As you get older, there could be more and more health concerns than when you were younger. Aches and pains that occur can make car journeys too troublesome and even distract you to the point that it is dangerous for yourself if you continue to drive.
There are other problems with the deteriorating health of drivers too. Deteriorating vision is a common problem in old age and can have an awful affect on driving. Additionally, as you get older your reaction times tend to slow down. In combination your reaction times and poorer vision could result in a more dangerous situation, if a child playing in the street ran out in front of you or a car pulled out on you for example.
Eyesight can deteriorate so slowly that you might not even notice, although you might feel safe on local roads as you know these well and you can possibly predict the amount of traffic in the places closest to you from day to day, unknown journeys can be made more stressful.
If you choose to give up driving when you get older, then there are certain things you need to keep in mind to stay safe as a pedestrian. If you do need to walk on the road, remember to walk towards the oncoming traffic, you will be able to see traffic coming towards you sooner and they will see you too.
Remember our reaction times, speed of walking, judgement of speed and distance can change as we get older, so take care when crossing the road either by foot or driving across.
First of all, drivers need to be aware that there are different types of Sat Navs available and that not all of them have the same features. The most up to date models will have features that will point out safety cameras to the driver and even what it thinks the speed limit is. Knowing the speed limit is a vital skill for a good driver, but relaying on the Sat Nav can lead you into hot water as they don’t always get it right. In fact, it is best not to trust your Sat Nav and to use it rather as advice to be taken rather than strict rules to be followed.
So why use a Sat Nav? It can be a great tool to get you round new places that you are not too familiar with, and can save you the fuel you might have used if you get lost. Also, it is safer than trying to read a map at the same time as driving. Simply programme in the route before you get underway, and follow the spoken directions. Occasional glances to the screen are fine, but it you are distracted by this put the Sat Nav where you cannot see if, but still hear it. If you take a wrong turn, do not panic! The Sat Nav will recalculate the route and tell you the right direction to go in.
However, there are reasons not to use a Sat Nav. They are considered to be a distraction so if you are distracted by the Sat Nav, if might be safer not to use it all, however they’re becoming so normal to use that some cars have them fitted as standard, and they are part of the new driving test which, at the time of writing, is being trialed. Whether or not the use of the Sat Nav will become part of the driving test, diving instructors should show their learners how to use one correctly and allow them to gain some experience on using one on a driving lesson.
Remember that Sat Navs can cause additional blind sports so putting them in the middle of your windscreen is really not a good idea, since they can obscure your view of the road. Latest crash tests have shown that in the event of a collision the Sat Navs can simply come off the windscreen on impact.
Finally one thing to always remember is that Sat Navs are not always right, especially when it comes to speed limits, they are only as good as the last bit of software that was put on them and they are no defense when issued with a speeding ticket.
Well think about why you use them, are they are more to help other vehicles see you? or are they to light the road up ahead. We think it is a bit of both.
The general rule of thumb is to use your dipped headlights and fog lights if visibility is less than 100 meters. In daylight these won’t dazzle other drivers but will show them that you are there. Remember to adjust your lights according to the changing conditions. Using your lights is not enough remember to use your demisters to keep the inside of the windows clear and your wipers for the outside, you might not even notice that it is the mist on your screen that is preventing you seeing and not just the fog.
Do not use your main beam in fog as this can dazzle others and create reflection off the fog so will impair your visibility further. As soon as you are out of the fog, turn your fog lights off. It is an offence to use them unnecessarily.
As we all know don’t follow others too closely by hanging onto their lights as their vehicle is displacing the fog so you may get the impression that the fog is not as dense as you thought.
Increase the distance between you and other road users as the roads may also be wet. If you have to overtake take extra care as the fog may be hiding oncoming vehicles that can’t see you either, after all the car in front could be heading for a collision and there is you following them!
Fog can also come with ice and snow, which can create freezing fog, your windscreen washers might not work in freezing conditions, it would be wise to avoid driving at all in these conditions.
