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5 Things You Need to Know About Driving

Everybody’s an expert on the road. When it comes to driving, it’s other people who have the problem, not us. However, there are several things that it’s vital to know if you want to be a pro on the road. Check out our list to see how you measure up. Go easy on the pedals to save on petrol: Accelerating hard and braking hard will burn through fuel quickly. Instead, accelerate gently and brake smoothly, before you reach a corner. (Put it this way: your granny probably gets great mileage.) Other ways to save on petrol include: Dress warmly. Only turn on air conditioning when absolutely necessary. Clean out your car. Extra weight means extra fuel consumption. Keep to the speed limit. The AA estimates that driving at 100 km/h rather than 110 km/h will cut about 13% from your fuel bill. Assume that everyone else is a terrible driver: Yes, really! The best way to avoid accidents is to be alert. If you’re always on the lookout thinking that someone else on the road is about to pull a stupid manoeuvre, you’ll be prepared for when they actually do. Watch people reversing out of driveways – do they see you coming? Look out at intersections and roundabouts for people failing to give way. Keep an eye on blind spots – other people’s. Be careful if you find yourself in the ‘shadow’ of a truck, bus, or 4WD, as they have large blind spots. It’s time for the guys to acknowledge this: we’re good drivers. A survey by the AA in New Zealand found that men are more likely to speed, be impatient or aggressive, and fall asleep at the wheel. But what to do if you see another car heading towards you – and you can’t avoid hitting it? Car pulls out in front of you at an intersection? Aim for the rear end of the car rather than the front. Head-on crash situation? Go for the shoulder or ditch rather than the other side of the road. Car about to hit you from behind? Lean back against the headrest and relax to minimise whiplash. About to hit another car from behind? Try to swerve to the left or right of it rather than striking it full-on. Always, always drive to the conditions: Most of us assume that it’s always safe to drive at the speed limit. This isn’t the case – especially in winter weather when rain or sunstrike make visibility difficult and ice causes roads to become dangerous. Avoid accelerating or braking hard in wet or icy conditions. If you start to skid, don’t slam on the brakes! Turn the steering wheel in the direction you’re trying to go in and avoid braking until you regain traction. Increase your following distance from two seconds to four seconds in heavy rain. Watch the car in front of you pass a streetlight or other landmark – you should be able to count to four before you pass the same one. Drive to communicate and be precise: Sloppy driving doesn’t just irritate everybody else on the road; it’s also unsafe and can lead to accidents. Make sure you follow all the little rules, even if they don’t seem to matter. Always indicate left as you exit a roundabout – it’s a courtesy to others and it prevents confusion. Drive predictably. If others think they know where you’re going, they won’t intrude on your space. Check over your shoulder before pulling away from the kerb. Also, watch out for cars pulled over to the side of the road – they could pull out without checking, too! Know what to do in an accident situation: It’s time for the guys to acknowledge this: we’re good drivers. A survey by the AA in New Zealand found that men are more likely to speed, be impatient or aggressive, and fall asleep at the wheel. But what to do if you see another car heading towards you – and you can’t avoid hitting it? Car pulls out in front of you at an intersection? Aim for the rear end of the car rather than the front. Head-on crash situation? Go for the shoulder or ditch rather than the other side of the road. Car about to hit you from behind? Lean back against the headrest and relax to minimise whiplash. About to hit another car from behind? Try to swerve to the left or right of it rather than striking it full-on.