How to commute safely now the lockdown has eased

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The news that the government has eased lockdown restrictions means changes are coming on our journey back to normality. Soon you’ll be able to get your hair cut and enjoy socialising with your friends. And some of you will be able to drive into work every day. Oh, that last one doesn’t sound quite so good does it? Still, as my old dad used to say, work comes to us all and we just have to get on with it.

Or do we? Despite my dad being around before the microchip revolution (sorry dad!), I don’t think he ever had to hunker down at home avoiding a horrible virus. These have been strange times indeed and nobody’s had a magic manual to help get through it. We’ve seen shops and businesses shut and Sundays have become even more of a drag than usual. Worst of all, for a couple of months we weren’t really allowed to drive anywhere except the local shops.

I don’t know about you, but the only contact I had with my car was to go into the garage and give it an occasional affectionate pat. Last weekend was the first time in ages that I actually went anywhere in it!

If you’ve been through the same thing then you’ll know that it takes a while to readjust to driving on busy roads. So we thought we’d give you some quick ‘n’ dirty top tips to make sure you’re fully prepared to take on the task of safe driving once again.

Tip number 1: Preparation

After standing unused your car will need checking over. The battery may have gone flat if you haven’t used the car at all, and the tyres may have lost air pressure so they need checking too. Another thing to check is the parking brake. If it’s not been used it can get stuck so that it doesn’t release properly. A parking brake that’s stuck on means you won’t be going anywhere.

If you’re going into the office/factory/workshop after some months away, then get up as early and check the road traffic information for news of accidents, road blocks or other issues. Local radio is also a great source of traffic news, so don’t feel you just have to rely on the internet.

The last thing you want to do is rush when you’re getting back into your daily routine. You’ll have enough on your mind without speeding and/or getting distracted from what’s happening around you.

Number 2: Hazard perception

Really important, this one folks. Your hazard perception skills* are the difference between a safe and enjoyable drive and being involved in something rather less attractive. The trick is to scan all around you for potential hazards. Don’t forget to use your mirrors to help you do this.

Anticipation is your friend. Some hazards (for example a child walking on a pavement) are not immediately obvious and could “develop” into something much more serious. In this case, the child may suddenly step out into the road. But there could be any number of other scenarios that require you to anticipate what could happen. If in doubt, slow down and make your intentions clear to other road users.

​​​​​​​Number 3: Mirror, signal, manoeuvre

The trusty old mirror, signal manoeuvre technique. You probably remember this from your driving lessons.

It doesn’t get any less important after you pass your test – it’s still the best way of letting other road users know what you intend to do. It’s also the best way of making sure it’s safe to do anything at all. So, remember:

Check your mirrors to make sure it’s safe

Signal to other road users

Manoeuvre your vehicle safely

Follow the advice in that order and you should be good for an incident-free journey.

​​​​​​​Tipping points

We hope you found this blog useful. If you’re all fired up and ready for more advice, zoom over to the Safe Driving for Life shop and pick up a copy of Driving – the essential skills. It’s the industry-standard driving manual and a great way of learning more about safe, responsible driving.

Until next time, enjoy your driving... even if it is for work!

*if you need a refresher, you can practise your hazard perception skills here.