The freedom of the road can be an empowering thing, but driving will always involve a certain amount of risk. According to government statistics, an average of 10 people are killed in road accidents in the UK every day, and 100 are seriously injured – and 95% of these accidents are due to driver error. While these may be sobering statistics, the massive influence of driver skill in road safety means that it is possible to significantly reduce risk while driving, simply by being a better driver.
Before you even start the engine, there are three important considerations: the condition of the vehicle, the driver and the road. A safe car is a road legal car, with everything from correct tyre pressure to an adequate supply of screen wash taken care of before any journey commences. As a driver, you should be alert, free of serious fatigue, and in general fit to drive both physically and mentally – without any medication or other substances such as alcohol in your system that could impair driving skill. All unnecessary distractions should be avoided while driving, and a mobile phone should only be used with an appropriate hands free kit, and for essential calls.
The condition of the road should always inform the way that you drive, as it has a significant impact on such fundamental factors as the safe driving speed for a given stretch of road, and what constitutes a safe braking distance. Headlights should be used in all low light conditions, regardless of the time of day – your lights don’t only help you see at night, they make your car easier to see for other road users during overcast daylight hours.
Safe driving is basically defensive driving. Early observation and the regular use of your mirrors can help you anticipate the possible actions of other drivers, so that you can stay one step ahead, while the consistent use of your own signals can ensure that you don’t give other drivers any sudden surprises. In fact, avoiding the sudden and unexpected, whether this is changing lanes or braking, is a good general rule, but being able to put this theory into practice if often more of a matter of experience than skill.
Thankfully, it is possible to pick up a lot of this acumen before you have spent years on the road. An Advanced Driving course can be an invaluable shortcut to developing the enhanced observation and driving skills that can seriously reduce your risk when you take to the road – drivers who have passed the advanced driving test are 50-75% less likely to cause an accident.
Advanced Driving courses are based on the ‘Roadcraft’ system used to train police drivers, and as well as increasing the safety of you and your passengers when you drive, holding an Advanced Driving Certificate can also help you save money on your car insurance premiums. As a less risky driver, you are less likely to make a claim on your car insurance, and this fact is recognised through the reduced premiums offered by many leading insurers – and of course, the longer you can avoid making a claim, the more No Claims Discount you can build up, which can again reduce your premium by over 50%.
This information was provided to you by Allianz Your Cover
Is the Editor of the Parkers website and price guide, formerly editor of Classic Car Weekly, and launch editor/creator of Modern Classics magazine. Has contributed to various motoring titles including Octane, Practical Classics, Evo, Honest John, CAR magazine, Autocar, Pistonheads, Diesel Car, Practical Performance Car, Performance French Car, Car Mechanics, Jaguar World Monthly, MG Enthusiast, Modern MINI, Practical Classics, Fifth Gear Website, Radio 4, and the the Motoring Independent...
Likes 'conditionally challenged' motors and taking them on unfeasible adventures all across Europe.