Your Safe Driving Essentials Guide

Life behind the wheel – we get it. It's a daily adventure filled with unexpected twists and we know your time is precious, and the last thing you need is a roadblock.

Caught in a downpour during rush hour? You’ve got this guide to keep you clear-headed. Facing a breakdown with no time to spare? We've got your quick-fix solutions. And, yes, accidents happen, but knowing the ropes can make all the difference.

In this blog, we're diving into the nitty-gritty of everyday driving – rain, shine, snow, ice or breakdowns, and those heart-stopping moments we'd rather avoid. Whether you're a seasoned driver or just hitting the road, we've got your back with practical tips and advice.

Car Condition Check

We begin with the most crucial and fundamental aspect: the car condition check. Think of it as the cornerstone of a secure and enjoyable driving experience. Ensuring your vehicle is road-ready and equipped for the journey ahead, not only sets the stage for a safe and worry-free adventure, but also helps to enhance overall performance.

A great way of memorising the steps of checking your car's condition before a journey is by using the acronym 'POWDER'...

P is for Petrol (or Power for electric vehicles) - make sure you have enough fuel or charge for your trip. You could also use websites such as and to find the best prices and the locations of filling and charging stations.

O is for Oil - always check your oil is at the correct level before setting off on your journey

W is for Washer Fluid - remember to make sure your washer fluid and coolant is topped up. You should also check that your windscreen and lights are clean.

D is for Damage - carry out a check of your car to make sure there is no unknown damage

E is for Electronics - check that your lights and windscreen wipers etc are all in working order. It's also wise to familiarise yourself with the lights on your dashboard by referring to your owners manual, so in the event of a warning light being displayed, you know what action is required.

R is for Rubber - always carry out an inspection of your tyres ensuring they have a sufficient amount of pressure and there are no signs of potential issues (for example, nails or debris trapped within the tyre treads). Remember to also check any spare tyres and / or any tyre inflation devices supplied with your car. You can check out our 'guide to tyre safety' here.

To ensure your car is in the best condition, you should always keep up to regular servicing. This will also maintain your car at optimal safety especially when having the work carried out at a dealership which employs factory trained technicians and uses manufacturer approved parts (for full details of why this is recommended take a look at our 'dealer vs independant garage' blog).


Journey Planning

Planning for your journey is an often overlooked aspect and for some, not even a thought, but before hitting the road, you should consider the following:

Roadworks & Traffic - utilise navigation apps to find real-time updates and details of roadworks & congestion on your route. This will allow you to plan in any extra time you'll need for your journey or to look for alternative routes

Weather Conditions - check the weather forecast and be prepared for any adverse conditions. Remember to pack essentials in case of any disruption and delays including water, snacks, blankets and appropriate clothing and footwear (such as coats and hats in the winter months)

Rest Stops - plan breaks and rest stops, especially on longer journeys, to help combat fatigue and keep you alert throughout your journey

Emergency Kit - it's always wise to keep an emergency kit in your car which includes essentials like a first aid kit, flashlight and any necessary tools. Be prepared for unexpected situations!


Distracted Driving

Did you know that being distracted whilst driving is one of the leading causes of accidents on our roads today?

With the introduction of smartphones, and the never-ending demands of our modern lives, has come a whole host of new challenges for drivers. It's vital that you stay focused whilst behind the wheel not only for your own safety, but also for that of your passengers, other road users and for pedestrians.

Mobile Phones - It is illegal to hold and use a phone, sat nav, tablet, or any other handheld device that can send or receive data while driving (regardless of whether it is online or offline). The introduction of smartphone connectivity (such as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto) to most modern vehicles, allows the mirroring of your phone's features on your car's media screen. Remember that caution should still be applied when using these functions and full attention paid to the road ahead.

Eating & Drinking - whilst it's not strictly illegal to eat and drink whilst driving, it is a distraction and could see you facing prosecution for careless driving if you are found to not to be in full control of your vehicle by the police. This could result in an on-the-spot fine of £100 along with 3 penalty points so we'd suggest you consume your food and beverages before setting off and during rest stops rather than during your journey!

Multi-tasking - when behind the wheel, you should be solely focused on driving at all times. It's easy to become distracted but any momentary lapse in concentration could increase the risk of having, or causing, an accident.

Impaired Driving

Every time we get behind the wheel, we're not just taking responsibility our own safety, but the safety of others also. Impaired driving, fuelled by things such as alcohol or drugs, is as a critical threat to the safety of every road user, and contributes to a staggering number of accidents.

Before taking to the wheel, or heading out on a journey (especially during the festive period), please make sure you think about the following:

Designated Drivers - planning ahead as we've already covered, is a powerful strategy to curb impaired driving. If you anticipate consuming alcohol, make sure you designate a sober driver within your group. This simple act can prevent potential accidents and ensure everyone reaches their destination safely.

