What if we told you that learning how to put on the brakes properly can save you money? You’d think we were crazy, right? Well, we’re here to tell you it’s not as crazy as it sounds.
Efficient braking not only helps your wallet by saving precious litres of fuel, it also helps to maintain your brake pads and discs, all whilst helping you be a safer, more alert driver. There really is no downside to getting, what is on the surface quite a simple thing, right.
Here are some top tips to keep in mind when you’re either learning to drive
or have been driving for years and just need to brush up on your knowledge.
1 - Plan Ahead
By planning ahead, we don’t mean getting out your Nan’s AA Road Map and measuring the angles of every corner on your journey. Luckily, it’s much more straightforward. It’s all about being aware and having great observation of what lies ahead.
Not only does having great observation skills directly help you on your driving test, as it’s something your examiner will be looking out for, it really does help you drive more economically. Knowing that you may need to apply the breaks well in advance of you doing it will mean you can monitor your speed, apply gentle pressure to the brake pedal, and carry through a more consistent speed meaning a smoother journey.
Here are some things to look out for that might cause you to break:
- Roadworks ahead. The chances are you’ll be told you need to slow down, so be prepared.
- Brake lights or hazard lights are a clear indicator
- Road signs will tell you what you need to do, whether that be a reduction in road speed, sharp corner, or pedestrians
- A change in weather conditions. Icy conditions and heavy rain means a slower approach is the safest option
- Visibility. If your vision is likely to be impaired, you’re going to need to slow down
2 – Stick to the speed limit
It might seem like an obvious thing to say, but speed limits are there for a reason. For example, you’ll find it hard to find a residential area that has a speed limit of over 30mph. Why? Because the chances of a hazard are high.
People walking out onto the road, cars suddenly turning, braking or stopping, and even a cute cat running from underneath a car are all common occurrences when driving in residential areas. By sticking to the speed limit as well as giving your reactions the best chance possible, you’re also reducing the amount of pressure put on your breaks (pun intended).
Now we must point out, something your driving instructor will tell you as well…”it’s a speed limit, not a target.” Just because a road sign says you can drive at 50mph, doesn’t mean you have to. Use your observation skills to determine what is the appropriate speed to drive at, one which will mean you don’t have to slam on the breaks and can have a much safer, smoother journey.
3 – The 2 second rule
Another tip your driving instructor
might teach you on your driving lesson is “the 2 second rule”. This means giving the car in front of you enough distance that in the situation they need to slam on the breaks, you have enough time to stop.
But how do you keep a 2 second distance? It’s actually quite simple. When travelling behind someone, pick a road marking or object at the side of the road like a lamppost or sign. When the car in front travels past that marker, say to yourself
“Only a fool, would break the 2 second rule.”
If you pass the marker before you’ve finished the sentence, the chances are you need to drop back a little bit.
Weather conditions obviously affect this rule. If it’s raining or the road surface is wet, increase the distance to 4 seconds. For ice or snow, increase it even further, by a factor of 10!
4 – Keep your car in good condition
We get it. Driving is expensive. The cost of your insurance, your tax, keeping it topped up with fuel…it all adds up. So when it comes time for your annual car service, you may be tempted to leave it for another month or two. Don’t!
A car service isn’t there so the car garages can make more money, it’s there to ensure your vehicle is in perfect condition so it’s safe on the roads. Worn out brake pads or discs will mean you need to apply more pressure to the brake pedal more often, resulting in longer stopping distances and less efficient driving.
Keep on top of your car health and get that service booked in! It will save you in the long run.
Learning to brake efficiently, like all things when it comes to driving, is all about practice. Sometimes things happen which means you’ll have to slam on the breaks and do an emergency stop, and that’s okay. But making sure you follow the simple steps above will hopefully mean you’ll never have to.
If you’re struggling with your braking technique, or you want a few lessons with a professional to bring you up to speed, get in touch today.