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Sep 7, 2017
Driving Tips - 10 rules everyone should know

It’s a skill, driving, and one that can be honed and almost perfected if you try hard enough. Most people (clearly) don’t think hard enough about it, but here are a few essential tips to making your life on the road better, easier, and safer.

1. Look further ahead

This is without question the best thing you, as a competent, skilful driver, can do. One advanced driving trainer told us that most people focus and concentrate on the area of tarmac immediately in front of their car, leaving themselves almost no time to react to situations. The best advice, and the simplest and easiest life-hack to enhance your driving, is bring your eyes up. Don’t look at where you are, look at where you're going to be. You’ll react sooner to traffic, become smoother with your inputs, and generally become safer and better at driving. And all by just moving your head.

2.  Use proper lane discipline

Most traffic jams are simply put down to ‘the volume of traffic’ and while it’s true that we have more cars than we have roads for them (at times), much congestion is down to people not being in the correct lane and changing at the last second, triggering a wave of slowing cars behind them. So, if you’re on a two-lane road, you keep to the left lane unless passing a slower vehicle. Once you’ve passed, merge back into the left lane. Don’t hang around in the right-hand lane, even if you are travelling at the speed limit. Traffic will flow better for everyone if we all did this. 

3.  Leave space

If there’s one thing that an advanced driving trainer will try to drill into you, it’s about leaving space between you and the car in front at all times. Never ignore the two-second rule, is the old phrase, and it works — when you see the car in front pass an obvious bit of road furniture, start counting; one-Mississippi, two-Mississippi… if you reach the same marker before the end of the second Mississippi, you’re too close. Double that to four in wet conditions, and triple it if it’s icy.

4. Tyres and tarmac

When queuing in traffic, make sure you can see the bottom of the back tyres of the car in front, and a sliver of tarmac underneath them. It means you’re less likely to be shunted into them in the event of a rear-ender, and can also easily pull out around them if they’re not moving for any reason, such as a breakdown.

5.  Learn how to use roundabouts properly

This, obviously, links back to point two, above, but roundabouts are still something that seems to confuse a disproportionate number of drivers. It’s actually simple — keep left if turning left or going straight ahead, and signal left to do so only when you’ve passed the last exit before the one you plan to take. If turning right or doubling back, keep right and signal right until you’ve passed the last exit before the one you’re using. And always give way to traffic that has already entered the roundabout.

6. Eliminate distractions

We are all, at this stage, aware of how dangerous it can be to use some sort of electronic device when driving (a phone, most likely, although we have seen a few people trying to use laptops on the motorway…). There are penalty points and fines for it, and people have died, and taken others with them, when they’ve crashed while distracted by a glowing screen. There is new software, such as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, which integrates some of your phone’s functions with the car’s onboard systems, but that’s only partially helpful because phone calls and picking music tracks are still distracting. Just be disciplined — know your limits and remember to keep your eyes on the road, not on your screen.

 7. Be considerate

It’s a big, bad road out there and we all have to share it. Sometimes it’s all too easy to get het up, become angry and start being bolshie with other road users. But what’s the point? For a start, the chances are that the driver you’ve just cut up will catch up at the next traffic light. Secondly, a little consideration goes a long, long way. Take your time, allow others room to manoeuvre, be patient and the whole journey will roll along so much more nicely and safely. The benefit to your blood pressure alone will be worth the effort. Be especially patient and considerate with cyclists (yes, we said cyclists) and anyone trying to herd small kids across or next to the road — they are all spectacularly vulnerable and you being a touch slower and more observant really can save a life.

8.  Know your car

Which wheels does the engine of your car drive? It’s something of a crucial fact, but sadly most people don’t know the answer. A rear-wheel-drive, front-wheel-drive, or four-wheel-drive car will react differently, despite how similar you might assume all cars have become, and those differences will be made greater in an emergency. So take the time to get to know your car, its various mechanical parts and electronic systems (how many of us panicked the first time we experienced the pulsating feel of an anti-lock braking system?) and you’ll be far more in control.

9.  Service your car

This relates to point eight above, and we don’t mean that you have to crack out the Haynes manual and a set of spanners. We simply suggest you make sure your car is in good health at all times, something that Irish drivers have not traditionally been very good at. Follow the servicing schedule (most modern cars now have an on-board diagnostic system that will tell you when you need to get booked in) and make sure that your car is serviced by a trained professional, not your friend’s mate who got fired from that garage that time. And keep an eye on things yourself — small jobs like checking tyres for condition and pressure (probably the most important thing you can do when it comes to keeping yourself alive on the road), filling up windscreen washers, changing wiper blades and cleaning dirty or faded headlamp lenses— you don’t need a trip to the dealer for any of those. 

10.  Enjoy it

The era of the automated, steering-wheel-less pod is coming. No-one is too sure how far away that era is, but the fact is that within many of our lifetimes, the majority of cars on the road may well be electric, silent and controlled by computer. Driven cars, even those using internal combustion engines, will (probably) not die out entirely, but they will become more rare, exclusive and expensive. In the long history of humanity’s evolutions, a tiny 100 years or so has been spent controlling and enjoying these mechanical devices, and in spite of all the restrictions, frustrations and guilt-trips associated with modern motoring, it can still be a joy. Hone your skills. Understand your car. And get out there and enjoy it all.

Author: Carzone

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