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Road safety

Hazards for new drivers

When you're driving, safety always comes first. And there are more distractions now than ever, and the roads have never been as busy.

So by remembering the principles of careful driving learnt in your driving lessons, you'll be a more assured and safer driver.

Give the road your complete attention

The importance of full concentration behind the steering wheel really can't be emphasised enough.

Mobile devices maybe part of your life, but it's simply illegal to use a hand-held phone or similar device when you're driving. You can only call 999 or 112 in an emergency, and then do try to pull over and park safely first.

Similarly, keep fiddling with the car radio or sound system to a minimum, don't get overly caught up in conversation with your passengers, and never attempt to retrieve any items that have fallen on the ground.

Drive with a good temperament

Unfortunately, you will experience aggressive behaviour on the roads, such as drivers running red lights and tailgating. Always remain calm.

Being courteous and friendly to other drivers won't hurt anyone. It's when tempers flare and patience is lost that accidents can happen.

Be defensive

Defensive driving is when you cultivate an awareness of what other drivers are doing. Be ready for the unexpected, and respond in a controlled way that prioritises safety.

Remember one of the best rules – keep a safe distance from other vehicles.

Extra care at night

Don't rely street and other car lights to guide you, and drive even more cautiously at night. And always be aware that the later it is, the more likely you and other drivers maybe be tired.

Sleep well – and stop if you're too tired

Always make sure you've had enough sleep before getting behind the wheel – especially ahead of longer journeys. Or just don't drive tired.

If you do start to feel drowsy, pull over, park safely, and have a rest or nap. Even then, a rest or even a caffiene-rich drink like coffee will only have a temporary effect, and you shouldn't drive too far afterwards.

Follow the 'two-second rule'

Pick a roadside landmark – like a sign or a tree – and when the vehicle in front of you passes it, start counting 'one thousand and one, one thousand and two'. If you pass the landmark before you finish counting then you need to drop back.

In bad weather, or when towing, you should double the size of the gap ('one thousand and four').

Plan ahead and be prepared

Don't rush. Plan your journeys in advance, especially if it's important to be in time for a meeting, interview or appointment. For longer journeys, account for any comfort breaks, food, or stopping and parking safely to check your phone and emails.

In addition, ensure you've carried out basic checks on your vehicle before setting off on longer journeys. For example, your oil and water levels, and tyre pressure.

And if you're taking an unfamiliar route, check a road atlas first, or use a route mapping tool or GPS app to guide you. It's one less thing to worry about.