Six lifesaving things you can do as a driver
Ensuring any journey is safe is reliant on a number of factors including the condition of your car, the skills and attention of other drivers around you and, of course, your own skills as a driver.
It is an unfortunate truth that accidents can happen on the road, but many of these accidents could be easily avoided. Below we take a look at six simple things you can do whilst driving that could reduce the risk of an accident and ultimately save lives.
Check your blind spot
It’s something we were trained to do during our driving lessons, but a technique we may have stopped doing as we became a more confident driver, however checking your blind spot is critical. You should be looking over your shoulder before moving off, when merging with traffic, when changing lanes, parallel parking and every driving manoeuvre when a road user could be behind you.
Keep your distance
Maintaining an appropriate distance between you and the car in front to ensure you are able to slow down or stop safely should the speed of traffic change; the Highway Code states that you should ‘never get closer than the overall stopping distance’. For tunnels or fast-moving roads this distance should be a two-second gap, doubling this when conditions are wet or icy.
Utilise your hazards
Hazards can be highly useful in warning other roads users if you can see an accident up ahead or traffic slowing whilst on a motorway, they also come in handy with visibility is reduced due to a bed or brow in the road. Your hazards should only be used for a brief period, just enough time to warn those behind you and provide them with the opportunity to warn others behind them.
Ensure your eyesight meets standards
It is recommended by the NHS that people get their eyes tested once every two years; for drivers this will ensure that your eyesight meets the required standards in order to drive safely. With 2,900 accidents attributed to a driver with poor eyesight each year, having a regular eye test can make a huge difference to your safety on the roads.
Check your rear-view mirror when braking suddenly
You should regularly check your rear-view mirror whilst driving, but when traffic is slowing ahead, it is crucial that you glance in your rear-view mirror before braking. In doing this you are identifying how close the car is behind you, and will therefore be able to gauge how hard you are able to brake without risking the car following hitting into the back of you.
Utilise the ‘Dutch reach’
You may not be familiar with the term ‘Dutch reach’, but it can be a key tactic to keep cyclists safe on the road. Essential this manoeuvre is a way to exit your car whilst looking out for cyclists that may be heading towards you; it simply involves using the hand furthest away from the door handle to open the door, making you twist your body and increasing visibility of your blind spot. The Department of Transport has flagged the ‘Dutch Reach’ to be included in the Highway Code.
Looking for more driving safety tips? Take a look through our Hints and Tips page.