Are you a good driver?
Before you answer that, consider the fact that most people would say yes, even if they aren’t actually good drivers.
That’s what a study conducted by psychological scientists tells us, anyway.
Even if you do believe you’re a great driver, though, there’s a good chance you’ve probably wondered how to be a better driver at some point.
And for those who know they’re not great behind the wheel, there’s this helpful list of tips you can use to become a better driver.
Since we believe that everyone can always improve, we’re not targeting just “bad drivers” in this post.
These tips on how to be a better driver can help anyone become more confident in the car and less dangerous on the roads.
No matter how great you might think you are, you can always stand to be a better driver, especially when your and others’ safety is at stake.
So, want to know how to be a better driver? Here’s what to do.
Table Of Contents
How to Be a Better Driver: 20 Tips to Get Ahead of the Game
If you don’t know how to be a better driver, you need to review these tips.
Each one will help you understand what you need to remember as you drive to avoid accidents and focus on safety.
How to Be a Better Driver (Overview)
We’ve included an overview of our top picks below. For detailed information on each pick, scroll down.
- Take a Defensive Driving Course Online
- Learn Manual Transmission
- Adopt the “Dutch Reach”
- Check Your Dashboard for Lights
- Remember Blind Spots & Adjust Your Mirrors
- Master Reverse
- Install a Backup Camera
- Keep Your Hands at 10 and 2
- Minimize Distractions
- Know Your Route
- Look Ahead
- Maintain an Appropriate Safety Margin
- Turn the Wheel Only at the Right Time
- Know How to Merge Into Traffic
- Prepare Yourself for Bad Driving Conditions
- Stop Speeding
- Avoid Driving While Angry or Tired
- Get Great at Parking
- Be Patient and Practice
1. Take a Defensive Driving Course Online
Part of being a good driver is assuming that other drivers are not good.
It’s not being smug, it’s just being safe—being a defensive driver means you are prepared to safely maneuver your car if another driver makes a mistake and puts you in danger.
Luckily, defensive driving can be taught.
2. Learn Manual Transmission
Also known as another way to help ensure your car never gets stolen, driving a manual transmission will help you better understand your car.
You’ll know what to do if for some reason the automatic transmission fails you, plus, driving manual is a pretty fun trick when you learn to do it well.
3. Adopt the “Dutch Reach”
The majority of people leave their cars by opening the door with their closest hands.
However, if you want to remain a safe driver, you need to use the Dutch Reach.
The Dutch Reach involves grabbing the handle with the hand furthest away from the door.
This forces you to turn your body and head sideways to look out the window.
For example, a man or woman on a motorcycle can approach quickly, and between cars, so you need to watch for them as you open the car door.
You could hit someone while opening the door, so do this as the passenger or driver.
4. Check Your Dashboard for Lights
You need to check your dashboard to see if any lights turn on whenever you drive your car.
You need to know what the colors mean to identify problems with your car.
- Green and blue lights let you know how your vehicle operates.
- Orange and yellow lights mean you need to get your vehicle fixed soon.
- Red and flashing lights mean you need to address the problems immediately.
If your car needs any repairs, such as repairing a brake, you must address the issues so they don’t impact your driving in the future.
5. Remember Blind Spots & Adjust Your Mirrors
Never forget to check your mirrors for blind spots, whether you are changing lanes, pulling in or out of a parking space, or just driving around the neighborhood.
If you need to, try to adjust your mirrors to cover the blind spots.
If you want to make it easier to see behind you, you need to adjust your rearview mirrors.
You must follow these steps to put the mirrors in the correct positions.
- Ensure the main mirror lets you see out the back window without moving your head.
- Move the left rearview mirror to see the road and a small portion of your car.
- Do the same with the right mirror.
In short, you need to put them in positions where you can see behind yourself in a split second.
6. Master Reverse
You never know when you might end up in a sticky situation that requires you to reverse farther than usual.
It’s much better to go into this scenario confident, so practice the art of reversing until you feel pretty comfortable steering and reversing at the same time.
7. Install a Backup Camera
Some might scoff at the idea of needing a backup camera at first, but once you realize how helpful these wireless backup cameras are, you’ll wonder how you ever backed up or drove anywhere without one.
You can even use your smartphone as a backup camera if that’s more your speed.
8. Keep Your Hands at 10 and 2
Such a simple tip and yet one that can be easily forgotten.
