Kwik Fit | Tuesday 29th August 2017 1:35pm
Even if you consider yourself to be a good driver, the chances are youíve picked up at least a few bad habits behind the wheel. Here, we take a look at five common motoring mistakes and what you can do to avoid them.
1. Adjusting your satnav on the road
Weíve all been there. You suddenly realise youíre lost and need a helping hand from your satnav, or you decide you need to reset your route part way through your journey. In situations like these, it can be tempting to take your eyes off the road for a second or two to programme or reprogramme this piece of tech, particularly if you have to retrieve it from the glove box first. But while you might think you can do this and still be in complete control of your car, in fact you may be putting yourself and other road users at serious risk. According to a study by insurer Direct Line and road safety charity Brake, seven per cent of drivers have been forced to brake suddenly or swerve to avoid a hazard because theyíd been distracted while adjusting their satnavs.
This means that even if it will add a few minutes to your journey, itís always best to pull over somewhere safe before you adjust your navigation system.
2. Driving with your hands at ten and two oíclock on the wheel
If you tend to drive with your hands in the ten and two oíclock positions on the steering wheel, youíre not alone. This used to be considered the safest way to drive. It may come as a surprise to you then that many driving safety specialists now recommend holding the wheel differently. Increasingly, these experts are advocating the nine and three oíclock position. There are two main reasons for this. Firstly, in the traditional ten and two oíclock position your arms may be more likely to be injured by an inflating airbag if youíre involved in an accident. Secondly, because the vast majority of cars now have power steering, there is no need for the extra leverage you gain by positioning your hands so high up on the wheel.
Ultimately, the grip you use is a matter of personal preference, but whichever you go for, your hands should hold opposite sides of the wheel and they should be placed outside of it. If you grasp the wheel from the inside, youíre much more likely to injure your hands and arms in an accident.
3. Weighing your car down with items you donít need
Especially if youíve got a spacious boot, you might have a habit of leaving items in it that you donít need for your journeys. From bits of gardening equipment to sports kit, itís easy for boots to turn into makeshift storage units. Similarly, if you sometimes use a roof rack to transport bikes or extra luggage, taking them off when theyíre not needed can seem like a waste of time. In fact though, weighing your car down in these ways could be hitting you in the pocket. On average, each additional 50kg will increase your fuel consumption by approximately two per cent. As well as being bad news for your bank balance, this means youíre creating more pollution than you need to. Itís also worth bearing in mind that while empty roof racks may not weigh much, they increase wind resistance and this Ďdragí effect can mean you burn up to ten per cent more fuel than necessary.
So, even if it takes you a little extra time to clear your boot or take off your roof rack, itís well worth making the effort.
4. Using your mobile while in stationary traffic
If you ever find yourself reaching for a hand-held mobile phone when youíve stopped in traffic or at lights, nowís the time to stop. Although most people know that using these devices when driving is against the law, many donít realise that itís also an offence to use them while stationary - unless youíve parked somewhere safe and have switched your engine off. Young drivers are especially unlikely to know this. Research conducted recently on behalf of Kwik Fit revealed that drivers aged between 18 and 24 are nearly three times more likely than the average motorist to think itís legal to use a handheld mobile at traffic lights.
Given that you can now get six penalty points and a £200 fine for using a hand-held mobile behind the wheel, this isnít an issue that any motorist can afford to ignore.
5. Slamming the brakes if your tyre blows
If something goes wrong with your car, your instinct might be to throw on the brakes. After all, itís natural to want to slow down quickly if thereís a problem with your vehicle. However, this impulse is sometimes misguided, and itís important to know when this is the case. For example, if one of your tyres blows when youíre travelling, hitting the brakes could make an already scary situation much worse. Slamming on the brakes can further destabilise your car and increase the risk of a spin or fishtail. It may seem counterintuitive, but the best thing to do in this scenario is actually to keep your foot on the accelerator for a few seconds and then slowly ease off it. This will help to bring your car under control. You should find that the extra drag caused by the blown tyre will slow you down and cause you to come to a controlled stop without you having to apply the brakes.
Also, try to continue driving in a straight line until your speed has dropped to 30 mph or less before you consider steering out of your lane to the hard shoulder or side of the road. If you attempt this manoeuvre while you still have too much speed, you risk spinning out, especially if itís one of your rear tyres that has blown.
To minimise the risk of a blowout in the first place, itís important to monitor your tyres for signs of defects. If you think you may need new tyres and are looking for guidance on the best ones to get for your car, you can contact your nearest Kwik Fit team for expert impartial advice.
You can find out more about bad driving habits and how to avoid them in our guide to modern motoring etiquette.
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