10 Driving Techniques That Will Make You A Better Driver

Article originally appeared on eBay.com
With around 1.2 billion cars on the roadways of the world, we’re faced with bad drivers, poor decisions and potential hazards with every turn of the steering wheel. That’s why it’s crucial that we as car lovers stick to good driving practices to make sure that we keep our cars (the most sacred of things) away from danger! Here are some useful tips:

Look ahead in turns

This bit of advice used to be common in driver education courses, but people either forget or act like they never got the memo. Looking further down the road when taking corners will help you judge the corner better, so you can make a nice, smooth turn instead of weaving and over controlling.

Look ahead at cars in the distance

We tend to focus on our immediate surroundings when on the road, especially if traffic is heavy. That’s important, but also make a point of watching what’s happening in the distance. Noticing brake lights a quarter mile in front of you can provide precious seconds of reaction time that could help keep you out of danger.

Get up to speed when merging with traffic

Highways generally have an entrance ramp. It’s designed to allow motorists room to accelerate, so use it. You should be at the same speed as traffic on the highway at the end of the lane to make merging much easier and safer.

Go easy on the brakes when stopping

In racing situations, you’ll want to stop as quickly as possible. For everyday driving, there’s no need to constantly exercise those big brakes. When able, lift off the gas sooner and coast in gear as far as you can. This leaves extra room in front of you to respond to emergencies, and it also helps save you fuel.

Drive a manual transmission

Operating a clutch and manually selecting gears forces the driver to be more involved in the act of driving. Even when it becomes second nature, your brain is still processing information about stopping distances, gear selection, how far you can coast, when to re-engage the clutch and so forth. That kind of awareness forces you to be a better driver, even if you then decide to dump the clutch and take off hard.

Learn to control oversteer

One of the fundamental skills taught at high-performance driving schools is basic car control involving oversteer. Take a driving course that gives training on car control, or practice in your buddy’s field where there are no trees or anything to hit. Get the back-end sideways, steer into the skid, and learn how to correct the action. Such experience can mean the difference between a split-second correction to prevent an accident, or an overcorrection to cause one.

Heel-toe downshifting

If you’re spending any time on a track, heel-toe downshifting is a must for smooth, quick shifts and faster lap times. On the street, this can help extend the life of transmission components through smoother gear changes. It also goes back to the concept of being more involved in the driving process, paying closer attention to engine speed and gear selection, not to mention the traffic around you. It can be a tricky technique to master, but the benefits on the street and track are totally worth the effort.

Get good at driving backwards

Surprisingly enough, reversing a car is a fundamental skill that many people lack. Driving backwards requires real spatial awareness, and it also helps you learn to judge distances better. And even at slow speeds, most cars react quite differently when turning in reverse. The better you get at backing up, the better car control you’ll have.

Practice parking

Parking is boring, unless you have the skill to pull off a perfectly executed handbrake turn to parallel park within inches of surrounding cars. For the rest of us, parking requires a combination of car control in both forward and reverse gears, judging distances, using mirrors, and plenty of concentration. Just about anyone can park a car, but if you can parallel park a truck in 10 seconds and be perfectly within the lines, you have serious skill.

Patience

Patience behind the wheel is a crucial. It’s something we all struggle with, but patience isn’t just about keeping a lid on road rage. The next time you’re about to pull out in front of a car, take a second to look back. Perhaps you have just enough space to make the turn, but if there’s little to no traffic behind, why not wait a few more seconds for the car to pass? Likewise, when you’re on a highway approaching your exit, why not wait behind slower traffic instead of passing then cutting back at the last second?

Once you start driving in a more laid-back manner, you quickly realise just how many risky situations can be completely avoided simply by exercising a little bit of patience.

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