Driving Safely For Longer

Derby Advanced Motorists offer some tips and advice on driving safely for longer, and recommendations on where to find further support if needed.

Top tips for older drivers

– staying safe behind the wheel

Experts from the Older Drivers Forum highlight four simple things you can do to carry on driving safely for longer:

1. Make sure you have regular eyesight tests with an optician
See here for the Older Drivers Forum’s recommendations on eyesight.

2. Ensure you seek medical advice about any medicines you are taking which may affect your driving
The Department for Transport has issued guidelines on driving while taking prescribed medicines here.

3. There are certain medical conditions which by law you must inform the DVLA about
For a full list of conditions including glaucoma, strokes, heart conditions and diabetes about which you are obliged to notify the DVLA click here.

4. Undertake a voluntary appraisal of your driving to brush up on your skills and carry on driving safely for longer
When was the last time someone appraised your driving? It’s fun and can really build your confidence, give it a go! Find out details of available reviews and assessments here.

Drivers in the East Midlands can also take advantage of Free Taster Sessions.

The Older Drivers Forum is a very informative website and can be found at:


As the UK population ages, more drivers are now aged over 75 than ever before and the number of pensioners behind the wheel is predicted to increase. In spite of some of the headlines, older drivers are statistically some of the safest behind the wheel, and access to a car is critical for many of them for their independence and wellbeing. Visit the IAM RoadSmart’s older drivers web page with any friends and family who may find this information of value.


As part of its older driver campaign and in light of government figures that predict a four-fold increase in the number of drivers over 75 in the next 25 years, IAM RoadSmart is calling for an urgent debate on the best way to keep drivers safely behind the wheel into old age.

Click here to read the full press release.

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Taster Sessions

Would you like to find out what advanced driving is all about before making the decision to go through a course. The Derby Group are offering free taster sessions. To book yours contact John Butler on 01773 824822 or email John at reltubj1b@gmail.com.

The taster session is a short drive with an observer and is arranged at a time to suit you. The observer will explain what an examiner is looking for and will assess your driving against the standards that the IAM expects.

You will receive a short assessment report detailing how the IAM can benefit you. There is no obligation to join but we would be delighted if you do. Taster sessions are booked on a first come first served so don’t delay.

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Driving Safely at Night

Driving at night is the most dangerous time to drive, no matter what weather condition is present. The most dangerous time to drive on any roadway is between the hours of midnight and 6 a.m., especially on the weekends.

A 2017 survey by RoSPA revealed that 40% of all collisions occur in the hours of darkness. And 20% of serious accidents on motorways and monotonous roads in the UK are caused by falling asleep behind the wheel. The main reasons behind this is because of reduced visibility and increased difficulty in judging speed and distance.

This isn’t helped by reduced street lighting. Research from Confused.com reveals that over a third of the UK’s street lights are dimmed and 12% are switched off completely, making driving at night even more difficult.

Familiar routes can pose totally different challenges in the dark so make sure you are wide awake and looking out for pedestrians and cyclists in the gloom.

Luckily, there are some things you can do to improve your safety when driving at night.

  • Know and understand how the lights in your vehicle work. Make sure you understand what Auto Lights and Mainbeam switches do. Note where the Main Beam indicator is on your instrument panel.

  • Read the highway code for the rules regarding use of lights on cars. Remember that some requirements are mandatory and could result is fines and penalties if not obeyed.

  • Ensure that all the lights on your car are functioning as they should.

  • Keep windows clean to avoid increased glare and condensation.

  • Read the road ahead for signs of oncoming drivers – glimmers of light at the top of hills and reflections at bends could be the headlights of other vehicles, giving you advanced warning.

  • Cars behind you with main beam on can be distracting. If you are following another car, no matter how far back, dip you headlights to reduce the risk of ‘mirror dazzle’.

  • On rural roads, drive on full beam whenever possible but dip your lights when faced with, or following, another road user to avoid dazzling them.

  • Help drivers see you in twilight by turning your headlights on before sunset and keeping them on for an hour after sunrise.

  • Reduce your speed, understand the limit of your vision and plan ahead. The limit of your vision at night is often limit of your headlight beam which is where you must be able to stop.

  • Allow more time for your own journey, so you’re not driving under pressure. It’s always advisable to take regular breaks when driving long distances, but this is even more vital when you’re driving overnight.

