|Tip 1 — Queue Safety|
|Being hit from behind whilst in a stationary or slow moving queue is one of the most common crashes, and should be of particular concern to those carrying children in the back seats. There is a general misconception that there is nothing a driver can do to avoid being 'rear ended', but following these tips can help to avoid a collision:
- When at the back of a queue, always leave a large gap.
- Keep an eye on the mirror for approaching traffic, this gives you space to move forward to lessen or avoid impact. You may even be able to move out of the way.
- If the queue is hidden from following traffic by a bend, rise or bridge, consider stopping where following trafffic can see you — even if this is well short of the queue, only moving forward when you are sure vehicles approaching have seen you.
- Try to have an escape route planned and be ready in gear with handbrake on.
- Consider keeping brake lights on, and be ready to use hazard lights if necessary, these may be wise anyway in particularly vulnerable situations.
- Once you are sure the following driver has spotted the queue, switch your hazard lights off and release brake lights.
|Tip 2 — Autumn Driving|
|The onset of Autumn presents many hazards. Roads can be slippery and visibility is often reduced. Darker nights and low sun bring their own hazards as does the start of the school term. The ABD has many tips to help you to avoid accidents in these conditions. Read on:
- When driving at sunset or sunrise dazzle can be a problem. Ensure that you keep your windscreen clean and free from smears which will be enhanced by low sun. If driving into the sun be aware that drivers behind may be dazzled and may not see you if you stop (see previous tips for avoiding being 'rear ended'). If the sun is low behind you, be aware that oncoming drivers may be dazzled.
- In conditions of poor visibility use dipped headlights. This is not so that you can see but so that other road users can see you. If most around you have their lights on, the chances are that you should too. You may be able to see other vehicles but the motorcyclist with a rain soaked visor, the pedestrian with poor eyesight or the driver with misted up windows may mistake you for a gap in the traffic with obvious consequences.
- Only use rear foglights in extreme conditions (a good guideline is when the vehicles in front become difficult to see) and always remember to switch them off when conditions improve. Front foglights (lights mounted below the bumper are usually foglights) should only be used in thick fog.
- Your vehicle will take much longer to stop on a wet surface, particularly one covered with wet leaves. Adjust your speed and leave a longer following distance so that you are always able to stop in the distance seen to be clear. Find out whether your car has ABS brakes. It will make a difference to how you will need to use them in an emergency stop. Consider taking skid pan training to help you understand how your car will behave if you lose adhesion. There are many venues throughout the country.
- Watch out for children walking and cycling to and from school. Many schools unfortunately insist upon dark coloured clothing which can make them difficult to spot
- Ensure your tyres, brakes, wipers, heater and demisters are in excellent order
|Tip 3 — Don't Procession — Leave a Gap|
Travelling along a single carriageway road, how often have you come across a procession of vehicles that is impossible to overtake because of its length? Such processions are inevitably caused by one or two vehicles closely following the one at the front of the procession (which is often an HGV that is legally obliged to travel at a lower speed). With a little thought, these processions would never build up.
- When travelling along a single carriageway road behind another vehicle, ask yourself if you have any intention of overtaking that vehicle.
- If the answer is no, leave a gap ahead of you that is long enough to facilitate overtaking.
- This allows other vehicles to overtake you, slot safely into the gap you have left, and await an opportunity to overtake the next vehicle.
- Vehicles which travel in close procession effectively create a very long vehicle that is far more difficult to overtake. This can cause frustration, and significantly increases the risk of accidents.
- Even if there is no vehicle behind you, leaving a large gap increases your line of sight and safety margin.
|Tip 4 — Motorway Driving|
Most congestion and accidents on the motorway could easily be prevented by the following good driving practices. Remember, congestion creates danger, it is every driver's duty to do their bit to prevent it:
- On entering a motorway use the slip road to match your speed to vehicles already on the motorway. If vehicles in lane one are travelling at 70mph then that is the speed you should be doing in the slip road to merge in without causing disruption to safe traffic flow.
- Always use the leftmost lane unless you are in the process of overtaking. If the lane to the left of you is unoccupied, then that is where you should be. Never stay out longer than necessary. To do so causes great disruption to traffic flow as all traffic has to filter around you. This is probably the greatest cause of congestion, one middle or outer lane hog can cause miles of disruption. They are often completely oblivious to the chaos they are causing behind them.
