Do you consider yourself to be a good driver?
Most of us, when asked that question, would probably say “yes” or “I’m okay”. Some will opine that a good driver is fast and safe, can park anywhere or can slice their way through any traffic jam.
We all have differing opinions on what makes a good driver. But here’s one I think we all can agree on: A good driver is one who is smooth, and drives with the safety of his passengers and other road users in mind.
We can all also agree that apart from being adept, good drivers also possess habits that complement their skills. Here are five that we can learn.
Good drivers are not multi-taskers. Driving is a complex activity so when they’re behind the wheel, their focus is solely on the task at hand.
In fact, good drivers may hardly speak to their passengers, fiddle with loose items or play with the infotainment system. Some won’t even take calls even if it’s via Bluetooth.
Imagine driving at 60km/h on an empty road. You glance down to reach your water bottle, but in that moment, a car filters into your lane and suddenly brakes.
That momentary lapse could result in a mishap. If you were not distracted, you could have anticipated the move and slowed down. Stopping on a dime is almost impossible and even if you could, there could be vehicles behind you that may not be able to.
Which leads us to the next habit…
MAINTAINING SITUATIONAL AWARENESS
Good drivers will do everything they can to remain focussed because they know that their situational awareness drops to zero the moment they become distracted.
Being situationally aware doesn’t just mean keeping your eyes locked onto the road ahead. One must also constantly check the three rearward-facing mirrors to maintain a sense what is happening around you.
This constant scanning is even more critical in dark conditions. At night, there are many drivers who fail to switch on their headlights and from afar, these vehicles can be hard to spot.
Good drivers also keep their ears peeled for tell-tale sounds of trouble, which include screeching tyres, loud bangs, sirens and the sudden blaring of horns.
Every car is a complex machine with thousands of parts. Everything (or nearly everything) has to work together for the vehicle to function properly.
You don’t have to be a mechanic or perform an exhaustive weekly check-up. However, a good driver will at least visually check the tyres and ensure that there’s enough fuel for the journey before driving off.
A soft tyre warrants closer inspection and even a trip to the tyre shop to check for punctures. Low fuel means a trip to the petrol kiosk sooner rather than later.
Good drivers maintain their vehicle so they can rely on it. But they also understand that a car’s reliability ultimately depends on its driver.
KNOWING YOUR LIMITS
A good driver not only knows his car’s limits, but his or her own, too. Knowing how much performance your vehicle has, for instance, helps you plan overtaking manoeuvres as you’ll have a better gauge of when it’s safe to do so.
However, it’s easy to get carried away when driving a high-performance machine that accelerates faster, corners quicker and stops shorter compared to regular models.
Good drivers know what they can and can’t handle, and confidently drive within their abilities. They do not seek to test these limits or that of other motorists on public roads.
CONSIDERING OTHER ROAD USERS
A good driver realises that he is part of a larger community of road users, and remembers that each time they get behind the wheel. He knows that his actions or inactions affect not just him, but also his passengers.
So, the next time you feel tired or sleepy, consider taking a nap before resuming your drive. Plan to take a cab if you’re going out for drinks with friends. Prioritising your safety and that of others is definitely a habit all good drivers have.