We all think we are good drivers and good motorists. Survey after survey finds that to be the case. But let’s be honest, we’re not that good really, are we? We’re patchy; good in spots, in certain areas; not so good in others.
Some are good at driving; others at minding. But we can all improve, regardless of age or what we drive.
I think we often fool ourselves into thinking we know how to mind our car and keep it safe.
I beg to differ. A minority of us may be excellent but most get by with minimum attention.
So here are 10 random enough suggestions, in no particular order, to help us (yes I include myself because I frequently get criticised by passengers for talking too much while driving, waiting late to brake etc) be better all round.
1. Learn how to park properly: How many times do you see people driving into a space at an angle and robbing half a slot extra?
Or, worse still, scraping the front bumper or door. How many times does it take to try to get parked properly – while half the country waits to pass?
The only way to improve and gain confidence is to practise. If you’re really worried – and some of us should be – then get a once-off hour or two with a qualified, certified driving instructor. I’m serious. Anything that will reduce the strain on the faces of those agonising at the wheel is worth it.
2. Roundabouts: Treat them as if they are a crossroads. If you intend exiting before, or at, straight ahead ’12 o’clock’ enter the roundabout via the left-hand lane. If exiting beyond 12 o’clock enter via the right-hand lane. Lots of people do the opposite and create dangerous situations.
Get value from your hours with the instructor and try a few. It’s easy once you remember.
3. Top up the windscreen wash regularly: Silly of me to suggest that? Well, I’ve been amazed at how quickly the tank can run dry. That’s especially the case where you have a showery day and the road spews muddy streaks across your windscreen line of vision.
Some cars seem to have muck everywhere except a wiper-swipe crescent at the front. Terribly dangerous.
4. A windscreen-wash check is only one area of general car upkeep: When was the last time you took the trouble to walk around your car and check the lights, the mirrors, the tyres? Be honest now: when?
Have you recently had someone stand in front and behind to see if all the lights were working and the brake lights responded to you pressing the pedal? And that none of the glass/plastic covers were cracked?
5. Levels: When was the last time you checked the oil, brake-fluid levels – or had someone do it for you?
6. Drive more slowly: Oh! I can hear the roars proclaiming innocence on this one. The fact of the matter is we all drive too fast sometimes. I was a passenger in a car recently and was shocked at the speed deemed normal.
7. No one wants to know about tyres: But you will be sorry; at best for using too much fuel, at worst for being in an accident that could have been avoided. When is the last time you checked pressure or for cuts, uneven wear etc?
8. Stop tailgating (driving too close to the car in front) and stop hogging the outside lane: Some people think they have a divine right to drive in whatever lane they wish.
9. Give others a break: Let them come out of a side road (where safe of course).
A little bit of courtesy would go a long way and lower the driving temperature. By the same token, don’t feel that indicating gives you permission. It doesn’t. It merely signals intent.
10. Just resolve to be a better motorist this year than last:
That might mean, even for the near-perfect ones among you, a re-evaluation of just how good you really are.
How good a car owner are you? Let us know on email at: email@example.com