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Car driving in country lane

When it comes to driving we all think we’re an expert. But in reality a few tips from Shell wouldn’t hurt. Take a look – you might learn something.

Acceleration sense

Acceleration sense is about how you vary your foot pressure on the accelerator pedal so you don’t have to brake as hard or as often.

Surprisingly, one way to drive efficiently is by accelerating briskly to a safe cruising speed and staying at the highest gear.

Plan your arrival at intersections so that you decelerate for a longer period in a higher gear. That way you may not have to stop by allowing other traffic to clear before you get there.

3rd gear max in 30mph zone

Staying in 3rd gear makes it easier to notice if you’re creeping above 30mph.

Of course, choose the appropriate gear for your speed and the road, weather and traffic circumstances, and change gear as those circumstances change. The most appropriate gear to use when driving at 30mph depends on your engine size but in many modern cars it’s possible to drive at 30mph in 3rd gear without making the engine labour.

Automatic cars normally have several forward gears, so the driver should choose the gear that makes it easiest to keep the vehicle under 30mph.

Speed triggers

We all get tricked by ‘speed triggers’ – things that make us more likely to speed up and exceed the limit without even noticing. This could be keeping up with other drivers, or feeling stressed by a driver too close behind. Being tempted to overtake a vehicle may also tip you over the limit, those moments when you’re thinking ‘should I go for it?’ – well you shouldn’t.

Distractions such as listening to loud music often result in speeding, as does something as simple as going downhill.

Learning to recognise your own ‘speed triggers’ will make it easier to avoid being pushed into speeding.

2-Second Rule

Keeping a safe distance from the vehicle in front will also help to reduce your stress levels when driving. Use the 2-Second Rule: leave at least a two second gap between you and the vehicle in front. Double this distance on wet roads and increase it even further on icy roads.

Tread depth

When tyre tread depth falls below 3mm your braking performance deteriorates, according to research by MIRA Ltd.

Tyres with a 3mm tread have a 25% better performance than those at the legal minimum of 1.6mm. In terms of stopping distance this represents an extra 8 metres, or 25 feet, in wet conditions. In one test, when a tyre with a tread depth of 8mm was compared to one with only 1.6mm, the stopping distance increased by 13 metres, slightly more than 42 feet.

The research has led to the majority of motoring experts recommending that motorists change their tyres when tread has worn down to no less than 3mm.

Stopping distance

Worn-down brake disks can dramatically increase stopping distances, sometimes with fatal consequences.

Vehicle parts provider Car Parts Direct claimed recent research had shown that one-in-eight motorists could be driving with illegal or dangerous brakes.

Random checks found drivers with worn brake pads, brake discs below minimum legal thickness and in some cases warped brake discs. The company added that 85% of motorists did not know how to check their brake discs and pads for safety.

It’s tough but some brake problems are easier to notice than others. For example, if you feel a vibration through the brake pedal this is often the result of warped brake discs.

Other problems are not so easy to detect and, unfortunately, some drivers only find out about a problem when a vehicle fails to stop in time. So get them checked.