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Top tips for being a healthy driver 

If you spend a lot of time in the car, it’s important that you stay safe and comfortable while behind the wheel. Follow our top tips and you’ll be a healthier, happier driver in no time! 

Healthy driver top tips from 1st CENTRAL car insurance

10 ways to be a happier driver

Smiling has loads of health benefits. It releases lots of endorphins (the hormones which leave us feeling happy) and these endorphins help to reduce levels of cortisol, the body’s stress hormone.

There’s no getting away from the fact that driving can be a stressful business, especially if you’re running late or caught in rush-hour commuter congestion.

That’s why we’ve put together these top tips to help you get happy behind the wheel:

1. Set off earlier: What’s the point of stressing in rush-hour jams when you could have saved yourself the hassle by heading off a few minutes earlier?

2. Lift sharing with friends and colleagues: Not only does this help make the time pass more quickly, it can also be cheaper if you all chip in towards the fuel costs.

3. Drive slowly: This helps save on stress and petrol or diesel costs. The Government reckons you can cut your fuel bills by a quarter simply by reducing your speed from 70mph to 50mph.

4. Take a car maintenance course: What better way to get peace of mind should you break down in the middle of nowhere?

5. Tune into happiness: Make your trip entertaining. Plan drives to fit around your favourite radio shows. Perhaps if you’re a cricket fan you’ll time long trips around the Test Match Special? Or if you’ve got the tech, load up your phone with your favourite albums and podcasts and stream to your car radio using Bluetooth.

6. Refresh your CD collection: Similarly, don’t let your in-car CD collection stagnate. Change them regularly to fit in with different moods and seasons.

7. Sweet treats: We all like a sweet treat now and again, so keep a bag of your favourite sweets to hand in the car and reward yourself when you complete a particularly stressful or difficult period of driving.

8. Drive happy routes: If time is not of the essence, then plan your drives around some of your favourite countryside spots, even if it does add a few miles or minutes to the journey. Then suck in all that invigorating fresh air, particularly at this time of year.

9. Declutter your car: This means getting right under the front seats to flush out last year’s discarded sweet wrappers, water bottles and fast-food cartons. Invest in a new car air freshener too.

10. Take an advanced driving course: The more skilled you are behind the wheel, the more relaxed and happy you’ll be.

Dehydrated driving

Being dehydrated at the wheel can be as dangerous as driving while over the legal alcohol limit, according to research.

Scientists believe that not drinking enough water can cause concentration lapses, impaired mental workings and lowered alertness, which can all affect driving.

The study found that drivers who took in just an hourly 25ml of water committed twice the amount of road errors as properly hydrated drivers.

So how can we keep hydrated while driving?
Take a bottle of water with you on your car journey and keep it in an easily accessible place. But be careful about drinking while behind the wheel and always ensure you stay in control of the car, as you could be fined for driving without due care and attention.

You may think that snacks will keep you awake and alert. However, they could make you even more dehydrated because a lot of snacks are high in salt.

It can be tempting to avoid drinking a lot of fluid in order to escape having to make frequent toilet stops. However, it's far safer to take more comfort breaks and arrive a little later than to drive while dehydrated.

Keep an eye on your vision

When was the last time you had your eyesight tested?

A report has found an incredible 1.5 million British drivers have never taken an eyesight test, while a further 9.5 million haven't had a test in the past two years. That's 11 million motorists with potentially impaired eyesight.

And we haven't even mentioned the 8% who admit to not wearing their contact lenses or spectacles when driving, which equates to a further 3.1 million drivers.

It's important that you get your eyes tested at least every two years, and if you notice a rapid deterioration in your eyesight, get it checked out immediately. If you usually wear glasses or lenses then always wear them when driving too.

Currently by law, a driver has to prove the roadworthiness of their eyes only once during their lifetime. This is part of the practical driving test when we’re required to read out the number plate of a car built after August 2001 from a distance of 20 metres.

When you renew your driving licence after reaching 70, you'll need to confirm that your vision hits the legal minimum standard, but you don't need to prove this.

The DVLA requires you to notify them if your eyesight falls below 6/12 on the Snellen Scale, with lenses or glasses if required. We also have to inform them if our horizontal eyesight field has fallen below 120 degrees.

Take the pain out of driving

Have you ever suffered from excruciating back pain?

If you answered yes, you have our deepest sympathy. But there are ways you can help prevent backache from developing or at least try to ease things if it does.

Surprisingly, few things put more strain on our backs - and necks - than the daily commute to and from work. That's because we're often sat in the identical position for lengthy periods.

Around 14% of us commute by car for between 30-60 minutes each day, according to the British Chiropractic Association (BCA).

Add to that the fact nearly half (44%) of commuters whose primary transport is the car say they then spend the majority of their time at work sat down.

In fact, the number of back and neck pain sufferers went up by nearly 10% over the past year. That's why the BCA is urging drivers to think about their backs and it has come up with a 6-point plan.

Chill: Driving in a relaxed position can ease the stresses on your spine, allowing instead the seat to bear the brunt of your weight.

Correct posture: Place your backside against your chair's back and make sure your shoulders touch the seat's backrest. Tilt your chair slightly backwards. Ensure the wheel is within easy reach to spare upper back and shoulder stress.

Keep active: No, we don't mean distracting physical jerks. Just little things while you're stuck in commuter queues can do the trick. Try side bends, shoulder circles and shrugs, backside clenches and seat braces.

Feet positioning: They should naturally fall onto your pedals, enabling you to press them floorwards through simple ankle movements, not full leg ones. High heels and thick-soled footwear are no-nos. Why? This places excessive strain on your ankles and it won't just be your pedals getting depressed.

Mirrors: Ensure the mirror positions are to your liking before driving off. It's no good discovering you've got these wrong when you're on a motorway. Correct mirror positioning means being able to view all about you with minimal head movements.

Ditch the car: Our joints and muscles weren't built for constant car commuting. Their wellbeing will be much improved if they are instead employed cycling or walking to work wherever possible. You'll notice your posture, tone and circulation get better too.

Just small adjustments can make all the difference, but if back pain persists, it may be time to consider consulting a chiropractor.

Driving with hay fever

The sun is out and the flowers are blooming. It’s a great time of year, but not if you’re a hay fever sufferer.
High pollen at this time of year can bring misery to the millions of people with a pollen allergy.

We’ve all sneezed while at the wheel, and felt the panic of losing our vision for a split second. But when hay fever kicks in, it can cause sneezing fits, itchy eyes and a runny nose, which can make driving all the more treacherous.

The pollen count is at its highest in the early morning and late evening, which are peak times for commuters driving to or from work. So follow these tips to driving safely with hay fever:

  • Slow down and drop back from the car in front if you're about to sneeze
  • Keep tissues close to hand
  • Wear sunglasses to protect the eyes from pollen grains
  • Close windows and external air vents to reduce pollen grains in the car
  • Get cabin pollen filters fitted in your car
  • Vacuum car mats and carpets regularly during summer to get rid of dust

Happy driving!

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