We put a camera in a car with one of our advanced driving consultants to show the skills that you could learn on an advanced driving or defensive driving course.
For many of us, once we pass our Driving Test and we taste ‘freedom’, that’s where the learning ends, but did you know that nearly two-thirds of drivers on the road today wouldn’t be able to pass their test if they had to take it again? Worrying isn’t it!? Whether it’s because you’re not sure where to start looking for further training, you’re confused which course would be best, or simply because (like 80% of other drivers!) you think that you’re already an above average driver and wouldn’t benefit from taking further training, advanced training can help us all.
Some driving tips for motorway driving for a police driver to help you stay safer on motorway journeys. Statistically motorways are our safest roads as the traffic is all flowing one way and there are no other hazards such as pedestrians, roundabouts, tractors or traffic lights. However, driving on motorways can become tedious and drivers can easily become distracted about other things so it is important that on motorways a driver stays alert.
Here are some basic rules for safe motorway driving.
Joining a Motorway
Keep plenty of space between you and the vehicle in front
Assess the traffic flow by using your mirrors and looking over your right shoulder into your blind spots
Consider giving a right signal before entering the motorway to inform other traffic that you wish to join
Use the slip road to accelerate to a speed that matches the flow in the left-hand lane
Remember traffic already on the carriageway has priority
Leaving a Motorway
Move to the left-hand lane in good time when preparing to leave a motorway
At the end of most exit slip roads, there will be a roundabout or a junction
If there is a blind bend be prepared for queuing traffic
Check your speedometer as you leave the motorway to ensure that you have slowed down sufficiently and watch your speed in areas where the speed limit is lower
Only overtake only on the right, unless traffic is moving more slowly in queues on your right. In these circumstances you can overtake on the left to keep up with the traffic in your lane
Tiredness or stress affects your ability to concentrate. Take a twenty-minute break from driving every two hours, even if you don’t feel tired. Some exercise and light refreshments during the break can help too
If you break down, stop on the hard shoulder and use the nearest emergency telephone to contact the Police Motorway Control. Don’t stop on the hard shoulder unless it’s an emergency.
If you would like to improve your motorway driving skills contact us and book one of our courses.
UK Roundabouts can cause problems for many drivers, in particular drivers from overseas. This video will give you some useful information and techniques on roundabout driving. There are also tips on accommodating heavy good vehicle and avoiding being in a lager vehicles blind spot.
Skid Pan Driving Tips to help you handle driving in the rain which is one of the most common driving hazards we face in the UK. Below are some tips on preparing your car for these conditions and some tips on how to adapt your driving to wet and difficult driving conditions.
Tyres and Wipers
The condition of your tyres is a very important factor when driving in the rain, particularly when we come to aquaplaning a little bit later in the news letter. So it’s a good idea to check your tyres not only to see if they are within the legal limit which is a minimum of 1.6m tread depth, but also if they are correctly inflated.
With regard to wiper blades the general rule is if they make any noise or leave streaks on the windscreen they will need replacing.
Is the reduced amount of grip available from your tyres in wet conditions; it will take twice as long to stop in wet conditions than it would if it was dry, and also the grip level from surface to surface can change dramatically, making judging braking distance and cornering speed much more difficult. So when driving in wet conditions, it is important to give yourself some leeway to allow for mistakes in judgement, as they are far more likely to occur in wet conditions.
When it is raining, your all round visibility in the car is reduced and your blind spots are very much larger, so it is important to take care when pulling out of junctions or changing lanes on a motorway. Also remember visibility is reduced for other road users too, so they are less likely to see you, it is important to allow for this and expect other drivers to make mistakes.
Aquaplaning is a very dangerous situation; it leaves the driver with no control over the vehicle speed or direction. It’s the hazard that drivers fear most in rain particularly on motorways. Aquaplaning occurs when a film of water is formed between the tyre and the roads surface which lifts the tyre off the road. To understand why aquaplaning occurs; you first need to understand the job of your tyres. As you can see from the photos below, when the tyre is running in water, the tyre treads pump water from underneath the tyre, aquaplaning occurs when the treads or channels in the tyre become overwhelmed and can no longer pump out enough water.
