If you drive a lot, it can be easy to get complacent about it and accidentally fall into bad habits. These bad habits might not seem like a big deal, but they can make you and other road users around you more at risk. If you want to improve your driving, even though you may already be experienced and skilled behind the wheel, there are plenty of small changes you can make to improve your driving habits and make you a much safer driver.
There is always room for improvement, and sometimes it can be very helpful to have a reminder of some of the basics that you learned when you first started to drive, but have since forgotten or overlooked. Whether you’re a new parent who is nervous about having kids in the back, you’re setting off on a road trip and want to brush up your skills before you go, or have a new teen driver in the house who you need to model responsible driving behaviour, try some of this advice to make sure you’re safe on the road.
Take Your Time
Remember that the speed limit is exactly that; a limit, and not a target. Don’t let yourself be pressured into driving faster than you happy and safe to do so. Ignore those driver who sit at your bumper to try to push you into driving faster. Their impatience and dangerous driving is their problem and not yours. Always give yourself more time than you think you will need to make a car journey, so you won’t need to rush to get there on time. Plan ahead and add a few extra minutes onto the time you have allowed for the drive. Rushing is one of biggest causes of accidents and having to call in car accident lawyers.
Get Familiar With The Car
Being a better driver isn’t only about improving your driving habits while you’re behind the wheel. There is a lot to consider before you even turn on the ignition too. Even if you are borrowing your spouse’s car quickly for an errand, always take a little time to adjust your seat and the mirrors into the proper position for you, familiarise yourself with where the important controls like the lights and indicators are, and check the dashboard for any potential problems, like low fuel or a warning light that has come on. Check your own dashboard for similar things whenever you drive your own car.
Always Expect the Unexpected
Failing to check their blind spots is another common cause of accidents even among veteran drivers. I am sure we have all been through a situation where you are driving along a multi-lane road and proceed to change or merge lanes, only to quickly swerve back or get honked at by another ongoing vehicle in your blind spot. Failing to check your blind spots can create a dangerous situation for both you and those around you, plus you will be held responsible if you get into an accident. Check out this guide to find out the best ways to check your blind spots to avoid accidents.
Watch Out For Others
Preventing an accident is the responsibility of everyone who is on the road. It is very important to look out for other road users when you are exiting your car, not just while you’re driving it. A huge amount of accidents involving cyclists happen when the car is parked, and are in fact caused by someone carelessly opening a car door into the path of the cyclists without checking first. Be aware of other road users, including cyclists, pedestrians, and other motorists when you drive.
Use The ‘Dutch Reach’
This tip is less common, but it can be very effective for helping to avoid mishaps like opening your door into an oncoming cyclist. This technique is called the ‘Dutch Reach’. Most drivers use the hand that is closest to the door to open it, without looking behind the car for pedestrians or cyclists. With the Dutch Reach, you reach across your body instead and open the car door with the hand furthest from the door. This move forces your body to turn, so you get much more visibility around the car and can spot any potential hazards, like that pushchair or bike. You can use this trick as a driver or a passenger.
Keep Things Quiet
Don’t be afraid to ask any passengers you have to keep the noise down. If you friends or family are being loud, you can tell them that it is distracting and making it hard for you to concentrate on the road.
Keep Up Car Maintenance
If you own your own car, make sure you make regular maintenance checks. The condition that your tires are in can really affect your road safety. Every month, pump them up to the pressure that is stated in your owner’s manual and check the tread depth. Check your fluid levels and lights on a regular basis too. Don’t rely on your car’s service to keep it in a safe condition, especially if you drive a lot of miles.
Check Your Vision
Your driving test would have included a check of your vision, but a more thorough check from an optician can be a good idea to help you avoid sight loss and keep you safer on the road. Crashes involving drivers with poor eyesight are more common than you might think. Make sure your vision hasn’t disoriented. If you wear glasses or contact lenses, make sure you have a backup option in the glove box, just in case.
Consider Others And Give Them Space
Be a courteous driver to be a safer one. You’ll feel calmer when you drive and will be less likely to make poor decisions. You never know how other drivers will react, so always give people plenty of space and be as courteous as you can.
Free Yourself Of Distractions
You cannot multitask and still drive safely. Never talk on a mobile phone when you drive, even with a hands-free set. Avoid messing around with the radio or the sat-nav controls while you’re moving. If your car has an interactive dashboard, learn where everything is, so you can use it without having to look at it. While you’re moving is not the time to try and figure out where the suspension settings are. Pull over instead.
A simple way to be safer on the roads is to reduce how often you drive and try to avoid driving when you can. Instead, find times when you can get around by walking, cycling, or using public transport. This is a greener and healthier choice too. Make this choice when you can, for better road safety, less stress for you, and a more environmentally-friendly choice.