As we all know, driving is no easy feat, and no one is an absolute master at driving. Everyone does mistakes or drives along with bad habits that were picked up over time. There’s always room for improvement, and not only will you be a better driver, but you’ll diminish the risk of putting yourself and others in danger. Here are 7 tips to become a better driver:
1) Know your car:
This one does sound a bit ridiculous but it’s serious: before you even drive your car for the first time, you should have at least read the manual. Take the car to somewhere near, where it’s safe and allowed, and practice!
This is extremely important for example when you switch between an automatic and manual vehicle: because an automatic car has one less pedal, make sure you’re used to the new model before anything else. Finally, try starting, braking, switching gears, so you know how you should dose your accelerator and clutch pedal. You should also remember how to switch lights, activate your wipers, etc.
2) Take your time to make yourself comfortable
Not too comfortable until you fall asleep, but adjust your mirrors, seat, steering wheel:
- Adjusting your seat will prevent back pain and will allow you to see further on the road.
- Adjusting your steering wheel will tire your arms less on the long run.
- Adjusting your mirrors will make you check your surroundings quicker and more confidently.
The worst part is some people don’t even know they can adjust their side mirrors in the first place, so get that done if you haven’t done so yet! Only drive when your body can be in a relaxed position, as body tension prevents a smooth driving.
3) Look far
A beginner’s mistake but that everyone seems to be doing. It’s important to anticipate what’s coming, which is impossible to do if you stare right in front of you. If you’re scared of driving out of your lane, well looking in front of you is actually counterproductive:
When you look near, you’ll see all the unnecessary micro-adjustments that could be made to be perfectly in the center. That a terrible idea for multiple reasons:
- You’re not able to see what’s happening further up on the road
- You end up driving out of your lane because you’re so focused on making it perfect
- You can’t focus on anything else
Using your peripheral vision is great: not only you’ll be able to see at least more than 12 seconds ahead, but you’ll be perfectly in the middle of your line since you’re unconsciously aiming at where you’re looking.
At last, more fuel can be saved, and wear can be reduced, which on the overall is a good investment.
4) Stop tailgating others
Keeping a safety margin is essential. Even if you’re told that all the time, it’s worth repeating. At least 2 seconds between your car and the car in front. By following the driver in front too closely, you’re creating a bunch of problems that shouldn’t even exist in the first place:
- Increasing the risk of hitting the back of the vehicle in front (plus according to laws you’ll be the one in the wrong, so there goes your time and money)
- Overusing your accelerator and brake due to a low time to react and anticipate
- Being unable to look far ahead, due to the car in front blocking your vision
- Antagonizing the driver in front, leading to tension and road rage.
Remember that 2-second rule. You know that feeling when someone is right behind, don’t you? It’s annoying and makes you want to scream at the person behind. Don’t do to others something that pisses you off.
5) Keep to the speed limits
Technology has massively advanced this past decade, and we always seem to be going faster, quicker for everything. So much that we’re losing patience, and want most of our tasks done immediately. Take it easy, and follow the speed limits. It’s dangerous, and in all honesty, doesn’t help you save time at all.
Did you know that for a trip of 1 hour, if you go at 110 instead of 100 km/h for example, you’ll only be saving 3 minutes? In all honesty, it’s just not worth the risk. Driving slowly helps read road signs easily, and you’ll have more time to react to what’s ahead. What’s more, speeding fines are common, so you won’t be losing time, nor money by driving within the speed regulations.
6) Be alert at all times
Especially in the city. Driving in a busy city is like a jungle, so that’s an automatic sign that it’s time to slow down a bit. Yes, you are driving slower but your attention shouldn’t be taken away because of that. Watch out not only far ahead, but close to you, as pedestrians apparently like doing stupid stuff, like brake-testing you (teenagers love faking that they’ll suddenly cross the road right in front of you to see if they can get you to brake).
Pay attention to humps, and don’t get distracted. Don’t let your sight wander around too much, focus on your driving, and what could be a potential risk. You never know when a child could be running into the road for example.
7) No distractions
As said previously, don’t get distracted by the stuff happening around you that isn’t driving-related. This means, do not bring in inner distractions: especially the phone. You’ll risk a fine, and points off your license if you’re caught on the phone or text-and-driving.
If you ever need your phone for something urgent, park at a designated area (not on the emergency lane, please), and do whatever you need to do. After that, switch off totally your phone, and place it out of reach.
Listening to the radio or music, having a chat, noisy kids at the back might divert your attention. Focus, and plan ahead so that nothing will be disturbing your driving.
Finally, stay calm at all times and communicate with others. If someone did something that annoys you, it’s fine, no need to honk and go half-mad. Did you make a mistake or take a misleading action? Just say sorry with a sign of your hand, and say thank you when people help you out.
Be confident, not stupid, and you’ll be taking pride in your driving, ensuring yourself a higher driving score!