Driving Tips

General Driving Tips

Not wearing a seatbelt is insane, not only might it save your life, and it’s the law, but it will keep you in place in an emergency and allow you to regain control.

An air bag inflates at 250 mph in 1/50th of a second; make sure you’re at least 10 inches from the steering wheel. With your body relaxed, back against the seat, and arms straight out, your wrists should be able to rest on the top of the steering wheel.

Always know what is in your blind spot.

Four wheel drive will help with acceleration in snow, but will not help you stop or steer any better than a two wheel drive vehicle. SLOW DOWN.

Maintain a following distance of at least  4 seconds, to determine, pick a landmark (sign, pavement marking), when the vehicle in front passes it start counting, if your don’t reach 4, your too close.

Remember at 65 mph, your car will travel about 100-140 feet while you move your foot from the accelerator to the brake.

Always lift and cover at uncontrolled intersections. (Lift off the gas, and cover the brake).

Look left then right then left again before proceeding through an intersection.

Know Your Vehicle

Know your car; do you have ABS (anti-lock brakes) or traction control? It matters.

Become familiar with the controls so you can operate the fan, heat/AC, lights, everything,  without looking away from the road. Practice this in the driveway.

Check your tire pressure monthly, the correct pressure is typically on the inside of the door panels. Always check pressure when the tires are cold (not driven for 4 hours). If the manufacturer recommended pressure is 30, and the cold pressure is 28, you need 2 lbs., if you drive to a gas station and check again (warming the tires) and the pressure is 32, put in 2 lbs, the cold reading is what is needed.

Driving in Poor Conditions

Don’t use cruise control in rain (the risk of hydroplaning increases) or when the road is snow covered or possibly icy.

When you turn on your wind shield wipers, always turn on your head lights.

When driving on snow and ice, ask you vehicle to do one act at a time, brake in a straight line, and turn with as little pedal input as possible, accelerate in a straight line. Drive as though you have a cup of water on the dashboard you’re trying not to spill.

Increase your following distance to the vehicle in front. In good conditions, you need a 4 second gap. In poor conditions you may need a 6 to 8 second gap to have time to avoid a collision.

Do not out drive your headlights. You need to see a minimum of 4 seconds in front of your vehicle. Look for a non-reflective landmark, and start counting. If you reach it before 4 seconds, slow down. Your headlights will illuminate a distance of about 400 feet, make sure your can stop in that space.

Driving Etiquette

Drive like you own the car, not the road.

Always signal, even in a parking lot. The signal is a communication devise.

The horn is a warning devise only.

Pass on the left, drive on the right. (A lost art on the interstate)

Avoid the aggressive drive, no eye contact, no gestures. Don’t make their mistakes or bad day part of your day.

Hazard Recognition

Driving is 90% visual, look farther ahead and to the sides (especially at intersections). Check the vanishing point (where the road disappears around a bend or over a hill). Look far ahead of the car in front of yours, you will see brake lights or problems early. Proper vision allows a drive to recognize potential hazards far in advance.

Be careful around semis, a fully loaded truck has a very long stopping distance. An empty semi actually has a shorter stopping distance than a car. Stay out of semi blind spots, if you can’t see the truck’s mirrors, the driver can’t see you.

Do not assume the drivers around you know traffic laws, or are capable drivers. Expect the unexpected.

Emergency Maneuvers

There is more to a skid than simply turning into it, beware the rebound, which is the uncoiling of the suspension, the second part of the skid can be more dangerous than the first.

Hydroplaning is a function of inadequate tire tread, speed and standing water (or even hard rain). Slow down; know the condition of your tires. If you hydroplane, don’t panic, it won’t last, gently lift off the throttle, don’t hit the brakes, don’t over steer, wait for traction.

When in doubt both feet out, (an old racing term) which means, when things go wrong (a skid or slide), no pedals, your job is to steer the car.

If your car has ABS (anti-lock brakes), the proper way to use them is to brake hard, stay on the brake, then steer. Do not pump anti-lock brakes. The brake pedal might vibrate or pulse, and there may be terrible sounds (normal), but only lift when safe to do so.

Drive-For-Life Driving School L.L.C. • 608-931-1587