Saved up and bought your first car? Or are you lucky enough to have been given one for your birthday or Christmas? Maybe you have access to a car when some else isn’t using it?
Now you’ve got access to a set of wheels, you need to think about your safety whilst you’re out on the road. The first thing is to make sure the car is in good working order. Make sure the car is regularly serviced, which will help reduce your chances of having a breakdown. If you can’t afford it, how about going to evening classes to learn about car maintenance or perhaps you have friends or family who can help out?
Your car can break down when you least expect it, so remember to keep your breakdown service phone number in the car or even better, programme it into your mobile phone. If you do break down, find a safe place to stop and use your mobile or find a phone box to call for help.
If you’re travelling alone, make sure you tell the operator as they will make the call a higher priority than others. If you can, let your family know what has happened, so they aren’t worried if you’re back late.
If you breakdown on the motorway, if it’s possible, you should wait on the embankment away from the hard shoulder – but try to stay visible to other motorists. If this isn’t possible, maybe it’s a dark night or there’s bad weather, you should lock all the car doors and sit in the passenger side of the car whilst you wait for help.
Remember to be aware of what is happening around you. Don’t accept a lift from a stranger, always stay with the car. When help arrives, always check their ID before you leave the car.
Driving and mobile phones
When you go out in your car keep your mobile with you and make sure it is charged. Mobiles are really handy in an emergency, as public payphones and emergency phones on motorways are not always nearby.
It is now illegal to drive a vehicle or ride a motorbike and use a hand held mobile phone. The maximum fixed penalty fine has doubled to £60, and three points can be added to your licence. You can also be prosecuted for using a hands-free phone if the police think that you are not in control of your vehicle. The best thing to do is find a safe place to stop, turn the engine off and use your phone whilst you are stopped.
Parking your car
Always lock your car when you leave it, even if it’s for a short period. Possessions have even been pinched from cars whilst the driver pays for petrol or goes into a shop.
When you’re parking, try to find a space in a well-lit area and away from trees or hedges.
If you park in a multi storey car park, park as close to the parking attendant as you can or near to the lift or entrance. Try to stay where you can be seen by others.
When you go back to your car, make sure you have your keys handy, either in your hand or pocket. Don’t wait until you’re back at your car to start looking for them.
Who can help?
For more information on car saftey:
The BBC’s motoring website has useful information on car maintenance and safe driving. Have a look at www.bbc.co.uk/motoring/ontheroad/.
The AA’s website offers drivers lots of advice from car security to how to avoid a breakdown. Visit www.theaa.com/motoring-advice/index.jsp.
The Association of British Drivers also has lots of safe driving tips. Visit www.abd.org.uk/tips.htm.