  • Have your eyes checked regularly for problems which can affect your night vision.

  • Be aware that other road users may behave erratically, so be prepared to give them more space.

  • Watch out for pedestrians, especially near pubs and clubs around closing time. Pedestrians and cyclists can be more difficult to spot, especially if they’re not wearing reflective clothing.

  • If you’re travelling through a rural area at night, it’s possible for a herd of deer to cross the road, so those signs warning you of wild animals you’ll have previously passed will suddenly make sense.

  • If you can, dim your dashboard lights and reduce reflections and avoid reducing your night vision.

  • Carry a basic emergency kit. Anything can happen at night and it is important to be prepared. Having a tool kit, torch, map and a first aid kit (if you don’t have one already) can make a real difference. A fully charged mobile with the details of your breakdown cover is another must.

Coping with headlight glare

If you’re dazzled by an oncoming car then avoid looking at the headlights. Look away from the lights! Keep your attention on the left-hand kerb and try to keep your speed steady. Staring at the headlights will impair your night vision, even after the vehicle has passed.

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Don’t get the wet weather blues

Don’t get the wet weather blues this summer

We’re having a typical English summer, sun for a couple of weeks and then downpours for days on end. IAM RoadSmart’s head of driving and riding standards Richard Gladman advises a few ways to keep safe in heavy rain and floods.

Heavy rain

  • Driving in heavy rain will affect your visibility, so take it slow. Rule 126 of the Highway Code states that the braking distance between yourself and another car on a dry road surface should be at least two seconds, and at least four seconds when driving in the rain
  • Ensure your windscreen wipers are working correctly, and that the windscreen is clean – using your wipers when you have a dirty windscreen will just smear and make your visibility even worse
  • Turn your headlights on. Many of us now have automated headlights, but often they will not come on in adverse weather conditions; ensure they are on so you’re visible to other road users. A good rule of thumb is that if you need your wipers on, then you need your headlights on too


Is your car aquaplaning? Here are some signs that you could be:

  • Your engine may become louder if the driving wheels have lost grip
  • It will feel as though you’ve dropped down in the gears causing revs to increase
  • The steering may become lighter and unresponsive

If you experience any of this, try not to panic. Follow these tips:

  • Ease off the accelerator or cancel the cruise control
  • Hold the steering wheel straight and firm
  • Do not hit your brakes hard

When your car gains traction you can slowly begin to use the brake and slow down.

How to avoid aquaplaning

If it’s been raining and you’re about to drive, there are things that you can do to help prevent your car from aquaplaning. Standing water as shallow as 2.5mm can cause an aquaplaning effect at speed so be sure to follow the steps below:

  • Check your tyres – they can have a massive impact on how your car will handle in the wet. Watch this video by TyreSafe for more info: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pxuYOI_uruU
  • Reduce your speed; problems occur when the tyres can no longer clear the standing water as they rotate. Going slower will allow time for the tread to do its job
  • Be alert for flood warnings on the road and if you can see any water in the distance, be sure to slow down and prepare to go around it
  • Avoid using cruise control in extreme conditions


  • If there are floods you need to consider other routes to keep you safe. If the water is standing more than six inches deep, avoid driving through it. You can judge the depth in relation to the kerb
  • If there are similar vehicles driving safely through, then you can make a judgement call on whether it’s safe to do so yourself.
  • If the water is fast flowing, do not attempt to drive through it. There is a real danger of your car being swept away

If you have decided to drive through a flood take the following precautions:

  • Go slowly and take it easy
  • Press lightly on the clutch and add gentle pressure to the accelerator to increase engine revs but do so without speed. Do this in a similar way to how you do hill starts, this will prevent water from entering your exhaust. If you’re in an automatic, accelerate lightly but control the speed with your brakes
  • If you have any doubt, turn back. Often modern saloon cars have an air intake in the wheel arch and could be below water level if going through a flood. If your engine takes in any water, it will immediately hydro lock and the engine will stop
  • Remember to stay alert and avoid splashing pedestrians. If this is done accidentally you can still receive a fixed penalty and three points on your license for driving without due care and attention. If done deliberately it could be a public order offence, a court appearance, or a fine

Richard says “With the British weather the way it is, we should all be well practised at driving in the rain. Keeping your car maintained and the rubber (wipers and tyres) in good condition will help you stay safe. In the recent extreme weather, we have seen that standing water and floods are becoming more commonplace, so take extra care and if possible, avoid driving through standing water. If you’re in any doubt about the depth or surface underneath a flood, then it’s best not to take any chances.”

