Safe driving tips

1. Safe driving tips


Eyesight can get worse at any time and can not only affect driving skills directly, but also result in tiredness. 

As standard, drivers should be be able to read (with glasses or contact lenses, if necessary) a car number plate from 20 metres.

View the driving eyesight rules.


Mobile phones

It's illegal to use a mobile phone, sat nav or any similar device whilst driving without a hands-free device. 

Find out more about using a phone or a sat nav when driving.

Even careful drivers can be distracted by a call or text and a split-second lapse in concentration could result in a crash.


Seat belts

Always wear a seatbelt. In a crash you're twice as likely to die if you don't. Not wearing a seatbelt can be a fatal decision even on short, familiar journeys and at low speeds. Wear your seatbelt correctly so it can offer you the best possible protection in a crash.

If you're travelling with a child, make sure you understand the law on using a child car seat or booster seat.


Stopping distances

Drive at a speed that will allow you to stop well within the distance you can see to be clear. Allow at least a two-second gap between you and the vehicle in front on roads carrying faster-moving traffic.

The gap should be at least doubled on wet roads and increased on icy roads. Remember, large vehicles and motorcycles need a greater distance to stop.

Download 'Typical stopping distances' PDF, 1 page, 124KB


Horse riding

Car drivers and horse riders both have a right to use the road.

View The British Horse Society's advice for motorists


2. Safety at school entrances

Schools are often very busy at the beginning and end of the school day.

Here are some of the things we can do to keep the area safe:

  • "School Keep Clear" markings (yellow zig zags) on the school side of the road
  • School warning triangle on approach roads
  • Provide School Crossing Patrollers
  • Patrol signs at schools with a School Crossing Patroller
  • Place warning flashing lights on the advance ‘School’ warning triangle where there is restricted visibility.
  • Help schools with their Travel Plans
  • Traffic calming
  • Guard rails to stop children running straight out of the school gates

How you can help

  • Leave your car at home and walk to school with your children
  • If you drive, ensure your children get in and out on the kerb side
  • Consider parking a little further away from the school entrance and walk the last bit with your children
  • Use a car park if there is one
  • Don't double park or park on the school entrance markings
  • Don't reverse into the school entrance
  • Share the school run with other parents

You can request the above online

3. Vehicle Activated Signs (VAS)

Vehicle Activated Signs (VAS) are road signs that can display either the speed limit, a driver's current speed, or warn of a hazard ahead.

You can read more about VAS on our Traffic Advisory Leaflet.


Permanent Vehicle Activated Sign (VAS)  

Parish or town councils can request a VAS by completing an application form. You can find details of your parish or town council online. If no parish or town council exists, a local county councillor can request this. 

For a permanent VAS to be considered at a site, Transport for Bucks (TfB) will check:

  • collision history
  • speed of traffic
  • condition of existing signing and lining
  • whether other measures may be more suitable

Where a VAS is agreed and will be provided in front of or adjacent to residential properties, TfB or the local council will notify and confirm support from affected residents and the local county councillor. There will also be an additional cost to obtain speed data.

There are a number of suppliers and contractors who can supply and / or install the VAS on the highway in Buckinghamshire. These can be provided on request. 

For prices, see our fees and charges.


Mobile Vehicle Activated Sign (MVAS)

MVAS can be purchased by the parish/town council, using the application form

A mobile VAS can be fitted to:

  • a verge or back of a footway (drivers must be able to see them in good time to adjust their speed)
  • existing posts (as long as they leave room on that post to ensure a minimum mounting height)
  • Buckinghamshire Council columns (on a site by site basis)

There should be a minimum of 0.5m between the edge of the road and the sign.

You will also require permission to undertake the work, you can request a road space booking online. This costs £155 plus VAT.

Each MVAS location must have a risk assessment carried out, a sample assessment can be found on the HSE website 

Highway Authority reserves the right to remove the MVAS, if it presents a risk to the public

Prior to any excavation or ground screw work on the public highway, you must get underground services (stats) information.  TfB will undertake this search in their role  prior to approval being given.  Once the locations have been agreed, the stats can be requested, which can take between 4 to 6 weeks.

You may choose your own supplier

Swarco Traffic Ltd 
Email: office.stl@swarco.com

Ground screws and hinged posts supplier

Sign Sense
Email: signsense@hotmail.com

For prices, 
see our fees and charges. 


VAS policy

Vehicle Activate Signs must comply with The Traffic Signs Regulations and General Directions 2016 (TSRGD). This states that only signs and messages can be displayed, other messages are not permitted unless authorised by the Secretary of State.

Our VAS Policy was agreed in March 2006, and reviewed in August 2020. The VAS will be provided in any one of three ways:

  1. Council funded casualty reduction scheme
  2. Scheme where the community fund the VAS. This will be suitable where there is a proven problem with speed and other measures have been ruled out or have not proved successful.
  3. As for 2 above, but where a third party (usually the parish or town council) arrange and fund the supply, install and maintain the sign, subject to council approval.

In case 2 above, TfB would be responsible for installing the VAS and would receive a sum for the ongoing maintenance of the sign.  TfB would be responsible for all future maintenance of the sign.  

In case 3 above, where the third party arrange and fund the VAS, we would act as principal designer and supervise the works.  TfB’s would include ensuring the risk of underground services is managed.  The parish/town council would employ both TfB and the VAS  contractor directly.  The cost for TfB’s involvement would be on a site by site basis.


4. Drink and drug driving

Drink driving

There are strict alcohol limits for drivers, but it's impossible to say exactly how many drinks this equals as it's different for each person. If you are driving, it's best not to drink at all.

Find out more about road safety laws and the drink driving penalties (via gov.uk). 

National campaign

Transport for Buckinghamshire (TfB) supports the Morning after Campaign, which looks at the risks of drink driving the morning after. It takes a lot longer than most people think for alcohol to pass through the body, on average about one hour per unit of alcohol.

Download the Morning After Calculator app (via morning-after.org) to calculate when it will be safe for you to drive the morning after drinking alcohol.

Alcohol free recipes

TfB have developed some delicious Mocktails recipes, which can be found on the Travel Safe Bucks blog, or as recipe cards (pdf).


Drug driving

The police can stop you and make you do a 'field impairment assessment' if they think you're on drugs.

They can also use a roadside drug kit to screen for cannabis and cocaine.

If they think you're unfit to drive because of taking drugs, you'll be arrested and could be charged with a crime if the test shows you've taken drugs.

Prescription medication

You don't have to be on illegal drugs, prescription or over the counter medicines can also impair your ability to drive. If you're taking medicines, talk to your doctor, pharmacist or healthcare professional before driving.

Changes to the drug driving law

On 2 March 2015 the drug driving law changed. It is now an offence to drive with certain drugs above a specified level in your blood.

The new offence will work alongside the existing offence of driving whilst impaired through drink or drugs. View the drug driving law (via gov.uk).

5. Safe Drive Stay Alive theatre production

This is a theatre project, aimed at 16 to 18 year olds from the Thames Valley area, the crash and hospitals are on roads familiar to the students.

Until the end, the audience is unsure which of the car's occupants will make it.

It is produced by a road safety partnership, including Thames Valley Police, local councils, and Thames Valley emergency services.