Motorists are being encouraged by the AA to become better drivers by taking advantage of the five days of the Twixtmas break – between the Christmas and New Year holidays.
By following its five tips for each day of the five day programme the AA can help you become a safer, greener, friendlier driver, while taking care of one of your ‘best friends’ – your car, to enjoy the open road even more in the year ahead.
The ‘5 day better driver’ programme supports the wider non-commercial Twixtmas campaign which is launching a ‘University of Twixtmas’ – encouraging everyone to do and learn 5 new things to make the world a better place. Further details at www.twixtmas.com
Be a better driver by following these five tips for each day of Twixtmas.
Day 1 – ‘Do something selfish’ – drive safer. Adopt safer driving. Five tips for you and your family this winter during snow and ice:
• Stay in a higher gear to aid traction. Select second gear when pulling away, easing your foot off the clutch gently to avoid wheel-spin.
• Keep your speed down; try to maintain a constant speed. Gentle manoeuvres are the key to safe driving.
• When driving downhill, reduce your speed before the hill, use a low gear and try to avoid using the brakes.
• Wear comfortable, dry shoes: cumbersome, snow-covered boots will slip on the pedals
• Leave as much room as possible between you and the car in front – stopping distances can be up to 10 times longer in ice and snow.
Day 2 – ‘Do something unselfish’ – drive friendlier. Make it your New Year’s resolution to treat other road users better. Five tips for driving in a way that makes the roads safer for everyone:
• Stop tailgating – always remember the ‘two second rule’ to keep a safe distance from the vehicle in front. As the vehicle in front passes a landmark say to yourself: “only a fool breaks the two second rule”, if you can say it, at a normal speed, before you reach the same landmark then you have a good distance between you.
• Don’t be a middle lane hog – remember the Highway Code states that if the road ahead is clear you should be in the left hand lane.
• Stick to the speed limits – travelling at just a few miles per hour over the speed limit can drastically reduce the chances of a pedestrian or other road user surviving a collision.
• Be kind to learners – AA Driving School instructors often report they and their pupils are the victims of road rage. If you are behind a learner give them extra room, be patient and remember we all had to learn at some point!
• Remember that drivers get it wrong. They aren’t all out to get at you or to seek an advantage. At this time of year many drivers are away from home, and the one who is trying to get out of the “wrong” lane into the right one in front of you may have got there in all innocence. Be kind.
Day 3 – ‘Do something for a friend’ – take better care of your ‘friend’ – your car. Five checks include the oil, water, tyres to ensure they are in good order.
• Tyres – check tyre tread, condition and pressures at least every two weeks. Don’t forget to check the spare as well.
• Engine oil – check the dipstick at least every fortnight and before any long journey.
• Water – check the coolant level regularly and top up as necessary – but only when the engine is cold.
• Screenwash – check and regularly top up with a good screenwash additive – it’s a legal requirement that the system works.
• Lights – check and clean all lights weekly, not forgetting fog and reversing lights, full-beam headlights and indicators.
Day 4 – ‘Do something for the planet’ – Drive greener. Five tips to drive more environmentally friendly.
• Change up earlier. Change gear as soon as possible without laboring the engine – try changing up at an engine speed of around 2000 rpm in a diesel car or around 2500 rpm in a petrol car.
• Stick to the speed limit . The faster you go the greater the fuel consumption. According to the Department for Transport, driving at 70mph uses up to 9% more fuel than at 60mph and up to 15% more than at 50mph. Cruising at 80mph can use up to 25% more fuel than at 70mph.
• Don’t be idle.If you do get caught in a queue, turn the engine off if it looks like you could be waiting for more than three minutes.
• Streamline. Roof racks/boxes create extra wind resistance and increase fuel consumption. If you don’t need it take it off. If you do, pack carefully to reduce the extra drag.
• Easy does it. Drive smoothly, accelerate gently and read the road ahead to avoid unnecessary braking.
Day 5 – ‘Do something for the future’ – Do more interesting things with your car, and your life. Here are five of the best ‘alternative’ routes for those keener on the quality of the journey rather than the speed:
• B3181, M5 J27 to Exeter. Circumvent the final four junctions of the M5 by taking the B3181 that meanders over the motorway and deposits you in the beautiful centre of Exeter. I f you think the road seems surprisingly good for a B-road, that’s because it was once the main A38.
• B390 & B3095 Stonehenge to Gillingham, Dorset. The M3/A303 to the South-West becomes frustratingly slow in good weather. This pair of B-roads might save time as you head across Salisbury Plain, as well as providing a satisfying journey through ancient landscapes.
• B2036 Gatwick Airport to Burgess Hill. Bank holiday weekends drive thousands of Londoners to the nearest “proper” seaside resort, Brighton. Avoid the M23/A23 corridor from Gatwick by taking this picturesque route through wonderful unspoilt villages.
• B1176 Stamford to Grantham. The A1 (M) is one of Britain’s most dispiriting roads bypassing almost everywhere of interest, but patches of the Great North Road remain. This section connects two market towns and is a reminder of Lincolnshire’s loveliness.
• B5381 St Asaph’s to Llandudno Junction. The main route along the coast of North Wales towards the Llyn Peninsula, Anglesey, obscures views of Snowdonia and the shoreline. So steer away from the A55 for a dozen junctions and opt for this scenic byway.
“By following these five tips for each day of the Twixtmas break you can be a better driver, help other people and our planet, and also make for a more interesting year ahead.” said a spokesman for the Twixtmas campaign.
The ‘University of Twixtmas’ is a new initiative launched by the Twixtmas campign which aims to encourage everyone to do 5 socially good things during the 5 days of Twixtmas between Christmas and New Year holidays.
Can you create 5 easy things to do to help your cause when, in a time poor age, people have lots of free time? Visit www.twixtmas.com