Advanced driving tips – 5 ways to stay safe and improve your driving experience
A guest post from finder.com.au.
Are you a good driver? I mean, really a good driver?
Chances are you’re okay, but you’ve got your weaknesses. Maybe you’re tempted to touch your phone while stopped in traffic. Maybe your driving position isn’t ideal as you scarf down the odd Big Mac while “expertly” piloting your vehicle with your knees. Maybe you’ve been driving a while and have just forgotten a few of the basics.
Whatever it is, if you’re looking to get a little better behind the wheel, we’ve got you covered. Here are five tips to help you stay safe on the roads.
1. Wet weather conditions
Whether you’ve been driving a while or you have a freshly laminated licence, you should know the basics of staying safe in wet conditions.
- Increase the distance between yourself and the car in front of you.
- Turn your headlights on.
- Slow down. You should drive at least 10km per hour less than the signposted limit.
One tip you may not know is to follow the tracks of the car in front of you. Their tyres have already cleared a path through the water and may provide you with more traction, should you need to brake suddenly.
2. Use your fog lights right
While fog isn’t a huge issue for drivers in Australia, you’ll probably run into a handful of foggy mornings and evenings each year. That’s where fog lights become useful. Unfortunately, there’s a lot of confusion about fog lights, and what they’re used for.
All Australian cars will have high beams, meant for illuminating long stretches of road at night. Most new cars, and most European cars of any age, will also include fog lights, which are angled low and wide, lighting your way through the haze without causing issues for oncoming traffic the way a high beam would.
Fog lights are operated by a separate switch (see image) and are specifically designed to point down at the road, lighting your way through the haze without causing issues for oncoming traffic the same way a high beam would.
High beams can be used at night, but fog lights can only be used in adverse weather conditions, such as in fog or storms. Having fog lights on outside of these conditions is a finable offence in all states of Australia and could cost you hundreds of dollars.
Fog light fines by state:
3. Lighting the way
Speaking of lights, one way to stay safe on the road is to keep your lights on at all times. Turning on your parking lights or just normal headlights will make your car more visible to the cars around you and reduce your chances of being involved in an accident.
The increased safety from daytime head light use is hard to measure, but this US analysis found it can reduce crashes by 5-10%. That’s a great result for very little work!
4. Know your blind spots
You’ve got to be like Santa and his list when it comes to your blind spots: always check them twice. This means looking over your shoulder twice before changing lanes and being especially wary of cyclists and motorbikes. You can also look to install blind spot mirrors for that added sense of safety. Remember that trucks have blind spots too.
On the subject of cyclists, there’s an easy way to check your blind spots when you park that stops you accidentally opening a door in front of a cyclist. Get in the habit of using the ‘Dutch Reach’ to open your door. Here’s how it works.
5. Keeping your car fuel-efficient
With fuel prices seemingly always on the rise, cutting down on petrol costs is key. Here are a couple of ways you can do that:
- Don’t just jam on the pedal! Instead, drive at a constant pace, and accelerate slowly.
- Travel off-peak to avoid idling in traffic.
- Keep the weight of your car down. Have a look in your boot and see if you’re carrying any unnecessary weight. Golf clubs, I’m talking to you.
How to be a great driver? Keep learning
The best thing you can do to maintain your driving edge is to keep learning. Don’t be arrogant and dismiss advice. Instead, take on criticism of your driving, then look up the best practices to see how you can improve.
That way, you’ll keep you, your passengers, and other people on the road as safe as possible.