Driving on unfamiliar roads – tips from IAM RoadSmart

By 6th November 2020Tips and Blogs

While many business drivers will have years of experience under their belts, unfamiliar roads can be the scene of some unexpected hazards even for the most experienced drivers. What’s more, some drivers may find that driving on unfamiliar roads can make them nervous or anxious, especially when behind the wheel of a valuable company vehicle. Below are some of our top tips for drivers who find themselves on an unfamiliar road.

  • Make sure you’re ready for the road. Nervousness before a journey can often lead to drivers forgetting to make basic checks before setting off. Follow these POWDERY checks to ensure you and your vehicle are safe before setting off…
    • Petrol/Power: Check your fuel/battery levels are sufficiently topped up for your journey ahead.
    • Oil: Most new cars will let drivers know when oil levels are running low, but for older vehicles it’s worth checking regularly.
    • Water: Again, modern cars will warn drivers when their coolant levels are low, but ideally it shouldn’t get to this point.
    • Damage: It’s worth checking tyres and bodywork to ensure there is no visible damage and fill out a damage report form if your company asks.
    • Electrics: Check that all lights are working, preferably with someone to operate the switches and pedals whilst the driver walks around. It’s also worth checking that the wipers and horn work. Combined, these electrics checks will mean there are no surprises when out on the road.
    • Rubber: Visually checking tyres for flats before every journey ensure they’re safe and minimises the risk of damaging the wheels.
    • You: Ask yourself “Am I fit to drive? Have I been under the weather? Will I be in full control of the vehicle?” Medication and tiredness can affect driving, and your concentration levels, which are especially needed for unfamiliar roads, may not be 100% if you’re feeling ill.
  • Set-up your sat-nav before setting off. As well as being a dangerous distraction, fiddling with your sat-nav while on the move can have serious consequences on unfamiliar roads. By setting your destination before you get moving, you can focus on driving and simply listen to the sat-nav directing you.
  • Check out the route beforehand. Checking the journey you have to take on an app such as Google Maps before setting off can help you visualise the route and better anticipate the type of driving you’ll be doing. What’s more, if your sat-nav lets you down you’ll still have a rough idea of which way you need to go and the road you’ll need to take, meaning one less thing to worry about.
  • Use appropriate hazard perception and anticipation skills. The ability to remain observant behind the wheel can help you to deal with hazards as they develop, and to spot the signs of potential hazards further up the road. This is especially true for unfamiliar roads where you may be unsure about what’s around the corner (although following the guidance above can help with this). Try to look far ahead and identify clues to potential hazards such as warning signs and road markings – familiarising yourself with UK road signs can help if you find yourself doing lots of driving on unfamiliar roads.
"I’m a fleet manager, how can I help my drivers?"

Being able to support drivers and their development can help to build up their resilience to difficult situations such as driving on unfamiliar roads. By auditing the type of driving that your fleet undertake, and by using it as a focus for any training that you drivers receive, managers can create safer, more efficient fleets. E-learning solutions can offer a quick and cost-effective way to test drivers and subsequently roll out targeted training in areas where drivers may fall short of the mark.

Our fleet risk management and e-learning portal, CHOICES, enables fleet managers to onboard all of their company drivers including their grey fleet. Once onboarded, fleet managers can roll out targeted e-learning to all drivers and target drivers with on-road training if they need further support. Watch the video to discover how CHOICES makes this easy…

Peter Williams

Author Peter Williams

Marketing Executive at IAM RoadSmart

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