Most people think they’re a good driver. Whether they actually are might be a different matter. But there are few people who wouldn’t object to someone calling them a bad driver. However, all drivers should know that there’s always room for improvement. From the very first time you get behind the wheel of a car until you stop driving, you should be aiming to improve your driving and keep up with changes in best practice and the law. No one wants to be that driver that everyone hates, but more than that no one wants to be the driver that causes an accident. Driving well has lots of benefits, from lower insurance costs to keeping yourself and your passengers safe. But it’s so easy to get into bad habits, and bad habits are very hard to change. So how do you become a good driver from the very beginning?
Learn at the Right Time
People learn to drive at all ages, but many people will learn while they’re still at school. Of course, most teenagers want to start learning as soon as they’re able, but it might be better to wait a while. If you are going to learn as a teenager, learning while you still live at home could be best. That’s because you’ll still have the support of your parents. They can give you extra time to practice and provide you with a car you can practice in. You should take driving lessons seriously at any age. But if you wait until later to learn you can do so with the mindset that you’re a bit more mature. However, when you should learn is really an individual decision. If you feel ready and are willing to work hard at mastering the skill of driving, go ahead and learn.
Take Professional Lessons
There are many places where you can take your driving test without having had any professional lessons. However, it’s best not to dive straight into taking your test. Even if you pass the first time round, there’s no guarantee that you’re fully equipped with the skills and knowledge you need for the road. You can have a friend or family member teach you, and for many people that works well. But taking lessons with a professional instructor will ensure that you know everything you need to know for your test. However, combining professional lessons and help from an experienced driver could be beneficial too. The instructor will teach you the skills you need to pass the test. But a friend or family member can give advice about everyday driving. If you’re a teen driver, you’re likely to have to take a Driver’s Ed course.
Use Your Brain
It’s not all about the practical side of driving. You need to use your brain to learn all the rules of the road too. You will need to take a written test to get your provisional licence so you can learn to drive, and this means studying. You can find out more information about what the test involves through the DMV. You’ll have to show that you understand signage on the road, speed limits and the rules of the road. Getting a DMV driver’s manual and studying it will help you, and so will taking practice tests.
But the learning doesn’t stop once you’ve passed your test. You should continue to learn one you have your licence, even if you feel like you’ve learned everything there is to know; you definitely haven’t. As well as keeping up with any changes in the law, you can continue to learn new driving techniques and work on improving your driving. Read books and watch videos by professional drivers and driving instructors to gain advice on the best practices. And stay up-to-date with changes in expert opinion about driving safely, because they do change. For example, experts used to recommend the “ten and two” position on the steering wheel as the one that gives the best control. But many experts now recommend that you have your hands at “nine and three”.
Know Your Car
Every time you drive in a new car, you should get to know it. Each car will handle differently, as well as being a different size and shape. You should be familiar with your car’s manual and be able to drive it well. Remember that you won’t be able to get in any car and immediately feel at home with it. As well as getting to know your car, be extra careful if you drive it with any modifications or extras. If you’re pulling a trailer or caravan or carrying a roof-box, be aware of how it will change the handling of your car. Even having a car full of passengers could feel different to when it’s just you on your own.
Be Focused and Aware
Just as important as being in touch with your car is being aware of other people’s. And not just cars, but other motor vehicles from motorbikes to trucks. Don’t forget bicycles and passengers too, when you’re not on the highway. As well as ignoring distractions around you, like what your passengers are doing or the music on the radio, you should also drive with a clear head. Any worries that have built up over the day can wait until you get out of the car, so push them aside until later. In order to stay focused, you need to be alert. And to be alert you need to not drink (not even one) and to be wide awake. Learn to recognize when you need to stop and have a rest. It’s better to find somewhere to sleep for the night than to keep driving and risk an accident.
To be a good driver you need to remember that you aren’t the only person on the road. Think about everyone around you and what they’re doing, even if they aren’t driving well. When other people are driving badly, just keep doing the best you can. It’s tempting to get angry, but getting emotional could distract you from your driving. So just see them as obstacles to overcome and concentrate on what you’re doing.