Knowing how to drive well is one of the most important skills to have in life, especially if—like the vast majority of Americans—you live somewhere that does not offer public transportation services. Driving well is about more than just operating your vehicle efficiently; it is also about driving safely.
However, you would be surprised how much good driving is reliant on simply starting out with the right safety rules. The following bullet points are some handy expert driving tips that take both safety and speed into account.
The Do’s and Don’ts of Driving Well
Don’t drive without being fully prepared. You know the drill, but it never hurts to reiterate it. Put on your seat belt, keep your windows rolled up, and always lock your doors, for locked doors are ten times more likely to remain shut in the event of a crash. Keep your hands at the 9 and 3 o’clock positions. Finally, make sure you are fully awake.
Do know how to steer correctly. When it comes to steering, there are a few things that you definitely need to master. If you are recovering from a slide, for instance, you need to move the steering wheel to match your line of sight. Unbelievably, this works in almost any situation. Safer navigation and monitoring of the steering wheel affords you greater protection in the event that your air bag expands in an emergency situation.
Do know how to accelerate and decelerate safely. Avoid putting the pedal to the metal too quickly. In almost no case will you ever need to accelerate immediately; in fact, accelerating at a decent pace is your best bet in most situations. In cases where you are losing control of the car, do not immediately lift your foot off the pedal, but instead ease yourself off as much as you can and gently lower your foot onto the brakes. The one major exception to this is that, with a manual transmission, if you are spinning out of control, stomp as hard as is physically possible on both the clutch and on the brake.
Do become a master of Roadcraft.
Roadcraft is a special driving technique utilized by professional drivers and racers alike. This method of driving divides your maneuvers when you are about to drive toward a road hazard into four separate but simple steps:
Position. Make sure that you have done everything you possibly can to maximize your visibility.
Speed. Properly accommodate your driving speed to the hazard at hand. This can be done with different modes of throttle control, measured or sudden braking, or simply stopping altogether if it is not a hazard that you determine you can safely maneuver your vehicle around.
Gear. If you do decide to attempt to maneuver through or around the road hazard, do make sure that your car is set to the proper gear necessary. The fewer steps you can take to get through or around the hazard, the better (and safer). If needed, shift the gear, so your car makes it through in one go.
Accelerate. Once you have the above three steps in place, you should be fully prepared to drive your way through or around the safety hazard.
Have a solid set of underbody lights installed in your vehicle. While this is not a driving tip, exactly, it is an asset that you should keep in mind in order to drive safely. Underbody lighting allows you to drive with much greater visibility. Many of the highest quality brands even come with smartphone capabilities that allow you to control your vehicle’s underbody lights, making it that much easier and faster for you to work with your lights.
The key to safe driving is partially anticipating what is going to happen and preparing yourself for it, but also knowing how to maneuver around situations that may pop up out of nowhere. After all, the roads are an unpredictable place, and even the quietest of streets can leave you reeling with little clue what to do.
As NASCAR racer Kyle Busch observes, “Work on reaction and look ahead to think ahead. You can see what’s coming. I always have an escape route! If I’m in the middle lane on a freeway, and I got two guys next to me, I’m either [going to] speed up or roll out of it in order to get an escape route. I’ve always got an escape route to get somewhere!”
Driving efficiently and quickly is critical, but driving safely is arguably more important and, one could say, integral to driving quickly. Driving well does not come naturally to all people, but it is one of those skills that all drivers must have in order to preserve the safety and lives not only of themselves but also of their passengers and their fellow drivers out on the road.