Traffic collisions are a leading cause of death worldwide. According to the World Health Organisation, around 1.3 million people die from road traffic injuries each year which makes driving the eighth highest cause of fatalities globally.
Despite having a relatively good road infrastructure and a comprehensive set of road rules, UK driving statistics unfortunately reflect this trend. There were an estimated 27,450 fatal or serious road casualties in 2021 alone.
Road collisions occur for a variety of reasons including environmental factors, but driver behaviour is a significant factor in every situation. Making a conscious effort to be careful is vital in protecting the health and safety of yourself and others. You should also be sure to safeguard against financial damage with gap insurance or similar cover which is a legal requirement for UK drivers.
Whether you have just passed your test or are a seasoned driver, remind yourself of the essential safe driving tips for UK motorists and remember to implement these when you are on the road.
Defensive driving is the practice of consciously trying to minimise dangers when on the road. This is achieved by maintaining excellent awareness and being deliberate with your actions.
Being aware of your environment is key to avoiding accidents. This allows you to identify potential hazards early and anticipate the actions of others which gives you more time to react in a dangerous situation.
Try to look 15 seconds ahead when you are driving and make use of your mirrors, taking into account any blind spots. You should also maintain an awareness of the distance between you and the car in front, ensuring that you are sticking to stopping distances.
Having clear and decisive intentions is also a key part of defensive driving. For example, move into the right lane as early as possible when traffic is merging and use your indicators to signal your manoeuvre.
It is easy to become distracted while driving, not only by the external circumstances on or around the road but also things happening inside your vehicle.
Common distractions include phone calls, food, music, and people talking. All of these eventualities cause you to take your eyes off the road and your mind off the drive. As high-risk situations can emerge in a second, being distracted makes you less able to escape danger.
Especially if you are new to driving, try to avoid transporting friends and be resistant to peer pressure relating to the in-car experience. Having silence and turning off your phone to ensure no interruptions is a good strategy for staying focused.
Consider the circumstances
Finally, be sure to consider the circumstances before you set out on your journey. This includes the weather and time of day but also how you are feeling.
Try to avoid driving in dangerous weather such as heavy rain which will affect visibility and ice which can prevent your brakes from properly securing your wheels to the road.
You should also be conscious of feelings of fatigue and make sure that you do not drive when tired. It is surprisingly easy to succumb to sleep while driving, especially on repetitive roads such as motorways. On long journeys, take adequate breaks.