For those who have been driving for a number of years, bad habits can start to show in the way you drive. Not only can this be dangerous for you, but if your child is watching you - it means they can start to pick up these bad habits too, before they've even started to drive! We've spoken to Rebecca Ashton of IAM RoadSmart to give her tips and advice to parents with eagle eyed teens, and ask what they can do to help their children when they get behind the wheel themselves.
Why are you signalling right
Make sure your signals are accurate and well timed, an inappropriate signal applied by you can mislead other road users and also your learner. There are drivers out on our roads who signal right to go straight ahead at a roundabout, which is not the way we teach. Basically if you are taking the first exit – signal left, if you are taking the second exit and it is positioned straight ahead do not signal until you are just past the junction prior to the one you want and then remember those mirror checks and signal your intention to other road users. If you are taking any exit beyond 12 o’clock you should signal right on approach to the roundabout.
Why are you changing gear
Again another trap older drivers fall into is changing down through their gears when slowing down or stopping. When vehicle brakes were not as good as they are now it used to be considered a good thing and used the engine to help slow the car, however these days with good modern brakes it is no longer necessary to go down through the gears. Therefore we can stop in a higher gear, de clutch and then choose the one you are going to need to move off – remember ‘gears to go, brakes to slow’.
I know what is behind me
Unfortunately as we move through our driving career if we don’t take further lessons or refresh ourselves then we can get a little lax with our mirror checking. In order to drive well and not let any surprises creep into our journey we need to ensure we are continually scanning from ‘far to car’, dashboard and behind. Missing a mirror check is an easy bad habit to get into and can take a while to put right again so keep those eyes peeled.
Making sure you are comfortable, and that your seat is adjusted correctly for you is an important part of being in full control of the vehicle, remember to set your seat before you set your mirrors or you will have to redo them.
Hand on gear lever
This is one my parents used to be guilty of, in order to have full control of the vehicle you need to keep both hands on the wheel whenever possible. Many parents drive with one hand on the gearstick or even a hand on their lap, however if something unexpected happened they would not have full control of the wheel.
Elbow on arm rest or window
Another bad habit drivers can get into is resting their arm on the window or the arm rest, Stretch your hands, arms, and back before getting into the car. Ideally the steering wheel should be held with a gentle grip, your arms should be slightly bent at the elbow. Consider having a good stretch before you get into the car and remember to take regular breaks allowing both mind and body to have some respite from driving.
Not applying the handbrake and holding the car on the clutch
Something I think many drivers are guilty of, we get lazy with the handbrake, even more so these days with hill start technology. However, we should get back into the habit of using our handbrakes, they are very important when you stop at a pedestrian crossing, using your handbrake here can stop you being shunted forward into people crossing the road.
Eating and drinking while driving
Anything you do while behind the wheel other than concentrate on driving is a distraction. So ditch the temptation to open that packet of crisps, can of drink or even a sweet wrapper., Just think when you have a drink you tip your head back taking your eyes away from the road, when you open the crisps you look at the packet and try not to let them explode everywhere. Of course we all get hungry and thirsty, however, the best way of dealing with this is to stop relax and enjoy your snack without the dangers of trying to eat and drink while driving.
Parents often like to contribute to their children’s driving lessons. Taking your child out for private practice should be an enjoyable experience that can be looked back on fondly. And the tips provided here will help. But it’s important to note that the skills your child needs to pass the driving test are the minimum required to drive on our roads. It is only with practice post test that your child’s driving capability will fully develop. An advanced driving course post test can make a real difference to this process, adding additional knowledge and awareness, and leading to a recognised qualification that can help lower insurance premiums. IAM RoadSmart is one of several providers of advanced driving courses. You can see details of our courses here: https://www.iamroadsmart.com/special-pages/all-our-courses
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