There are few things in life as liberating as being behind the wheel, knowing that you can go anywhere you want. However, what we near to bear in mind is, driving is a privilege, not a right. Also, for most people, driving is a necessity- be it for commuting to work, running errands, dropping the kids to school, and so on.
The sad part is, millions of accidents occur every year at a global scale, and tens of thousands prove fatal. Even if you consider yourself to be a safe driver, you can still fall prey to accidents. The following are some tips to be a better car driver, which should be strictly adhered to, by one and all-
Top 10 Tips – To Be A Driver
1 Take a Defensive Driving Course in case you didn’t know, online driving courses not only save you money on your car insurance but also take points off your driving record. These are quite good refresher courses for anyone who has been driving for quite a while. Things such as, the difference between a DUI and a DWI, how many drinks can impair you for each, how to eyeball how far ahead the vehicle in front of you should be, on the basis of your speed, etc. are covered in these courses. What’s more, these driving courses are quite inexpensive. Here are just two ways you can become a safer driver by practising defensive driving-
2 Never Trust an Intersection– traffic signals are meant to direct traffic where roads intersect. For example, when you approach a green light, you may assume that all other drivers at the intersection have come to a halt behind their red lights. Unfortunately, an alarming number of accidents occur since drivers often run stop signs and red lights. Instead of proceeding through an intersection when it is your right-of-way, pause for a moment to look first and then pass through.
3 Don’t Trust Other Drivers– it is always better to assume that other drivers are not paying as much attention to the road as you are. In all likelihood, there must have been times when you left your turn signal on for a mile or quickly swerved to get out of the way of a vehicle that was hidden in your blind spot. So you know, motorists are prone to making such mistakes. Neither you nor the other drivers are perfect. Hence, it is never a good idea to enter a roadway in front of a driver based on his or her turn signal is on. Instead, wait till the vehicle either completes turn or otherwise passes by you before continuing on your way.
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Defensive driving courses are easily available, in the form of local classes as well as online courses. Many people commit the folly of waiting until they have received a traffic violation before enrolling for a defensive driving course.
Park with Precision– once you get a hang of it, parking will no longer be a challenge. However, that being said, it is good to master a few tricks when it comes to parking in a tight spot or when you are relatively new to driving backwards.
First and foremost, find a suitable space where you can get your car without hurting anyone else’s vehicle. Ideally, space should be a few metres longer than your car. Also, note that parallel parking is by far one of the toughest parking positions, and drivers need to hone the skills of getting it right
Keep Your Hands on The Wheel at The Proper Positions– typically, driving instructors will tell you to keep your hands on the steering wheel at the 10 and 2 positions on the clock. Over the last few years, however, these guidelines have undergone a change, so you are now supposed to keep your hands lower, at either 9 and 3 or 8 and 4. This allows you more control and stability when driving, and is also the most ergonomic position to hold your hands for long periods of time. It ensures that your muscles are more relaxed and you have more control over your vehicle.
Adjust Your Mirrors to Cover Your Blind Spots– the side mirrors should ideally be adjusted so far outward so that they just barely overlap your rear view mirror.
Don’t Drive When You are Sleepy– according to a study in 2010, one of out every six fatal crashes involved a drowsy driver. This is a no-brainer, still, considering the importance of putting it out there, a serious lack of sleep can impair you as much as alcohol, if not more. In fact, avoid driving at any cost whenever your mental faculties are not in their best shape, be it due to alcohol, inadequate sleep, new medication, or a terrible cold.
Don’t Bother Speeding– of course we all want to reach our destinations at the earliest, but speeding makes you way too vulnerable to accidents or getting a speeding ticket. Trust us on this one, you are much better off driving just at or below the recommended speeds.
Know the Best Way to Merge in Traffic– inefficient lane merging leads to traffic, road rage, and accidents. Some people are aggressive lane cutters, while others politely assume their place in a lane long before their exit. Staying calm and zipper merging is actually the best and most efficient solution, which allows each one to take their turn. It is true that amidst slow traffic, drivers will do anything to gain an edge, and this often happens by jumping between lanes.
In reality, the lanes almost always move at nearly the same speed, but traffic is slowed down majorly since a lot of drivers weave between lanes, which, when you think about it, causes the car behind you to brake, and the one behind it, and so on.
