Drive out of danger
The best tip a driving instructor ever gave me was "look where you want to drive to". Simple - but when you've suddenly lost control of your car and you're heading towards a tree, your mind can go blank.
It pays to back into parking spaces.
But where your eyes go, your hands (and thus the steering wheel) follow. So instead of looking at the tree, look past the obstacle and where you can safely go.
Another great tip from a driving instructor was looking ahead frequently, instead of just beyond your car bonnet. That's especially helpful on our busy motorways as you'll notice brake lights way ahead and you can brake in time. Also keep an eye in the rear view mirror for any tailgaters so you can give yourself room to move.
As the sole shopper in my household I use this tip most days at my local supermarket: it's safer to reverse into a carpark than out of one.
When you back into a space, you usually have either another car or a wall behind you, but if you reverse out of a space you have a multitude of obstacles: other cars, pedestrians, shopping trolleys. - Liz Dobson
• For more car news go to nzherald.co.nz/driven
Riding in cars with children
There's a dream time in parenthood when children are very portable and the ideal road-trip companions: from birth to about the time they start walking. During that brief period, a car trip is exciting and an opportunity for young children to collapse into a deep sleep for pretty much as long as you're moving.
Entertain children with maps, songs or games on road trips, and hope they'll forget what fun fighting can be. Picture / Getty Images
For kids older than that but younger than 10, surviving a road trip just requires some forward thinking. It's still a good idea to maximise the sleep time, so leaving very early in the morning is a great idea: sure, you'll have to get the kids out of bed, but they'll almost certainly fall asleep again in the car while you drive.
Bonus: you beat the traffic.
It follows that if your children are in car seats, make sure they're properly mounted and comfortable. If your children are in boosters or they're even bigger than that, bring pillows and blankets so they can sleep comfortably while still sitting in a safe position and correctly belted.
For early morning or evening travel, windowshades are a must. Nothing creates angry passengers quicker than a low sun streaming in on their faces. You might think a conversation mirror (a second piece of glass, usually convex, aimed at the back seat) is naff, but it's a great safety item as it allows those in front to keep an eye on the back with minimal distraction. Lots of people-movers have these as standard.
You'll need water. Lots of it. Forget about banning kids from eating in the car, because if they can't snack they'll drive you crackers. Just bring wet wipes to clean anything up.
Speaking of cleaning up, a small rubbish bag is also a good idea to keep the inside of your precious vehicle from being turned into a tip while you travel.
Classic road-trip games or singalongs still work for younger children. But why not try supplying them with printed maps as well, so they can track your progress and feel like they're part of the management team. Plus they can look for upcoming towns and public conveniences to deal with all of that water they're drinking.
For children older than 10, all you need to have for a road trip is a strong will (for the argument about the fact you're going on a road trip) and lots of power outlets (because iPads need power outlets). - David Linklater
Photo / Getty Images
Servicing the car is so very easy to ignore or conveniently forget and I'm sure there are those owners who live by the old saying "if it ain't broke, don't fix it".
The hidden surprises and unknown costs plus the inconvenience factor are also enough to make many owners postpone their routine visit to the garage for another day. Regular vehicle servicing is no guarantee you will never face a major and expensive repair, but it does ensure the basics are kept in reasonable shape.
Using a high quality engine oil and filter is one of the best things you can do as a vehicle owner. And it's the same with coolant and transmission fluids.
But finding a trusted service provider is the real key. Somebody who is not going to burn you with a long list of recommended work and treat you as a captive client with few options once your vehicle is in their hands.
Often recommended mechanical repairs can be postponed to a later date with only the essentials taken care of immediately to ease the financial strain.
And while we may not like doing it, find out how and get into the habit of carrying out a few under-the-bonnet and other self-checks on a regular basis. The obvious one is checking tyre pressure. It's free, will make the vehicle safer and save on fuel. - Jack Biddle
Riding a scooter can be a frightening experience at times.
"Please," emailed Liz Dobson, "could you write 300-400 words of 'Driving advice you can't survive without knowing' about riding a scooter in Auckland."
"No," I replied. "I can't."
"Why not?" she queried.
"Because I can only give you one word. DON'T."
"But you've been doing it every day for years."
I began riding my uncle's hand-me-down-through-my-big-brothers' BSA Bantam 40 years ago and have rarely been without two-wheeled transport since.
It's fun. Economical. Sometimes even reliable. But now I'm of an age when I'm on somewhat closer terms with intimations of mortality, I'm ready to retire the scooter.
