The more years we spend behind the wheel, the easier it is to pick up and develop bad driving habits along the way. While the perfect driver may not exist, there are precautions you can take to avoid bumps in the road. Whether you’re a novice or an experienced driver, here are eight good driving habits you could adopt to improve your skills on the road.
1. Keep calm on the road
We’ve all been in a situation where the traffic is backed up, drivers are cutting people off and your patience are being put to the test. Take a deep breath and remember that getting angry isn’t going to do you any favours. If another driver is trying to provoke you, ignore them and don’t react. Instead, focus on your driving1.
2. Check your blind spots
Having eyes in the back of your head is not a requirement when driving, but every driver should be aware of what’s going on around them. Failure to check your blind spots could cause a serious accident. When you’re looking to overtake, change lanes, or move off it’s crucial to not only check your mirrors but to look over your shoulder to make sure the coast is clear1.
3. Perform regular safety checks
No one expects you to have the knowledge of a mechanic to own a vehicle, but as a driver, it’s your responsibility to make sure your car won’t put yourself or other drivers in any immediate danger. Make a daily checklist that you can tick off every time before you set out on your journey with critical elements such as:
• Windshield wipers
• Coupling devices2
4. Keep a safe distance
When you’re in a hurry to get to your destination, it’s easy to forget to maintain a safe distance between you and the vehicle in front of you. Keeping at least two seconds behind the car in front will give you adequate time to react should the car ahead make a sudden stop1. Pick a fixed point ahead of you on the road and count “one Mississippi, two Mississippi” to help you measure the gap between you and the vehicle ahead!
5. Pull over if you’re tired
Starting to feel drowsy or tired? Don’t ignore the signs, pull over! Tiredness-related collisions are three times more likely to result in a fatality or serious injury3 – make sure you’re well-rested before hitting the road. If you are feeling tired, find a safe spot to pull over, grab a coffee and take a nap for a maximum of 20 minutes4.
6. Ditch the distractions
Distractions cause 20-30% of all collisions in Ireland and drivers who use their phones are four times more likely to be involved in an accident4. Luckily, most distractions are avoidable with some discipline and planning. Make it a habit to plan your route, eat and take phone calls before you drive5.
7. Communicate effectively
No one is a mind reader – it's up to you as a driver to communicate effectively and proactively to let other road users know what your intentions are. Using your horn and indicating can make other drivers aware of any moves you will be making, allowing them to react appropriately and safely. Remember, only use your horn to warn others about any oncoming danger, or to make them aware of your presence – it’s not something to abuse.
8. Check the weather forecast before making your journey
Unfortunately, living in Ireland means we’re no strangers to unpredictable weather conditions. Extreme weather such as heavy rain, icy roads and snowstorms can catch a driver off guard and lead to an accident. As a rule of thumb, check the weather before setting out on your journey and in severe weather, avoid making the trip unless necessary6