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Handling and stability

A vehicle with good handling and stability is safer to drive, offering better road holding and greater driver responsiveness. Learn to handle your car - you'll need control in an emergency. Test-drive several different vehicles to find the one that best offers you good control of the vehicle under a range of conditions.

There are a range of other vehicle features that will protect you in a crash.

Safety belts

Wearing a safety belt can halve the risk of death or injury in a crash. They stop you being thrown from the car in a crash. They also allow you to 'ride out' the crash, moving in the same direction and at the same time as the car. This lessens the likelihood of you colliding with the interior.

Find out more about safety belts

Air conditioning

Air conditioning can help to prevent fatigue. It also demists the windows. Using air conditioning increases fuel consumption. It may be more fuel efficient to open windows but not at high speeds.

Mirrors

Mirrors should be adjusted so that you can safely see around you. Be aware of particular mirror features - eg convex mirrors reduce blind spots but they make vehicles appear more distant than a flat mirror. Clean your mirrors regularly.

Windows

The driver's windows should allow clear vision in all directions, including a view of people and objects behind your vehicle. Keep your windows clean so you can see clearly.

Watch for features that may reduce visibility:

  • Some windows can cause glare or reflections (regular cleaning inside and out will help reduce glare).

  • Front and rear pillars can cause 'blind spots'.

  • Tinted windows can reduce vision, particularly at night or in bad weather. There are legal limitations on the level and position of tinting. Stickers on windows can also block vision.

  • Make sure the load you carry doesn’t block your view.

Wipers and demisters

Windscreen wipers and demisters help maintain clear visibility and must be in good working condition. The most efficient demister is a good air conditioning system. Replace wiper blades regularly to get the best results. Ensure your window wash water tank is replenished regularly and contains a suitable detergent to remove windscreen dirt efficiently.

Load restraints

Heavy equipment or baggage in your vehicle can increase your risk of serious injury in a crash. Carrying dangerous goods - such as flammable liquids - adds the increased risk of environmental damage from any spills. Take extra care to restrain such goods if you have to carry them.

Guide to safe loading and towing

Exhausts

A good exhaust system safeguards your health, reduces exhaust noise and reduces the emission of pollutants. Exhaust leaks and fumes inside your car can be dangerous. There may be a leak if you can smell petrol fumes while driving. If your exhaust is smoky or sounding unusual it could also be a sign that there's a problem so take it to an expert.