Ditch The Distractions and Know Where You are Going– it goes without saying that texting while driving is not only perilous but also against the law. While it is not impossible to use your cell phone while you’re behind the wheels, but it is anyway a better idea to keep your phone away, unless you are using it for navigation. Also, keep other distractions at bay, such as eating, fiddling with the radio, talking too much with a co-passenger, and so on.
The dangers of texting while driving is rightfully getting a lot of attention, but one can hardly ignore that the main issue here is distracted driving. Also, it is advisable to scope out your route as much as possible before you start driving so that you are used to the landmarks and tricky intersections before getting into your car.
Be Smooth with all your Driving Inputs– if you have someone with you the next time you are driving, ask them to keep an eye on your brake and accelerator usage. The latter should stay in a relatively constant position unless you are deliberately speeding up or slowing down. If you find yourself ‘pumping’ the accelerator too often, it is either because you are driving too close to the vehicle in front of you or you are not looking far enough ahead.
The smoother you are in terms of coming to a standstill, steering, and so on, the less wear and tear you are subjecting your car to, besides making it easier for other drivers to judge what you are doing and where you are going.
Indicate to communicate-it is good to get into the habit of indicating for three seconds before you make your move as it will help ensure that other drivers know what you are doing. It also reduces road rage since a major cause of frustration amongst other divers is that people do not give proper indications.
Since our country is home to an excessively diverse range of geographic features, it is good to know the techniques and tricks of driving in each of these terrains which are so distinctively different from each other, and consequently, each of them requires a specific method or approach that will make you’re traversing smooth and safe.
From the snow-capped Himalayas to the coastal in the extreme north to the coastal plains down south, each of these regions is accompanied by different climatic conditions, physical conditions, and most importantly different terrain for a road trip. Here’s taking a detailed look at some of the top tips for car drivers that you need to grasp for each of the different road conditions-
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Hilly Roads and Slopes– these need to be treated with extra care, as any mistake can lead to a catastrophic outcome. The most crucial thing that you need to keep in mind is, along with the momentum of your vehicle, gravity is also playing a major role in keeping your vehicle moving. When it comes to uphill climbs, gravity will act against you while it is just the opposite in case of downhill driving. While going up, it is critical to be in the right gear which will give sufficient torque to climb up. If you are on gear too low, it can lead to wheel spin, and on the other hand, if the gear is too high, you won’t have the adequate power to climb up.
When it comes to the descent, make sure you slow down before the road slopes downwards in order to allow room for any necessary adjustments. Keep the brakes ready and the clutch should never be fully pressed. The clutch is an inherent brake which exerts its force directly on the engine. It can prove to be quite handy when coupled with an appropriate braking force. It is never a good idea to rely completely on the brakes since it increases the risk of wheel lock and going off the road. For more information read Tips for Driving Safely in The Hills
Wet roads and surfaces– dry roads are hardly a problem, but if it starts to rain, driving can turn out to be quite troublesome and often, tricky. The driver needs to be extra careful since the tyre grip and the visibility go for a toss in the event of a downpour. If the roads are wet, the rubber tyres of your car are prone to slipping out due to loss of traction. In case your car starts hydroplaning, do not panic. Take your foot off the accelerator and divert a majority of your focus to the steering. The brakes should be lightly tapped to reduce the speed and regain control over your car.
Since visibility is also a key concern during heavy rains, keep your windshield wipers on the maximum setting at all times. If there is condensation on the inside, stop on the side of the road and wipe it off with a cloth. In fact, in the case of extremely heavy showers, it is advisable to stop driving altogether. Turn on your hazards on and wait for the rain to mellow down a little before you start moving again.
Muddy surfaces– driving on muddy surfaces too need a few techniques to be mastered, as it is difficult to determine if the mud is dried or wet from a distance. In the former case, there isn’t much issue: you can simply keep the windows up and roll through the mud with the throttle in the middle area of the RPM-band. However, wet mud can be quite a hassle if you fail to tackle the roads adeptly.
