Many drivers agree that the biggest problem on Texas roads is other people. Teenagers, older drivers, and everyone in between can’t seem to focus on the road and drive at safe speeds--putting you at constant risk of a crash.
However, it’s important to remember that we’re all “someone else” to someone else, and our own actions behind the wheel may not be the most effective—or safest—driving techniques.
5 Steps to Becoming a Better Driver
Most people get their licenses before graduating from high school, and may never undergo formal driving training for the rest of their lives. Driving laws are constantly changing, and no matter if it’s been a few years or even a few decades since you took your driver’s education course, there’s probably a new and better driving technique you don’t know about.
Here are the top five ways to become a better driver almost immediately:
Forget the 10 and 2 positions. You may remember your driving instructor correcting you if your hands fell from the 10 o’clock and 2 o’clock positions on the steering wheel. However, experts have now agreed that it is safer to keep your hands lower on the wheel, such as at 9 and 3 o’clock, or even 8 and 4 o’clock. Holding your hands lower is more ergonomic, meaning your arms are less likely to get tired during long periods of driving, giving you more control over the car.
Practice “zip” merging. When lanes collide, people often fight for positions in line, cutting in wherever they can find a gap. This chaotic merging style leads to traffic backups, angry drivers, and rear-end collisions. The solution: zipper merging. Each car merges left, right, left, right, lining up the entire traffic lane efficiently—and since everyone lets exactly one driver in, there are far fewer accidents and road rage incidents.
Brush up on parking. You may have needed to parallel park to pass your driving test, but never used the skill since. A good parker makes a better driver, so you should practice proper parallel parking, as well as how no navigate a parking lot, back into spaces, and even do a standard forward park to center your vehicle in the space.
Do nothing else but drive. The simplest way to improve your driving skills is to concentrate only on driving every time you get behind the wheel. Cars are heavy and dangerous machines, and even one second of lapsed concentration can cause deaths and serious injuries. Put away all electronic devices when driving (even if your cell phone is hands free, it can still distract you), avoid eating and drinking while driving, and only press buttons on the GPS when the car is in park. It is best to take a few minutes before you drive to secure items loose in the car and setting up the music system to avoid becoming distracted during driving.
Enroll in a defensive driving course. The only way to know your failings as a driver is to drive with someone who has better skills. A refresher course fills in the gaps that you’ve missed over the years, giving you the skills you need to drive safely and defensively to protect your passengers. Most classes can be taken for less than $100, and as a bonus, your car insurance may reduce your rate for taking the course.
Remember: when it comes to driving, there's always room for improvement. Share this article on Facebook or via email to let your family and friends know what skills they could be missing when they get behind the wheel.