As 2017 gains momentum, many of us are trying desperately to stick to New Year’s resolutions — be it shedding the festive flab or cutting down on the Friday night pints. But there are other ways to enhance your day-to-day life in 2017 that don’t involve cutting out those guilty pleasures, and one of them is working to improve your driving experience.
Whether you suffer from general discomfort or bouts of stress and road rage, there are always ways to improve your experience when you get behind the wheel. By making simple changes to how you drive and investing in a few helpful tools and bits of kit, you could be on your way to driving a little happier in 2017.
Here, we offer a few practical tips on how you can easily improve your driving experience in 2017.
Improve Your Car’s Performance
Want to improve your car’s speed and handling of corners? A few modifications can create a more powerful or smoother driving experience.
Fitting performance wheels and tyres can offer better grip and more traction on the road – however, if you drive regularly in wet and snowy conditions wider tyres won’t necessarily give you better grip, so select tyres based on where you drive. Most car-conscious people will have alloy wheels that they take care of, but we are seeing carbon fibre wheels emerging on the market. They’re light and strong, giving a smooth ride and improved performance.
Lowering your car’s centre of gravity will also help you take corners better – so if it’s handling you’re after, a high up SUV probably isn’t the best option. Lowering your car’s springs by just 30mm will bring you closer to the ground and give you better control on corners.
It’s also possible to improve the power of your car – fitting a performance air filter is a cheap and fairly simple way to do this. However, if you want to go for something more high-tech, then an upgrade to your car’s engine management system will give it potential for greater power and torque. Prices for these superchip remaps start at around £250 and can be done on the driveway. Alternatively, there are tuning and remapping experts who can help your car achieve its full power potential.
Rid Yourself of Motoring Back Pain
According to the British Chiropractic Association, over 40% of drivers suffer back pain at the wheel. This is due to two main factors, bad posture caused by a poor driving position, and the simple act of being in a fixed position for extended periods of time.
Worryingly, after stress, chronic back pain is the leading reason for taking time off work in the UK. Not only that, but ignoring back ache whilst driving could lead to a long-term condition like arthritis, so it’s best to do something about it while you still can.
To rid yourself of driving back ache in 2017, here are a few things to try:
- Your car seat should be set at a height so your hips are at the same level as your knees. If your knees are higher than your hips, this creates an unnatural position for your back.
- Move your headrest so the mid portion of the back of your head meets the middle of the cushion when you tilt your head backwards.
- Your elbows should be bent at an angle of around 20 to 30 degrees while driving. Move your seat forward or back so you can comfortably reach the steering wheel without your shoulders moving forward from the seat.
- Position all your mirrors so you don’t need to strain your neck to see around the car; you shouldn’t need to move in your seat to look out of the rear-view mirror.
- As you’re driving, make sure your bottom is always pressed up against the very back of the seat. This supports the natural ‘S’ shape of your spine.
- If your car seat has adjustable lumbar support, use it. This can help your spine stay in its natural shape, reducing the risk of back pain.
- If your car doesn’t have lumbar support and you suffer from pain in the lower back, consider buying a lumbar car cushion — like this.
Reduce Stress Behind the Wheel
Over 80% of drivers admit to falling victim to road rage at least once whilst driving, which is a lot given there are 45 million motorists in the UK. Seeing red behind the wheel is something many of us are guilty of, and yet the consequences of doing so can be severe — with road safety charity, Brake, reporting that nearly three-quarters of people lose complete concentration while raging at other drivers.
If you’re feeling sheepish right now, recalling the last time you got angry at the wheel, don’t worry. There are a number of things you can do to keep cool the next time you’re stuck in traffic or fighting for a space at your local supermarket, and we’ve listed a few of these below.
Use the Waze App
Getting stuck in traffic is one of the biggest sources of road rage for many drivers. When you’re dying to get home from work the last thing you need is a sea of brake lights, sending those stress levels soaring. If your daily commute is often hindered by queues, try using Waze. This clever smartphone app shows you the best routes based on real-time traffic information, and lets other drivers share traffic news and updates — helping you avoid nasty tailbacks and keeping your stress to a minimum.
Indulge Your Senses
We’ve spoken about the impact that driving can have on your back, so if you really want to add some luxury and make your car more comfortable, why not invest in a massaging chair cover? It will boost circulation and increase your comfort when you’re stuck in traffic on a Monday morning.
Back in 2013, a university in the Netherlands conducted a study looking at how music affects motorists. They found that switching from upbeat to mellow music had a calming effect on the driver, and also made them less liable to make mistakes. So the next time you’re thinking of something to listen to on your way to work, skip past the party bangers and opt for a little acoustic instead.
As well as good music, a pleasant scent can also affect your mood. Picking a good air freshener can transform your car – we’ve all accidentally picked a bad one and been stuck with an overly perfumed smell which can irritate you or, worse, give you a headache. These days you can get air fresheners from companies like Yankee Candle or Etonner which offer a more sophisticated range of scents, so you can choose whether you want something relaxing or stimulating, and they look attractive in your car.
Use the Best Products
You might think that de-icer is de-icer and screenwash simply doesn’t matter. But selecting the best products does make a difference. It can save you a lot of time first thing in the morning, and it can help to keep you safe AND road legal.
You might not realise, but it’s against the law to drive without screenwash. A dirty, misted or frosty windscreen is very dangerous, but keeping it clear doesn’t have to be a pain. Investing in a quality de-icer and screenwash means that you can achieve superior results quickly and reduce the amount of time you spend scraping ice off your car.
There’s an App for That
With the dawn of the connected car comes the ability to use smartphone apps at the wheel — something which could help improve your overall driving experience. Whether it’s playing music or searching for nearby services, there are now loads of apps out there specifically developed for drivers. Here are a few of our favourites for you to try in 2017.
Find My Car — The clue’s in the name with this one. Find My Car is an app that helps you locate your car based on its GPS location, so no more wandering around supermarket car parks trying to remember where you parked. There’s also a button which sends out your car’s location to family and friends in the event of an emergency.
Witness Driving — In an age where crash for cash insurance scams are on the rise, more drivers are opting to mount a camera on their dashboard to record evidence of any incidents they might have on the road. Witness Driving is an app which transforms your smartphone into a dash cam, using the camera to capture footage through the windscreen. The app breaks the recorded footage down into individual still images, and also records the exact time, date and location of all incidents — making it easier for you to find the information you need in the event of an accident.
At Prestone, our products are developed to perform in all extremes, so you can enjoy carefree driving throughout 2017 and beyond. For more information, visit the Prestone homepage.