Tips to Improve your Driving Skills
· DRIVING POSTURE
Adjust your seat and the controls in your car, it doesn’t just help with your comfort level but it also reduces fatigue, improves your control, and allows the safety features of your car to do their thing.
Ø Low – When you connect your seat belt, make sure it is under your waist, this is to make sure your body weight is fully secure
- Flat – The belt must be kept flat and there shouldn't be any twists, turns or folds
- Firm – Every now and then, pull your seat belt so it removes any slack.
· BRAKING TECHNIQUES
Braking hard and fast can cause skidding and a loss of control, especially on gravel or wet roads. A two stage process should be used when you brake:
- First put some light pressure on the brake
- Then progressively increase pressure to bring your vehicle to a stop.
· STEERING TECHNIQUES
Ø Make sure you steer the car smoothly and, try to avoid sudden movements
- Slow down before turning and wait until your car starts to straighten before accelerating
- When steering, keep both hands on the outside of the steering wheel, and place your thumbs along the seam of the wheel.
· GET ADJUSTED TO NEW VEHICLES AND RENTAL CARS
With any vehicle that is new to you, such as a rental car, you will want to make adjustments to optimize your fit with the vehicle when you prepare for a drive. Initial seat, steering, mirror and other components likely won’t be set to your preferences. It only takes a few minutes to make these adjustments (see below), and can really pay off in terms of comfort, visibility and overall safety.
As you approach your vehicle to prepare for a drive, walk around it and look for things that may be an issue, such as a broken taillight, fluids under your vehicle or an under-inflated tire.
Achieving a good fit between your body and a vehicle is very important to safe driving, and it involves seating position, head rests, steering wheel grip etc.
Are your mirrors properly adjusted to reduce blind spots and enhance situational awareness?
Safety belts save lives, and every occupant in your vehicle needs to wear one. Add buckling up to your list as you prepare for a drive.
· DRIVING CHALLENGES
Driving safely is a complex and often demanding task, even for an experienced senior driver, but driving challenges do arise. Many driving situations offer limited choices, so sometimes deciding what action to take is simple.
When making a left turn:
Ø Yield the right of way to other traffic.
Ø Signal for the left-hand turn at least 150 feet in advance of the intersection.
Ø Make sure there are no other vehicles, bicycles, motorcycles or pedestrians in your path. Be ready to yield to anyone in the crosswalk.
Ø Allow plenty of time to maneuver your vehicle from a stopped position across the traffic lanes.
Ø Begin turning when your vehicle’s front wheels are in line with the center of the street you are entering. If you are turning from a one-way street into another one-way street, begin your left-hand turn when the curb begins to curve.
Ø If you want to turn left at a traffic light that does not have a left-turn arrow, consider continuing through and make three right turns around the block, and then use the traffic light to go straight across.
Ø As you approach a roundabout, there will be a YIELD sign and dashed yield limit line. Slow down, watch for pedestrians and bicyclists and be prepared to stop if necessary.
Ø When you enter a roundabout, yield to circulating traffic on the left, but do not stop if the way is clear.
Ø A conventional roundabout will have ONE-WAY signs in the center island that help guide traffic and indicate that you must drive to the right of the island.
Ø Left turns are completed by traveling around the central island of the roundabout and making a right exit.
- DRIVING AROUND LARGE TRUCKS:
Ø Avoid traveling alongside or close behind a truck. When a truck is backing, do not pass behind it. The driver may not see you or hear your horn.
Ø Do not pass a truck on the right when approaching an intersection. A large truck making a right turn sometimes swings wide so the trailer can clear the curb or other objects in its path. In a wide swing, the truck may turn to the left a bit before turning right or swing into the oncoming traffic lane after a turn. It is important to provide large trucks ample room to negotiate turns.
Ø Be sure to allow plenty of clearance between your vehicle and large trucks. Because of their size, large trucks create wind currents that can affect nearby vehicles. These currents can threaten your vehicle’s stability when you are close. This is an even greater driving challenge when you are riding a motorcycle, towing a trailer or other object, or traveling on slick roadways.
· DRIVING AT NIGHT
Low light. Being able to see well during the daytime does not necessarily mean that you will see well while driving at night.
Ø After driving four or five hours on a sunny day, it may take an hour or more for your eyes to adjust to low light at dusk or night.
Ø Some people may not adapt well to low light and should avoid driving at night.
Ø Driving at night also reduces your ability to see to the sides of your vehicle.
Ø Regardless of how effective your headlights are, they do not adequately light off-road areas.
Glare and recovery time. While driving at night, all drivers are affected temporarily by the glare of headlights and brightly lit signs or buildings.