Alternative Transportation - In the age of convenience, alternative transportation options are endless with the likes of Uber at the touch of a finger, taxi services along with trains and buses which are all readily available (although again planning is key especially when it comes to public transport to ensure you are aware of any potential cancellations or strikes etc). Prioritise your safety and the safety of others by choosing these options and not taking the risk of driving under the influence.


The 2-Second Gap Rule

Did you know that maintaining a safe distance between you and the car in front is one of the key factors in reducing the risks of accidents on the road? By understanding and putting the 2-second rule into practice, you not only protect yourself but contribute to a safer driving environment for everyone.

Focus on the Vehicle Ahead - As it passes a fixed point, count "one thousand one, one thousand two." This will allow you to keep a minimum of a two second time gap in front of your vehicle and will create adequate space in which to react to any emergency that occurs ahead. 

Adapt to Weather Conditions - In bad weather conditions, it is recommended to double this distance to allow for additional time to react and bring your vehicle to a halt. 

The 2-second gap rule allows time to react to sudden stops or changes, whether that's responding to an accident, handling a breakdown, driving in adverse weather or maintaining a safe following distance. By staying alert and prepared, you can navigate the challenges of the road with confidence. 

And remember, 2 seconds is the minimum gap which should be left between you and the vehicle in front. The longer the gap, the bigger your safety margin.


Driving in Different Weather Conditions

As we approach the winter season, you should always approach your journey with extra caution and refresh your memory on the essentials of safe driving in adverse weather conditions. 

From rain to snow and everything in between, understanding the nuances of weather-related driving is very important. Winter weather brings unique challenges and requires extra caution and preparation.

Check Weather Forecasts - wherever possible try to plan your trips around favorable weather conditions and during daylight hours

Winter Tyres - consider using winter tyres for improved traction. Check out our blog for more information on winter tyres

Drive with extra caution - reduce speed and increase your stopping distance in snowy, icey and poor driving conditions.

Brake Gently - avoid sudden movements and brake gently. This will help to prevent skidding and aquaplaning.

Having a Winter Check carried out will help to ensure your car is in optimal condition for the winter months. You can find out more about preparing your car for the winter months, and what's involved in a winter check here


Dealing with a Breakdown

You're heading away for the weekend, excited about the adventure that awaits. The last thing you need is a breakdown to put a dampener on your plans? 

Having regular servicing will help to reduce the risk of a breakdown but sometimes life throws an unexpected curveball so it's important to know what to do in the event of a breakdown so you can handle the situation with ease.

Move to a place of safety - you should always, where it is possible to do so, move your vehicle to a safe location away from traffic. If a warning light appears on your dashboard, stop at the earliest possible opportunity to prevent any potential damage to your vehicle.

Use Hazard Lights - make your vehicle is visible and provide a warning to other drivers by turning on your hazard lights​. It's a good idea to purchase a hazard warning triangle to keep in your car in the event of a breakdown.

Assess the situation - whilst very few of us are trained mechanics, a quick inspection of your vehicle could help to identify the issue and aid you in making a decision about your next course of action.

Call for Assistance - it's always advisable to have ra breakdown policy in place so you are covered in the event of an issue occuring. Be prepared by having the details saved in your phone or in a dedicated place within your car so you've always got it to hand. In the event of not having breakdown cover, you can arrange instant cover by calling a recognised provider or by contacting a local garage. In a more serious situation, like breaking down on a motorway, you can reach out to the emergency services however we would only suggest doing this if the position of your vehicle presents a danger to other road users or where you have exhausted all other options. ​

What to Do in the Event of an Accident

No one plans for accidents, and certainly nobody wants an accident to occur, but knowing how to respond in the aftermath is crucial. Even when they're not serious, accidents create a stressful situation but having a clear set of actions can make all the difference.

STOP - It is an offence to leave the scene of a road collision, even if damage is minor, and nobody is injured you must swap details ane report the incident.

Remain Calm - it's normal to be in a state of shock when an accident occurs but try to remain as calm as possible. Assess yourself and your passengers for any injuries.

Move to a Safe Location - if vehicles are in a dangerous position, and if it is safe and possible to do so, move them to the side of the road to prevent an obstruction to other road users. You must not however move an injured person as this has the potential to cause further damage.

Contact the emergency services - if there are injuries and / or the accident is creating a danger to other road users, you will need to contact the emergency services for assistance.

Warn approaching traffic - find a way of warning other road users of the danger ahead

Exchange Information - remember to collect contact and insurance information from all parties involved. It is also advisable to take the names and contact details of any witnesses as these may assist the police and your insurance company in the event of any prosecutions or claims being made.

Take photos - having photos will also assist your insurance company in the event of any claim being made by you or a third party

We're always here to help!

Should you find yourself needing more guidance, assistance, or if you have any specific enquiries, don't hesitate to reach out. At Colin Appleyard, we're not just advocates for road safety, we're here to support you and your family on every mile of your journey.

Your safety is our priority, and our team is ready to assist. Whether it's a pre-travel checks, routine maintenance, or any automotive queries, get in touch and a member of our team will be happy to help.