- Keep a safe distance from the vehicle in front, a good guideline is to count two seconds from when the vehicle you are following passes a point to when you pass it. Double this if the surface is wet.
- Try to maintain a consistent speed (obviously where conditions allow). Frequent variations in speed are disconcerting to other drivers. In particular try to avoid unnecessary braking. Your brake lights can set up a chain reaction which often leads to congestion and may cause an accident. Try not to automatically brake if the driver in front touches their brakes unnecessarily. Keeping a safe distance will make it much easier to assess whether braking is needed.
- When changing lanes check your mirrors and glance over your shoulder to check your blind spot. Indicate your intentions well in advance.
- Try not to drive alongside other vehicles for longer than necessary, particularly large trucks. You will be in their blind spot and they may change lanes without seeing you. You are also not giving yourself an escape route for emergencies.
- Many left-hand drive HGVs have a blind spot on their right between what the driver can see in his mirrors and what he can see out of the front window. This blind-spot is roughly alongside the cab of the HGV. Before passing an HGV check to see if it has a foreign registration, and if so do not dawdle in his blind spot.
- If you come to the back of a stationary or slow moving queue, use your hazard flashers to warn following traffic until you are sure they have seen you are slowing (familiarise yourself with the location of the switch as you may need it quickly). Keep a good distance from the back of the queue and keep an eye on your mirrors for fast approaching traffic. This will give you more chance of avoiding or at least minimising a rear end impact.
- When leaving the motorway try to keep to the same speed until you are well within the exit slip road. Slowing down and even worse, braking whilst still on the main carriageway is a major cause of congestion around junctions and again can be dangerous. Slip roads are generally designed to allow time to slow down, but always assess the slip-road as you approch the junction as some have tight bends.
- Other drivers intentions can often be predicted. Vehicles drifting away from the centre of the lane may be about to change lane. Vehicles gaining on the vehicle in front, are likely to want to overtake — give them room if it is safe to do so. Drivers looking in their mirrors, the positions of their hands on the steering wheel, will tell you that a driver may be likely to change lane.
- Look out for inattentive drivers whose actions may be unpredictable, those on mobile phones or turning to chat to passengers, those wandering in lanes or blindly following too close to the car in front may be drowsy and about to fall asleep.
- When stuck in slow or stationary traffic, watch out for motorcycles which may be making their way between the lanes of traffic.
|Tip 5 — Killer Pillars|
Be aware that windscreen pillars may be of such width that they totally obscure motorcycles and bicycles from view. This is a particular danger when emerging from junctions, or at roundabouts. A quick glance to check what is coming may co-incide with the motorcycle or bicycle being hidden by the screen pillar. Always look for long enough to ensure that nothing is hidden from view, or move your head to ensure you get a complete view of the road.
See also our press release ABD Supports "Killer Pillars" Investigation
This road safety issue was first highlighted by SafeSpeed and Bike Magazine.
|Tip 6 — Rain after a dry spell|
Rain after a prolonged dry spell can make roads extremely slippery, because rubber from vehicle tyres which builds up on the road surface during dry weather becomes lubricated by the first rains and seriously reduces your tyres' grip on the road.
You can deal with this situation by:
- Staying further back from the vehicle in front
- Slowing earlier for junctions, islands, traffic lights, etc, so you don't have to brake so hard on the approach
- Not cornering as hard as you normally would, even in the wet (this applies particularly to motorbikes, as a greasy road surface can easily cause you to drop the bike on bends)
- Allow yourself, and others around you, more time to react
|Tip 7 — Check your mirrors before giving way when turning right|
If you are turning right using a right turn lane in the centre of the road, do not signal to drivers wishing to turn right out of the road you are turning into, that they should go ahead of you, without first checking your mirror for traffic approaching from behind you.
Such approaching traffic may be hidden from view by your vehicle, and the driver pulling out may interpret your signal as meaning it is safe to pull out, when it is not.
This is especially important for HGV drivers whose vehicle may be so large as to completely hide approaching traffic, yet when turning into a narrow side road may need to allow the other driver out in order to be able to make the turn.