Five distractions to look out for inside your vehicle

 

We’re all aware of certain things around us that we need to look out for when we’re driving, such as pedestrians, cyclists and motorbikes. But how often do we check what potential distractions we have inside our vehicle? Richard Gladman, IAM RoadSmart’s head of driving and riding standards, lists five items that could cause a distraction while driving.

Note: If you have friends or family who drive, please share these tips with them to help them stay safe on the road.

  • Smoking and vaping. Bear in mind that there are legal restrictions on smoking in vehicles. If you do smoke or vape inside your car, this could be a distraction. What if you drop it? Where would your focus be? And have you thought about how the smoke from your vape could get in the way of the road?

     

  • Technology. As helpful as technology can be, this can also lead to less focus on the road. For example, a sat-nav can tempt you to take a quick glance as you look at the map. To avoid taking your eye off the road, keep your sat-nav out of sight and listen to the instructions rather than looking. It always helps if you plan your route beforehand. If you need to adjust it, pull into a safe place to do so.

     

  • Food and drink. Eating or drinking in your vehicle slows down your reaction time. It’s better to take a short break to consume your food; this way you don’t have one hand off the steering wheel, so there’s no opportunity for you to be distracted.

     

  • Phones/radio/CDs. Music can become a distraction when you’ve put the volume too high which can prevent you from hearing any key sounds, such as emergency services. Either turn it off or lower the volume so you are still aware of your surroundings.

     

  • Car ancillaries. This means things like indicators, lights, windscreen wipers etc. When we use these while driving and are unfamiliar with the location of the controls, our attention is not 100% on the road. Even worse, we can sometimes take our eyes of the road for a split second or two. Learn where the controls are to minimise distraction, so you can operate them as safely as possible.

Richard says: “Driving safely requires total concentration, try to minimise any distractions within the car which may affect this. If you do need to make a telephone call or make adjustments to the settings of the vehicle, find somewhere to pull over safely and do it at your leisure. Being distracted can lead to errors in your judgement and may result in a collision or at best, a close call. Why take the chance?” 

 

 

 How to avoid becoming a victim of road rage

 

We have all come across road rage at some point in our driving lives. When it happens, it can leave you feeling intimidated and scared. But with a bit of planning you can prevent the situation altogether. Richard Gladman, head of driving and riding standards, provides a few top tips about how to avoid being a victim of road rage, and what to do if it escalates.

Note: If you have friends or family who drive, please share these tips with them to help them stay safe on the road.

  • If there’s conflict between two parties, there’s a likely chance you’ve both played a part. This doesn’t mean you should react. Try to take yourself away from the problem – let the other driver go on ahead. Even if you feel wronged, letting the other party go will make no difference to the rest of your day
  • Is someone being confrontational or aggressive? If so, don’t make eye contact and don’t react visibly. Try not to think about them so that the incident doesn’t affect you afterwards
  • If the other party is still being aggressive to you and you are in fear of your own safety, call the police
  • If the other party approaches you in your car, can you drive away safely? If you can, consider doing so. But don’t rush off and drive like the getaway driver in a film, or if you think the other driver is going to chase you
  • Do you have a passengers who can film any behaviour on a mobile phone? This will help in terms of evidence. Remember to include the registration number of the other vehicle involved
  • Don’t open your door, don’t open your windows fully and don’t start or get provoked into an argument
  • If you were at fault, admit it and apologise. It may be enough to diffuse the situation quickly. And do not do anything that can be interpreted as retaliation. Even if you weren’t at fault, is the argument really worth it?

Hopefully by now the matter is over and you are driving away. Do acknowledge that this incident will have affected your behaviour. If you feel upset or emotional pull over and get some fresh air or walk around if you need to before resuming your journey.

Find some distraction like listening to the radio - move your mind deliberately onto something else – deliberately driving well would be a good example – but don’t dwell on the incident.

Richard said: “Road rage does not affect everyone every day. If you’re finding it is happening very often, you might want to think about how you engage with other road users.

“Unlike pedestrians walking towards each other; who can easily get a feel of what the other person will do, where they might go or the mood they’re in, you have no such opportunities cocooned in your car.”

