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Essential safer driving tips

It’s easy to fall into bad habits behind the wheel. And when you’ve been driving a long time, it’s even easier to forget what your instructor taught you. Here are a few key reminders to keep you safe on the road.

It’s easy to fall into bad habits behind the wheel. And when you’ve been driving a long time, it’s even easier to forget what your instructor taught you. Here are a few key reminders to keep you safe on the road.

Written by
Julie Daniels
Motor insurance comparison expert
Last Updated
29 JULY 2022
4 min read
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10 top tips to help you drive safely

Getting into good driving habits can help you stay safe behind the wheel. Driving safely can be good news for your wallet, too, as by building your no-claims discount, you could reduce your car insurance quote over time. Read our tips for staying safe behind the wheel.

1. Keep your distance

Always leave at least a two-second gap between you and the car in front. This gives you time to react if the driver in front slows down or brakes suddenly. Leave a bigger space where you can, especially when you’re travelling at high speed.

It’s easy to remember this rule on a motorway, but it’s even more important on rural roads. According to Brake, the road safety charity, more than half of fatal crashes in Britain occur on country roads. Car drivers, motorcyclists and cyclists are more than three times more likely to be killed on a country lane than an urban street.

2. Turn off your phone

It’s illegal to check your phone when you’re driving, even if you’re stuck in traffic or stopped at traffic lights. If you’re caught holding a phone while driving, you could be fined £200 and receive six penalty points on your licence. In some cases, you could be fined £1,000 and banned from driving altogether.

3. Slow down

As well as the risk of getting a speeding ticket, breaking the speed limit is downright dangerous. In 2020 speeding contributed to 3,927 accidents – 1,361 of which were fatal or serious – according to government figures. So don’t be tempted to go too fast, even if you’re in a hurry.

4. Don’t drive tired

Fatigue is such a basic thing to overlook – let’s face it, for most people with busy schedules, being exhausted all the time is just a way of life. But tiredness can seriously affect your judgement. Frustrating as it may be if you’re in a rush to get somewhere, remember to take breaks and stay well hydrated on long drives.

5. Make sure your car is in good condition

Vehicle faults, such as bald tyres and worn brakes, can cause accidents so it’s essential that your car is always in good condition. Make sure it gets its regular car service and MOT. And before you set out, check your tyre pressure and oil and water levels.

6. Stay calm

Our research shows that 62% of drivers experience road rage – which can, in turn, lead to accidents. To avoid the risk of boiling over, it’s advisable not to drive when feeling stressed or tired.

7. Drive safely in the sunshine

The sun can present a serious hazard when it’s low in the sky, especially if the light is bouncing off standing water or snow. Be sure to keep a pair of sunglasses in the glove compartment so you can see properly at all times.

8. Watch out for vulnerable road users

Pay attention to pedestrians, cyclists and horse riders. If it’s appropriate to do so, make eye contact with them to let them know you’ve seen them. Give them plenty of space and respect their right to use the road.

9. Get a grip

Driving gloves might seem old fashioned in this day and age, but they can make a huge difference to your grip.

10. Carry an emergency kit

It’s worth keeping your car kitted out in case of emergencies. A spare tyre, a first-aid kit, de-icer and jump leads… All these can be vital if you end up breaking down.

Frequently asked questions

I’m a safe driver – can I get cheaper car insurance?

Telematics insurance – sometimes known as black box insurance – rewards you for driving safely. Your insurance provider will give you a box or app that records data about your speed and driving skills. If you prove yourself to be a good driver, you could enjoy lower premiums.

How do penalty points affect my insurance?

If you’re caught speeding or using your phone while driving, you could be given penalty points on your licence. This could mean that your insurance premiums rise significantly.

What are the UK speed limits?

In the UK, the rules are – 30mph in built-up areas (although in many parts of London it’s 20mph), then 60mph on single carriageways, and 70mph on dual carriageways and motorways.

Where can I do an advanced driving skills course?

IAM RoadSmart offers courses to make you a safer and more skilful driver. As well as improving your driving skills, it may help you get a better deal on your car insurance too.

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