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15 Tips to Help You Become a Better and Safer Driver

Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

A little drive out on the town or that occasional road trip can be quite therapeutic. However, this depends on your experience as a driver and how well you adapt to tricky situations. In retrospect, most car accidents are avoidable if you take the necessary precautions. This article provides a list of simple driving hacks that will allow you a safer, more comfortable driving experience.

1) Test your vision

If you are a frequent driver, make a point to take this test at least once every 3 years. Visual impairment increases your blind spots and causes an inability to measure distance and speed accurately. Of all the five senses, good eyesight is perhaps the most crucial when driving. A vision test will also help you to know if your sight needs correction, at which point you can purchase spectacles or contact lenses. Note that vision impairment seriously hinders your ability to make split-second decisions that may save your life. 

2) Always be alert

Even experienced drivers get distracted every once in a while. Never restrict your attention to the car directly in front of you, look around, regularly check your mirrors, and always look at at least four vehicles ahead. Keeping yourself alert at all times will enable you to react much quicker and possibly avoid a crash. 

3) Speed check

Consider your speed relative to the traffic density. Ensure you drive at the same speed as other vehicles and maintain the proper distance. Speed checking aims to allow for a sufficient reaction time in case anything goes wrong. 

4) Precautions when turning

It is quite common for people to turn the steering wheel at a junction in anticipation of the turn. Huge mistake. Ensure you keep your steering wheel straight while waiting for the road to clear. The reason why this is important is, if another car rear-ends you while your wheels are angled, the impact will send you straight into oncoming traffic. Keeping your wheels straight until traffic clears prevents these kinds of accidents. 

5) Practice defensive driving

The best way to prevent car crashes is not just to follow the rules yourself, but to assume everyone else won’t. Always be aware of other drivers, keep a keen eye on what is going on around you, how they switch lanes, if they indicate, or if a driver is changing lanes haphazardly, etc. Defensive driving is all about anticipation, knowing how to react to a crisis before it happens. 

6) Check your tires

It is very risky to drive with worn-out tires. The lack of traction affects your car adversely. Always check your tires for uneven wear or loss of traction before leaving your home. Worn out tires reduce the effectiveness of your brakes, especially on slippery surfaces and country roads

7) Seat belts

A lot of drivers are so confident in their ability that they underestimate the importance of a seatbelt. Did you know that on impact, even at 30km/h, a car crash can be fatal without a seatbelt? A seatbelt is for your protection, so ensure you always have one on when driving.

8) Night driving

Note that the rules change when driving at night. Visibility is low, and you need to be twice as aware of your surroundings as you are during the day. The first tip for night driving is to ensure you slow down, check to see if the lane marking lines on the road are fully visible, and keep your eyes moving so you don’t stare directly at oncoming traffic. 

9) Driving in the rain

Rain causes low visibility and makes the road surfaces slippery. A wet surface will affect the efficiency of your breaks on asphalt. Also, be wary of puddles as they may be hiding huge potholes. The best solution is to drive slow and allow yourself sufficient time to react.  

10) Impaired driving

Avoid driving if you are drunk, on prescription medication that may affect alertness, fatigued, or are suffering from any mental impairment. Remember that driving requires your full attention, and any impairment will reduce the sharpness of your reflexes and reduce your ability to make split-second decisions. 

11) Distance

There is something referred to as the 3-second rule. What this means, essentially, is that it should take you three seconds to reach a stationary object that has been passed by the car in front of you for it to qualify as a safe distance. The reason why this is important is that you need to be far enough to stop safely. Tailgating is a frequent cause of accidents, so always maintain a safe distance. 

12) Holding the steering wheel

Whether you drive slowly or you are a rally driver, experts will tell you that the best way to hold the steering wheel is at 9 and 3. You will notice, if you use it, that the 10 and 2 position feels uncomfortable and may cause your arms to tire, especially if you drive for long distances. Placing your hands at 9 and 3 is safer, more comfortable, and allows you to have the proper grip and turn factor. It also makes your grip more secure at high speeds.

13) Be wary of large/heavy vehicles

Always check the movements of heavy vehicles, for two reasons. 

  1. First, they have a much higher center of gravity, and they are more likely to tip over if they make a sharp turn, which may prove problematic if you are either on their side or behind them. 
  2. Second, they have a better field of vision than you do, and they obscure your view of what’s on the other side. It is thus advisable to keep your distance and be careful when they switch lanes. 

14) Check your mirrors

Note that the mirrors in your car aren’t put there to make your car look pretty. Before pulling out of the driveway, always adjust your mirrors to ensure you can see every angle of the road without struggling. Adjust your rear-view and side mirrors to ensure there are no blind spots. It will allow you to shift lanes and see traffic coming up from behind you. 

15) Citrus fruits for drowsiness

It is never a good idea to drive when you’re sleepy, but in case you do find yourself in such a situation, then a slice of lemon could come in handy. Placing it under your tongue helps reduce the effects of drowsiness.

Bottom line

Always prioritize safety over all else. Keep your eye on other road users and obey traffic rules. Patience and tolerance are two of the most crucial virtues when driving. Drive safe.