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Safer Driving Tips Page 7

A slightly different angle this edition to my Safer Motoring chat. Instead of how to actually improve your driving, as the Winter is now with us and I expect the worst is still to come, I am going to talk about ensuring your Volvo is safe to use before you go out.

As a police driving instructor I show my students what they should do each day on their driving course before we set off for the day's instruction. Whilst you may not expect your Volvo to work quite as hard as a police car it is not a bad idea for you to give it the same check if not every day at least once a week. Each day before setting off a police driver must complete a daily inspection and check the following:

  • Wheels and tyres. Check the wheels are secure, the tyres are correctly inflated, the tread is sufficient and not below the minimum, which is 2mm over the whole of the tread for a police vehicle and 1.6mm over the centre ¾ for your Volvo. (Tyre pressures are important for if you are involved in an accident and incorrect tyre pressures on your Volvo are found to be a contributory factor you may find that your insurer holds you as being negligent because you did not maintain your vehicle properly. This could possibly affect any pay cuts made to you by them). And don't forget the spare!

  • Fluid levels have to be checked, these being, oil, coolant, windscreen washer fluid and brake fluid. The last three can normally be checked by opening the bonnet and just looking as most of the reservoirs for these are transparent and you can see whether they need topping up. While you are under the bonnet have a look for anything untoward such as oil leaks.

  • All the windows must be clean especially the windscreen. It is amazing just how much oil and grease gets onto the screen each day when you are driving in traffic and this must be removed if the wipers are to work correctly. A good quality screen cleaner or methylated spirits will do the trick

  • All lights must be working correctly as should the horn and windscreen wipers/washers

  • Seat belts must lock when tugged and must not be cut or frayed. Don't assume yours are OK as it is very easy for a safety belt to not retract completely when you get out of a car and the belt can then catch in the door lock and suffer considerably. If it is damaged it might not stop you properly in the event of an incident

That is the extent of the daily inspection however another check a police driver will do before moving off is static brake test ie Check that when the brake pedal is depressed there is actually some resistance and the pedal does not go right down to the floor. This you can quite easily do. You can also simply check the operation of your power steering and servo assisted brakes each time you start the engine. Before actually turning the ignition key place your foot firmly on the brake pedal and pull down slightly on the steering wheel until you feel it wanting to spring back. Now start the engine, the steering will kick round in the direction you are pulling it and the brake pedal will sink very slightly. The movements you feel are telling you that the power assistance systems to both your steering and brakes are working. Which is quite nice to know before you actually move off isn't it? Now I wouldn't expect you to do this on a daily basis but it's not a bad idea to do it about once a week.

Keep motoring safely and remember if you want to improve your driving but don't know where to start you can't do much better than to speak to our Advanced Drivers Register Keeper.

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