1. Make sure your car is in good working order. Have it serviced regularly in line with the manufacturer’s guidelines. Find a good mechanic who knows your make of car. A good mechanic will be happy to show you the work carried out and any damaged parts he has removed or replaced. Have a quick look at the workshop. Is it clean and well organised? The state of the workshop can give you an indication of good practice in working methods.
2. Get into a weekly habit of checking oil and water. Breaking down on a busy road with an overheated or seized engine is not only costly but potentially dangerous. Regular checks can also help identify leaks before they cause disastrous damage.
3. Pay attention to your tires. Buy the best tires you can afford; your life could depend on them. Don’t buy second-hand tires or re-molds. Examine tires weekly for wear and damage to the treads and sidewalls. Check for uneven tread wear, as this could indicate a problem with tracking. Check tire pressures when you fill up with fuel. Make sure you know the correct pressures for your make of car. These may vary with the load you are carrying. Make a note of the pressures and keep it handy in the front of the car for reference. Don’t forget to check the spare. Driving with incorrect pressures not only increases fuel consumption but can also affect steering and braking functions. Don’t drive on bald tires. It is an offence and potentially lethal.
4. Join a break-down service. Make sure you have your membership card and emergency number with you when driving. Also make a note of your insurance policy number and keep it with the card.
5. Give yourself options. Be aware of your surroundings when driving. Is there a hard shoulder or a grass verge you can pull on to in case of an accident ahead? Have you got enough room to stop in an emergency? Are there a lot of pedestrians or cyclists about? What are road conditions like – wet, dry or icy? Get into the habit of asking yourself these questions as you drive. Check stopping distances in the Highway Code. They are much greater than most drivers realize and vary greatly with the condition of the road surface.
6. Make sure you drive in comfort. Even on short journeys, alter the seat position so that it’s absolutely right for you. Don’t have the heater on too high. Excess heat can make the best of drivers drowsy. If you feel your eyes growing heavy, open a window for some fresh air and pull over into a lay-by or service station as soon as safely possible.