Why am I over it? Perhaps my reactions are not quite as fast as they used to be in the 6-yard box for Claudelands Rovers; perhaps my peripheral vision is not what it was behind the stumps for the cricket team.
Either way, I've lost the nerve for commuting to and from Mt Eden. Being the meat in the sandwich of two, sometimes three buses drag-racing, one with me in the bus lane, the other in the car lane. Drivers who turn right, through a lane of gridlocked commuters, and bang-smack into their side street without checking whether there's a two-wheeler legitimately travelling in the bus lane. Pedestrians who jaywalk in front of me when there's a crossing 10m up the road. Other drivers who U-turn across my bows. Remuera tractors that turn left without signalling or looking. Still have the silver paintwork from one of those on my right mirror.
I could go on. Suffice to say that when I got home after a ride along Dominion Rd a couple of weeks back, poured a chianti with trembling hand and realised I'd had four near-death experiences in one week, I'd decided it was time to check the bus timetables.
Yes, I know almost every four-wheeled motorist who reads this will counter with their whinges about near-misses with idiots on scooters. Or cyclists. Well, despite what some of the more one-eyed of you may think (believe me, one eye would be an improvement on many Auckland drivers' awareness of what's on the roads around them), what the talkback ranters and occasional editorialisers may say, we do have just as much right to use the roads we pay for. Safely, not vulnerably.
Oh, and I haven't even mentioned Auckland's weather. - Ewan McDonald
Having moved several times in the last few years and being a motoring journalist who never has the same car when it happens, I feel fully qualified to say that when it comes to moving, it doesn't really matter what size your car is; how you pack it is the most important thing.
Treat packing like a game of tetris.
Sure, for things like beds, lounge suites and large appliances a van or ute is needed, but for everything else almost anything with four wheels will do.
The secret is packing. When it comes to packing a car, never just throw stuff in. Think strategically. Like you are playing Tetris.
But instead of steadily advancing flashing blocks, you have a bunch of boxes and stuff too big or awkwardly shaped to fit in boxes to squeeze into a car.
Boxes are easy - stack 'em up and you are away. But always pay attention to the other stuff - that can actually be useful as well. Think "interlocking" whenever you can - fit awkward shaped things around other things and make use of every gap, no matter how small. There will always be a soft toy you can jam between that chainsaw and the diff from an HQ Holden that you were always going to use one day.
Once you get the hang of it, it is amazing what you can squeeze into your average small hatchback - but always keep in mind weight, as it is remarkably easy to overload a car once you start packing like a pro. - Damien O'Carroll
On a motorbike, the best choice you can make is to invest in the proper gear. Picture / Josh Evans
Riding a motorbike has to be one of the most enjoyable ways of getting around (provided it's not in the middle of a storm). As a regular motorbike commuter on Auckland's Southern Motorway, I like that I can get places faster, and feel awesome as you zip to the front of queues of traffic and nip off while tired drivers hold up the rest of the traffic.
Wearing all the gear, all the time (or ATGATT as it is often referred to) is one of the most important things you can possibly do while riding any form of two-wheeled transport on our roads.
Because you don't have a giant metal cage surrounding you to absorb the harshness of the road, you need good equipment to save you from serious injury should the worst happen. While a helmet is a legal requirement, many riders skimp on the little things, such as gloves and boots. I'm a firm believer that as a minimum you need a helmet, jacket, boots and gloves as well as a good set of armoured pants.
Gloves especially are overlooked all too often and you can cause serious damage not wearing them; even a low-speed fall can cause the loss of a digit.
They may be viewed as the domain of tourers or the old and fragile, but heated grips are possibly the most worthwhile modification you can do to your bike. While riding in the winter months your hands, exposed to the oncoming elements, can start to go numb from the cold or develop painful cramps. Both can cause problems with controlling your bike so you want to keep those hands freely moving. Heated grips combined with a good set of warm gloves are the best way to do so. Heated grips can be installed quite easily at home, avoiding expensive labour bills. They make riding easier in the colder months and more enjoyable.
Ride like you're a target
Yes, it is a bit of a cliche, but a necessary one. Adopting a proactive style when riding can help you anticipate when a driver is going to cut you off, merge into your lane, or generally be a twit. Read the traffic around you. Road position, where the driver's attention is focused, even what the wheels are doing can point to the intentions of those around you. Be aware, adapt, and don't get crushed. If in doubt, jump on your horn! - Mathieu Day