Courtesy IAM Inform Weekly News

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Barefoot in my car?

During this hot weather is it legal for me to drive barefoot in my car?

Please allow Derby Advanced Motorists to start this answer with a definition.

Toe: A part of the foot used to find furniture in the dark.

The unbooted foot is also an excellent tool for finding abandoned Lego bricks on the floor. Apparently, the bottom of a human foot can have over 200,000 sensory receptors and, because the Lego brick doesn’t give way when stepped on, it forces the pressure of one’s weight back up into the foot, causing the sensation of pain and an immediate retraction of said foot and probably a lot of bad language.

The seaside hobble is another fine example of the human nervous system at work. Have you ever been for a paddle in the sea, and had to cross an area of pebbles before reaching the surf? Going slowly and carefully only prolonged the agony!

So, is it illegal to drive barefoot in the UK?

Rule 97 in the Highway Code is not really all that helpful.

Rule 97 Before setting off. You should ensure that: clothing and footwear do not prevent you using the controls in the correct manner

You can, in other words drive a vehicle, barefoot, provided you are able to operate the controls safely. Although, please note: Rule 97 does state “…and footwear”. If you do drive with wet feet, for example, you might be putting yourself, your passengers and other road users at risk by not being able to drive the car safely. This is illegal. According to the Driving Standards Agency – the body that regulates the UK driving test – “suitable shoes are particularly important behind the wheel. We would not recommend driving barefoot because you don’t have the same braking force with bare feet as you do with shoes on.”

The R.A.C. gives this advice on its website. “Driving in less than practical shoes – or no shoes at all for that matter – is not illegal, but you have a responsibility as a driver to uphold standards on the road.

If your selection of footwear hampers that, you’re putting yourself at risk.

There are some basic guidelines you should follow when selecting footwear to drive in. Your shoe should:

  • Have a sole no thicker than 10mm…

  • but the sole should not be too thin or soft.

  • Provide enough grip to stop your foot slipping off the pedals.

  • Not be too heavy.

  • Not limit ankle movement.

  • Be narrow enough to avoid accidentally depressing two pedals at once.

These bear feet would not be suitable!

This does technically categorise some types of footwear – such as high-heels and flip-flops – unsuitable for piloting a car. While light, flimsy and impractical footwear can be dangerous, so can sturdy, robust shoes, such as walking boots, snow boots and wellingtons”

Try emergency braking with a small piece of stone stuck on the ball of the right foot!

So, in summary, although legal it is not advisable. IAM RoadSmart expect drivers to choose sensible footwear!



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Minimum tread depth for the trailer tyres?

I am going camping this summer and towing my gear in a trailer. What is the minimum tread depth for the trailer tyres?


The Law says:

Cars, light vans and light trailers MUST have a tread depth of at least 1.6 mm across the central three-quarters of the breadth of the tread and around the entire circumference.

Tyres MUST be correctly inflated to the vehicle manufacturer’s specification for the load being carried. Always refer to the vehicle’s handbook or data. Tyres should also be free from certain cuts and other defects.

Law: Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1986 regulation 27


The word MUST indicates a legal requirement. Failure to comply could result in a penalty which is usually in the form of points on the drivers license and a fine.

If a tyre bursts while you are driving, try to keep control of your vehicle. Grip the steering wheel firmly and allow the vehicle to roll to a stop at the side of the road.

If you have a flat tyre, stop as soon as it is safe to do so. Only change the tyre if you can do so without putting yourself or others at risk – otherwise call a breakdown service.

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Can I tint my car’s front and rear windows?

Can I tint my car’s front and rear windows?

Window Tints.

There are different rules for the front and rear car window tints and it also depends on when a vehicle first came into use.

The Law says:

You MUST NOT use a vehicle with excessively dark tinting applied to the windscreen, or to the glass in any front window to either side of the driver. Window tinting applied during manufacture complies with the Visual Light Transmittance (VLT) standards. There are no VLT limits for rear windscreens or rear passenger windows.


