Tag Archives | safe driving

Rural reminder

Although rural roads are generally quieter than main roads in towns and cities, driving them safely involves practice and consideration. For example, some rural roads will not have markings to indicate where the centre of the road is. If this is the case, you’ll need to think about lane positioning and be careful to ensure you stick to the left hand side of the road. Bear in mind that large vehicles, like tractors or lorries, may be coming in the opposite direction, so you must be prepared to slow down and possibly stop on a narrow lane.

Driving on rural roads at night opens up more challenges. It’s likely that there won’t be street lighting, so you’ll have to rely on your dipped headlights and full beam to illuminate the road ahead. Make sure you adjust your speed appropriately, always remembering that you should be able to stop in the space you can see ahead of you. It’s also likely there’ll be more animals around at night, so be prepared in case something runs out in front of you.

Tyre pressure checks

The Highway Code says check your tyre pressures weekly, but is this really necessary? The answer is yes because tyres can lose air suddenly through an impact such as hitting a pothole, speed hump or kerb – and air seeps through the rubber gradually anyway. On average, a tyre loses one or two pounds of air per month in cool weather, and more when it is warm. If you are 10 per cent low on air (say 3psi below the recommended 30psi), you can waste one third of your tyres’ tread life through drag. Not only that, but under-inflated tyres can cost you up to a mile per gallon in fuel economy because the rolling resistance is greater.

As for handling, correct inflation is very important. Low pressure reduces braking performance and can affect your ability to steer and grip the road. Your suspension has been designed to suit a particular tyre size inflated to a specific pressure and anything less reduces performance. You should pump up your tyres to the pressure stated in your car manual – not the maximum pressure embossed on the side of the tyre. Also, check your pressures when the tyres are cold, when you haven’t driven more than a mile or two. Otherwise, you’ll get an incorrect reading because air expands when it heats up.

Under-inflation is one of the most common causes of tyre failure. Excessive sidewall flexing causes the tyres to run hot, especially at motorway speeds during hot weather. The build-up of heat can lead to tread separation or a blowout. So for optimum safety, performance and economy, make that weekly check.

Stay safe on narrow roads

If you dislike driving on narrow lanes because drivers on the other side of the road get too close, try to look past the oncoming cars as they get near. Focus on the road ahead of you and keep glancing at the left kerb to help you hold your position. The less space you feel you have, the slower you should be going. Consider the width of the oncoming car. If there’s a centre line, check to see whether the vehicle is on it’s own side.

Also, try to predict the actions of the oncoming cars. For example, are there any obstacles on the other side of the road, such as puddles, that might cause them to move out? Match your speed to the risk. And plan in advance what you would do if an oncoming car did veer suddenly. Keep checking your mirror so you know if it’s safe to brake abruptly.

Corner caution

There are several factors to consider as you negotiate a corner safely, and one handy tip if you are unsure how tight an approaching corner is going to be, is to try notice the speed at which the cars are coming towards you from the corner. If they are creeping round the chances are it’s quite sharp, so slow down.

Safe driving

We’re all aware of how perilous the roads can be when driving in winter, but they can also be perilous during the warmer months. A road that has been dry for a long period will produce a build-up of oil and grease which when dry is not an issue. As soon as the road surface comes in contact with water, the oil and grease rise to the surface of the water making the road hazardous until it’s washed away. During such conditions, significantly reduce your speed, especially on bends and increase the stopping distance from yourself and the vehicle in front

Know your hazards

A hazard can be anything that causes you to change the speed, direction or even stop your car. You will encounter hundreds of hazards in your everyday driving such as roundabouts, junctions, traffic lights – these are known as static hazards. However, it’s also essential to spot developing hazards. This can be anything from a pedestrian stepping out into the road to a car exiting a driveway. As part of developing your hazard perception skills, it’s vital that you learn to look out for the early warning signs of a developing hazard – and understand how situations can potentially develop into a more serious hazard. The classic example of a developing hazard is when you see a ball roll out across the road ahead of you as it could be closely followed by a child. The sooner you learn to spot a developing hazard, the quicker you can react and avoid unnecessary and potentially dangerous action.

Driving in high winds

With wind speeds up to 108 mph registered in the UK, it’s important to know how to stay safe. Unlike rain or snow, you can’t see the wind and it’s unpredictable. If your car starts to get blown around by a crosswind, slow down gently and steer very slightly into the breeze. Be prepared that when the gust stops you may still be turning the wheel, so return it to the straight-ahead position. This is only a minute movement, but it’s important to grip the wheel firmly.

Head and tailwinds can also affect your car and its handling. Bear in mind a tailwind will be trying to push your car on, meaning you may need to press harder on the brakes to stop. The opposite might happen going into a headwind – you’ll likely have to press the accelerator harder to maintain the same speed. Be aware that if the wind stops blowing, you may accelerate rapidly.

Your car can also be blown about as you move out from a sheltered section of road on to an exposed bridge, for example, or pass a high-sided vehicle. These vehicles along with motorcycles and cyclists, will be more susceptible to sudden gusts and could move without warning, so give them plenty of room.

Long distances alone

If you’ve got a long drive ahead, you’ll want to enjoy it. Here are some tips to make the time fly: drive to soothing music, avoid rock or metal music in short bursts, this will only increase the fatigue factor and induce boredom – soulful rock or instrumentals are best. Avoid driving on an empty stomach as this is energy sapping, so eat at regular intervals but not too much. Stock up on water, juices and snacks – preferably fruit as this provides energy. Don’t constantly time yourself, this will only stress you out, take each mile as it comes. Drive at an easy pace – if you’re in a hurried state of mind this will tire you and make it more difficult to sustain yourself throughout the drive. Even if it’s hot/cold outside, open a window every once in a while as fresh air keeps you alert. Long drives can be a great way to relax alone and you’ll actually get to know yourself better.

Speedy reminders

You know those kindly people who flash their lights at you to let you know that there’s a policeman or speed camera up ahead? Well, those people are breaking the law. If you get caught doing the same then you can expect a fine of up to £1,000. Also, there’s no such thing as a 10 per cent leeway for speeding. Doing 33mph in a 30mph zone is just as illegal is doing 45mph.

Be Sure

The most common cause of a motoring incident isn’t speed; it’s simply a failure of judgement. You think you’ve got room to overtake, you don’t think the car coming towards you is going as fast as it is, you reckon you can both squeeze between that parked car…Train yourself to analyse situations, question your judgement and most important: be sure. Don’t take risks -– if you think you can, but you’re not quite sure, train yourself to wait.