What makes a good driver?
Some people think it’s someone who drives fast. Others might say that it’s someone who drives fast and smooth.
You might hear folks saying it’s someone who drives efficiently. At Torque, we say that a good driver is a safe and smooth one.
You may have the driving skills, but it takes more than technical ability to be a smoother driver.
Follow these five tips and you might just impress your fellow enthusiasts.
1) THE RIGHT POSITION
You can’t be a safer and smoother driver if you cannot control the vehicle properly.
A proper driving position ensures this.
Set the seat height high enough so that you don’t have to tilt your head upwards to see over the steering wheel. Next, ensure you are close enough to the pedals so that you can depress them properly.
This is especially important. You must be able to jam on the brake pedal in an emergency with the power coming from your leg, not your foot!
Then, ensure that your arms are bent when you put both hands (always both hands!) on the steering wheel. You’ll have better car control this way. If your arms are locked straight, you are too far from the steering wheel!
Do not “hug” the steering wheel either. Remember, in a collision, the airbag needs space to deploy!
2) ALWAYS LOOK FAR, FAR AHEAD
To become a smoother driver, you must anticipate traffic conditions and the behaviour of other road users.
Situational awareness doesn’t just mean knowing what’s happening around you. You have to see what’s happening ahead. When you scan the road ahead, look as far ahead as you can see.
A smoother driver is able to spot accidents, road works, reckless motorists and avoid them in good time.
How many times have you seen drivers getting stuck behind road works, despite all the warning signs advising motorists to switch lanes?
That’s right, they weren’t looking far enough ahead.
3) KILL DISTRACTIONS
We all love listening to music or podcasts in our car. Some of us enjoy singing along to our favourite tunes.
But to be a safer and smoother driver, you need to eliminate these distractions. You can chat with passengers if necessary, but you should avoid actions that take your eyes and mind off the road.
Eating, drinking and chatting are distractions. So is tapping on your mobile phone. Doesn’t matter if it’s mounted.
To be a smoother driver, just concentrate on driving. Your passengers’ lives are at stake.
4) DON’T LET EMOTIONS OVERCOME YOU
Everybody gets annoyed or angry while driving. Quite possibly the only time this doesn’t happen is if you’re alone on a deserted road.
To become a smoother driver, you mustn’t let your emotions affect you. Angry drivers who lose self-control will become aggressive and take unnecessary risks that put other road users in danger.
If you’re feeling sad or overcome with grief, it is better to take a taxi or get someone to drive you. Stay focussed on the fact that your passengers’ lives are in your hands.
Always use gentle and progressive inputs. That will help you become a smoother driver.
5) ALWAYS AVOID ALCOHOL
Never drive after you’ve had a drink, even if it “wasn’t much”.
Becoming a smoother driver requires you to have all your faculties present and at 100%. Alcohol, even a little bit, impairs motor skills, coordination and vision. And it can mess with your head by affecting your concentration.
While we’re at it, you should also avoid driving if you’ve consumed medication that can make you drowsy.