attitude and driving skills are important, good driving habits enable a driver
to stay away from danger, and react correctly in an emergency.
are five important safe driving habits.
# one. Look
at solutions, and away from problems as you drive.
alert and wary. An important
part of your searching is to know what is behind and to the sides of you.
Making eye contact with other drivers is a good way of helping you work
out what they are likely to do next.
improve your observation practice three skills:
Look often. Look
ahead to where you will drive in the next 12 seconds.
This represents about a city bloc at traffic speeds and around a
kilometre at highway speeds. Scan your view back towards yourself in a zigzag
pattern. Repeat this action a number of times for each new section of road as
it comes into view.
do this, you need to slow down early at situations like intersections,
hillcrests and bends.
Look “Through” vehicles.
Avoid looking at vehicles. Very
dangerous situations occur when vehicles are hidden from view behind other
vehicles that are moving. Often
these are small vehicles, like bicycles and motorcycles.
So search, be wary and look past obstacles.
Look For the “Traffic Gap” or the solution. A
“Traffic Gap” is the distance between vehicles that you judge to be safe
to drive in or across. Timing your
driving to ‘catch’ the traffic gap improves your safety.
Avoid looking for vehicles.
the same way, avoid looking at any problem, look at its solution. There may be a sudden
emergency like an animal on the road, or you may not be quite sure what
another driver is going to do. A
car might reverse onto the road, prepare for a “U” turn, or a right turn.
A driver might forget to turn on or off an indicator.
you see danger, look where you want your vehicle to go, and monitor the danger
with the corner of your eye.
# two. Take left foot support on the footrest whenever you brake or steer.
foot support when braking or steering helps you retain good balance (posture),
which produces less fatigue and greater control in an emergency.
normal driving your left foot should be firmly placed on the foot rest.
# three. Use the brakes to slow
down and change the gears separately after braking.
down gears during braking is not only unnecessary stress on the vehicle’s
transmission, but dangerous in an emergency.
Research shows that drivers' who habitually change gears during braking
are more likely to lose control of a vehicle during an emergency.
is interesting that drivers tend to over use the gears in a manual and under
use them in an automatic. In
situations where you are going down steep hills or on gravel or slippery
surfaces it is wise to select the correct gear after braking in an auto just
like you do in a manual. You
may obtain more information on page 42.
# four. Keep
good separation from other vehicles.
two seconds away from the vehicle in front.
To do this, when the vehicle ahead passes some fixed point like a post,
a patch of paint on the road or a parked car, count “one thousand and one,
one thousand and two”, that’s two seconds.
If you reach that point before you finish your count, you are too
may need three seconds if the road is wet, the surface is slippery or the
traffic is travelling at speeds below 40 km/ph.
It is interesting that we need more time at slow speeds than at high
speeds because reaction is a greater part of stopping at slow traffic speeds,
than it is at highway speeds.
may be considered in three parts: Perception (the driver’s recognition of
the need to brake), Reaction (getting the foot to the brake), and Braking (the
travel of the vehicle with the brakes on until it stops).
Perception has the greatest variance.
An alert driver may perceive and react in less than a third of a
second, while a distracted driver may take multiple seconds to perceive
danger. At 100 k/h the
‘perception + reaction’ probably represents about 25% of the total
stopping distance, at 40 k/h about 50% and at 20 k/h about 70%.
the gap behind by signalling in plenty of time, flashing your brake lights,
slowing gradually and making manoeuvres thoughtfully.
Notice dangerous traffic situations developing and change your time of
arrival at the situation. This
often means slowing down for a moment then moving through the situation
quickly. Sometimes it may mean
change to a different lane (road position) or stopping well away from danger.
# five. Be
able to stop in the distance you can see ahead.
may calculate this by using the time formula.
At 60 km/ph it takes about three seconds to stop, at 100 km/ph about
hillcrests, bends and other situation where your seeing distance is limited,
judge what would be a safe speed and approach at that speed.
When you reach the most dangerous point (just before your view opens
up) look at the furthermost point that you can see and count the seconds (3.5
seconds at 80 km/ph) if you pass the point by the time you finish the count,
you may have been too fast to stop.
This gives you feedback to develop your judgement.
these “Class Driving” habits part of your driving style.
When these five habits are part of your normal driving style, you will
keep safe and have the best control during an emergency.
IN AN EMERGENCY
you are faced with an emergency, you don’t have time to think.
Your body is plunged into the “fight or flight syndrome”, you get
pumped full of adrenaline and you react in line with your well‑practised
habits. You can’t
do something different in an emergency.
five habits form your defensive driving armour.
Let’s see how the first three work in an emergency.
For example, imagine you are driving at 100 km/ph along a country road
when suddenly there is an emergency.
Perhaps a kangaroo is in front of you or two vehicles abreast are
coming at you over the hillcrest.
good habits will instinctively burst into action:
Lock your left foot on the footrest (or the floor) and lean back in
Look away from the danger, to where you are going to put your vehicle.
Brake, progressively tightening to the point of tyre squeal, release
and re‑brake if there is wheel “lockup”.
Off the brake and point the vehicle towards the solution.
Shift gears after the first escape, when the vehicle is under control.
Accelerate away from danger.
is a serious flaw in some advanced driving courses which teach a range of
trick manoeuvres and are conducted wholly “off ‑road” at race tracks
problem is one’s brain can’t quickly think which trick to use or decide to
use any at all.
only advanced driving courses which work are those that form habits out of the
driving skills that are part of everyday driving.
better courses are called “Road craft".
The off‑road ones are called “Car craft”.