'll find hints, tips and expert advice on driving safely and keeping your car safe, too.

It's essential we all take time to remind ourselves how to be safe drivers

Our experts’ 10 point plan on how to be a safer driver

 

1. Drive consciously, not reactively

Most drivers react to situations rather than anticipating them. "Drive more consciously and you’ll be better prepared," says Chris Gilbert of Driving 4 Tomorrow, who as a former Metropolitan Police driving instructor, taught Princes William and Harry to drive.

 

2. Know your car

Is your car a front- or rear-wheel drive? Chris says that some people don't know the answer to this basic question. "The fact is, the rear-wheel-drive car is likely to have less grip on slippery surfaces," he says.

 

3. Keep your eyes on main beam

Like the main beam on your car, raise your eyes from the road immediately ahead of you so that you look much further down the road. Many drivers allow their eyes to settle on what Chris calls a "natural focal point" a few meters ahead, and don't see enough.

4. 'Talk' your drive

To make sure they're taking notice of everything, Chris advises motorists to talk through what they're seeing as they drive. "It teaches you to consciously interpret your surroundings," he says.

 

5. Mind the gap

As on all roads, you should keep at least a two-second gap between yourself and the car in front (count it from a road sign as the car ahead passes it). However, check if someone is approaching from behind who intends to occupy the space in front, especially on a motorway or dual carriageway, and be prepared to back off if they do.

 

6. Study driver behaviour

Reading other drivers' intentions from the way they check their mirrors, turn their head or look to be considering an opportunity is key to being on top of events and maintaining your confidence.

 

7. Be skid-wise

If you find yourself in a skid, relax the pressure on the accelerator and brake pedal, depress the clutch and then, in the case of a rear-wheel skid, turn the wheels in the direction of the skid or, in a front-wheel skid, momentarily straighten the steering wheel to allow the front wheels to regain grip before steering gently back on course.

8. Take camber-care

Most roads slope away from the centre line to aid drainage, but in corners they tend to rise to support the car as it turns in, called a 'crossfall camber'. However, sometimes the road falls away, called an 'adverse camber'. Depending on the severity of the corner, an adverse camber presents no problem taken at medium speeds, but any faster and it can be dangerous, so check your speed and on no account panic or brake harshly.

 

9. Steady as she goes

Driving off-road can improve your confidence as a driver, so with an instructor, you may want to give it a go. Keep your speed down, select the right gear for the conditions, keep your feet clear of the pedals and instead of using the brake pedal, use engine braking to slow the vehicle. "If it begins to run away, dab the accelerator to get the wheels turning up to speed to regain traction," says Richard Fawcett, of Yorkshire Outdoors, an off-road training centre.

 

10. Towing a trailer

If you're towing a caravan, load it centrally and low down, over the axles. When maneuvering, be aware of blindspots, drive smoothly and avoid sudden braking and directional changes. According to Luke Bowdidge, general manager of Trailer Training UK, if the trailer begins to snake, "you should lift off the accelerator to allow the outfit to straighten itself out." Keep your speed down, occupy the centre of the lane and hold the steering wheel firmly in sidewinds.

How to be a more confident driver

It’s pretty straightforward once you know; keep your speed down, look ahead and plan your moves. A day spent in the company of a qualified instructor on a skid pan, bouncing across a field or towing a caravan will be time well spent.

For further peace of mind, find out exactly what's covered by your car insurance so that if something does go wrong you know you’re protected. Completely new to driving and looking for more tips? Here's what you should consider when you're just starting out.

Even when not actually behind the wheel, it's important to remain safe

Staying safe when you're not behind the wheel

 

How to properly clean inside your car

Coronavirus (COVID-19) taught us the importance of keeping regularly touched surfaces clean. The UK government website has plenty of directions on the best way to clean an area if you’re concerned it has been contaminated with coronavirus (COVID-19) or any other virus or infection. So, why not apply the same logic to our cars?

Here’s how…

  1. Wearing disposable gloves use a disposable cloth to clean hard surfaces like your dashboard, inside of your doors and the glove compartment with warm soapy water.
  2. Disinfect these surfaces with the cleaning products you would normally use. Pay particular attention to frequently touched areas and surfaces, such as door handles, the steering wheel and the gear stick.
  3. Wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds after removing your cleaning gloves and discard of the gloves

What to do with your car if you’re not using it

The pandemic led to many of us stopping using our cars all together, in favour of walking to the shops for our daily exercise. Maybe the cost of living crisis will lead to some of us considering the same again. Neglecting your car for a prolonged period of time can often cause a flat battery, so we’ve pulled together a handy guide on how to stop your battery going flat when you’re not using it.

Another route some of us choose to take while not using our cars is to declare a SORN. This means officially taking your car off the road and not using it at all. This is a tricky one though, because although your car is not being used, it’s still possible that your car could be damaged or stolen, so you should think twice before cancelling your car insurance when declaring a SORN. 

 

Using our cars in the most efficient way

The rising cost of living may affect how we all use our cars, so we reckon tying errands into one round trip, offering to do the food shop for our elderly or vulnerable relatives, and opting to share lifts with friends and neighbours are things we should consider doing in the future. It means less time in the car, less money spent on fuel, fewer cars on the road… and a little bit more of that community spirit we’ve found during the uncertainty of the past couple of years.