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Are you a good driver? Before you answer that, consider the fact that most people would say yes, even if they aren’t actually good drivers. That’s what a study conducted by psychological scientists tells us, anyway. Even if you do believe you’re a great driver, though, there’s a good chance you’ve probably wondered how to be a better driver at some point. And for those who know they’re not great behind the wheel, there’s this helpful list of tips you can use to become a better driver.
Since we believe that everyone can always improve, we’re not targeting just “bad drivers” in this post. These tips on how to be a better driver can help anyone become more confident in the car and less dangerous on the roads. No matter how great you might think you are, you can always stand to be a better driver, especially when your and others’ safety is at stake.
So, want to know how to be a better driver? Here’s what to do.
20 Tips to Become a Better Driver
1. Take a Defensive Driving Course Online
Part of being a good driver is assuming that other drivers are not good. It’s not being smug, it’s just being safe—being a defensive driver means you are prepared to safely maneuver your car if another driver makes a mistake and puts you in danger. Luckily, defensive driving can be taught. Take a defensive driving course online with a service like either Aceable or iDriveSafely.
2. Look Ahead
Similar to what it takes to become better at defensive driving, another tip we have for you is to keep your eyes looking forward. Like, way forward. Try to see in the distance so you can anticipate sharp turns or abrupt traffic halts. You can avoid a lot of fender benders by staying ahead of the game.
3. Install a Backup Camera
Some might scoff at the idea of needing a backup camera at first, but once you realize how helpful these wireless backup cameras are, you’ll wonder how you ever backed up or drove anywhere without one. You can even use your smartphone as a backup camera if that’s more your speed.
4. Learn Manual Transmission
Also known as another way to help ensure your car never gets stolen, driving a manual transmission will help you better understand your car. You’ll know what to do if for some reason the automatic transmission fails you, plus, driving manual is a pretty fun trick when you learn to do it well.
5. Minimize Distractions
Distracted driving kills approximately nine people a day in the United States. Keep the radio at a safe volume, leave the phone in your pocket, and pay no mind to your friends in the backseat.
6. Get Great at Parking
Not only does it put your car in danger of getting dinged, but being bad at parking also takes a toll on your reputation. Don’t let a date see you recorrect your parking job five times—learn how to get it right the first time. All it takes is some practice.
7. Learn How to Back into a Parking Spot
Mastering the “back-in” is a clutch move in many situations (no pun intended). Did you know it’s actually safer to back into your parking spot than it is to pull forward and back out of it? Yep, so learn how to back into a parking spot using our guide here, and you’ll never have to back out of a parking space ever again. Hopefully.
8. Remember Blind Spots
Never forget to check your mirrors for blind spots, whether you are changing lanes, pulling in or out of a parking space, or just driving around the neighborhood. If you need to, try to adjust your mirrors to cover the blind spots.
9. Don’t Drive Drowsy
Driving while sleepy or not alert is extremely dangerous. If you’re feeling super tired, do everyone (including yourself) a favor and don’t get behind the wheel. Being a better driver means you should hitch a ride in this scenario if you really need to be somewhere.
10. Stop Speeding
Most people on the road would rather get to their destinations sooner rather than later, so don’t think that going 10 MPH over the speed limit will really help you. Speed limits are in place for a reason—your safety—and if you choose to ignore them, you will probably end up sorry. Getting somewhere a mere two minutes later usually will not be a deal-breaker… Relax.
11. Know How to Merge Into Traffic
If you want to know how to be a better driver, this tip is a big one. Here’s the thing: A lot of traffic jams can be caused by poor merging. Don’t be part of the problem. Learn how to do the zipper merge and watch your road rage melt away.
12. Give Motorcycles Some Space
…Even more space than you’d give another car. Motorcycles have a lot less protection than cars if they are hit, so adding a few extra feet between you and the bike could be crucial to the driver’s life.
13. Master Reverse
You never know when you might end up in a sticky situation that requires you to reverse farther than usual. It’s much better to go into this scenario confident, so practice the art of reversing until you feel pretty comfortable steering and reversing at the same time.
14. Keep Your Hands at 10 and 2
Such a simple tip and yet one that can be easily forgotten. To better handle your steering wheel and to keep control of your vehicle, make a point to check that both of your hands are on the wheel at the 10 and 2 positions (or 9 and 3), as if the wheel were a clock. This will help you be prepared for any unexpected instances, and it’s especially important when driving in dicey conditions.
15. Know Your Route
Don’t fumble around your console while going 70 miles per hour on the Interstate. That’s a great way to get hurt. Make sure you know where you’re going before you put the car in drive. If you have a passenger, put them to work as the co-pilot—trying to look at a map while driving the car is never the answer.
16. Use Your Blinkers
Some might only see blinkers as a courtesy to other drivers, but these indicative lights can also help keep you out of trouble on the road. Bad things can happen if you turn unexpectedly.
17. Keep Pace
Within reason, keeping pace with other drivers is most often a good gauge for speed. Even if the flow of traffic is about 5 miles an hour quicker than you wanted to go, it will be much easier to keep the faster pace. Otherwise, you’ll have people constantly passing you and getting stuck behind you, which may make them angry.
18. Prepare Yourself for Bad Driving Conditions
Sometimes you just can’t avoid driving in bad thunderstorms or on snowy roads. Instead of panicking when these things happen, you need to be ready to safely get from Point A to Point B. Review our tips for driving in the snow and driving the rain if you’re not already prepped on these skills.
19. Don’t Be THAT Guy
Speaking of not making other drivers angry, it’s also smart not to be the driver getting mad. No matter how hard it might be to control yourself, don’t go out of your way to disturb or distract another driver, especially with bad intentions. That means no brake-checking, no rear-riding, or excessive honking. Just be cool.
20. Be Patient and Practice
Lastly, if you want to know how to drive better, just remember that you can do it with enough practice. Keep these tips in mind next time you’re behind the wheel, and try to improve your driving skills, starting with the areas you’re not so confident with. You will become a better driver in no time!