Whatever age you are, but especially if you’re a young or newly-qualified driver who has not long had your licence, we’ve rounded up some excellent real-world driving tips plus some reminders on laws of the road that people sometimes forget.
Blind spots made safer
Most drivers we insure can’t afford fancy new cars with blind spot technology that displays various warnings when another car enters the danger zone, so a great piece of advice that will make your car’s blind spots as safe as possible is to adjust your wing mirrors properly. Your car’s rear-view mirror tells you what’s going on directly behind you, so there’s no reason to need to see much of your own car in its wing mirrors. Actually, adjusting the wing mirrors so that they’re pointed outwards as much as possible will help you to more easily see vehicles that enter your car’s blind spots. It’s a really simple tip but one that loads of people including really experienced drivers can overlook.
What music do you listen to in your car?
“The car is the only place in the world you can die just because you’re listening to the wrong kind of music”, an Israeli psychology professor told an interviewer when they were discussing his new book. His research involved 85 new drivers aged 17 to 18, just over half of whom were blokes, who drove along set routes accompanied by experienced driving instructors. Some of the young drivers were asked to put on their favourite playlists, others were given specially created instrumental music designed to encourage safer driving, and the rest were asked to drive in silence. It was found that the teenage drivers cranked up the volume for their own playlists and rated their moods as being happier, but at the same time drove far faster, more aggressively and made more errors. It sounds like leaving techno, heavy metal or other more energetic or even emotional music for listening to at times other than in the car.
Which side is your petrol cap on?
Even experienced drivers can sometimes forget which side to fill their cars up on, which can be a real pain if the nozzles provided by certain fuel stations aren’t long enough, meaning you’ve got to drive round and queue up again. Something not many people know is that some cars’ dashboards display a little arrow next to the fuel gauge, handily telling you if the filler cap is on the left or the right hand side. Cool, huh?
Keeping cool driving in the summer
It’s so tempting to think you’re saving money by leaving the air con switched off and driving along with the windows wound down to keep yourself from boiling inside your car, but there’s a problem with this habit. Driving at medium to fast speeds with one or more windows wound down even just a little and/or with the sunroof partly or fully open makes a car less aerodynamic and produces drag, slowing it down and making it use more fuel. Driving with a window down and/or the sunroof open is fine around town, but if you’re going to be doing more than 30mph it’s definitely best to shut them up and use your car’s air con instead.
Is flashing headlights to warn other drivers of camera vans illegal?
If you’ve noticed other oncoming drivers flashing their headlights, it’s probably because they’re warning people that a speed camera van is parked up ahead. There’s no denying that it’s very kind of such drivers to want to be helpful and do what they think is a good deed, but they could actually get fined £1,000 if they get caught flashing their lights for this reason. Okay, it might seem a bit unfair, but rule 110 of the Highway Code says that headlights should only be flashed “to let other road users know that you are there” and clearly explains that headlights should not be flashed “to convey any other message or intimidate other road users”. Also, section 89 of the Police Act 1997 lists it as an offence to “wilfully obstruct a constable in the execution of his/her duty”, which basically includes warning other drivers to slow down to avoid potentially being given speeding fines. Flashing headlights to let other drivers out of junctions should also be avoided, as you could be held responsible if somebody fails to spot a hazard such as an approaching vehicle, and an accident occurs.
Is there a magic speed for driving over speed bumps?
Experts generally reckon that the best maximum speed to drive over speed ‘cushions’ and traditional full-width speed bumps is 20mph to reduce the potential of doing any damage to your car. The best speed for those narrow speed humps found in many car parks is ‘walking pace’ or about 5mph, as they tend to send a shudder through cars and could damage their wheel alignment.
Whether you’re a young or newly-qualified driver yourself or have been driving for many years, we hope you found these lesser known driving safety and road rules tips interesting.