Road safety for drivers

Below are some tips to help you drive safely on our roads. The left-hand menu offers additional information for the following groups - young drivers, people who drive for work and older drivers.

Look after your vehicle

Make sure your vehicle has a current MOT certificate and is serviced in accordance with the manufacturerís instructions.

Check your battery, oil, water, tyres and lights before long journeys. 

Plan your journeys

Allow plenty of time to complete your journey.

Listen to the travel news to find out about local congestion or roadworks. For details about traffic jams on Highways Agency roads, visit: (opens in a new window) (opens in new window)

Always wear a seatbelt

Youíre twice as likely to die in a crash if you don't wear a seat belt. Wear your seatbelt and make sure that your passengers do too. The law says you must wear a seatbelt where one is fitted.

Under-12s should use the correct type of child car seat for their weight and height. For more information visit (opens in a new window) (opens in new window).

Switch off your mobile

Youíre four times more likely to crash if you use a mobile while driving and your reaction times are likely to be 30 per cent worse than someone who is driving at the legal alcohol limit.

Itís illegal to drive while:

  • using a hand-held mobile phone, smartphone or palm-top computer

  • using any kind of electronic device to access the internet or to send or receive messages or images

Itís not illegal to drive while using a hands-free phone Ė but you can still be prosecuted if youíre distracted and not properly in control of your vehicle. 

Donít drive tired

Tiredness is responsible for around one fifth of the crashes on major roads and it results in around 300 deaths every year.

Follow these top tips in order to stay alert while driving:

  • avoid alcohol and get plenty of sleep the night before your drive

  • avoid eating a heavy meal before you set off Ė it could make you sleepy

  • allow yourself enough time to take a 15-minute break every two hours.

  • avoid travelling between 2am and 7am or 2pm and 4pm Ė this is when drivers are most likely to crash due to tiredness

  • take a break if you feel tired - two cups of coffee and a Ďcat napí can help if you've only got a short distance left to travel: if not find somewhere safe to stay overnight. 

Donít drink if youíre planning to drive

Any amount of alcohol affects your ability to drive. Even if you donít crash, you risk a fine of up to £5,000, a minimum 12-month driving ban and a criminal record.

Remember that alcohol doesnít disappear from your system just because youĎve had a few hoursí sleep. Itís not safe to drink until the early hours then drive to work in the morning.

Donít take illegal drugs or medicine that could affect your ability to drive

It is an offence to drive or attempt to drive while unfit through drugs - and the law does not distinguish between illegal drugs and medicines.

Some prescription drugs and over-the-counter medicines can cause drivers to experience drowsiness, impaired judgement and a lack of self-confidence behind the wheel. These effects can be more pronounced if medicines are not taken in the right quantities and at the right times.

Drive at a safe speed

Many people forget that the speed limit is a maximum not a target. Sometimes it wonít be safe for you to travel that fast - when thereís congestion or bad weather, for example. 

Click here (opens in a new window) for more information about speed limits and speeding.

Follow the Highway Code

The rules contained in the code are designed to protect all road users.

Many of the rules in the code are legal requirements. That means you could be fined, get points on your licence or be disqualified from driving if you donít follow them.

Consider whether you could benefit from further training

Itís easy to get into bad habits or lose your confidence on todayís busy roads. You can get your driving assessed by a local instructor or a volunteer from either of the following organisations: