Driving Hints and Tips

One-way dilemma

If you take a wrong turn and find yourself driving the wrong way up a one-way street, what should you do? Although your instinct may tell you to simply turn around or reverse, if you find yourself in this awkward situation you should always continue to the end of the road, checking the direction signs as you go. Every driver must expect to go the wrong way from time-to-time. Don’t panic and don’t reverse. There will always be a safe and legal way back.

Candid cameras

If you think that slowing down at a speed camera is enough to avoid a fine, you’ll need to be more careful. Did you know that those yellow boxes can capture you doing more than speeding? They can catch you for not wearing a seatbelt, using a hand-held mobile phone behind the wheel and having illegal number plates. New laws introduced in March 2017 issue six penalty points and a £200 fine if you’re caught using a mobile. You can also be taken to court, banned from driving and get a maximum fine of £1,000 (£2,500 if you’re driving a lorry or bus). If you’ve passed your test in the last two years you’ll lose your licence.

When to undertake?

Undertaking should never be used as an excuse to change to outer lanes simply to avoid queuing and gain advantage. However, you can undertake a vehicle in slow-moving traffic queues, when the vehicles in the right-hand lane are moving more slowly. You can also undertake when the vehicle in front of you is signalling to turn right or when you are in a one-way street. In any event, undertaking must be carried out with caution and at reduced speed as drivers in outer lanes may not expect a vehicle to arrive alongside from the left. During the driving test, less than one in three (27 per cent) of learners get this right, making it the most commonly failed question. This may be due to the fact that, as soon as we hear the word ‘undertaking’, we assume it isn’t allowed in any circumstance.

Check your address

According to research by comparethemarket.com 1.5 million registered drivers have the incorrect address on their driving licence. As UK law states, it is illegal for a driver to be incorrectly registered at an address as up-to-date residential information is required should you be involved in an incident. If you change your address on your licence, you must also do the same on your vehicle log book and vehicle tax Direct Debit. Many motorists claim they are unaware it’s illegal to have an incorrect address, but with a £1,000 fine there is no excuse. The DVLA website is clear on the penalties. It’s worth double checking all these details, including when your licence expires and that your photograph is up-to-date, as these details can also incur fines if incorrect. To update your licence is free and you can still drive while waiting for a replacement licence containing your correct details.

Cluttered boots waste fuel

It’s common sense that loading your car up with extra weight will negatively impact its fuel economy – but the message hasn’t got through to all drivers. The top five offenders are tools, wellies and outdoor clothing, sports equipment and golf clubs, pushchairs and baby equipment, and multiple pairs of shoes. According to the RAC, an additional 50kg of weight can reduce your fuel economy by as much as two per cent. Over time, this seemingly small increase could cost you a lot in fuel. Not only that, but continued heavy loads in the rear could leave your suspension overloaded, while additional weight will also increase your car’s braking distance. The advice is clear: only travel with what’s necessary for your journey, and empty your boot of clutter regularly.

Dogs and windows

Most dogs like travelling with their head out of the window but this isn’t a good idea. Apart from the possibility of a passing vehicle striking your dog’s head, any air-borne debris will be blasted at your dog’s head. Even the most innocent object, like a grass seed, can cause serious eye infections or damage when propelled at 70mph. You don’t want to imagine what a piece of gravel could do. If you want to provide a safe breeze for your dog, then open the window an inch or so, or buy a window guard that will prevent your dog sticking its head out.

Solid white lines

While driving you may find yourself stuck behind a horse and rider where solid white lines prohibit overtaking and wonder what to do? Although you cannot cross these lines unless entering premises or a side road, Highway Code rule 129 allows you to ‘cross the line if necessary, provided the road is clear, to pass a stationary vehicle, or overtake a pedal cycle, horse or road maintenance vehicle, if they are travelling at 10mph (16km/h) or less’. So, if you do come across a horse and rider trotting along, you can overtake as long as you’re careful and it’s safe to do so.

Overtaking animals

In remote, rural areas it’s not unusual to overtake a flock of sheep or herd of cows on the move. When this happens, if possible, pull into the side of the road and let the whole lot move off under their own steam. Farmers tend not to move them long distances on the road, so it might be quicker and safer to wait for them to move rather than try to force yourself past them.
It’s also common to see sheep grazing at the side of the road, and if you stopped for each one to make sure it doesn’t stray in front of you it would take an eternity. The best advice is to pass them more slowly than you would normally drive, being vigilant to their body language: a sheep with its head down is probably happily grazing. A sheep with its head up is the one to watch as it’s looking around for tasty morsels or a place of safety and could cause a problem, so watch your speed

Steer clear of pavements

It’s an easy mistake but driving on a pavement unless you are turning into a driveway is an offence. Rule 244 of the Highway Code states that you must not park fully or even partly on the pavement unless road signs permit it: in London, it’s an offence to park on the pavement, full stop. This is perhaps one of the most common Highway Code rules broken and, if you’re parked in a way to inconvenience pedestrians, you’re causing a driving offence.

The yellow H sign

Have you noticed yellow signs on the road marked with a big ‘H’? A lot of drivers don’t know what this means and it does not signify a hospital, horses or helipad. Instead the H stands for hydrant plate. At the top of the letter H is a figure, for example 125, this identifies the size of the water main, in this case it would be 125 millimetres. A smaller figure below this number, for example, ‘3’ indicates the number of metres the fire hydrant is away from the plate. Importantly, when you park and see this sign, the fire service asks that you avoid parking over the plate.