Remember, also look for the coloured reflectors on the motorway, red is used along the hard shoulder, amber on the central reservation and green to highlight slip roads.
If you can avoid driving in fog then do so, stay safe out there.
A driver should always be considerate to other road users including pedestrians, cyclists and motor cycles. Try to be understanding to someone driving too slowly – it may be a new driver or someone who does not know the area well. Speeding up behind them or tailgating will only fluster them and cause them to make mistakes or brake harshly, possibly resulting in you going into the back of them!
Do not allow yourself to become agitated or involved if someone is driving badly or erratically. This will only fuel the situation. The best course of action is to pull over (where it is safe and legal) calm down and continue with your journey when you feel relaxed again.
Slow down or hold back if someone “cuts you up” by pulling out of a junction in front of you or changing lane too closely. Allow them to get clear from you – do not retaliate by doing the same to them, or tailgating and flashing your lights to intimidate them.
Our attitude can also change depending on the goal for the journey, for example we if we are simply going out with friends our driving will be different than when we are driving to work. If we are late our attitude can change and we might take a few more risks in order to get there a bit quicker.
If we get our attitude right we can influence other drivers by simply showing a bit of courtesy on the roads. I am sure you will agree that if you are late and someone lets you out, it can improve your mood, so if you let other people out or at least create a bit of space for them to get into, they are now more likely to show courtesy to other drivers. However, please do not show courtesy to the point of danger, we have all seen drivers stopping in the middle of the road to allow one driver out of a side road, while holding up the 21 drivers behind them.
Remember, we all make mistakes, so let it go! Or as a good friend of mine always says “leave them with it” Good driving is as simple as ABC. Attitude, Behaviour and Choice, make sure you are looking after yours and no one else’s. It is easy to retaliate on the road by moving from our ‘adult’, mode into ‘child’ or ‘parent’. For more information on how this works Google ‘transitional analysis or ‘parent adult child’ theory.
So please stay safe and stay in ‘adult’ 🙂
Never drive so fast that you can’t stop in the distance you can see to be clear in your lights. To enable you to see further you can use main beam on unlit roads unless you meet oncoming traffic or are following another vehicle. On lit roads you should use your full headlights. If you are on an unlit road and have main beam on, avoid dazzling others by switching it off during passing and then returning to full beam.
At dusk you may want to put your side lights on before “lighting up time” (when the street lights come on). Don’t be afraid to be the first driver with their lights on. Likewise at dawn the opposite applies. Don’t switch off your lights until you are sure it is safe and you can be seen easily. Why not be the last to turn off your lights, but the first to turn on. A lot of cars now have daytime running lights.
Your eyesight also plays a big part in your ability to drive at night. Have your eyes checked regularly. Keep your windows clean – clean windows cut down dazzle as they are not full of grease which can make it harder to see, straining your eyes can also lead to fatigue.
You’ll need to take extra care when overtaking at night. Only overtake if you can see the road will remain clear until after you have finished the manoeuvre and are safely back on your side of the road. Don’t overtake if there is a junction, bend, brow of a bridge or hill.
Remember to keep your distance. On a dual carriageway or motorway where it is possible to overtake, if you are overtaking on a dual carriageway only pop your full beam on when you are alongside the car you are overtaking. Don’t use full beam in the face of oncoming drivers, this will cause dazzle. If you’re being overtaken, dip your lights as soon as the vehicle has passed you.
If you are dazzled by another vehicles lights, slow down and if necessary stop. Don’t look directly at oncoming lights and don’t retaliate by leaving your lights on full beam to dazzle them back! On a left hand bend you should dip earlier as your headlights will cut straight across the eyes of anyone coming toward you temporarily blinding them.
When parking at night the same rules apply, you must not park within 10 metres of a junction, on a blind bend, and you should park facing the direction of traffic.
If you have to park on any other type of road, you should never leave your vehicle without side or parking lights unless signs indicate otherwise. You must not park on the right hand side of the road unless it is a one way street.
