Although we drive safer cars on safer roads these days, everyone who gets behind the wheel has a responsibility to drive carefully. With distractions everywhere, you must be aware of the fundamentals of using the road safely.
It’s equally as important to practice these fundamentals whenever you hit the road. Whether you’ve been driving for years or you’ve just passed your test, you’re sure to find our 10 top driver safety tips useful and helpful.
Scroll down to find out ways you can keep yourself and other drivers safe on the road.
You can also check out related safety guides on how to drive safe at night, new driving laws and rules in 2022, and how to plan a trip ahead with your friends to ensure you are safe on the roads for the future.
Here Are Our Top 10 Safe Driving Tips
1. Make sure your vehicle is serviced regularly
The first of our top 10 safe driving tips is making sure your car is safe to drive. Maintaining your car and getting it serviced regularly will reduce the chance of any breakdowns or accidents caused by vehicle faults.
The following things should also be checked regularly, especially before long journeys:
- indicators and headlights
- tyre tread pressures and depth
- fluid levels including water and oil
You should also take care with your car’s tyres. The legal minimum tread depth for tyres is 1.6mm, and if any of the tyres show signs of sidewall damage, be sure to replace them straight away.
Not only are damaged or worn tyres dangerous, but they’re also illegal and come with a fine of £2,500 along with 3 penalty points for each tyre. Another way to keep your car safe on the road is to make sure it’s insured. For affordable temporary car insurance, get a free quote from us.
2. Avoid using your mobile phone while driving
This may seem obvious but a shocking amount of drivers still aren’t able to ignore their mobile phones when driving. Needless to say, people that use their phones whilst driving are much more likely to be involved in car crashes.
Mobile phones are one of the most distracting things to drivers because they require your full attention. Visual, manual, and cognitive functions are all needed to use a phone, so your hands, eyes, and mind will all be off the road if you use one.
Not only is it illegal to use a mobile whilst driving, but it’s also illegal, even if your car is stationary with the engine on, unless it’s a hands-free device. If you use your phone whilst driving you may face a fine of £100 and 3 points on your licence.
3. Do not drive if you are tired
It’s no secret that a tired or sleeping driver can be lethal. Driving whilst tired is a common cause of car accidents.
Tired responses can range from a few seconds of dozing off to simply “spacing out” and not focusing on the road. On fast roads, 1 or 2 seconds of absent-mindedness is all it takes for a disaster to happen. You should always take a break driving if you feel tired, check out our guide on how to start driving after a break.
4. Get your eyesight checked
Having your eyesight tested by an optician every 2 years is ideal. But if you think you have an issue with your eyes, a test should be done straight away. They may not be the most stylish accessory, but if you need to wear prescription driving glasses, you must wear them to ensure the safety of yourself and others on the road.
5. Keep an eye out for road markings
Road signs and markings are essential for ensuring each motorist drives safely. Road improvements usually give hints about past accidents and collision history. In these areas, watch out for what could have originally caused the collisions, keep your distance and watch out for oncoming drivers. Generally, the more road markings and signs, the riskier the road is.
6. Stay alert and observe your surroundings
When you’re driving, it’s a good idea to practice defensive driving skills. Defensive driving will help you anticipate potential risks and hazards. Some defensive driving tips include:
- drive at a steady and controllable speed
- assume you know what other drivers will do
- stay focused and remove all potential distractions such as mobile phones
Additionally, don’t just focus on the car ahead and in the mirror to observe your surroundings. Think about what could be happening up ahead by looking at the road as far ahead as possible. Don’t forget to observe how other people are driving too.
7. Follow the two-second rule
The safe following distance is the equivalent of 2 seconds. In dry weather, always keep a minimum distance of 2 seconds between your car and the one in front of you. However, if visibility is poor due to fog, rain, or night-time driving, always double the distance to the vehicle in front to at least 4 seconds. In severe weather such as ice or snow, you should double this again.
8. Obey speed limits
We all know the phrase “speed kills”, but it rings true. A speed limit should be respected and you must consider traffic and road conditions too. Don’t let road rage get the better of you either. Speeding is dangerous and instantly puts you and other drivers at risk. As well as obeying the speed limit, always wear a seat belt whilst driving. When worn properly, they can prevent you from being flung around inside a crashing vehicle or being thrown through the windshield in the event of a collision. As well as you, if you have passengers in your car you must make sure they’re wearing their seat belts too.
9. Don’t drive while intoxicated
Drunk driving is extremely dangerous and illegal and it can also cause aggressive driving. Alcohol slows down your reflexes and can temporarily lower your intelligence and ability to use your brain, resulting in you being unable to safely control the car. It’s very easy to avoid driving whilst drunk. If you’ve consumed alcohol, ask a friend who’s sober for a lift or catch a taxi. If you know you’ll be drinking, make sure you organise a designated driver. The minor inconvenience of taking a taxi back to your house is nothing compared to the potentially devastating consequences of driving whilst drunk.
10. Be extra cautious in bad weather conditions
The last of our safe driving tips for drivers is being extra careful in bad weather. If you’re driving through heavy rain, snow, fog or on icy roads, drive with extreme caution. Take all of the tips we’ve outlined here and use them all in conjunction for maximum safety – drive slowly, maintain a good distance between you and the vehicle in front and drive carefully around bends. If you’re not confident driving through a certain type of weather condition, pass on the driving duties to someone who is, if possible. If the weather becomes too bad, just seek shelter in a safe place and wait for it to pass.
How to be a safer driver: FAQs
What is the safest speed to drive when raining?
Driving quickly in rainy weather can affect your brakes and lengthen the amount of time it takes to stop the car. Generally, you should reduce your speed by a third in wet conditions.
For example, if you’d normally drive at 65mph down a certain road, in wet weather you should reduce this to around 43 mph.
What is the penalty when caught driving under the influence of alcohol?
DUI or driving under the influence is a criminal offence. If you’re found guilty of being drunk whilst driving, you could face a life-changing punishment.
If you drive whilst being above the legal limit of drink allowed whilst driving, you could face up to 6 months in prison, an unlimited fine, and being banned from driving for at least 12 months.
If you’re suspected of driving under the influence but refuse to give a blood, urine, or breath specimen, you can face the same punishments as being found guilty of DUI.
However, if you cause someone’s death because of DUI, you could face up to 14 years in prison as well as an unlimited fine and a 2-year driving ban.
Is it safe to drive while taking prescription medication?
This depends on the type of medication you’re taking. Always consult with your doctor to confirm whether you’ll be safe to drive.
Your safety whilst driving could be affected, especially if you’re suffering from things such as diabetes or seizures. Some medications for these conditions may cause side effects such as dizziness or drowsiness, so always check with your doctor first.
How often should you take a break when driving long distances?
It’s recommended to take a 15-minute break if you drive continuously for 2 hours, or whenever you start to feel fatigued behind the wheel. You may think that yawning a few times is ok, but a little drowsiness is enough to put you at risk of being involved in an accident.
Always take short, regular breaks once you start to feel tired – a quick walk to breathe some fresh air is a great idea. A caffeine break is also a good pick-me-up!
Final Thoughts on becoming a safer driver
All of these safe driving tips can and should be used to help you become a safer and more responsible driver, reducing the risk of auto accidents and the resulting repair bills. Remember, it’s not just your driving you need to worry about. Always be aware of other vehicles as not every motorist will be taking the same steps as you to become a safer driver.