Things You Should Know for Safe Driving
Driving a car is such a mundane thing you probably do it every day. People get so used to it and don't put too many thoughts on it. Unless you are a new driver, you feel very excited, but on the other hand you might be a little bit nervous. You are afraid of making mistakes which may put you in an unsafe situation. So what are the things we should know in order to drive safely? Especially for new drivers, there are some easy mistakes we should keep in mind. After having some driving experience, you will come to realize that driving a car is essentially all about relationships. Relationships between driver and car, driver and environment, driver and driver.
1. Driver-Car Relationship
This is about how much you know about your car. The more you know about your car the more you feel comfortable driving it. Sometimes when you rent a car which is quite different from yours, you find it a little bit awkward because you are not familiar with it. For example, people who used to drive a car with automatic headlight control might forget to turn on the headlight if they turn to a car without this feature.
So read through the manual to learn about your car, knowing the difference or new features if this is your second car. Be familiar with the dashboard, find out what those warning lights mean. So when you see a light on while you driving on highway you would know what is happening rather than being panic. One warning light I would like to mention here is low tire pressure light. If your car is equipped with Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS), you might get this warning light when winter season is coming, the weather gets cold, the temperature drops down all of sudden. You will need to inflate the tires using the air-pump at gas station. Keep in mind that after you fill the air, the light will still be on until you drive the car for a while to activate the TPMS.
2. Driver-Environment Relationship
Knowing your car well is prerequisite. What follows is the surrounding environment you are going to driving in.
When you take your routine route, you feel relaxed. But if you have to target a strange place you've never been to, do some research like google maps or use GPS. GPS is really a good companion.You need to know your GPS unit well to get the best use of it. One tricky thing about using GPS is it gives instructions ahead of time in order to get you prepared. But sometimes you might end up taking the wrong way because the road situations is not that simple. For example, GPS tells you to turn right in 200 yards. If there are no crossroads within this 200 yards, you will be fine. But if there are many crossroads, you may feel unsure which turn to take and often times you might hear "recalcualting"-----oops, you took the wrong turn! This could be avoided if you pay a little more attention to the small GPS screen. The road you are supposed to drive on is highlighted. The crossroads along it are grey some of which are noted with road names. So when it prompts you to prepare for a turn, get yourself more focused, look at the GPS map to see approximately how many crossroads you need pass and what are the road names before the next turn. Be sensitive to the car movement displayed on the screen, the turning point is enlarged a lot when you are almost there, if the car aligns the highlighted road and the instruction arrow, you are on the right track ! For more specific explanation on utilizing GPS, you could refer "Get the Most Out of Your GPS".
Get yourself prepared for driving in inclement weather such as heavy rain or snow. Purchase the necessary tools in advance, such as shovel, ice scraper for winter season. Don't wait till it snows for these tools might be out of stock when snow strikes. Also keep a blanket in your car for emergency situation.
3. Driver-Driver Relationship
This is the most complicated and also the biggest challenge in most daily driving. I would like to say driving is perhaps all about dealing with this relationship. New drivers perhaps have butterflies in the stomach when thinking of driving on freeway because of the fast speed. But after some practice, you will find it more relaxed to drive on freeway than local. Why? Because less involvements with other vehicles and no traffic lights, no stop signs, no left or right turn. You keep proper distance from the front vehicle and check the road when you have to change lane or exit the freeway.
Driving is almost all about adjusting your vehicle position relating to the ones around you. Look at the traffic flow, sometimes it is so smooth like running river without any obstacles when all the vehicles keep in a harmony pace ; sometimes it is like congested stream with splashing water from hitting the rock when the rhythm is broken.
As it is always said "use the turn signal, look into the mirror, look back over your shoulder" before you are going to change lane. You do not only check the traffic on the lane which you are going to change to, but also pay attention to the traffic on the other side of your target lane - there might be another vehicle shifting to the same spot of the same lane coincidently ! It does happen!! No doubt how terrible it would be if it occurs.
Left Turn at Intersections
When the left turn signal is green, you have the right of way, do not hesitate, go ahead! When it is green light and the traffic from the opposite direction is clear, you can turn left. But often times, for some new drivers, there is an easy mistake to make here- when they see the vehicles in front of them turning left, they might just follow them but remember the oncoming traffic might appear at anytime. So always check before go.
Obviously when it is red light, you can NEVER do left turn ( but you can do right turn if the traffic is clear.)
Enter / Exit Freeway
You need to be very focused when entering the freeway. Use the turn signal, speed up, look into the mirror and look back over your shoulder. You have to yield to the traffic already there on the lane. But this is not like turning left at the intersection- you can't stop to wait. Some courteous drivers will leave the lane when seeing you, so you can safely merge into the traffic; but you can't be lucky all the time. There are times the drivers either don't feel like change lane for you or the situation doesn't allow it, you will have to slow down a little bit to be able to cut in when there is a gap, sometimes when it is necessary you will have to continue to the emergency lane because you can NOT stop - there are vehicles following you (this is NOT to teach you to use the emergency lane to cut in. NEVER do that !)
The very complex situation could happen where the exit and entrance of the freeway are next to each other which you can find at the cloverleaf interchange. Accidents easily happen there. The traffic flows getting in and out of the freeway cross each other, so use extreme caution and cut in timely.
Another reminder is always signal when you change lane, turn left or right, or when you have to stop on the road shoulder for emergency situation, even if you think there are no other vehicles around. Some people think it is silly to do so, but you never know there might be another vehicle showing up without you knowing. Our observations are limited while we are driving.
Driving is more about getting along with other vehicles on the road in order to help the fluidity of traffic flow. It is a procedure of brain processing traffic information. The more experienced you are, the faster the processing speed will be. Use caution and enjoy your driving!
© 2012 Burgeon