The key mantra is to keep your momentum intact, as, if you lose it, you will surely get stuck in the mud, and will need to be towed out. Once you start feeling that your wheels are starting to lose traction and are on their way to spinning out, just slightly ease the throttle and allow your tyres to regain some grip. However, take care not to ease out to the extent of losing your momentum. It is also crucial to select your gear carefully. Any shifts in the mud will directly disrupt the motion of your car and could make it come to a halt.
Snowy roads– for driving on the snow, it is mandatory to ensure that your car’s tyres are wrapped with a snow chain for the necessary grip. Without it, your car will turn out to be practically useless unless you are driving a 4×4 SUV with a dedicated snow driving mode. It is perhaps needless to mention that even with snow chains, you cannot move on like you normally do, on plains or otherwise. Also, keep in mind that sudden braking can lead to wheel locks despite the chains, and your car is more susceptible to it, as compared to wet roads.
Grassy patches– grass is highly underestimated since driving on dry grass is pretty easy. However, if the grass is wet, it can be one of the most difficult terrains to drive on. Fresh grass, when wet, can be as slippery as ice. So, in this case too, you need to keep a close eye on your speed and braking to prevent wheel lock. Also, note that it is best to avoid the perilous combination of wet grass and elevation, as it almost invariably invites the possibility of spinning out. Also, do not drive too fast as thorny twigs and sharp rocks underlying the grass will hardly fall in your line of sight.
Although several measures are being adopted to improve road safety, after all, the onus lies on drivers to ensure that they drive carefully and take all the necessary steps to prevent accidents. Reckless drivers not only put themselves at risk, but also stake the lives of their passengers, other road users and pedestrians.
Studies and reports in the U.S. reveal that road accidents are one of the leading causes of death and injury. Even smaller accidents can subject one to massive financial complications, lawsuits, and disruptions of road routes and schedules.
Besides keeping yourself and others safe by following the above-mentioned top 10driving tips, driving carefully entails a huge benefit in terms of monetary gain. After all, safe driving is of paramount importance as far as a reduction on your car insurance is concerned. This is all the more crucial if you have a tracker fitted to the car which determines your driving style and sends data back to your insurance company.
Since the cost of your insurance is based on the number of accidents you are involved in, and whether or not you have made any claims or had any made against you, along with a number of other factors, you can avoid claims and enjoy significant drops in your insurance premiums by driving safely.
It is also interesting to note that if you want to reduce the carbon footprints, the most effective way of doing it is by driving safely. With safe and steady driving, you can minimize carbon emissions and also use less gas, thus being kind to the environment in one more way, besides, of course, saving yourself from a pocket pinch. Unsafe and reckless driving also sets a bad example.
Say if you are driving with teenage children who will eventually learn driving, you would surely want them to be safe. By setting a good example, you are unconsciously instilling positive habits in them for when they have their own car. Additionally, careless drivers on the road can give in to the peer pressure and drive carefully, when they see everybody else around them doing so.
You can call yourself a good driver if you are cautious on the road and make accurate estimations of your actions. Note that these actions should comply with the rules of the road, but you simultaneously also need to ensure that the right decisions are taken quickly.
First and foremost, you need to thoroughly aware of the driving rules, and also have the knowledge of how to apply them. Adherence to legal norms is a must. Also, a crucial aspect of being a better car driver is to know your vehicle well. You need to be absolutely abreast of the dimensions of your car in order to make a proper assessment of the acceleration and manoeuvrability.
Your attitude towards your car speaks volumes about your quality as a good driver. Appreciate the benefits you enjoy from your car, and take good care of it to maintain it in perfect condition, inside out. If you are a sensible driver, you will know how to drive safely in all road conditions and terrain. In fact, a major indication of your quality as a driver is the frequency at which your car needs to be serviced. Sharp braking, pushing a gas pedal, gear shifting, etc, is unusual for a good driver.
Also, your reaction to a range of stressful situations on the roads, hint at your qualities as a driver. Another inherent trait of a good driver is tolerance towards other drivers. You should understand when someone makes a mistake, and instead of losing your calm, extend a helping hand in case there is some problem.
Composure and cooperation are very essential qualities when you are out on the road, watch your reactions that will not only impact your driving but also affect others around. Someone with a bad temper can hardly prove to be a good driver. Being observant is also very crucial- you should use your vision to monitor different objects simultaneously, without being swayed by distractions.
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