However open the roads, highway cruising adventures can only be as fun as they are safe. As reported by The Department for Transport, “there have been statistically significant decreases in the number of people seriously or slightly injured (but not killed) in road traffic accidents between 2014 and 2015”, but let us not relax just yet.
Although in smaller numbers in comparison to the last few years, road casualties (counting 1,732 in 2015) are still a harsh reality of the world we live in and we have to be conscious about them. In hope that driving will soon evoke a road trip soundtrack and backseat car games rather than casualty reports and shattered lives, we urge you to follow these five road signs to safer commuting in the UK.
Stay Fresh & Clear-Minded
It may be the kind of advice you’ve already heard before, but when road safety is concerned, a quick revision certainly can’t hurt anyone. When starting a car, being sharp-minded and sober is the first of our responsibilities.
Sleep & Snack. If driving long distances, be sure to get a quality sleep the night before and be careful to take regular napping breaks, even if you feel only a bit sleepy. The same breaks are important for fueling your energy, so remember to bring something protein-packed for the road. An extra nutrition-boosting regime a week before will keep you healthy, well-rested and focused the whole drive through.
Share the Wheel. Despite being awake and alert, a long-distance driver can still get challenged by some physical difficulties if traveling all alone. If possible, always share a journey with a companion, even if the person sitting next to you is there only to keep you chatty and watchful.
Chill. When back in the city, don’t forget to practice your road rage coping mechanism – even the most patient of us are not immune to arrogant and irresponsible city driving, and situations like being late to work often make us even more impatient and even less tolerant. Instead of cutting off that obnoxious carpooler in the left lane before he dares to cut you off, put on an audiobook, push play, relax and take your time.
Obey the Rules
Free roamers are rarely keen about obeying the rules, but traffic regulations are different. Choosing to consciously break them is never a sign of productive anarchism, but an act of carelessness. If determined to stay true to your rebellious and spontaneous self, simply think of it as a safety decorum that saves lives.
Ring a Cab. We’ve got our fingers crossed for not having to repeat this straightforward rule ever again. However experienced a bender, regardless of how well you hold your liquor, don’t be naïve to assume you can make sound decisions under the influence. If joyfully tipsy, keep having a great time and simply call a taxi to take you home.
Leave Texting for Later. Fortunately, drunk driving has already been significantly reduced, but unfortunately, this hazardous trend has quickly been replaced with another one. Seemingly benign, texting and driving is already causing major road accidents. Even if multitasking is one of your greatest strengths, keep your hands on the wheel and your eyes on the road at all times.
Get Local. In case the car is just another term for freedom according to your personal vocabulary, and you tend to frequently travel on a whim, remember to make a quick pit stop and learn more about the local roads and regulations.
Equip & Prepare
Even if you do fall under the aforementioned category of impulsive travelers, keep in mind that some car trips are still too long and arduous for you to neglect a bit of timely preparation. After all, no one ever became a great explorer without an itinerary and a map.
Check the Weather. If confident enough to drive through a storm, you have our trust, but we cannot but urge you to reassess your capabilities. A glance at the weather forecast can save you so much trouble when on the point of no return, since it will remind you to double-check your tires and windshield wipers beforehand, just as well as your driving mood.
Pour It In. Never wait for your gas gauge to hit E to refuel. Especially when on an unfamiliar road, a full tank will help you keep your peace of mind until the destination is finally reached.
Pack Up. How many times have you found yourself in a scenario when a “I thought I had it in the car” thought flashed through your mind? You can never tell when a basic first-aid kit, a flashlight and a pair of jumper cables may come in handy, not to mention a spare tire and something to munch on while waiting on a friend to help you out. And don’t just pack those for the longer trips, but gather everything you need and keep it stored in your vehicle in a form of a car emergency kit.
Love Your Car
In order to feel secure that your vehicle will never let you down in an inopportune moment, let alone put your or somebody else’s well-being in jeopardy, you’ll need to give it something in return. Whether picking your kids up from football practice or visiting your relatives on the other side of the country, be sure that your ride is in the best shape possible.
Make Time for Regular Maintenance. Yearly inspections are mandatory for keeping your car registered, but you should definitely not wait so long to do a basic maintenance control. Remember to change the oil every 3000 miles, check the lights once in awhile and keep your tires season-appropriate. And if a new flashy sign appears on your car dashboard, don’t keep on guessing what it means, but check it right away.
Let Technology Show You the Way
Those fancy new gadgets are not for IT enthusiasts and rich people only. A lot of them can actually make your driving escapades much safer and more pleasurable at a small cost. Besides, spending a few extra pounds on a smart co piloting system is always a good investment.
Responsibly Accessible. Earning wages on a tight schedule almost regularly demands a lot of carpooling hours. If you are one of those hard-working people who need to be at everyone’s disposal even when behind the wheel, investing in a driving mobile phone kit is a clever choice. This should include a car charger, a Bluetooth solution and a phone holder.
Everything on a Record. Regardless of all those unnecessary privacy concerns, a dash cam is still one of the most convenient additions to every modern vehicle. Technology has come far in making our lives easier, and the same applies to this handy gadget – rather than a privacy violation, a dashboard camera is a protective measure.
Beware of the Pressure. There’s been a lot of talk concerning tire pressure measurement systems, and the consensus is that we can all benefit from such a gadget. A precise one can be a bit pricey indeed, but it will certainly pay itself off in the long run.
Clear Goals. Smartphones have already replaced a lot of our old tools, and are currently writing the same goodbye card for traditional car GPS systems. If powerful enough in terms of battery lifecycle and service, your phone will have no trouble meeting your needs for effortless navigation. Nevertheless, GPS devices are still just as reliable as when they first appeared on the market, but they are also more affordable now.
Onboard Analyst. Still haven’t checked that warning sign we’ve talked about earlier? If feeling chronically indisposed for driving your car to a mechanic, consider obtaining an automatic solution. A car adapter connects with your car’s OBD-II port, from where it tracks fuel conservation, braking and speeding habits and identifies potential dangers behind a check engine light.
One more thing, if you are visiting the UK for the first time, take some time to get used to being a leftie. Apart from that, the only thing you need is common sense. Listen to it carefully and have a safe trip!