With the summer holidays now well upon us families nationwide will be setting off on long car journeys to the coast. However, what promises to be a joyous occasion is in danger of becoming a nightmare. Research by road safety charity Brake and Direct Line has recently been published revealing that more than half of drivers do not take the appropriate amount of breaks during long journeys. With this in mind we felt it appropriate to put together our top 5 safe driving guidelines for the summer holidays.
Our Top 5 Safe Driving Practices
5. Don’t drive tired
The most pertinent piece of advice considering the aforementioned research. Some of the findings that came out of the study included the fact that “35% of the 1,000 drivers polled said they often continued a journey despite feeling sleepy” and also the fact that the “RAC Foundation said fatigue is reported as a factor in just 2% of accidents but it estimates the real figure is closer to 20%.”
It cannot be stressed just how important awareness is as a factor when it comes to safe driving (as you will find in the following points). If you are sleepy, or even slightly drowsy, your awareness levels will drop inordinately. If you are travelling down the motorway at 70 mph and nod off for 6 seconds you will travel 200 metres, almost twice the distance of the average football pitch. A lot of bad things can happen in that space on a motorway full to the brim with summer holiday traffic.
There are a few things you can do to prevent tiredness behind the wheel. Be sure to get a good night’s sleep before travelling and ensure you take regular breaks to avoid repetition fatigue. Also factor these breaks into your travel time to dissuade you from skipping them to reach your destination sooner.
4. Perform a vehicle check
This is one of our safe driving practices that may seem obvious but is surprisingly easy to forget when you are preparing for a holiday. When performing a check think F.L.O.W.E.R. This stands for fuel, lights, oil, water, electrics, and rubber. Ensuring you don’t run low on any of these items will prove for a much safer and easier journey. The same can be said for making sure all electronics systems are running correctly.
Tyre safety and maintenance is also a huge issue, particularly when setting out on long journeys. A flat or bald tire can lead to a loss of grip or a blow out. Both will lead to an accident, one that could be particularly nasty at 70 mph on a busy motorway. Ensure your tires are inflated to the manufacturer recommended pressure and also have the minimum legal amount of tread, which is 1.6 millimetres across the central ¾ of the tread, if you were wondering.
3. Keep your distance
Only a fool breaks the two second rule. The mantra many (if not all) of us will remember coming from our driving instructor during lessons as one of the key safe driving practices. Despite the fact you may have been driving for 20 years this rule is still as important as it was the first time you sat behind the wheel. By keeping a two second gap (or more) between you and the vehicle in front you ensure that you have an appropriate amount of time to respond to any sudden changes in the environment. If you are tailgating on a motorway and the car in front of you suddenly hits a barrier you WILL NOT be able to stop in time to avoid colliding with their wreckage.
Ask yourself if those extra few minutes you may gain over a 3 hour journey by sticking to the rear of the cars in front is worth spending your holiday in hospital.
2. Pay Attention To Laws and Warnings
A greater investment equals a greater risk. If you come to a section of road with ‘SLOW’ painted on the tarmac, solid lines in the middle and plenty of warning signs chances are there have already been accidents there. Safety investments are made in response to associated risk so heed all appropriate warnings and laws, including the speed limit. As cliche as it sounds it really is ’30 for a reason.’
1. Think C.O.A.S.T
Ultimately the responsibility for safe driving lies with you and you alone. To make sure you are driving as safely as possible think of the C.O.A.S.T (particularly easy to remember if that is where you are heading!) C.O.A.S.T stands for concentration, observation, anticipation, space and time. By amalgamating the previous 4 rules together you should be following C.O.A.S.T. anyway but it is handy to keep aware of it. If you are concentrating, observing and anticipating correctly you will leave yourself enough space and time to react safely to dangerous situations that present themselves.
Do you have any safe driving guidelines?
We hope you find these safe driving practices useful in your coming summer journeys and even beyond. Do you have any particular tips that you think would be handy for our other readers though? Is there a particularly efficient way to perform a vehicle check that you have mastered? Do you have a great stopping routine that leaves you feeling refreshed for the duration of your journey? Let us know in the comments below or via our Facebook, Twitter or Google+ pages.
See our power point presentation on it –
Image One: Mark Winterbourne
Image Two: John M