To better handle your steering wheel and to keep control of your vehicle, make a point to check that both of your hands are on the wheel at the 10 and 2 positions (or 9 and 3), as if the wheel were a clock.
This will help you be prepared for any unexpected instances, and it’s especially important when driving in dicey conditions.
9. Minimize Distractions
Distracted driving kills approximately nine people a day in the United States.
If you want to drive effectively, you need to remove a key distraction from your car.
Some people feel tempted to respond to texts or take phone calls while driving.
These distractions take your eyes away from the road as the driver and increase your risk of a crash.
This means you need to put your phone on silent. Otherwise, the alert could lead to distracted driving.
However, if you put your phone on silent, you won’t think about it and become a distracted driver on the road.
Also, Keep the radio at a safe volume, leave the phone in your pocket, and pay no mind to your friends in the backseat.
10. Know Your Route
Don’t fumble around your console while going 70 miles per hour on the Interstate.
That’s a great way to get hurt.
Make sure you know where you’re going before you put the car in drive.
If you have a passenger, put them to work as the co-pilot—trying to look at a map while driving the car is never the answer.
11. Look Ahead
Similar to what it takes to become better at defensive driving, another tip we have for you is to keep your eyes looking forward.
Like, way forward.
Try to see in the distance so you can anticipate sharp turns or abrupt traffic halts.
You can avoid a lot of fender benders by staying ahead of the game.
12. Maintain an Appropriate Safety Margin With the Vehicle Ahead
Every person who goes needs to follow other cars.
No matter where you drive, you need to maintain a safe driving distance behind the vehicle in front of you.
Otherwise, you run the risk of crashing into other drivers.
This distance depends on the type of vehicle in front of you if you travel at 55 miles per hour.
|Farm Tractor||50 feet|
|Snow Plow||70 feet|
|Emergency Vehicle||500 feet|
These distances vary since the vehicles have different stopping speeds.
Give Motorcycles Some Space
…Even more space than you’d give another car.
Motorcycles have a lot less protection than cars if they are hit, so adding a few extra feet between you and the bike could be crucial to the driver’s life.
Within reason, keeping pace with other drivers is most often a good gauge for speed.
Even if the flow of traffic is about 5 miles an hour quicker than you wanted to go, it will be much easier to keep the faster pace.
Otherwise, you’ll have people constantly passing you and getting stuck behind you, which may make them angry.
If There’s an Accident
As you drive, you may come across accidents on the road.
For example, if two cars end up in a fender bender and go to the roadside, you need to move to a lane away from them.
If you don’t see a driver outside of the car or police officers nearby, think about pulling over to check on the situation.
If anything serious happens, you can offer assistance and call the emergency number to help them.
Since you can end up in an accident, you need to keep your seat belt on while you drive.
13. Turn the Wheel Only at the Right Time
Driving your car involves knowing when to turn the steering wheel.
For example, some people turn the wheel too quickly and hit the curb, while others turn too late and go into another lane.
You need to learn when to turn the wheel to remain in your lane.
Doing so requires experience, so make sure to keep practicing.
Doing so can help you maintain road safety and perform safe turns even while around road users.
14. Know How to Merge Into Traffic
If you want to know how to be a better driver, this tip is a big one.
Here’s the thing: A lot of traffic jams can be caused by poor merging. Don’t be part of the problem.
Learn how to do the zipper merge and watch your road rage melt away.
Use Your Blinkers
Some might only see blinkers as a courtesy to other drivers, but these indicative lights can also help keep you out of trouble on the road.
Bad things can happen if you turn unexpectedly. As you drive on the road, you need to clarify your intentions.
You must use your turn signal to avoid surprising any motor vehicles behind you.
For example, if you plan to switch into the left lane, you need to turn on your left turn indicator. Otherwise, you run the risk of cutting someone off.
You need to check your turn indicators regularly to avoid accidents, problems, or tickets.
Look Over Your Shoulder Before Turning
You need to look over your shoulder while driving.
Even if you checked your mirrors and used a turn signal, doing so matters.
Even though the mirrors help you see vehicles, you can miss your blind spot.
The blind spot refers to the area you can’t see in the mirrors.
The blind spot prevents you from seeing a car, so you may not notice oncoming traffic.
However, if you look over your shoulder, you can check your blind spot.
