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We could all do with some gentle reminders about our driving habits once in a while. After years on the roads, many drivers become a little complacent when it comes to road rules and general driving behaviour, but it’s important to remind ourselves how to be the better driver.
When you climb behind the wheel of a car, you have to do a lot more than simply watch the road in front of you, you need to stay on top of what is happening all around you. A good driver can predict a potential hazard before it has occurred, mainly by being acutely aware of surrounding traffic and constantly scanning the road for erratic drivers.
Being a good driver is not just about sticking to the obvious rules such as drink driving, talking on a phone or turning round to kids in the back, it’s also about regularly going back to the driving basics which you may have forgotten.
Take a look below at Trusted Dealers’ top tips on how to be a better driver:
Assume everyone on the road is incompetent
The most important rule in the book is to keep in mind that many drivers could be incompetent. You cannot rely on drivers behaving the same way as you do on the road, and you should never assume that anyone behind the wheel knows what they are doing. This might mean that at times you drive more defensively, but ultimately you will be a better driver for it. Be aware of hazards such as fast-approaching cars or cars that suddenly change lanes on the motorway with no indication – rather than get annoyed, if necessary, give them right of way to avoid an accident.
Use your mirrors
Visual scanning is one of the sure-fire ways to stay safe in a car. Lots of drivers will stare straight ahead without regard for what is going on at the side or behind them. You have side and rear-view mirrors for a reason, so make sure you use them. Don’t forget to check your blond spot before changing lanes, and always use your mirrors then signal appropriately before any planned manoevre. Also, keep a look out for road signs and road markings and follow them.
Keep your distance
Always keep your distance when driving, and in particular if the roads are wet or icy or you’re driving at night, it’s important to double or even quadruple the distance between yourself and the driver in front of you. This will give you more room on the road to stop safely and will also give drivers behind you the opportunity to brake in time to prevent an accident. The correct distance between you and the car in front in normal weather conditions is 2 seconds, so if you’re driving at 40 mph you should be approximately 9 car lengths behind the vehicle in front.
Be prepared for traffic
If you find yourself in heavy traffic, make sure you leave plenty of space in front of the stationary vehicle in front of you. When you stop behind other vehicles, you should still be able to see the tyres of the vehicle in front of you. Plus, if the car in front of you was to break down, you’d have enough room to go around it and avoid unnecessary delays.
Although it is assumed that most people will wear a seatbelt when driving, you’d be surprised at how often motorists do get caught out. Furthermore, if you are the driver of a vehicle, it’s your responsibility to make sure that every person in your car has a seatbelt on, otherwise you could be liable in the event of an accident. Make sure that the seatbelt is not twisted and that the buckle is properly secured for each passenger, and if you are carrying small children in car seats, make sure they are properly secure.
Don’t let rude drivers get to you – if someone cuts you up or is tailgating your car, don’t provoke them, it could lead to an accident. Keep your emotions under control and put you and your passengers first at all times.