Things your instructor never told you...

I was chatting about changing driving tests with a colleague today, and I realised that I had been driving longer than she has been alive, in often rougher conditions.

That means I knew a couple of things about driving that she didn't. Others here are in a similar state as I am, but many are in a similar state to her - young, and only learning (or yearning to learn) to drive.

How about sharing tricks that make your driving easier and/or safer that your driving instructor never taught you?

Here're my starters:

  • Reverse is lower gear than first - if you're stuck in a pothole, or trying to get up a hill your car can't quite manage, try again backwards.
  • Watch your thumbs - when driving in water, snow or mud, or otherwise uneven ground, keep your thumbs on the steering wheel, not in the "hole" - sudden unevenness can kick the wheel and spin it with enough force to break thumbs, especially if you don't have power steering.
  • Brake as you enter a sharp turn, accelerate as you leave it.
  • In urban driving, skill beats power every time (me and my 900cc mini could beat my mate and his three-litre Capri Sport across town every time).
  • On icy wet roads, slow down gradually with the gears instead of with the brakes

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trebuchet0310 years ago
Braking on gravel Roads:

If equipped with ABS, give yourself a lot of extra stopping distance. When doing an emergency stop in gravel, a natural build up of gravel forms in front of your wheels as momentum pushes your car faster than your wheels are spinning (what ABS prevents).

===Do NOT=== turn on your hazard lights in the rain. It's likely illegal and makes driving in the rain "that" much more difficult. How are we supposed to know you're going to change lanes? If you feel compelled to turn them on -- pull over and safely park, turn them on and wait for conditions to clear.
A ditch will probably hurt your car less than a deer. Deer are out at dusk and dawn, then randomly at night when you least expect them. Learn to expect them. If you are driving in bad conditions you have every right to ask/demand that your front seat passenger help you see drive by also paying attention. If your brakes don't work and it's an emergency, putting your car in neutral will stop it very quickly. Don't pump the brakes if you have anti-lock brakes. You're just preventing them from working. If you have to pull over in bad weather think about where people are most likely to run into you accidentally. Don't stop there. Move over if there's someone stopped on the road. You are a bad person if you don't. Call in a car that seems to be in distress. Again, you are a bad person if you don't. However, unless you are absolutely sure you can help don't stop. More than one person has stopped to help someone who didn't need help and ended up robbed/hurt/killed because of it. Odds are, whatever is happening, you aren't going to die. You aren't even going to get hurt. Don't panic. That's all I've got right now...
Kiteman (author)  technoplastique10 years ago
"If your brakes don't work and it's an emergency, putting your car in neutral will stop it very quickly." No! That will just let it cruise as far and as fast as it likes. To stop in an emergency, change to the next gear down. The engine will protest, but not be danaged. After the surge of deceleration, change down again and again until you reach 1st. If you're still in trouble, speed-wise, steer uphill, try the handbreak or aim for rough/soft ground.
For those with an automatic transmission.... Do NOT put the car into Park while moving. This will only break off the locking mechanism off and then you'll likely be freewheeling.
jtobako Kiteman10 years ago
Deer travel in groups. So do dogs. Don't concentrate on the first animal (more than is needed to avoid it), look for the second one.
Don't pump the brakes if you have anti-lock brakes. You're just preventing them from working.

I think you're confusing anti-lock with ABS ;) You really can't interfere with antilock VIA driving technique.

As for ABS, you're not really interfering with their operation - you're just preventing them from kicking on. Which could mean longer stopping distances.

It's generally a good idea to find a large empty parking lot and do a full brake test in which the ABS system kicks on. Just to feel what it's like. It may be loud and you may here strange sounds.
Lextone10 years ago
Turn off your cruise control when its raining or if there is snow or Ice on the road. If any of your drive wheels lose traction they will spin and accelerate your vehicle out of control. Very dangerous situation to be in.
royalestel10 years ago
When hydroplaning, no brakes or gas, and pretend you're "drifting". Turning the steering wheel does the opposite of what you think it will when 'planing.
Chris Bilton10 years ago
Keep those door mirrors at the correct angle, they stray! They should be set so the back of your car is just out of sight. If you can see your tail end in them, they're not aligned properly and means you'll have blind spots.
gyromild10 years ago
I think what really separates an experienced driver and a novice is the ability to look ahead. Anticipating other driver's action/reaction, reading road behavior, understands other vehicle's maneuverability, etc..All contribute towards safe and pleasant driving.
No driving school can't teach us that, only years of experience on the road..
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