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Basic Driving Skills and Vehicle Maintenance

By: Tracy Whitelaw - Updated: 8 Mar 2013 | comments*Discuss
Basic Driving Skills Attitude Control

Every year in the UK, thousands of people are injured on roads, as either passengers or pedestrians. These accidents could be prevented if new drivers and experienced drivers alike tried to remember the basic driving skills they were taught as learners. Taking a fresh approach to driving, where you have the right attitude combined with defensive driving skills will help us all be safer on the road.

Attitude is Important

As a driver, one of the most basic driving skills you can acquire is a good attitude to other drivers. It's very important to remember that you're in control and you're driving a potentially lethal weapon. Always try to stay positive and don't become stressed out at other drivers and their bad road manners. Avoiding road rage and staying patient is key to any basic driving skills. If you stay cool in the car and your attitude is good, you're more capable of concentrating on any potential hazards ahead. This in turn means that you're more focused and your anticipation skills will be heightened. Reading the road is a key element in safe driving.

Mirrors and Blind Spot

Mirrors are one of the single most important aspects of basic driving skills. Drivers should check their interior and exterior mirrors at least every 6-8 seconds. The inside mirror gives you a true picture of what is happening behind you and the wing mirrors provide you with the wider view. Knowing what is going on behind you is often overlooked, but it's extremely important to know whether cars behind you are too close, too fast or trying to overtake. Although mirrors can help with our general vision and safety in the car, the blind spot check is one of the most crucial checks that can be conducted in driving. Always look over your right shoulder before moving off, as the blind spot is a huge area that is otherwise not visible. This is also the point of most danger in the car, and as such, should be checked religiously.

Controlling the Car

Learning the controls of your car seems like an obvious aspect of driving, but many people don't know past the very basics such as the pedals, gears and steering. Familiarising yourself with every button in the car gives you more confidence and it never hurts to learn some basic under the bonnet safety checks also. The most common car maintenance areas to learn are where the oil, brake fluid, engine coolant and window washer reservoirs are and how they can be filled. It's also worthwhile learning about the tyres on your car and possibly how to change one in case of emergencies. Learn the rules for breakdown procedures and if you can afford it, register with a reputable recovery service. In keeping your car roadworthy, preparation is the key.

Signs, Signals and Road Markings

Possessing a sound knowledge of the Highway Code is a good start and should be part of everyone's basic driving skills. Knowing what each road sign means will make you less hesitant when driving and will stop you being a hazard to other road users. Spend some time familiarising yourself with the road markings you see around you, sometimes they can be quite confusing at first glance, but practice will soon have you handling them with style. If you're concerned at being confused about road signs and markings, buy yourself a helpful guide and watch your confidence grow as you learn to recognise them when travelling around.

Prepare for the Unexpected

Anticipation, preparation and planning are one of the best driving skills anyone can possess. They are integral to an area of driving known as 'defensive driving'. This basically means that you should always anticipate what is happening ahead and be prepared for it. Some examples of this are:
  • Realising that lights in front of you have been green for some time and may be about to change
  • Recognising hazards, such as overtaking parked vehicles
  • Checking mirrors when approaching pedestrian crossings in case you need to stop
  • Being aware of all other road users, especially vulnerable users such as cyclists and pedestrians
If you can learn good habits, where you're constantly aware of your surroundings, this is a key element in making you a better driver, keeps your driving under control and ensuring your safety on the road.

Hit the Road

Driving can be one of the most fulfilling and freeing experiences available. The sense of independence that you can have from being able to drive anywhere you choose is unbeatable. If you can learn some of the basic driving skills mentioned above, you'll find your own experience on the road, and others who travel with you, will be far more enjoyable. You'll also be making the UK roads a safer place, which is of benefit to us all.

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