He concluded: “No-one need experience road rage, but it us up to each of us to ensure it stays that way.

“So it is important not to be antagonistic or obstructive, perhaps making a person already having a bad day boil over.”

 

  

Sharing the road with an HGV

 

Driving in front of, or even behind, an HGV can be a bit daunting. But there’s no need to panic as Richard Gladman, IAM RoadSmart’s head of riding and driving standards, is here to help with seven top driving behaviour tips to keep you at ease on the road.

If you have friends and family who are unaware of advanced driving techniques, please share these tips with them to help them stay safe on the road.

  • When you’re driving along the motorway, you’ll notice a lot of foreign HGV number plates. Bear in mind that the driver will be sitting on the left hand side rather than the right, so you may be difficult to see and the driver may be acclimatising his lane position in the UK. Take extra care when passing and allow more space if you can.
  • We’ve all heard the saying “if you can see their mirrors, then they can see you.” But an HGV can have up to five mirrors, and the driver is only limited to looking at one at a time so they may not see you. Hold back and you will eventually be visible in their mirrors.
  • Identify when there is a likelihood of the HGV changing lanes. Is there a slip road coming up which will be joining traffic and may force a lane change? Or if there is an HGV in lane two, are they likely to change back into lane one? Be accommodating by hanging back and allowing them to pull into the lane they are looking to move into.
  • At one point in time, we’ve all experienced heavy spray from an HGV in front of us, you can control this by extending the distance between yourself and the lorry. The Highway Code suggests four seconds in the rain but if needed, make it more.  Not only will it prevent your wipers working overtime, it will also improve your vision beyond the HGV.
  • An articulated lorry will track sideways in a right hand bend on the motorway and on a roundabout so avoid being beside it. A good rule of thumb is to be safely infront of or safely behind, but never beside an HGV when entering a roundabout.
  • If you see a queue of traffic in front of you and have an HGV behind you, introduce your brake lights early to pre-warn the driver behind and slow down gradually. This will let the HGV driver extend their braking distance and stop in plenty of time. On a motorway or dual carriageway, hazard lights can be used to show drivers behind you of any issues further in front (Highway Code rule 116).
  • Despite being legally limited to 60mph, an HGV can only physically go a maximum of 56mph on the motorway. So if you do see a HGV on the right hand lane, give them a helping hand by slowing down and letting them into the left lane. Facilitate the pass if you can.

Richard says: “As any HGV driver will tell you, they sometimes need a bit of extra space to move down the road. Visibility can be restricted, and no amount of mirrors will allow all of the blind spots to be monitored all of the time. By applying some simple rules and sharing the road space, we can make life easier for all of us. On a roundabout they will need more than one lane so let them have it, a few seconds delay will be worth it if you prevent an accident. Walk that mile in the other man’s shoes and understand what we may need.”   

 

 

                                                    Smart motorways

                              
England’s motorways are among the most congested in Europe and the government has plans to convert over
10% of the motorway network to smart (previously known as managed)
motorways.
This offers a cheaper way to increase capacity than motorway widening but will change the way we drive on our safest roads.
Smart motorway pilot schemes have successfully increased traffic flow
on the M42, M1, M25 and M6 by adopting peak time hard shoulder running,
CCTV monitoring, speed cameras and gantry mounted lane control signs.
For drivers, the most comforting feature about them is knowing that the
traffic situation is being constantly watched and a Control Centre can
take immediate action in the event of incidents or congestion. The
latest generation of smart motorways are different - they involve full
time all lane running, bigger gaps between refuges and less frequent
roadside electronic signs. Detection and monitoring of incidents is
still at a high level and lanes can be signalled as closed and resources
dispatched instantly to assist drivers.
IAM RoadSmart Policy:


IAM RoadSmart support smart motorways as Highways England
studies show most drivers like them and they reduce congestion without
jeopardising safetySmart motorways have been intensively modelled but have yet to fully prove themselves in the real world. The early schemes must be used as a test bed for future implementation

