Even on dull days, the shadows cast by a highway over-bridge is an excellent marker with which to check that your following distance is adequate.

Photograph copyright 2012 - All rights reserved






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Before anyone can even start to consider making progress in safety by learning the skills of a defensive driver or working their way right up to the level of becoming a  proper advanced driver, it is essential to get the basics right.  This might sound very obvious and yet whether it is due to a driver being disinterested or it is the result of low quality/quantity of previous training (which is far too common), the very basics of safe driving are often missing.


Even so, the topics and comments that follow are actually just a very simple introduction to vehicle safety and driver safety. On their own, they cannot keep you as safe as many people wish to be, and they are certainly not to be regarded as a safety lesson in their own right.  Please see our disclaimer.


Many of the topics on this page are too involved and too important to be summarized in just a couple of sentences, so they are linked to further, specialized pages.  Just follow the links.





First and foremost among any safety guidelines:  If you don't look after your vehicle, your vehicle can't look after you!


There are two sets of "safety and readiness" checks which need to be done on vehicles.  The first is a checklist that needs to be carried out weekly on any vehicle you regularly use, or before any long road journey, or before driving any vehicle you are collecting or using for the first time (such as a rental/hire car).  Please don't fall into the trap of thinking that rental cars are bound to be in perfect condition this is often not the case and some can be positively dangerous, especially for younger drivers from 25 upwards (the minimum permitted age to drive rental cars in the USA).


To help you remember the list of items (which we suggest that you print and carry with you) ADA has created a light-hearted acronym.  We've all heard of "seat belt laws," but to get this right you need to think off "dash belt laws!"  That is:




It stands for:


Damage (to the vehicle in general... don't buy, rent or drive a wreck!)

Seats (anchored securely and able to adjust easily)



Brakes (check for pressure with the car static and again when moving)

Electronics (check that all dashboard warning lights come on and go off)

Liquids (all lubricants, fuel, coolant and windshield fluid)

Tires    (condition, evenly worn, correctness and inflation)


Lights (all lights undamaged, clean & working)


Windows (all windows clean & clear)


Seat belts (undamaged, functioning correctly, and always worn by all vehicle occupants)

 (Acronym and list copyright 2010, Advanced Drivers of America -- may be used for private/individual purposes only)

For a printable copy (pdf) of the "DaSH  BELT LaWS" list, that you can keep in your car for reference, please click here.


The other set of regular safety checks has been known in the advanced driving community, for many decades, as the "cockpit drill" and consists of the essential tasks that should be carried out each time a person drives a vehicle of which he/she was not the last driver.  In other words it is the way to set up a vehicle correctly and safely for ourselves, with maximum reliability also included.  ADA teaches the cockpit drill on every course we run.


This page is still under development (as at November 2010) but what follows is effectively a growing list of the many topics you will eventually find here in detail:



Tires are the very first thing we will mention on this list because those four small "footprints" of rubber against the asphalt are also the unquestionable link between you and potential tragedy.  If your tires do not give you adequate grip, your life and other people's lives could be destroyed in a heartbeat period!


So what exactly do you need to know about tires, then?

1.  They must not show any signs of significant damage (such as cuts or bulges);

2.  They must have adequate tread-depth;

3.  They must be correctly inflated and checked at least weekly, NOT monthly;

4.  In order to get number 3 right, you must know where to find the correct inflation pressures for your tires, and

     most people get this wrong!

For more information on tire safety, click here.



Windows and Lights




Use Headlights or DRLs At All Times When Driving




Holding the Steering Wheel for Maximum Safety




Before Moving Off (a.k.a. Pulling Away)




Use Your Mirrors Before Signaling




A Yellow Traffic Light/Signal Means What?




Right on Red....




Roundabouts are Wonderful... And they are Wonderfully Easy, Too!




Some of the "Advice" in State Drivers' Manuals Could Actually Kill You!




Always Set the Parking Brake Before Leaving Your Vehicle!




Send mail to info@advanceddrivers.com with questions or comments about this web site.
All contents including text, logos, artwork and photographs are copyright 2010 Advanced Drivers of America and/or Eddie Wren, unless stated otherwise.  Website last modified on 07-May-2012.