It’s true what they say: Driving is more of a responsibility and a privilege than it is a right, which is why those of us who have been granted licenses need to do all that we can to ensure that we’re driving in such a way that keeps everyone on the road—ourselves, our passengers, and other drivers—as safe as possible. And now that schools are opening up in many states, drivers need to take more care to keep others safe on the road.
If you are not confident in your ability as a driver, here are some tips for improving your driving skills to ensure your safety and that of your passengers.
Slow and steady wins the race
When it comes to road safety, taking your sweet time is always the way to go. Don’t feel like you need to reach the speed limit all the time, and don’t be pressured into driving faster than you’re comfortable or happy with. Ignore impatient drivers who tailgate you or hang on too close to your bumper to pressure you into going faster—the fact that they’re in a hurry is not your problem.
Ease your way into driving fast until you’ve been driving long enough that you can feel comfortable about increasing your speed. Consider investing in a speed radar gun to monitor just how fast you’re going and to see if you’re starting to get more comfortable driving faster as time goes on.
Know your car inside and out
Knowledge is power, as they say, and it is also true when driving. Having a good grasp on the vehicle you’re manning will help you take better control of it, so make sure to familiarize yourself with the proper positioning, the errors, and key controls like the lights and wipers before you even switch the ignition on. Don’t just do this for your car; do it every time you’re about to go on a drive. Make a habit of inspecting any vehicle you’re driving before you hit the road.
Follow the four-second rule of driving
The four-second rule states that to maintain proper spacing between you and other vehicles, you need to imagine this scenario: “If the car in front of you suddenly stops where they are, and you slam on the brakes to avoid hitting, would you hit them in under four seconds?” If the answer to this hypothetical scenario is a yes, it’s time to back off a little. This rule is best applied when the weather conditions are challenging, like the winter or rainy season.
Make sure your mirrors are always in the optimal position
Many drivers, especially those who have been on the road for a while, often neglect to check if their mirrors are positioned properly. Here are some tips to ensure that your side mirrors are always in the optimal position:
- Make sure no part of the mirror is wasted to maximize your field of vision.
- Adjust the mirror so that you can see a bit of the edge of your vehicle. Doing this will help decrease your blind spots.
Be mindful of others on the road
Preventing vehicular accidents is a community responsibility. The onus is not just on traffic enforcers or drivers alone; it’s on all of us. Look out for other drivers and road users when entering or exiting the vehicle, and be on the lookout for other motorists while driving. Use your mirrors every five seconds to ensure that you’re always aware of what’s happening near you and around you.
Anticipate how other drivers will move
Being a good driver is all about anticipating how other drivers around you will move and doing so by observing their behavior. Super aggressive drivers tend to give themselves away if they have the habit of overtaking, constantly switching lanes, and tailgating, so you might want to avoid these vehicles.
If the car in front of you constantly changes speed, you can assume that the driver is probably distracted, so it is on you to stay alert. We don’t always need to guess, however, since signals exist for a reason. So keep tabs when drivers are aggressive or acting strange, and know when you need to keep your distance.
Don’t wait for others to do the right thing
While we can observe how other drivers move, we cannot control what they do. So do what you can to pay attention to how others are driving so that you can act to keep you and your family safe on the road. Defensive driving is the way. Good luck!