If you are going to stop at the side of the road for a short time always switch your headlights off even if your engine is still running, you can always leave sidelights on. If you leave your headlights drivers coming towards you will not be able to see to the side of your car properly.
This insurance also protects anyone else you get into an accident with. However, knowing exactly what sort of insurance out there is important, since there are many different types and you need to know what sort is best for you.
If you do not have insurance, you will get a minimum of 6 points on your licence which, if you are under the New Driver’s Act, will cause you to have your licence taken away. This means it is absolutely essential to get insurance and always be insured when you are driving, even for the shortest journeys. And even to park on a public road the vehicle must be insured.
You need to shop around and check what you are getting for your money. A lot of insurance can be very pricey, especially for bigger cars, and you need to make sure that you are getting the right sort of coverage when you pay for your insurance. Remember that there are types of insurance that include 3rd Party, Fire and Theft, Fully Comprehensive insurance. Think about how you use your car and what you use it for before deciding exactly what insurance you want.
Perhaps a telematics based or “Black Box” insurance would better suit your needs. With this type of motor insurance policy you will have a telematics box fitted to your car with the telematics box showing you and your insurer your driving behaviours. This can vary depending on the insurer and may generate feedback with the aim to promote safer driving. You can usually view your driving behaviour feedback at any time within an online account or via an app on your mobile phone.
Each insurer is different, some measure your driving which may result in rewards or penalties throughout the term of your policy. This could mean you may be rewarded with extra miles for demonstrating good driving behaviours or have to pay an additional premium if you have demonstrated poor driving.
Whereas some insurers don’t penalise or reward you during the term of your policy, instead they consider your driving over the year and produce a renewal based on how you have driven. If you have driven well this may reduce the cost of your insurance at renewal. It’s worth checking the terms and conditions of each insurer before deciding as they can vary, for example some insurers can have curfews on when you can’t drive and restrictions on the number of miles you can drive in a month.
If your car is stolen your box could enable your insurer to track its location and if you are involved in an accident some insurers try and contact you to see if you need assistance.
Collingwood Young Drivers provides telematics box insurance for young drivers, which has no curfews and no monthly restrictions on miles. For more information you can visit
First of all, you need to assess whether your habits are bad, or whether they are just plain lazy. Keeping one hand resting on the handbrake or the gear stick and not replacing it on the steering wheel every time you change gear is lazy and easily fixed. Just remember it is best practice to keep your hands on the steering wheel! But other types of bad habits may not be a result of laziness.
There are many different types of bad habits. They include things like speeding, not checking all your mirrors – which includes your door mirrors and your rear view mirror, driving too close to other cars and not signalling or simply signalling too late, are also far too common. Another bad habit that many people have is putting the car into neutral before stopping.
So where do these bad habits come from? Mostly, they are caused by our bias; the “what’s worked” bias is created and fed by our superiority bias and our optimistic bias.
Our superiority bias tells us that we are better than other people; we ignore the things that show us in a negative light and concentrate only on the things that show us more positively our selective memory means that we forgive and forget the things we did badly and remember the things we have done well. At the same time we notice other people’s mistakes and failing, which means we conclude that we are much better drivers than other people.
Fuelling this is our optimistic bias; this tells us that we are much less likely to experience unpleasant events than other people. Things like health issues, crashing or being stopped by the police, so we really believe it is not going to happen to us. We are not going to lose control and have to take evasive action, so having one hand on the wheel is perfectly okay. I think you get the picture.
This brings us to the ‘what’s worked’ bias. We will simply keep doing what we have always done because it is working for us. For example if we drive above the speed limit and get to work on time and we don’t get caught, we subconsciously think “well that worked” so it goes on and on. We also learn our bad driving from other drivers. Our friends and relatives, for example we see them doing the lazy stuff and see they are getting away with it to, so it must be okay.