As mentioned earlier tread depth is important not only to stay legal, but also for your car to perform properly in wet conditions. If your tyres are worn they are far more likely to aquaplane than new tyres. Also if your car is fitted with wide high performance tyres these have much more water to shift and are therefore more likely to aquaplane. Tyre pressure is also extremely important; under inflated tyres leave a pocket in the centre of the tyre which can gather water and the onset of aquaplaning can occur much earlier. Correct tyre pressure ensures that the tyre treads sit flat on the road and can therefore do their job more effectively.
Water depth is also of course a factor which contributes to aquaplaning, this can be very difficult to judge or spot particularly on a motorway. It is important to be aware of where standing water can occur; it usually occurs when a drain or gulley becomes overwhelmed. Probably the most important factor which a driver can influence in these conditions is speed. The faster you drive the more water the tyre has to pump out from underneath itself, so if you drive more slowly, the tyre has more capacity to cope if the water gets deeper. So keep your speed down!
Skid Pan Driving
The first thing to be aware of, is that when people crash in an aquaplane situation it is usually because they over reacted; as mentioned earlier, in this situation the tyres are not in touch with the road therefore you have no control. The best advice is to ease very gently off the throttle and wait until either:
The vehicle makes its way through the standing water
The vehicle slows sufficiently for the tyres to start working again
Obviously this sounds easy theoretically but is much harder in practice, as mentioned at the start aquaplaning is a very dangerous situation, the best advice is to avoid it if at all possible! Check your tyres regularly and in heavy rain keep your speed down.
If you would like to improve you skid pan driving skills follow this link: http://www.driverskills.com/shop/skid-pan-training-c-3/
To control a skid in a rear wheel driver car such as a BMW or a high performance supercar is similar to any other vehicle but with some important differences. This video shows how to stay in control of a car on a skid pan in Yorkshire with professional driver Lionel Firn. Skid control skills are an essential skill to have as a driver if you would like to improve your skills see: http://www.driverskills.com/shop/skid-pan-training-c-3/
To drive safely in the snow you need plan your journey and allow extra time to get to your destination so you can adjust your sped to the conditions with getting frustrated. Then before you set off make sure that your vehicle is in a safe condition and is prepared for the conditions. All windows and lights must be cleared and your tyres should be capable of getting a safe amount of grip. This video will give you some basic tips and useful information.
Driver Skills road test the towing capabilities of a modern popular tow vehicle and gives tips for safer towing. The pickup is also put through some extreme off road challenges to assess the vehicles electronic safety features. The video also includes emergency braking to avoid an obstacle to demonstrate ABS and a swerving exercise to test out ESP. These electornic safety devices are now better than ever and you will see how they are a must for safer towing.
I have been working here in Qatar in the Gulf since September 2007. I deliver defensive driver training to delegates from all over the world who work for major gas and oil companies. This consists of a one day classroom presentation and a one day practical session.
Defensive driving is certainly the right term for it if you want to survive out here on the roads!
Not enough lanes? No problem!…make some more, there’s always the hard shoulder or central reservation or the pavement or the desert, it’s easy, 2 lanes become 5. Turning right? Left lane will do. Turning left? Try the right one. Red light? Just go around it on the pavement. Wrong way? No problem, you turn across 3 traffic lanes. Ever heard of the 0.2 second rule? You have now! And that’s just the Police! There’s a truck behind you, 3 feet from your exhaust pipe, should you use the hard shoulder to let him past? You bet! He probably hasn’t got any brakes (good headlights and air horns though). Don’t worry about the fog or sand storms, put your foot down after all they have their hazard warning lights on (no headlights though, that’s just daft).
The Good Side
On the good side, I meet delegates from all over the world who can handle a vehicle well, it’s just that until we came along no one had ever told them the rules. They can’t thank you enough.
So spare a thought for me in my little Nissan trying to avoid 6 litre 4×4s and suicidal truck drivers all day. Next time you sit for two hours on the M25, remember it takes that long sometimes to get off the industrial estate here.
Paul Hockney ADI
For more in formation or to book a defensive driving courses see our company driver training section or contact or office