Our 7 point guide to driving like a professional chauffeur.
1. Plan the route
Before heading off to somewhere unfamiliar, you need to research your route. Develop a clear sense of where you are going before you set off, this includes available car parking and even the entrance to the pickup and drop-off locations, many hotels, restaurants and airports will offer driving directions on their website in addition Google Maps’ Street View is great for research. Even noting the colour of the client’s front door can be useful. Devise a backup route in case of the unexpected. In a Telegraph survey the most cited cause of risky driving is getting lost, the survey also shows that distracted drivers are by no means safe drivers.
2. Give yourself time
Our chauffeurs are never late, they allow plenty of time before their pickups. Adding some extra margin to the pickup time will also help avoid getting stressed. By setting off earlier, you allow for stuff to happen such as heavy traffic or unforeseen road closures. Stuff happens, leave early!
3. Drive defensively
While you can’t control the way other motorists drive, you can control how you react to them. You can look ahead and anticipate potential dangers. Does that driver know his indicator is flashing? Are the cars in front too close to one another? Expect the unexpected and plan for it. Keep your distance. The more space you keep around you, the less chance you will have of a collision. Keep a 2-second cushion between you and the car in front of you. Make that 4 seconds in bad weather. Observe, anticipate and plan. So, what can I see? What could it mean for me? What do I need to do to stay safe? There are many visual clues we can take from the environment to help us. Observing road traffic signs and markings are the most obvious. The more signs and road markings the greater the chance of danger. While skid marks on the road show potential areas for caution. Similarly the line of trees, hedges, buildings, street lights and telegraph poles can all help show the road ahead. But remember telegraph poles sometimes run through fields, so don’t follow them!
4. Drive smoothly
Erratic driving is as bad for the environment as it is for your passengers. Erratic driving will use more fuel and also increase wear and tear to the vehicle. Passengers don’t have a steering wheel to hold on to and perceive g-forces more than the driver. So how do you drive smoothly? Anticipating the road ahead will help your driving to become smoother. If there is a queue ahead you could start easing off the accelerator earlier, reducing both the amount of braking and fuel required and making the deceleration smoother.
5. Be patient
We all make mistakes. So don’t penalise other road users for their errors. So what can safe, experienced drivers do to help account for the mistakes of others? Take a deep breath and carry on. While you can’t control the way other motorists drive you can control how you react to them. It is unacceptable to get angry behind the wheel, learn to let things go, it might be tempting to retaliate but it would be unprofessional for a chauffeur to do so practicing mindfulness, being in the present moment might help you drive safer. Just concentrating on your breathing for a couple of minutes will help you relax your mind and help with your composure before you start driving.
6. Know your vehicle
Make sure you have enough fuel except for longer trips, it is unacceptable to stop for fuel with the passenger on board. Know how to control the climate of the vehicle, how to adjust seats and pull down armrests and how to operate the in car entertainment system. The more proficient you are will make your passengers more comfortable, it also helps make you safer too as will keeping the vehicle well maintained and serviced, make sure all fluid levels are checked, tyre pressure and tread depth, as well as lights and indicators are functioning correctly.
7. Observe the Highway Code
Respect the rules of the road, safe drivers observe the Highway Code, do not speed or use their phones whilst driving. The most experienced chauffeurs do not bend the rules being a responsible road user means following the rules.