What simple steps can we take to – if not totally insure ourselves against problems – at least reduce the risk as much as possible of coming a cropper when behind the wheel?
Well, in answering that, the best starting point is to establish what the most common dangers are for motorists on our motorways, on the roads of Britain’s towns and cities, and in rural areas. Buying, and looking after, a decent car is essential to staying safe on our roads. But what else can we do to protect ourselves from danger on our increasingly congested highways and byways, where road rage and myriad other hazards are becoming increasingly prevalent? Here are our safe driving tips.
Risks for motorists, and others
Road safety does not ‘just’ apply to motorists, of course; walkers, joggers, cyclists, and even rollerbladers can be involved in road accidents. But let’s focus here on motorists whose physical health and emotional wellbeing can be at risk on the roads due:
- Aggressive drivers, and those who simply drive too fast – the number one cause of fatal accidents in the UK
- Fellow motorists with excessive alcohol in their system, and/or drivers with a drug habit
- Drivers without a licence, e.g. first-time drivers who are, illegally, out for a spin
- Fog, ice and rain-soaked roads
Most of the above concern the behaviour of other motorists, and how that can cause accidents, but what about that last one? With hand on heart, can you really claim to have never driven while feeling dog tired? Most of us have committed that particular sin, usually having felt that we had no choice other than to hit the road – to get to work, to not miss an appointment, to pick the kids up from school or an after-school activity. The reasons for driving tired are many and always self-justifiable(!) But how many of us really realise what a huge risk it is to drive when really you should be catching some shut-eye?
“I made the mistake of driving after talking painkilling medication,” explains Amanda in Edgware. “I knew that the tablets made me drowsy, but decided to chance it. What a mistake. Due to the sudden onset of tiredness, about quarter-of-an-hour after setting off I lost concentration and ended up mounting the kerb near my local library. I could have killed someone.
“My advice to anyone under treatment for a medical condition – be that in the realm of physical or mental health – is to think twice before driving. So many prescribed and over-the-counter medications can have a common side-effect: drowsiness. Actually, don’t think twice. Just don’t do it.”
Ways to stay safe when driving
- Obey the rules (always follow the Highway Code) and never exceed the speed limit
- Don’t set off if you are in any doubt about your car’s roadworthiness
- If you are not physically fit to drive, don’t do so
- Avoid alcohol before driving. Even if you have drunk alcohol below the allowed legal limit, you still have to take into account how booze personally affects you. Not drinking at all in the hours before driving is best therefore.
- Always wear your seat belt, and insist that your passengers also do
- Never use your mobile phone
- Don’t drive when tired
- If you’re on a long journey, take plenty of breaks
- Take into account seasonal factors when driving. Winter roads can be far different to roads in spring or summer, after all
- As well as others drivers’ safety, always think about cyclists and motorcyclists too.