7 Advanced Driving Tips from Experts

Ireland’s roads have never been busier, we are at capacity on many roads around the country and way over it on the M50 surrounding the capital. This means driving has never been more of a challenge. So, we thought we would ask experts for some advanced driving tips that may help you become a smarter driver and get where you are going safe and sound. Advanced and defensive driving are terms that are sometimes confused so we asked driving expert Colm Branigan from Advanced Driving for his definitions.

Keep sunglasses in the car for when it get's sunny.

What is advanced driving?

Advanced driving is a marketing term for any driver training a person takes after they have passed their driving test,” Colm adds that defensive driving is a technique that is thought as part of an advanced driving course. John Paul Guiheen from the Road Safety Authority of Ireland says, “courses are designed to develop higher standards of skill, knowledge and behaviour by all road users”.

What is defensive driving? 

Defensive driving is one of the components of an advanced driving course. Colm defines it as “how you fit in with other drivers on the road and having an ability to anticipate what they might do next and take action based on this”.

Defensive driving techniques that any of us can easily implement include:

1. Give yourself extra time

It is probably something we are all guilty of at one time or another, Colm says, “giving yourself extra time will alter driving and how you react to others on the road” in a good way. One of the strands of advanced driving is looking at attitudinal change and ensuring you are in the right frame of mind when you are on the road. This is particularly important if you drive to work, so you arrive at the office relaxed and ready for the day.

2. Give yourself a safety cushion

By this we mean leave plenty of space around your car when you are driving. It is one of the key elements of defensive driving. If you need help figuring out how much distance you should leave, follow the two second rule. It’s easy, let the vehicle in front of you pass something static like a lamppost and say “only a fool breaks the two second rule” at a normal pace. If you have passed the lamp post before you finish, then you are too close.

Gently press the breaks to give yourself more room to react if something happens to the driver in front.

Slow down and give extra space between you and the car in front when it has rained.

3. Observe anticipate and plan

When we drive, we cannot control the actions of others but we can anticipate them and make a plan to act and keep ourselves and other road users safe. Advanced driving encourages us to scan and view the road further ahead, to look up and out beyond the foreground. Colm says this allows us to, “see a situation earlier so we have more time to react”.

4. Be aware of the conditions

We have some of the most varied weather in Europe in Ireland so, as drivers, we need to be able to adapt quickly and easily to changes as they happen. We asked Colm’s advice on driving in a variety of weather conditions:

Tips for driving in the rain:

  • Allow for poorer vision by giving other drivers more space.
  • Check your tyres, although minimum legal thread depth is 1.6m you will lose traction long before that.
  • Tip: you get what you pay for with tyres, as the only part of your car in contact with the road so they are worth investing in.
  • Be careful when driving through standing water, even if it doesn’t look deep, it can mask potholes and you can do serious damage to your car. Always drive very slowly.

Tips for driving in the sun:

  • Keep sunglasses in your car.
  • Keep your windscreen clean and washer fluid topped up as dirt and marks are highlighted in sun and may impair your vision.
  • Be particularly careful if there is a sun shower as wet roads after a dry spell can be unexpectedly slippery.
  • Tips for driving at night:
  • If you are dazzled driving at night glance away from the source.
  • Slow down.
  • Adjust your rearview mirror for night driving (there is usually a switch to do this quickly and easily).
  • Keep your eyes gentle moving so you are not staring into oncoming traffic.
  • Don’t dwell on the idea of being dazzled, similarly to the pink elephant concept, you are more likely to be dazzled driving at night if you think about it too much.
  • Tip: remember your brake lights can dazzle cars behind you at night so if you are stopped at traffic lights put on your hand break and take your foot off the brake. 
Be careful of sheep or cows walking on the road in rural areas.

5. Be aware of animals on rural roads

Another consideration as you drive, particularly in rural areas is animals on the road. John Paul Guiheen from the Safety Authority of Ireland says "in rural areas, you are likely to occasionally encounter tractors and animals on the road so it is important to drive slowly and carefully, obey wildlife warning signs and any associated speed changes. Always slow down and be prepared to stop when approaching or overtaking animals”.

6. Take an advanced driving course 

Although this tip will cost money, we believe it will be money well spent, there is nothing like practicing with an expert. Completing a course may even reduce the cost of your car insurance.

If your insurance is up for renewal soon, get a quote from us, we might help you save some money!


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