There’s more to being a good driver than the number of hours you’ve clocked behind the wheel. In fact, a lot of what it takes to be a good driver doesn’t even have to do with what you do behind the wheel, but more about the preparation you make and mindset you practice when hitting the road.
Driver’s training will teach you the rules of the road and help you develop the skills you need to operate a vehicle. But we’ve compiled some tips that will help make you a driver that enhances safety for everyone on the road.
3 Tips to Form Good Driving Habits Now
Local and national campaigns and personal experience tell you what not to do when you’re driving. So, being a good driver means creating and strengthening driving habits that help you avoid distractions and accidents, such as:
#1: Distancing Yourself from Your Phone
You already know you shouldn’t text and drive and that any mobile device usage should be hands-free. You can make it easier to do this when you literally put your mobile device out of arm’s reach.
So, before buckling yourself in, put your cell phone or tablet on silent and place it in the backseat or trunk. Bluetooth-enabled devices will still be detected. This eliminates the near-instinctual urge to check or answer any ring, buzz or other sound notifying you of some going-on somewhere else.
#2: Familiarize Yourself with Your Route/Destination before You Shift into “Drive”
GPS does make it possible for you to navigate unknown areas without consulting a paper map or stopping to ask for directions. But dash-mounted devices or map apps on your phone are still distractions. Rather than put yourself in a position where you need to keep taking your eyes off the road to check where your next turn should be, review directions before you start driving.
Before shifting into Drive, you should know:
- Approximate time/distance for your entire trip
- Names of major roads/intersections where your course changes direction
If you need to do more than flick your eyes to your GPS screen, pull over so that you can read directions safely.
#3: Limit All Types of Distractions and Multitasking Demands
Mobile phones and GPS devices are not the only distractions you can have in your car. Eating, multitasking and visiting all take your concentration away from vehicle operations and road safety. To make sure you are the most focused, safest driver you can be, avoid:
- Eating while driving (sure, you can probably safely move one hand occasionally from the wheel to reach your beverage, but trying to manage unruly wrappers and dripping burger condiments is too much)
- Primping and prepping (be destination-ready before you get in your car)
- Audio setting changes that require your hands to move from the steering wheel (so, memorize where the mode-change and volume buttons are on your steering wheel)
- Hauling distracting passengers (that friend who thinks it’s funny to “make you look” or randomly screams to check your focus—make them find another ride)
Even driving in solitude can be distracting. So, if you catch yourself daydreaming, re-focus so that your eyes and mind are on the road.
3 Tips to Be a Smart Driver
What you know about other drivers and driving behaviors can inform your driving to improve your safety and that of road conditions. As a smart driver, you need to:
#4: Know What to Do in the Event of an Accident before an Accident Situation
There may come a day when you cannot successfully avoid an accident. In order to prevent your accident from causing more accidents and to minimize the hassle and expense of accident aftermath, know what you should do:
- Remove your car from the flow of traffic to a safe place if your vehicle is drivable
- Remain in/with your vehicle if your vehicle is not drivable
- Call local law enforcement
- Check for injuries on/in yourself, your passengers and those in other vehicles involved
- Exchange insurance information with the other parties involved
- Contact your insurance company to begin the claims process
Do not panic. Do not assign or admit blame for the accident—that’s what the police are there to figure out.
#5: Be Aware of Truck Drivers’ Training and How It Should Inform Your Driving
No matter what you’re driving, it’s lighter and more responsive than a semi or other heavy duty commercial truck. Two things you should know about heavy trucks are:
- They take longer to stop, so they will cover a lot more distance while braking.
- Truck drivers go through special training to learn how to best handle their heavy vehicles and minimize accident damage. One such lesson they learn is that jack-knifing is more dangerous for everyone. So, they will avoid slamming on the brakes and causing their trailer to skid out from behind them.
You cannot weave around/cut-off semis and expect that they can stop before slamming into your bumper. Simple as that. Give semis more room and plenty of advanced notice of your intention to change direction or position in relation to them.
#6: Do Your Part to Alleviate Road Rage
Roadway safety is endangered by drivers seeking to retaliate for cut-offs or obscene gestures. You can reduce road rage by:
- Not participating in it—i.e., keeping your cool no matter how badly someone else is driving
- Being a driver who does not give cause for others to rage at them—in other words, not tailgating or passing someone and then driving slowly to irritate them
These tips are not just for teens. Every driver can increase their safety and the safety of our roads by eliminating distractions and being conscientious of other vehicles and drivers. While we appreciate your business, we want you to stay safe, ABQ!