Ø Most people’s eyes recover from such glare within three to five seconds.
Ø Recovery times of seven seconds or longer are not uncommon.
Ø Typically, the time to recover from glare while driving at night increases with age.
Ø People with cataracts will find their ability when driving at night is severely impaired.
· PARKING AND BACKING
Parking a vehicle
Although many drivers find it challenging to park in marked parking spaces, it is not difficult once you are able to judge the space available and have a good understanding and control of steering and speed.
Backing a vehicle
Ø Before entering the vehicle, check to make sure the path to the rear and sides is clear. Children and objects are often difficult to see from the driver’s seat.
Ø Keep your foot firmly on the brake pedal while shifting to reverse.
Ø Maintain control by backing the vehicle slowly and being prepared to stop quickly. Your vehicle is much harder to control and stop when backing.
Ø Check traffic conditions in all directions – and check all blind areas carefully.
Ø Look in the direction you are moving but never concentrate on any one thing to such a degree that you neglect your surroundings.
Ø Since you cannot see objects close to the rear or sides when looking out the window, use front and rear windows and inside and outside mirrors when backing a vehicle. Also, check to the front to determine whether the front of the vehicle is tracking in the direction you want it to go.
Ø When backing, the rear of the vehicle turns in the direction you turn the steering wheel. If you become confused or disoriented while backing, stop and begin again.
· DEALING WITH AGGRESSIVE DRIVERS
Preventing aggressive driving and road rage
One key to prevention is to avoid engaging in the behaviors yourself and trying not to give other roadway users cause to become aggressive.
Ø Avoid conflict. It is best to assume that other drivers’ mistakes are not personal.
Ø Never attempt to take the right of way. It must give given to you by other drivers.
Ø When using high-beam headlights, return to low-beam headlights as soon as you detect an oncoming vehicle.
Ø Do not drive behind another vehicle with your high-beam headlights on.
Ø Be as polite on the road as you would be in any other social situation. You cannot control traffic, but you can control your responses to it.
Responding to aggressive driving and road rage
Unfortunately, other drivers can become aggressive or enraged. If you are confronted by a driver displaying aggressive driving behaviors toward you, follow these guidelines:
Ø Do not respond to the other driver. Avoid any escalation of conflict.
Ø Avoid eye contact with the aggressive driver or occupants.
Ø Be tolerant and forgiving. The aggressive driver may be having a really bad day and be looking for a way to vent anger.
Ø Be sure to allow enough room around your vehicle so that you can pull out or around if someone approaches your vehicle.
Ø Do not get out of your vehicle – it offers protection.
Ø If necessary, drive to a busy public place where there are witnesses, such as a hospital or fire station. Once there, use your horn to attract others’ attention if needed.
· DRIVING IN BAD WEATHER
Ø Stay in control. Practicing responses to simulated emergency situations under safe conditions can reduce emotional impact and increase chances of correct performance. The driver who knows what to do in an emergency is more likely to stay in control when driving in bad weather.
Ø Respond to skids. The first step in regaining traction is to recognize that you are experiencing a skid. Regardless of the cause of the skid, look and steer toward your intended path of travel. Keep your eyes focused on where you want the vehicle to go. Here are additional tips on three skid situations.
Ø Responding to front tire skids: Smoothly ease up on the accelerator. This will transfer more weight to the front wheels, increasing the front tires’ traction.
Ø Responding to rear tire skids: Avoid using the brakes. As the rear tires regain traction, continue steering toward your intended path of travel.
Ø Counter-steering: Steer in the direction you want the front of the vehicle to go, toward your intended path of travel. Most drivers tend to steer this way instinctively in their attempt to correct a rear-tire skid. When you counter-steer, straighten the wheels as soon as you feel the rear of the vehicle begin to realign with your intended path of travel.
Be careful when you counter-steer — it is not enough to correct for only the first over-steer skid. The rear of the vehicle may swing back in the opposite direction of the first skid (“fishtailing”). Be ready to counter-steer quickly if more skidding occurs. You need quick and correct reactions for successful skid recovery.
· DON'T BOTHER SPEEDING
We all want to get to our destinations sooner, but all speeding really does is increase your risk of getting into an accident or getting a speeding ticket, it turns out.
· DON'T DRIVE WHEN YOU'RE SLEEPY (OR OTHERWISE NOT ALERT)
We all know the dangers of driving after drinking, but a serious lack of sleep could also impair you just as much (some people even sleep drive!) Any time your mental facilities could be compromised—whether from alcohol, poor sleep, new medication, or even having a horrible cold—is a time to stay off the road or find an alternative to driving.
LAST BUT NOT THE LEAST, BE A PATIENT DRIVER