Driving skills are essential for anyone who needs to drive a vehicle. Whether you’re just starting out or you’ve been behind the wheel for years, there are always things you can improve.
Drivers need to be able to observe their surroundings and anticipate what will happen. This can make driving much safer.
Driving is a difficult skill that requires your full attention. Anything that takes your attention away from driving is a distraction and can lead to an accident.
The most common distractions are texting and using the phone. However, eating, drinking, grooming, looking for things and talking with passengers can also put you at risk of a crash.
Cell phones are the most dangerous distraction because they require your hands and eyes to be active, preventing you from paying attention to the road ahead. Even using a hands-free phone doesn’t make it safer, so it is best not to use your mobile while you are behind the wheel.
If you have to call or send a message while you are driving, use an app that blocks incoming calls and texts. You can also mute your phone or turn off its notifications.
Distractions can be more difficult to eliminate if you are a driver who uses a computer or smartphone, but there are ways to avoid them. You can set your phone to a ‘do not disturb’ mode, which silences calls and texts, or you can mute the volume and place the device in your glove compartment.
Caring for children and pets is another distraction, so be sure to pull over if your child or pet needs your attention. You can also train your children and pets to understand that they cannot ask you for food, change the radio station, change your music or other tasks while you are driving.
The good news is that distracted driving accidents are preventable. With these simple tips, you can help reduce your risk of an accident and save yourself from being involved in a serious crash.
Observing the road
Observing the road is a skill that can make or break your driving ability. It demands practice and thought to become effective, but once it’s learnt, it can save you and other drivers from accidents.
The most effective observation skills are the ones that allow you to identify potential dangers early, and take action to reduce your risk. This is called anticipating and preparing for the unexpected.
One way to do this is to scan your surroundings (keeping your eyes moving) so you can see hazards ahead of time. This gives you extra reaction time to avoid a crash or to respond to an emergency.
You should also be alert for other road users around you, like bicyclists and pedestrians. You should also be aware of large trucks, which can cause crashes if you don’t give them enough space to turn or stop.
To improve your observation skills, try to change your focus on the road ahead every 8 to 10 seconds. Changing this interval will help you keep your eye on the road, and prevent your mind from wandering.
Another way to observe is to look at a range of objects, such as cars and buses. This can increase your peripheral vision and make it easier to pick out potential hazards, such as a dog on the verge.
Scanning your surroundings can also improve your anticipating abilities. It will give you additional time to react when things change around you, such as when a car speeds up and moves in front of you.
You should also be mindful of junctions, which are places where pedestrians frequently cross the road. This means you should check ahead and make sure you’re approaching at a safe speed before you move into the junction.
Managing your speed
The ability to manage your speed is a critical component of driving skills. It helps you stay within the posted speed limit while still allowing for safe maneuvers around traffic and obstacles.
Maintaining a consistent speed can be a challenge, especially when driving in a new area. Look at your speedometer regularly to make sure you aren’t drifting from the speed you want to be traveling at. It may take a few minutes to get used to this, but it will help you avoid large fluctuations in your speed.
Keeping a steady pace can also help you save fuel and reduce your tire wear and tear, which are important factors in fuel economy. Changing speeds and accelerating and decelerating too quickly can cause your tires to lose air pressure.
Another way to manage your speed is by watching the other cars on the road and surrounding areas. If you notice that others are driving too quickly, it’s probably time to slow down and get them back on track.
Drivers can also keep an eye on the lane lines and passing light posts to determine how fast they should be traveling by them. This will help them maintain a safe distance from other vehicles and keep their vehicle moving at the same pace as the surrounding cars.
Managing your speed is an essential part of safe driving, and it should be considered by policymakers and roadway designers to encourage a Vision Zero culture that prioritizes safety over speed. It’s the most important way to ensure that everyone can move safely on the road. It takes a collaborative effort from all stakeholders to create safer streets, so it’s essential for drivers and everyone else who shares the roads with them.
Managing your vehicle
Managing your vehicle is one of the most important skills you can develop to ensure your safety while driving. It involves controlling your speed, keeping a safe following distance and communicating with other drivers.
In addition to maintaining proper control of your vehicle, you should also learn how to manage the space around you. This is essential for spotting hazards ahead, reacting correctly and avoiding accidents.
When driving, you should keep a 4-second following distance and be aware of what is happening in the left-rear and right-rear areas behind your car (Areas 4 and 5 in the image above). This allows you to see what’s coming up in front of you and helps you avoid rear-end collisions with other vehicles.
You should also pay close attention to other highway users, such as motorcycles, pedestrians and bicyclists. These people are often hidden in traffic and can easily be distracted, so it’s important to watch for them.
Lastly, you should always be aware of the vehicle status and maintenance alerts that are available on your dashboard. These features give you a heads up on potential problems, like battery issues or high temperatures in your engine, so you can act quickly and prevent breakdowns.
As with everything else related to driving, putting in the time and effort to practice the skills you have learned will pay off for you and others on the road. Remember that the road can be dangerous no matter how experienced you are, so be sure to take every step you can to stay safe while on the go. Good luck! You’re on your way to a safer, more enjoyable ride. Don’t forget to check in with your co-workers and family when you’re out of town.