It is common knowledge that road traffic accidents are the most common cause of personal injury claims. While there have been significant improvements in road safety in recent years, there is still a lot of work to do. As a consequence, many people are now looking at ways to improve their own driving style and also enhance road safety for themselves, passengers and pedestrians. Does this pro-active approach pay dividends?
Advanced Driving Courses
In the past, advanced driving courses were seen by many as an unnecessary expense. What was the point of taking an advanced driving course when they were already driving perfectly legally? What could a driver learn that they didn’t already know? Well, fast forward a few years and advanced driving courses are now proving to be more valuable and not only in terms of road safety. Drivers who take these advanced courses are more aware of their surroundings, adapt their driving style to the weather and learn techniques which will increase fuel efficiency.
Different styles for different weather
We have all been there, driving to work on a cold damp rainy morning and despite the potential dangers of a wet road and reduced visibility, drivers are still positioned bumper-to-bumper. Unfortunately, many drivers take the view that “it will never happen to them” but the reality is an accident may not be their fault. If they are forced to brake and go into the back of the vehicle ahead of them it is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to escape prosecution.
The advanced driving courses today will teach you many things such as:-
- How to drive in different weather conditions
- How to improve your concentration
- How to anticipate what might happen in front of you
- How to plan ahead for the smoothest journey
- How to remain calm in the event of an accident or potential danger
When you look at all of the aims for a modern day advanced driving course they look fairly simple, fairly straightforward because they are. In many ways an advanced driving course is simply an enhancement of your general driving skills. Learning how to avoid an accident or reducing the impact can be life-saving. The key is to remain cool, calm and collected, don’t turn the wheel, don’t turn away and remember you are protected to a certain extent by your seatbelt and airbags.
Reduced risk of crashing
The statistics are inconclusive with regards to the reduced risk of crashing as a consequence of taking an advanced driving course. But what can we assume? To be a safe driver does not necessarily mean you need to learn about handling your vehicle or how to take evasive action. The whole focus of advanced driving courses is simple, anticipation and appreciation of the road ahead and weather conditions.
Improved fuel consumption
One thing which is not in dispute is the ability to significantly improve your car’s fuel consumption with a better driving style. Constant braking and accelerating is not good for fuel consumption, a smooth gentle drive is the way to enhance mileage per litre of petrol. How can we prove this? It is no surprise that the majority of cars have a much greater mileage per litre when driving on motorways. The number of times you will brake suddenly and put the accelerator down is reduced when compared to inner-city driving.
- Less general wear and tear on your vehicle
The smoother and more controlled your drive/journey the less general wear and tear on your vehicle – which can significantly reduce maintenance costs. Brake pads tend to be a major issue for those who stop and start throughout a journey. Those who stubbornly refuse to slow down over speed bumps would likely experience suspension problems. The less wear and tear, the safer your vehicle, which must surely lead to reduced road traffic accidents?
- Reduced insurance premiums
The jury is out with regards to whether an advanced driving course will lead to reduced insurance premiums across the board. We know that many insurance companies ask for evidence of advanced driving courses, so why would they not reduce your premiums accordingly? The truth is that there are insurance companies out there who will take account of advanced driving courses and reduce your premiums. However, many people seem to miss the point.
If you pass your advanced driving course and maintain your new more appreciative driving style going forward, it stands to reason you would be seen as a reduced risk of being involved in fewer incidents on the road. This will have a positive impact on your no claims bonus and your insurance premiums. While some insurance companies may not handout reduced premiums on the back of an advanced driving course, for many people the proof is in the pudding – actually driving.
A number of insurance companies have turned to black boxes to record telematics which can sometimes lead to reduced insurance premiums. While it is fair to say there is potential to reduce insurance premiums the majority of these companies tend to focus on drivers under 25 years of age. The idea is that those over 25 are at a significantly reduced risk of an accident compared to those under the age of 25. When you also consider the often exorbitant insurance premiums quoted for first-time/young drivers, many are forced to consider installing a black box simply to get on the road.
There is an argument that by simply knowing that “Big Brother is watching” (via the installation of a black box) you would be more cautious and adapt your natural driving style. Whether this has the same impact months or years down the line is debatable. However, insurance company black boxes can only be positive for road safety.
Repair And Maintenance
Repair and maintenance is an integral part of the upkeep of your vehicle and general driving experience. Aside from the fact that a damaged vehicle could in some way cause an accident, it also comes down to trust. You may be overcautious to the point of potentially dangerous if the trust in your vehicle is impaired. So, what should you do about it?
The general advice in the UK is to service your vehicle at least once a year (different to an MOT). This will involve a detailed inspection of the vehicle, maybe the replacement of oil filters and brake pads and other work which needs doing. Those who fail to carry out regular servicing of their vehicle to “save money” will ultimately find that general wear and tear can lead to potentially huge repair bills further down the line. Regular servicing can alert you to the start of potential problems such as rust, cracked pipes, etc which can be addressed before they get any worse and potentially more expensive to fix.
Address issues when they happen
We have all been there, we know one of the brake discs is on its way out, perhaps one of the tyres needs more air in it or the radiator seems to work on and off. The temptation to delay repairs because “they are only minor problems” is extremely strong as is the potential to save money in the short term. We know it is wrong, so why do we do it?
If you are in an accident and your car was found to be faulty and potentially the cause of the incident, where would you stand legally? If you were aware of a potential fault and failed to fix it then surely this translates into a degree of negligence? Negligence leads to liability and liability could lead to a significant personal injury claim.
You Get What You Pay For….
If we backtrack past the repairs/servicing and advanced driving courses, let’s take a look at the initial purchase of your vehicle. There are bargains and then there are “bargains” which can be potentially dangerous. It is fair to say that in the world of cars and other vehicles, you get what you pay for. You are unlikely to get a vehicle which will be road worthy on a long-term basis for just a couple of hundred pounds. Fair enough, you may save some money in the short term but what happens when you have to repair or replace the vehicle?
In theory, any way in which you can improve your driving style, via an advanced driving course or even regular maintenance, can only be positive. You may have to dig deep to find an insurance company willing to reduce premiums as a consequence of an advanced driving qualification – but they are out there. However, while looking towards reduced premiums and fewer claims, are we not missing the point?
Anything which improves road safety and makes drivers more aware of their actions and able to react to varying conditions, saves lives. Can you really put a price on that?