Once we no longer have our driving instructor in the car with us, there’s no one to correct these poor habits. There are a lot of good reasons to get rid of these bad habits, of course. Driving more skilfully can mean there are fewer collisions on the roads and can make you feel safer and more secure when you drive. It can also mean that, if you are involved in an accident, it is less likely to be your fault and you will be more likely to take the correct evasive action if you ever need to.
Keeping the good habits and skills you used to pass your driving test, will pay dividends in the long run, not only on fuel saving and less wear and tear on the car, it may also save your life. We all know how annoying a fire drill is in work or collage, but if there is ever a real fire and everyone gets out, then all the practice runs have suddenly been worth it. It is the same for driving. For example, checking the blind spot 1000’s of times without anything being there is just 1000’s practice drills for the time someone will be there and you have avoided a collision just by looking, so you will be glad you practiced!
If you do need to make a 999 call and it is unsafe to stop i.e. if you are being followed, you may use your phone whilst driving but you will have to prove you where being followed, better still it would be better to keep driving until you find a populated place like a supermarket car park to stop in.
The same applies if you are supervising a leaner driver, you are legally in charge of the vehicle as the full licence holder, this includes professional driving instructors, it is illegal for them too. I would also go as far as to say talking on hands free is not good business practice for professional instructors.
If you need to use your phone then pull over where it is safe and legal to park, turn off your engine and have your parking break applied. I stress ‘parked up in a safe place’. Stopping at traffic lights does not constitute parked up, it is illegal to use your phone there too.
So why do so many people talk on the phone when getting a hands free kit is so easy, also a lot of new cars have blue tooth enabled. But having a conversation on hands free is proving to be no safer.
Talking on the phone is not like having a conversation with someone in the car with you. Whether we like it or not our passengers help us with the driving task. How many times have you, as a passenger, shouted “watch this pedestrian”, cyclist etc. or even gone for the imaginary brake?
Your passengers are sharing the same constantly changing, dynamic environment with you, so will always help or shut up when they feel the driving task is becoming demanding, a person on the end of the phone will not know what is happening outside the car.
Also having a remote conversation takes a lot more cognitive ability that speaking to someone in your presence, we start to picture the things we are talking about.
Studies have shown that we simply cannot do two ‘thinking’ tasks at the same time effectively. We will ‘toggle’ task, our concentration will move from one task to another, and if your concentration is on the phone call when something capital happens the delay in your action can have fatal consequences.
Lets face it how many of us turn the radio or music off when lost or parking up?
So if we feel compelled to shut down a bit of background noise so that we can concentrate more, then how distracting can a two way conversation actually be?
Nobody has ever been killed or injured missing a phone call.
You absolutely have the right to change instructors if that is what you want. If you are learning with a multicar school it can be so much easier especially if you have paid the school directly. Simply inform the school that you would like to change. Any decent school will sort it all out for you, hopefully before your next lesson; it can be it more difficult if you have paid the instructor cash for your lessons though.
The driving school may well ask you for the reason, but you are under no obligation to give a reason. Remember you are a customer and it is your money to spend with a driving school you trust.
Even if you have had a fleeting thought about changing tells you that the instructor you are with may not be right for you.
Remember you will usually spending at least one hour together – sometimes two – one on one, with no one else present. This is an intense working relationship. It can be a good idea to have a trial lesson with an instructor before you buy a full package. Simply book a single lesson with them, get to know them and work with them for an hour or two and, after that, if you are confident you like them you can then go on to pay for a full course if you want to, again if you have paid the driving school directly you can still request a new instructor or a refund if things don’t go to plan.
If you do not get on with your instructor because they have a bad attitude, treat you badly or are unprofessional, then things can be slightly different. You do still, of course, have the right to change your instructor, but this time it is a good idea to tell the driving school why, because they may well treat other learners in the same way. Always look for a refund policy,
Remember to speak up as soon as possible; don’t suffer for a full 10 hours if you are not getting on! Ask to swap instructors sooner rather than later.
If the situation is really bad or the driving school does not help you can report them directly to the DVSA, Remember they could be treating all their ‘customers’ this way.