Over the past 10 years I have driven on and off as both a pizza delivery driver, and as a automotive transporter. Outside of my work life I also drive over 20,000 miles per year. I have professional driving experience in northern and southern states, and in all types of driving circumstances and weather. In the 15 years I have been able to drive, I have never been in an accident and have hardly had anything more than a speeding ticket. As such it is my hope to provide you with helpful tips and advice to improve your confidence and driving out on the road.
It's All About Confidence
Confidence is among the most important pieces of advice I can give. Whether you are a new driver or just want to know how to be a better driver, you have most likely been witness to less than ideal road conditions. Of course there are a wide variety of tough driving situations such as; hazardous weather, tight spaces, extreme drivers, traffic jams, construction, etc. The worst thing you can do regardless of circumstance is panic. A nervous and unsure driver is arguably more dangerous than the majority of road conditions. Your are better off standing by your decisions. If you begin to act on the road, follow through with your decision. Hesitation and stuttering after you have begun to make a choice is far worse than following through with a bad one. So stay calm at the wheel and be sure of yourself as it will help you to calmly analyze and maneuver through some of the toughest situations on the road.
Know Your Car
You might ask how much do I really need to know about my car to be good at driving it? The truth is, the more you know about your car and the greater interest you take in cars in general, the better off you will be at handling your vehicle. I'm not saying you need to go out and become an ASE certified mechanic to be a good driver. However, it helps greatly to know how a car should feel. Understanding just the basic mechanics of a vehicle helps you to understand how it should operate in your hands. Getting a feel for your car and other cars will improve your response to the vehicle should something go awry. There are two things I recommend as well. First, drive many different types of vehicles. Front wheel drive cars handle different from rear wheel drive vehicles. Trucks feel different than small cars. Different vehicles depending on size also have varying vantage points and blind spots as well. Second, (though it is not necessary) truly try to learn how to drive a manual transmission. Driving a stick shift helps to form a stronger bond between driver and car. I personally find driving a stick more enjoyable. A manual transmission also offers greater control and feel to your vehicle.
Position and Comfort
Comfortability in your vehicle is just as important as the tips I have offered so far. Being comfortable in your vehicle offers a better feel to your car, confidence, and less resistance to your actions. Adjust your seat to an appropriate feeling distance and height so you have optimal control of the steering wheel and pedals, as well as an ideal line of sight to the road and surroundings before adjusting your mirrors. Adjust all your mirrors to the most ideal position for expanding your view as much as possible while minimizing your blind spots. As a side note, getting comfortable with a 9 o'clock and 3 o'clock hand position on the steering wheel is actually more ideal than a 10 and 2 position. A 9 and 3 position reduces chance of injury should the air bag deploy and makes hand over hand steering more efficient.
Don't Be Stubborn
The first thing I mentioned in this article was confidence. However, don't be cocky and over confident. In other words don't be stubborn about your bad driving habits for the sake of your comfort or the desire to look cool in your vehicle. This can range from having your seat leaned to far back to (my biggest pet peeve) using your left foot for the brake. A close friend of mine uses his left foot for the brake and the right foot for the gas. This style of driving is actually very dangerous if you are not a trained professional. The results of accidentally pressing the two at the same time can potentially be detrimental. Minimize your distractions as well. Many drivers out there are still too stubborn to put away their phones or to not do their makeup while they are driving. Please, for yours and everyone else's safety DO NOT text and drive. Please DO be mindful of your distractions when driving.
Patience and Balance
There is always a delicate balance out on the road. Some drivers are wild and aggressive, whereas others are soft. The freeway is a shining example of the various sorts of drivers. You as a driver will want to find a balance somewhere in the middle of the current road mentality. For the most part following your local and state laws are your best bet if you don't want a ticket. However, following the flow of traffic is in honesty a better choice for overall road safety. Granted, speeding is speeding and an officer of the law can and may issue a citation if you are over the speed limit regardless of the road conditions. In my experience on the other hand, police do not tend to waste their time on drivers who are not a danger to the road. Most times of the day law enforcement have bigger fish to fry. The majority of the time on an interstate, cops will and do stop heavy speeders going 10+ over the speed limit and weaving in and out of traffic, vs stopping a mild mannered driver following traffic flow only going 2 or 3+ the speed limit. The point to the latter statement is that slow, nervous drivers cause a degree of impatience in other drivers forcing them to make rash decisions. Many drivers who feel trapped behind other drivers who are afraid of the throttle and cruise at 5 or 10 below the speed limit tend drive rather recklessly the minute they see an opening. This being one of the driving forces behind some state laws that the far left lane is a designated passing zone only. You can also see this article for additional points on the matter. This also brings me to my next point. Be patient, do not be that impatient person who makes reckless decisions because traffic isn't in the condition you want it to be. That kind of attitude is reserved for children throwing a temper tantrum and is almost always followed by negative consequences.
There are several ways (many not listed here) to make yourself a better driver. This article is only meant to provide some common sense ways to help you do a little better on the road. Ultimately it is up to you to look for ways to hone your driving skills. A positive attitude and desire to learn is always the right step to improve any skill you wish to obtain. With that said, I hope this article helped you think about some logical things that might get over looked on your journey to better driving, and as always never drive under the influence, and thank you all for reading. If you enjoyed this article and are interested in joining easy careers in driving cars check out my other articles below.
© 2018 Nicholas Conner