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Eight steps to becoming a safer driver

Photo shows a woman driving a car

The number of people on the road in the UK is rising, but according to government statistics, the rate of accidents is increasing even faster. That means it is important for us to take steps to become safer in our cars. Here are eight steps to follow to become a better driver.

  1. Adopt a better position on the steering wheel

Many drivers keep their hands in the classic ‘10 and 2’ position on the wheel – referring to the position of hands on a clock. However, in recent years it has been suggested that ‘9 and 3’ would be a better place for your hands. It allows muscles to relax, leaves you feeling more comfortable and gives you more control over the car.

  1. Stop speeding

Be honest with yourself – how often do you exceed the speed limit? Once a month? Once a week? Every day? Speeding is something that almost every driver is guilty of at some point, and for many, it is virtually standard practice to drive everywhere above the legal limit. But the truth is that speed limits are in place for a reason – they keep you, other road users and pedestrians safe. Make an effort to reduce your speed and stay within the limit.

  1. Rid your car of distractions

It’s well known that it is illegal to drive while using your mobile phone. But the truth is that any distraction in the car is likely to make your driving worse and less safe. This includes everything from load music to talkative passengers. If you know that there are certain things that stop you from concentrating on the road, then you should distance yourself from them. Stop replying so often to a passenger (if they ask why you’re being quiet just let them know you’re focused on driving) and turn off your music or the radio.

  1. Stop trying to beat the light

There is a school of thought that says if you see a green light in front of you, the best idea is to speed up to make sure that you get through before it turns red. But this is the wrong way to think about traffic lights and you will effectively be putting yourself in a more dangerous situation. Firstly, if the lights do change you could end up going through and hitting another driver coming from another direction. Alternatively, if you try to stop sharply, something else could go into the rear of your car. It’s a much better idea to ease off the accelerator and prepare for the red light instead.

  1. Understand what a safe stopping distance is

It’s unfortunately common to see drivers tailgating other cars as they try to get them to move into another lane. You can’t do anything about the bad driving of others, so it’s best simply to focus on your own car and leave plenty of stopping distance for the car in front. A safe rule is to allow at least a 3-second gap between the cars. That means if the driver in front stops suddenly or makes a risky manoeuvre you’ll have the time to react.

  1. Recognise hazardous weather conditions

Inclement weather can make driving much harder and more dangerous. Whether it comes in the form of heavy rain, snow or even patches of ice, poor conditions are the cause of many accidents. Bad weather affects stopping distances and visibility, so if it’s unpleasant out and you’re driving, you need to be extra careful.

  1. Don’t drink drive

An obvious one, but many people don’t realise that drinking any amount of alcohol has an adverse effect on your ability to drive. It’s also worth knowing that the level that it takes to put you ‘over the limit’ varies from person to person. So, if your friend tells you that they have had two beers and passed a breathalyser test, remember it might not be the same for you.

  1. Get enough sleep

If you find yourself getting drowsy behind the wheel, it’s vital that you pull over as soon as possible and get some rest before you continue driving. But don’t think of this an isolated incident. Being tired at the wheel can make you a significantly worse driver so it’s important that you should get enough sleep to ensure you’re not put in this position again.  

Article provided by Mike James, an independent content writer working together with a small number of companies – including the Fire Extinguisher Valve Company, who were consulted with regard to the information in this post.

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