Most breakdowns and incidents on motorways are avoidable and the
IAM will work closely with the Highways Agency to improve driver
behaviour on our motorway network Intensive education campaigns are needed to explain the new road designs to drivers who often only use motorways on an occasional basis Compliance with lane control signals is key to the success of smart motorways and IAM RoadSmart support enforcement of Red X signs providing it is done consistently across the network IAM RoadSmart would like to work with Highways England to
provide retraining and re-education options for drivers failing to
comply with motorway regulations.  IAM RoadSmart's own motorway module would be an excellent starting point The government should continue to have a long term plan to widen the most congested sections of the motorway network IAM RoadSmart’s advice for driving on a managed motorway is:
keep to the speed limit displayed, obey Red X signs, don’t change lanes;
don't join a motorway if your fuel is low or car faulty, if you believe
your car is in trouble try to get into an emergency refuge where you
will be safe, if you break down in a running lane wait for help in the
car.

               

Responding to Emergency vehicles.


Flashing blue in your rear view Road safety charity the IAM is offering weekly motoring tips from Britain’s top advanced driver, Peter Rodger. This week he recommends top tips on how to respond when an emergency services vehicle is approaching.
Keep your cool – if you see or hear an emergency vehicle approaching, aid concentration by turning off your music, and take a few seconds to plan your next move. Acting in a state of panic could be dangerous and delay the emergency vehicle more. Also, remember to look to see if they are indicating to turn at a junction.
Stop – look for somewhere to pull over and stop if it’s safe to do so, even if the emergency vehicle is on the other side of the road. Indicators can be used to show that you have acknowledged the approaching blue lights and intend to move, but avoid usage if it could confuse other road users.
Stay safe – avoid pulling onto kerbs, pavements and verges - verges can mask numerous hazards and mounting the pavement can put pedestrians at risk.
Abide by the law – If you go through a red light or into a bus lane to make way for an emergency vehicle, unless directed to do so by a police officer, you are breaking the law and could be fined, irrespective of your good intentions.
Stay alert – be aware that there may be more than one emergency vehicle on the approach. Listen for more than one siren, look all around before moving off, and bear in mind that you may need to move over again.
Rodger said: “Loud sirens and flashing blue lights cause many motorists to panic, mainly because drivers are not routinely taught how to respond to them. Emergency vehicle drivers want you to help them reach the emergency at hand as quickly as possible.  Behave calmly, legally, safely and predictably and move out of the way as soon as it is safe to do so to facilitate their route.”

 Older drivers – staying mobile, staying safe


The number of drivers over the age of 70 will double over the next 20 years and there are now over one million licence holders over the age of 80.


Many will be able to continue to drive safely well into old age, others will not.
Enlightened policies and practical actions are needed to help them
keep safe and competently mobile for as long as possible, and to help
them decide when the time has come to stop driving. Giving up driving
too early places a direct burden on health and other services which can
no longer be independently accessed.


Older drivers are safe drivers for several reasons:
They have many years of driving experience, which can compensate for less rapid reflexes.

They are much more cautious drivers, and so less prone to taking risks Most self-regulate by not driving at times and in places they do not feel comfortable, for example, at night, when the weather is bad,
when traffic is heavy, and in areas that are unfamiliar Few older drivers drink and drive or take illegal drugs, and most don’t speed.


IAM RoadSmart recommendations
Compulsory medicals and driving retests are a disproportionate
action to take against a group who present no greater risk to themselves
and others as middle-aged drivers There is no case for an arbitrary age limit on driving as no two
older drivers are the same and today’s 70 year old is healthier and fitter than ever before.

The best way to check ability is to undergo a voluntary driving
assessment designed to rate driving skills and give practical advice on
coping with the effects of ageing These assessments need to be much more widely available and incentives put in place to encourage take up Better information is needed to allow older drivers and their families to continue to drive safely and ultimately to make the informed
decision to give up.

New online assessment tools have a key role to play in providing information and as a first step in the assessment process Training and awareness of the issues affecting older drivers must be improved among the medical profession Car makers and road designers should take more account of the needs of older drivers in the future The government should show clear leadership in implementing these changes through partnership and cross departmental working IAM RoadSmart support the raising of the licence renewal age to 75 with a requirement to provide a current eye test.







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