15. Prepare Yourself for Bad Driving Conditions
Sometimes you just can’t avoid driving in bad thunderstorms or on snowy roads.
Instead of panicking when these things happen, you need to be ready to safely get from Point A to Point B.
Slow Down in Poor Weather Conditions
Each road you drive on gives you a speed limit.
However, some people forget these speed limits apply to ideal conditions.
This means if you face any poor road conditions, you need to drive slower than usual if you don’t want to speed.
For example, if you drive in the rain, it takes longer to break, so slow down by 10 miles.
You need to drive slower when you go through snow since you could hit unexpected ice patches.
Some weather conditions require you to slow down, including fog, since you can’t see a red light up ahead.
Different Terrains Require Different Driving Tactics
The terrain plays a role in your driving tactics.
For example, you need to scan further ahead if you plan to drive on a dirt road to avoid rocks and holes.
Otherwise, you run the risk of going over them.
If you plan to navigate the mountains, consider the elevation.
If you drive down a hill, you need to watch your speed and get ready to break.
You need to watch the sides in forest areas since deer and animals can jump out, so pay attention to the terrain and change your driving approach accordingly.
16. Stop Speeding
Most people on the road would rather get to their destinations sooner rather than later, so don’t think that going 10 MPH over the speed limit will really help you.
Speed limits are in place for a reason—your safety—and if you choose to ignore them, you will probably end up sorry.
Getting somewhere a mere two minutes later usually will not be a deal-breaker… Relax.
17. Avoid Driving While Angry or Tired
People don’t realize how emotions affect their driving.
For example, people become more aggressive when they get road rage, and others don’t pay attention to the drive while tired.
You need to check your emotions before getting in the car since it affects your driving ability.
If this happens, make sure you stop the car in a safe spot and take a break.
Calming yourself down can involve using your phone for a few minutes or taking a quick nap to avoid driving problems.
Don’t Drive Drowsy
Driving while sleepy or not alert is extremely dangerous.
If you’re feeling super tired, do everyone (including yourself) a favor and don’t get behind the wheel.
Being a better driver means you should hitch a ride in this scenario if you really need to be somewhere.
Don’t Be THAT Guy
Speaking of not making other drivers angry, it’s also smart not to be the driver getting mad.
No matter how hard it might be to control yourself, don’t go out of your way to disturb or distract another driver, especially with bad intentions.
That means no brake-checking, no rear-riding, or excessive honking. Just be cool.
18. Get Great at Parking
Not only does it put your car in danger of getting dinged, but being bad at parking also takes a toll on your reputation.
Don’t let a date see you recorrect your parking job five times—learn how to get it right the first time.
All it takes is some practice.
Learn How to Back into a Parking Spot
Mastering the “back-in” is a clutch move in many situations (no pun intended).
Did you know it’s actually safer to back into your parking spot than it is to pull forward and back out of it?
Yep, so learn how to back into a parking spot using our guide here, and you’ll never have to back out of a parking space ever again.
19. Be Patient and Practice
Lastly, if you want to know how to drive better, just remember that you can do it with enough practice.
Keep these tips in mind next time you’re behind the wheel, and try to improve your driving skills, starting with the areas you’re not so confident with.
You will become a better driver in no time!
Skills From a Driving School
You need to look into a driving school to become a better driver.
Young drivers, male drivers, and older drivers can benefit from a defensive driving course.
People think only a teen driver or a new driver needs this course, but it benefits every type of driver.
Driving schools offer multiple benefits to help you with your defensive driving skills while helping people prepare for a driving test.
- Get one-on-one training with a driving instructor.
- Receive specialized training based on your car or area.
- Refresh your knowledge on defensive driving, traffic safety, and traffic laws.
One-on-one training works well since a driving instructor can identify a bad habit and help you improve on it.
On top of this, if you drive a small or large car, you can receive specific advice.
These schools also offer plenty of information to refresh your driving knowledge.
You need to look into driving courses near you to enjoy these benefits while driving in traffic.
Doing so will help you see if they offer a driving skill you want to focus on, so you can use the time to improve yourself as a driver.
If you plan to become a better driver, you need to apply the tips above and focus on defensive driving and traffic school.
The process includes taking defensive driving courses to develop any skill.
You also need to check your vehicles for any problems.
Make sure you get car insurance and proper documentation to protect yourself financially, remain legally safe, and develop as a driver.