Follow these driving tips and you’ll help reduce your risk of being involved in a crash as well as improve your personal safety as a motorist.
When checking your vehicle, the POWER check is the easiest to remember. This stands for Petrol, Oils, Water, Electric, and Rubbers. Everything under each heading should be visually checked at least once per week.
At all times maintain a two-second gap from the vehicle ahead, no matter what speed you are travelling. When it is raining, a foggy night, or any combination of these, the gap should be doubled to four seconds.
safety gap between vehicles
When you stop behind another vehicle in a line of traffic, always ensure you are able to clearly see the bottom of the vehicle's rear tyres. This ensures you are not too close to the other vehicle. Also, as you commence to move your two-second gap will already be in place.
Keep to the left at all times unless overtaking. The right hand lane is for overtaking, or turning right. Use it for driving straight through only if the left lane is obstructed by road works or parked vehicles, or if it is not useable for any reason.
Where practical, use your indicators for at least 30 metres before commencing to turn or change lanes, to tell other road users what you will do.
drive with anticipation
Expect the unexpected and be aware that we all make mistakes sometimes. The other driver may forget to indicate, or to look to see if you are near by. If you have anticipated this may happen, it will not be a surprise.
We should be driving as a team, not as individuals, be prepared to let the other driver in, rather than blocking them out.
stop at lights or stop signs
When you stop at the lights or at a stop sign, your car should be behind the thick stop line. There are some intersections, where if you stop over the stop line and a truck or bus turns into the street that you are leaving; it will collide with your vehicle.
Always plan well ahead. Your line of sight should travel parallel to the road, not down onto it. This makes it easier for you to prepare for anything that may happen long before you get there.
Overtaking is probably one of the most dangerous manoeuvres a driver can perform, especially on a two-way carriageway. Quite often the vehicle you overtake is only travelling slightly slower than you are. Make sure that you have enough room to go well past the overtaken vehicle before you move back to the left. Don't cut them off.
anti-lock braking systems (ABS)
Anti-lock braking systems (ABS) prevent the wheels of a vehicle from locking under emergency braking. They enable steering control with the brakes fully operating, enhancing the driver’s chances of avoiding a hazard.
ABS does not necessarily stop a vehicle in a shorter distance than ordinary brakes. If you drive a vehicle with ABS, still keep the same two-second gap from the vehicle in front. ABS should only be relied upon in an emergency braking situation.
Drive smoothly and make decisions early so that you can accelerate, brake and change gears smoothly. It will make your vehicle last longer, cost you less, and it is far more comfortable for your passengers. Rough acceleration, braking, or steering, can easily cause your car to skid.
negotiating a curve
When you are negotiating a curve in the road, try to flatten the curve out as much as you can. This will give you a better view around the curve, a smoother path and it will decrease the potential of the car commencing to skid. For a left curve, approach as near as is safe to the right of your lane, when you can see where the road straightens out ahead, gently move across to the left of the lane and finish back in the middle of your lane. Use the opposite sequence for a right curve.
Night driving can be quite difficult. Oncoming vehicles' headlights can dazzle you and you must keep alert to the lights and reflectives of cyclists and motorcyclists. Pedestrians can be impossible to see. Traffic lights can appear to blend in with advertising signs.
Leave yourself more space from the car in front, as this will create more time for you to be able to see what is ahead and prepare for anything that may happen.
Be courteous and share the road:
Allow other drivers to merge or change lanes easily.
Only use your horn as a warning sound and do not use it out of frustration.
Always try to stay relaxed and concentrate on your own driving and safety rather than the behaviour of others.
Don't gesture to other drivers or engage in arguments.
Be forgiving of other drivers’ mistakes.
Don't take your personal frustration out on the road.
Be aware of the needs of other drivers, and all other road users like pedestrians, cyclists, motorcyclists and heavy vehicles.
While driving, take some personal safety precautions:
While in your car, keep the doors locked at all times.
If you find yourself being followed while driving, try to keep calm and maintain your driving skills. Go to the nearest police station, petrol station or well-lit convenience store. Only leave your car when you feel the threat has passed. Report the incident to the police.
Plan your trip in advance so that you are not sitting in your car with the light on reading the street directory at night.
Be prepared in case of breakdowns or trouble:
Try to carry pen and paper, a torch, a phone card and emergency numbers with your at all times.
It is also a good idea to invest in either a mobile phone or personal alarm for safety reasons. If you can't afford these, a cheaper alternative is a whistle to blow and attract attention if you are in danger.
If you break down, try to leave the car in a safe, well-lit spot. Put your bonnet up and turn on your hazard lights. If you have to call for assistance, ensure the car is secure and go to the nearest phone.
If someone stops to assist, do not get into a stranger's car. Give them your details and ask them to call for assistance.
Try to park in a place where there will be plenty of people around and that is well lit.
Avoid parking too close to walls and hedges.
Never leave valuables like purses, wallets or mobile phones in your car. Move things into the boot before you leave, rather than when you arrive at the destination.
Have your keys ready to open the car, rather than rummaging through your bag to find them.
If it is dark, have someone accompany you to your car. Try to avoid multi-storey car parks.
- Never double park or park in a clearway, as this is a dangerous practice and puts other road users at risk.