Road Traffic Act 1988 Section 42

Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1986 regulation 32

If your windscreen or front side windows are tinted too much you could get:

  • a ‘prohibition notice’ stopping you using your vehicle on the road until you have the extra tint removed

  • a penalty notice or court summons

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Derbyshire women-only advanced riders Skills Day

Female observers wanted for group event
Linda Ashmore, national observer and Masters mentor for Dorchester and West Dorset Advanced Motorcyclists, is looking for female observers for a women-only Skills Day on Tuesday 13 August in Derbyshire to introduce women riders to advanced skills and IAM RoadSmart. The event will take place during the week of the Women’s International Motorcycle Association’s International Rally taking place at the YHA Castleton, S33 8WB from 11 to 17 August. The group has had up to 50 women bikers on previous female Skills Days. If you would like further information e-mail Linda direct at linda.ashmore@hotmail.co.uk. Supplied by Linda Ashmore


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Driving Tips: Get Caravanning: Tips from IAM RoadSmart

With holidays on the horizon, there will be more people dusting off their caravan and packing for the long weekends. IAM RoadSmart has partnered up with the Caravan and Motorhome Club to offer some advice for a successful holiday trip.

Going away with the whole family and the caravan, trailer tent or camping trailer is a great experience. By ensuring that you load the caravan or trailer correctly, and deal appropriately with other traffic, you can help ease the stress levels, especially if you lack towing experience.

With the south west of England being a very popular place to visit, it is not surprising that the South West has some of the highest incident rates for caravans. Between January 2017 and May 2018 there have been 850 caravan or trailer incidents on main roads in the South West region, with 460 of those occurring in the summer months of May to September last year – a sure way to put a sudden end to a lovely holiday. With the majority of caravans only being used over the summer months, this figure needs to be reduced.

Most incidents happen around the weekend. Nearly a third of all incidents occur on Saturdays and Sundays, with Mondays and Fridays not too far behind.

Caravan and trailer road-worthiness is just as important as your car’s, and particular care is needed for that first summer outing, as many are parked up and unused over the winter.

We recommend that before you start your trip you make sure you have checked both your car and caravan or trailer. Especially check your tyres as they should be inflated to the correct pressure, have a good amount of tread (no lower than 1.6mm) and be free from damage.

The caravan breakaway cable (or safety chain on smaller unbraked trailers) should be in good condition and connected correctly. If you have a caravan or a large box-shaped trailer you will almost always need to fit extension mirrors – these will help make sure you have a good view behind you and comply with the law.

Remember when loading your caravan or trailer to make sure it is not overloaded as this can put you at additional risk of instability, and mean you’re breaking the law. Ensure your heavy items are positioned correctly over the axle, low to the floor with lighter items higher up.

A quick refresher of the Highway Code will remind you that travelling in the right-hand lane of a motorway with three or more lanes is not allowed and your speed limit when towing is 60 mph on dual carriageways and motorways and 50 mph on single carriageways, unless a lower overall limit is applies.

Be extra vigilant on downhill stretches as your speed can easily creep up and get too high – this is a common contributory factor to your caravan/trailer losing stability. Remember, you will need more room to stop when towing and you should always have a big enough gap to be able to slow down and stop in an emergency.

Towing in high winds needs additional care and perhaps a change of route should be considered. However, it’s not just windy days you need to be mindful of. Overtaking large vehicles can place you in their “bow wave” and this can cause instability of caravans which are badly loaded and/or being towed too fast.

Martin Spencer, technical manager at the Caravan and Motorhome Club says: “Towing a caravan or other trailer can be unfamiliar, but doesn’t need to be intimidating. By getting the basic set-up right, then following straightforward advice over issues such as speed and safety around other vehicles, towing can be relaxed, easy and comfortable. Above all, it will be safe.

In almost all cases, serious incidents only occur because inexperienced drivers have not taken the right advice, or experienced ones have become complacent. The Club has 15 training centres across the country* so anyone just starting out, or those needing some refresher training can receive the best possible guidance.”

Neil Greig, director of policy and research at IAM RoadSmart says: “The advanced driving skills of observation, anticipation and planning are key to good towing. They will keep you a safe distance from the vehicle in front and help you predict problems ahead and around you. If you prepare yourself, your family and your vehicles for the road ahead your trip will be as relaxing as possible.”

* https://www.caravanclub.co.uk/advice-and-training/training-courses/

Of the fifteen training centres, the nearest to our area are:

Diamond Driver Training, Newark, Nottingham

Towing Solutions Macclesfield, Cheshire

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