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Driving Tips for Bad Drivers

Updated on May 20, 2016

Driving is a very odd, personal experience in America. It's almost got the same passion behind it as gun ownership. When Americans get inside their car, many of us drive like everyone else is our enemy and like we can do no wrong. Then there's another set of drivers who are scared of those of us who drive like we own the road.

No matter which of these classifications of driver you belong to, there are ways to improve your driving. In fact, one of the best ways to improve the way you drive is to be aware that, like most things, no matter how good you are, there's always a way to get better.

Below are some ways that most people can improve their driving.

This could be you if you don't adopt these driving tips.
This could be you if you don't adopt these driving tips.

Have you heard most of these tips before?

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  1. Stay away from other people - Frankly, I like this as a life philosophy, but let's just contain it to driving for the purposes of this article. What do I mean by this? Well, it's just basic common sense. The farther away you are from other cars, the less chance you have of hitting them and the less chance they have of hitting you. Try to keep yourself as far away from other cars as possible. This is the opposite of tailgating. As an example, I was driving home on the highway in icy conditions. A group of cars was driving fairly close together and a jeep was getting too close to by rear. I sped up to get away from him. I looked in my rear-view mirror and watched him spin out. In other words, if there are no cars around you, you can't be around to get hit by them.
  2. Be calm - We read story after story of road rage. However, even mild frustration while driving can increase the chances of an accident. Let's face it, people are rude. People will cut you off. People will speed. Don't take it personally. Don't worry about it. Let it go. Calming attitudes will benefit you when you drive. You'll make better decisions and you'll reduce your chance of having an accident. How many times have you seen one driver tailgate another after getting cut off or because somebody is driving too slow? If you see something stupid or mean or dangerous, just laugh it off, shake your head, and remember that you're never going to be that person. Also, get away from that person and pat yourself on the back for being smart and rational and calm.
  3. Avoid Distractions - There are so many things that distract us from driving well they're almost too numerous to count. And it seems like they've gone up exponentially over the years. We talk on our cell phones. We turn around to tell our kids to shut up. We comb our hair. We rock out to our favorite song. We read. We text. If you want to be a safe driver and somebody who's more likely to recognize a dangerous situation and avoid it, then you must avoid distractions. You must make rules for yourself when you drive. Don't answer the phone. Don't bend over to pick up your kid's toy. Don't be distracted and you're more likely to be alive ten years from now.
  4. Be alert - Many people get into their cars when they're drunk or sleepy. The two conditions are equally bad and it's just a fact that most of us, at one time or another, will drive impaired. If you find yourself in that position, make sure you follow rule #1 and that will provide extra reaction time should you need it. That being said, roll down a window and make yourself cold. Turn up the music super loud. Do whatever you have to do. Being alert will make a difference. Pinch yourself over and over again. The dumbest thing I've ever done as a driver happened when I was eighteen and driving across the country. I drove from New Hampshire to Iowa in one 21 hour period and almost fell asleep behind the wheel toward the end. Stupid, stupid, stupid. Always pull over if you get too tired or call somebody.
  5. Think ahead - There are many ways to think ahead. When you're driving, you need to focus on the future as well as the present. Where are you going to exit the highway? When? What are the cars around you doing? Do you need to speed up or slow down? If you're taking a trip, how long are you going to drive? What route are you taking? Don't just focus on your immediate surroundings and your immediate condition. By thinking ahead, you can be prepared for the unexpected and that may save your life. And if thinking ahead is too big a distraction, make sure you plan your trip in advance and know what you're going to do so you don't have to think ahead.
  6. Learn how to merge - Merging correctly seems to be the least held skill of the regular driver. How many traffic jams have you seen that are caused because people don't know how to enter a highway? They get on the on ramp, then immediately slow down once they get to their lane. Then the oncoming cars slow down. Then everyone slows down. Learn how to merge and you'll be a better, safer driver.
  7. Learn the complexities of city driving - City driving is its own animal. City driving is crowded and many people find it tense. Learning how to approach city driving will keep you out of harm's way. Want a quick tip? Never be the first car into an intersection when your light changes from red to green. It's also important to know where you're going in the city. So many people get lost and make terrible driving decisions.
  8. Learn the complexities of highway driving - Highway driving is yet another kind of driving. Know the best way to avoid a speeding ticket? Drive behind somebody who's going faster than you. Want to get off the highway in heavy traffic? Look for a slow-accelerating vehicle like a truck and merge in front of it. There's lots more to highway driving, but those are some good ways to keep yourself safer.
  9. Drive a manual transmission - People who drive manual transmissions are better drivers. They understand speed. They're more comfortable in their cars. If you want to be a better driver, learn how to drive a stick.
  10. Learn how to drive in bad weather - Nervous about driving in bad weather? If you want to feel safer and make better decisions, understand the physics of driving in rain and snow. Too many people panic when they hit a patch of snow or ice. If you understand how a car will behave when driving in the snow and the rain, you'll stop slamming on the brakes and turning the wheel all over the place.

Car crash (CC-BY 2.0)
Car crash (CC-BY 2.0)

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