How to be a safer driver

Driving can be fun and liberating, but all too often it’s more like hell on wheels because you’ve got so much to think about.

But while it can be tricky, driving isn’t rocket science – you’ve just got to stay focused. If you’re not sure what to focus on though, the Institute of Advanced Motorists has come up with a few pointers to help. Stay on top of these and you’ll be fine... 

Driving isn’t rocket science – you’ve just got to stay focused
  • Read the road: the further ahead you look, the more time you have to recognise and respond to hazards. Always be able to stop your vehicle in the distance you can see to be clear.
  • Anticipate: having looked further ahead, use that knowledge to anticipate the problems that might come up and plan for them well in advance to avoid needing to take last minute action.
  • Use the two-second rule: spot a marker ahead, such as a bridge or a lamppost and wait until the vehicle ahead of you goes past it. Then say to yourself “only a fool breaks the two second rule”. If you’re at the marker before you’ve finished, you are too close. Double it if the road is wet.
  • Concentrate: at 70 mph your stopping distance is the length of a football pitch. Looking away at a crucial moment can be fatal.
  • Assume the worst: never assume that another motorist has seen you or will react as you expect – and don’t rely on somebody else’s reactions to keep you safe.
  • Look behind – and to the side: use mirrors regularly so you have a 360-degree understanding of what’s going on around you.  Use shoulder checks before you move out to solve blind spot problems.
  • Manage your personal space: if you keep space around your vehicle, you’ll have more time and room to deal with hazards.
  • Stay fresh: driver fatigue is a major factor in many crashes.  Take at least a 15-minute break after two hours at the wheel.
  • No sudden movements:  if you’ve scanned all around and used that information to predict what may happen, you should never be surprised by another vehicle’s movements.
  • Learn from your mistakes: near misses happen to everybody.  Afterwards, think how you could have avoided getting into that situation, even if you think it was the other driver’s fault.