Driving a car can be one of the most fun experiences if you’ve mastered the art of driving, but it can be quite nerve-racking for a newbie driver. While the basics of driving a car are simple, executing what you have learned can be a tough task, especially in a traffic-heavy city.
Here, we take a look at 10 ways that you can do to improve your driving:
1. Hands In The Right Position On The Steering Wheel
It's important that you’re comfortable when seated behind the wheel, before you embark on your ride. Seating height and position as well as steering height makes a huge difference on how a person drives. Being relaxed and comfortable can make you feel confident while on the road.
Another important thing to do before driving away is finding the right place to position your hands on the steering wheel. The ideal position to place your hands is in the 9 o’clock and 3 o’clock positions on the steering wheel.
2. Set Your Rearview Mirrors
It is imperative that you set all three of your rearview mirrors - the left and right outside rearview mirror, as well as the central rearview mirror inside the car - before you start your journey. Using your rearview mirror will help your journey as well as the motorists around you drive in the right lane, and help avoid accidents.
While overtaking in the city or the highway, drivers must keep a distance from the car ahead and plan the overtake only when there is no opposing traffic (if it is a dual carriageway with no dividers) and in one swift motion. Dilly dallying an overtake may cause more harm than good; if you think that there’s a gap to overtake, finish the overtake move quickly. You could use your horn or flash your headlight to indicate to the person ahead of you that you’re going to make the move.
4. Indicate Before Turning
The indicators in a car are often underused while driving, which can cause confusion, or worse, an accident, while on the road. Before turning, turn on your indicator, slow down, watch for opposing cars coming at you, and when the road is clear, turn. Ensure that you switch on the indicator before you come to a halt to make a turn. Also remember to switch off the indicator once the turn is made.
5. Emergency Braking
Most modern cars have ABS which makes panic and emergency braking easy; stomp on the brake pedal as hard as you can and you will come to a halt without skidding and losing control of the vehicle.
If your car is not equipped with ABS, gradually press the brake pedal, finding where the limit that your tires can go before locking up and press firmly on the brake pedal.
Do not swerve the car while braking, whether it is an ABS or non-ABS car. You must also not engage the clutch while braking, as the wheel speed will increase and it will take a longer time to slow to a halt.
6. Engine Braking
An advanced braking technique, engine braking is going down the gears while matching the RPM to slow down a car. Engine braking can be especially useful while slowing down a car while going downhill as constant use of the brakes may heat up the brake pads and cause a loss of braking power or brake fade.
If you’re to halt the car, gradually press the brake pedal while going down the gears (from 5th, to 4th and so on) until you come to the lowest gear. Engine braking can only be done on a manual transmission vehicle.
7. Be Aware Of Blind Spots
Blind spots are zones or areas which may not be visible to the driver from where he is sitting. Vehicle blind spots are usually in the sides of the car, when other vehicles may not be visible.
While overtaking or being overtaken, it is important that you use all your mirrors to see if you have any cars around you; but there are times when the rearview mirrors may not show vehicles if they are in the blind spot zones. It is important that you’re aware of things around you while driving, constantly checking your mirrors and keeping a track of who’s in and around you.
8. Practice Parallel Parking
Reversing can be tricky even for the most experienced drivers, as it requires the driver to use various angles to move the car around as well as a keen sense of what is in and around. Parallel parking takes time and experience to master, and it is important that you practice parking on an empty plot before you actually try it out on the road. Use your mirrors effectively, learn how to judge where to turn in and the space that you have to leave for the other cars around you. Do not park too close to another car as it may be tough for the other motorist to move the car if it is too close.
9. Don’t Ride The Clutch
This is a rookie mistake that may cause serious damage to your car. While driving, do not rest your leg on the clutch as it may wear out the clutch and lead to a huge service bill. This will cause the clutch to slip which will cause the revs to build up and drive the car forward with little or no effort, in turn causing the clutch to wear. Instead, place your foot on floor of the car, and not resting on the clutch or brake when not engaged.
If you have the skills to drive a car, you should use those skills with confidence when driving on the road. Do not be put off or scared by what your co-passengers or fellow motorists say or do; keep a steady head and drive with caution and confidence.
Use everything that you have learned at driving school and read about the do’s and dont’s of driving on the road, and by experience you will become a better driver, if you have confidence in your abilities.