How to stay one step ahead on the road

Driving on the road

While you can stay in control of what you do when driving, there are always going to be external factors you can’t control. Whether it’s other road users, pedestrians, or unexpected situations, you have to be ready to react quickly to whatever you encounter. 

One advantage of driving an automatic car is that you can keep your hands on the wheel rather than needing to change gears, and your focus is freed up to pay more attention to what’s going on around you. But whether you’re driving an automatic or manual vehicle, there are ways to help you stay one step ahead of anything that may happen on the road.

Top tips for safer driving and expecting the unexpected

1. Practice your observation skills

Being aware of your surroundings and any possible hazards up ahead is essential. Potential dangers can come from anywhere and the situation can change quickly. But if you’re constantly scanning all around you, you’ll be able to spot any issues sooner and take any action needed. 

Looking further past just the car in front of you lets you anticipate anything that may be happening up ahead, and keeping an eye on the sides of the road can help you see if there’s anything else you need to be aware of.

2. Always expect to stop

Whenever you’re behind the wheel, you should always think to yourself, ‘could I stop right now without getting involved in an accident?’. This means ensuring there’s enough space between yourself and the vehicle in front of you to safely stop quickly if needed at the current speed you’re driving at. The space needed for this will vary depending on weather conditions too, as in wet or icy conditions you’ll need longer to stop. 

Other drivers may pull into your lane or out of a junction when they shouldn’t, and you may need to adjust quickly. If there are pedestrians around, they may step into the road without looking causing you to have to swerve or stop.

3. Keep an eye on all road signs

Road signs are there to give you important information for the roads you’re driving on. Aside from telling you speed limits, road signs can also warn of hazards to expect in the area – such as upcoming sharp bends, animals that may be in the road, or lanes merging up ahead. 

Keeping an eye out for signs that provide you with information lets you plan ahead and adjust as necessary. You may need to reduce your speed or just be on the lookout for the forewarned potential hazards.

4. Drive at an appropriate speed

The speed limit is there to help you drive safely. But it’s important to remember that it may not always be safe to drive at the speed limit. Particularly in poor weather conditions or when visibility is reduced, you may need to drive below the limit to stay safe and in control of your car. 

In normal conditions, you should try to drive at the speed limit where possible, as driving too far below it can also cause dangers with you becoming an unexpected slow moving obstacle for other road users. 

5. Stay focused at all times

It can be very easy to get distracted by your passengers, fiddling with your music or Sat Nav, or just drifting off into your own thoughts. Even a moment of distraction can be dangerous when you stop anticipating what can happen around you. Another driver may drift into your lane or suddenly stop ahead of you or a small child could run out unexpectedly into the road – you need to be ready to quickly react to anything that happens. When your eyes leave the road, it increases the chances of an accident. 

Many accidents happen close to driver’s homes as they get complacent on the roads they’re most familiar with and are more likely to lose focus or become distracted. Staying vigilant at all times helps keep you and other road users safe.

While you’re learning to drive and long after you pass your driving test you should always be working to constantly improve your observation skills. Staying focused every time you sit behind the wheel and taking in all that’s around you and any potential hazards that could arise will help you remain safe out on the road. 

If you’re looking to learn to drive or to just brush up on your driving skills, Acclaim Motor School is here to teach you to drive the right way. Get in touch with us today to book your driving lessons.

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Learner drivers and new drivers can enjoy the flexibility of paying for insurance by the mile and earn a £10 voucher* with Pay As You Go Insurance from Marmalade.
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