Driving is something we do regularly, so it’s easy to take it for granted. For example, merging lanes becomes second nature and we become accustomed to seeing other cars driving alongside us. It’s easy to tune out and begin to focus on our destination, rather than the journey.
It’s good to be confident with your driving but it’s important to not get complacent. Here are ten tips on how you can become a more courteous, considerate and safer driver.
Get set up properly
There are some important tasks to take care of the moment you sit in the driver’s seat and before you put your keys in the ignition. When preparing for your trip, plug in your mobile phone to charge, then put it in an easy-to-reach place where it’s unlikely to distract you. If you get out at a stop, you may need it.
After you’ve done this, double-check your rearview and side mirror positions. Ensure they are at the correct angle for your seat and eye positions.
Tailgating is one of the most annoying and dangerous driver behaviours. Along with the potential to create anger in other drivers, it is also extremely dangerous to not observe safe following distances. Rule of thumb is to follow the two-second rule in fine weather and the four-second rule in bad weather. To calculate it use a fixed object – like a pole on the side of the road – and use it to make sure you’re either two or four seconds behind the car in front.
Pay attention to your surroundings, including other drivers and what’s happening on the road further ahead. Hidden queues and unexpected sharp turns are recipes for disaster, so look ahead and anticipate what’s coming up. Other drivers are unpredictable, so drive defensively and keep you and your passengers safe.
Better driving techniques
Using a mobile phone while driving is illegal but there are many other equally distracting actions that can cause bad outcomes on the road. Examples are passengers talking to you incessantly, inputting data into your GPS, fiddling with your radio and dealing with children. These are distractions that should be avoided at all costs. Give your full attention to the road and your car and to getting to your destination safely with minimal stress.
Ensure you are alert and fully awake when driving, particularly on long trips and when travelling at night, when you would usually be asleep. Many accidents are caused by drivers falling asleep behind the wheel, so make sure you take regular breaks. Even if you aren’t feeling sleepy, your attention span, eyes and brain will need a break from focussing intently for a prolonged period of time.