Driving like a granny – the black box myth
My granny drives a silver soft-top MG. She’s never done a parallel park in her life, she avoids turning right at junctions and when I asked her about using her mirrors, she told me "Oh, I just hope for the best!"
A lot of older drivers never had to undertake the rigorous testing new drivers face today - so why do we always associate 'safe' driving with grannies?
Good driving doesn't mean boring driving
Although my granny would be very miffed if you told her she was a boring driver (and seriously, she isn't - she's TERRIFYING), for some reason, we have it in our heads that if you're not speeding and doing wheel spins, you're somehow a granny.
You know what? 70% of ingenie drivers get a discount because they're not driving like morons. It's not that they're crawling around the place at 20mph - they're just driving well most of the time.
Does having black box car insurance mean you have to drive like a granny? No. Good driving is all we're after.
What does good driving look like?
Your driving test wasn't about how well you operate a machine (though that stuff is pretty necessary); it was to make sure you could keep yourself and other road users safe.
The number one skill to driving: being aware of potential hazards (there's a car poking out of that driveway, is it going to pull out?) so you can make a plan to avoid it if it turns into an immediate hazard.
In theory, anything that's not driving is a distraction while you're driving. We all know there are other things we do in the car - changing the radio station, taking a slurp of our coffee - but it's important to recognise when something's becoming a dangerous distraction.
In your early years of driving, when not everyone you know has a car, that dangerous distraction is pretty likely to be your friends. Lovely though I'm sure they are, too many noisy people in one small car is a disaster waiting to happen. I'm not saying you shouldn't have mates in the car - I'm saying it's your job to tell them to STFU when necessary!
If you find yourself being the designated driver all the time, here's how to cope.
And it wouldn't be a lecture about distracted driving if we didn't talk about phones. You know, I know and your dog knows: phones at the wheel are hideously, shockingly, disturbingly dangerous. Don't do it.
What most people think confident driving is: charging along at 70, weaving in and out of traffic and bombing it around corners. What confident driving actually is: not feeling pressured to do that stuff.
Refusing to speed or compete when someone's tailgating you. Telling a friend to back off when they want you to do something stupid. THAT is driving confidence.
Need one our car stickers to tell other drivers to give you some space? Just email firstname.lastname@example.org.
A bit of old fashioned politeness. So much about being on the road is frustrating and it's easy to go from zero to PISSED OFF in 5 seconds. But getting mad just gets us into trouble.
Keep some perspective. Think about when you've had a really bad day and someone's beeped at you for taking too long at a roundabout or accidentally cutting them up. The driver who's just riled you up? This could be their bad day.
We all make mistakes, we all do things without thinking about how they will affect other people. No one can say they're the perfect driver, so we need to remember to cut each other some slack on the road. And let people out of junctions sometimes. Karma!
No road is the same every day. Weather, school timetable, crops, events, road works - everything is changing all the time.
If you drive the same route every day, it's so easy to slip into a comfy autopilot.
Autopilot is what causes you to hit that car pulling out of a driveway you've never even noticed. Autopilot is what causes you to juuuuust clip the £100k Bentley in front of you because you've never seen stopped traffic round this bend before. Autopilot is what causes fatal crashes every day, when the driver's done nothing wrong but let themselves get too comfy.
You're not a granny but you're not Lewis Hamilton either
If you're a newish driver, you're probably in quite a small car. Trying to push it to do more than it's capable of will only damage it and lower its resale value.
You don't have to drive like your nan (please, please don't drive like your nan) but driving like you're trying to prove something isn't going to do you or your car any favours.