Although many of us couldn’t live without our cars, there’s no denying that Britain’s roads can be dangerous places. A hundred people are killed or seriously injured on the road every day*. You can, of course, reduce the risk of an accident by driving safely and responsibly.
Whether you’re an occasional driver or do thousands of miles a year, here are ten tips on how to make your journey as safe as it can be:
1. Make sure your car’s road-worthy
Look after your car and pay attention to basic maintenance, such as making sure your tyres and brakes aren’t worn, checking for wear and tear on windscreen wipers and that your lights are working.
2. Check before you set off on a journey:
- Is there enough anti-freeze and screenwash?
- Are the lights clean and working to their full ability?
- Is the oil and water topped up?
- Are the tyres inflated properly?
- Are all the windows clean and demisted for so visibility is good
- Have you and all your passengers got your seatbelts on?
3. Watch your speed
Keep to speed limits, but remember they’re only a guide – and a maximum. It’s best to drive according to the conditions, such as weather, visibility and amount of traffic on the road. Always leave a “two second” gap between you and the car in front, and increase that if conditions are poor. Be as aware of 20mph speed limits in built-up areas as you are of 70mph limits on motorways.
4. On the motorway
Driving at faster speeds means you need to react even quicker. When you come onto a motorway, build up your speed on the slip road and always check your mirrors and be aware of blind spots if you’re planning to change lanes. Keep left unless you’re overtaking, don’t drive alongside other cars for long periods and always leave a safe distance between you and the car in front.
5. On country roads
Take extra care on unfamiliar or winding country roads. Even you know what’s around the next bend, approach it slowly. If you’re out in the country, it’s not just other cars you need to watch out for – horses and other animals could be just around the corner. Be particularly aware of weather conditions and use your headlights accordingly.
6. Personal safety
As well as avoiding accidents, it’s good to be aware of your own safety. Keep valuables out of sight, park your car in a well-lit place and have your keys ready when you go back to it. If you’re a woman driving alone, get into the habit of locking all the doors and never give lifts to strangers.
7. Never drink and drive
Although the legal limit is 35 microgrammes of alcohol per 100 millilitres of breath, it’s best to not drink at all as even the smallest amount can affect the way you drive. If you get stopped and breathalysed and you’re over the limit you’ll lose your licence for a minimum of 12 months. You could also spend up to six months in jail, be fined up to £5,000 and your car insurance premiums will go up.
8. Don’t use your mobile
It’s illegal to use your phone or any other handheld device while you’re driving. Even if you’re having a hands-free conversation it’s so easy to get distracted. So the best thing to do is pull over into a safe place if you need to call or text.
9. Watch out for motorbikes, cyclists and children
Check your mirrors frequently, as motorbikes can advance quickly but be hard to spot. Leave room for motorbikes and cyclists at traffic lights and junctions, and try to pre-empt what the riders are about to do. So if they’re checking over their shoulder, you’ll see that they’re about to pull out. Children can be unpredictable, so never drive fast on a road where they could step out between parked cars and always be prepared to stop for them. If another car has stopped to let pedestrians cross the road, never overtake it.
10. Take regular breaks
Driving when you’re tired can slow down your reactions, so try to avoid it. If you’re on a long journey, take a 15-minute break every two hours. Get out of the car, stretch your legs and have a snack to boost your concentration.
How John Lewis Insurance can help
If you’re a careful driver, John Lewis Car Insurance helps you to reap the rewards. We offer a No Claims Discount of up to 75% and in most cases we’ll give you the option of protecting it. Find out more about John Lewis