How to be a Safer Driver

How to be a Safer DriverRoad deaths have become the silent killer we’ve all relegated to the backs of our minds. Despite having the second safest roads in Europe — after Sweden — deaths on Britain’s roads number in the thousands every year. Tens of thousands are severely injured each year and in 2011 over 200,000 people were injured thanks to motoring. The figures are so high that if you count up all motoring related deaths since the Second World War you’ll reach a figure higher than the number of British soldiers killed in that war.

The good news is that road casualty figures have been declining steadily since the 1960s. Cars are safer; road safety campaigns have taught us to slow down and never drink and drive, and enforcement has got tougher. Still the picture isn’t yet a rosy one. Last year 1754 people passed away on our roads. Many of those deaths could have been avoided if some of the tips below had been followed by all drivers.

Install a telematics black box

Unlike an airplane black box, a telematics black box isn’t there to help crash investigators discover the cause of accident. It does have some similarities however: it records the data that the car produces on its position, speed, acceleration, braking and more. Each telematics box is different, but some of the latest models are able to automatically contact the emergency services and your breakdown recovery company in the event of an accident. This leads to a faster response and can mean the difference between life and death.

Not only that, but telematics insurance policies reward safer driving with lower premiums. This subtlety — yet effectively — encourages better driving behaviour and road position, leading an increase in safety and fewer accidents. Find out how box insurance works and consider finding an insurer for your vehicle – you’ll save money and improve your safety at the same time.

Make sure you understand new hazards

The roads have changed a lot over the past few years. Depending on where you live you’ll have noticed different changes. Before you next go on a long distance drive, familiarise yourself with what might have changed and how you should react. One such change as been an increase in hard shoulders being converted for traffic on busy motorways. This means you’ll no longer have a dedicated place to stop if something goes wrong, and will have to consider which lane is best for your current speed.

Another change has been an increase in the number of cyclists on the road – spurred on by British victories in the Olympics, and other events, more and more people are taking to the roads on bikes. If you’re not used to seeing many cyclists where you live, you might worry about how you should react when driving in a city full of them such as London or Cambridge. Read up on how much space you need to give them, how to handle junctions and why you need to check your mirrors more often when cyclists might be about.

Don’t get distracted by your mobile

Don't get distracted by your mobileEveryone has a smartphone these days. They’re great tools for driving with, allowing you to check the map, find cheaper petrol stations, avoid speed traps and listen to an infinite library of music. However, they can also be dangerous. We all know that it’s illegal to pick up your phone to answer a call while driving, but even using a hands-free device can distract you from the road.

The law limits you to a single button press to initiate or end a communication, so even if you’ve got a handsfree cradle you’re not able to text unless you dictate your message to a voice control app such as Siri. It’s almost always best to avoid sending a message until you’re safely pulled over and stopped – you don’t want to risk a fine or worse an accident.

Editorial Team
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