How to beat FIVE bad driving habits picked up since your test
Our Road Safety Authority expert has some tips on how to eradicate the ones that have crept in since you qualified
It may have been a while since you did your driving test but one thing is likely: that bad habits have crept into your driving. It is something most people openly admit. The thing is: are they willing to do something about it?
It was 10 years after passing the full driving test that I decided to go for the advanced driving test. A 30pc discount on insurance was one reason for doing it, but that's for another day. In that space of time I had picked up a few bad habits myself.
So in the knowledge that most drivers have probably let some seep in, here are five common bad driver habits and how to correct them;
1. Bad steering wheel control. This is one we really excel at when it comes to bad habits. It includes: diving with one hand on the steering wheel, turning the steering wheel with the heel of the hand, letting the steering wheel spin through your hands after turning and crossing your arms when turning.
TIP: How can you possibly control a car, especially in an emergency, if you are not even holding onto the steering wheel properly? The correct way to hold the wheel is in the 10-to-2 or Quarter-to-3 position. When steering, use the push-and-pull technique feeding the wheel through your hands. This ensures maximum control of the direction of your vehicle and yet still allows you to operate the secondary controls on the steering wheel or stems without taking your hands off the wheel.
2. Dry steering. Turning the wheels of the car when it is stopped. You can see it when people pull out of a parking space. They will stop the car when they have pulled out of the space and then want to orientate themselves in the direction of the exit so they turn the wheels while the car is stationary. And then drive off.
TIP: It causes unnecessary tyre wear and is not good driving. A much safer and efficient way is to only turn the steering wheel while the vehicle is moving. Do this by moving the car slowly, while you are briskly turning the wheel.
3. Stopping too close to the car in front when stopped in traffic. You are stopped in traffic. But it's taking much longer than normal to get moving again. There must be a breakdown or crash up ahead. But you cannot pull out because you are sandwiched between the cars in front and behind. TIP: A handy tip my driving instructor gave me is that when stopped I should be able to see tarmac under the rear tyres on the vehicle in font making contact with the road, or ToT ('Tyres on tarmac').
4. Driving straight into a parking space.
TIP: When pulling into a parking space, reverse in. It may require more effort, but the trade-off is that you avoid any stress when trying to reverse out and the hassle of trying to see and avoid any hazards. Drivers usually find that the car responds more quickly when steering in reverse mode. You will also find that it's a less stressful way to start your journey. This is also a safer way to park at home too. Think how easier it is to spot children playing on the estate if you are driving forward, rather than reversing out of a driveway?
5. Not checking the mirrors.
TIP: How many times have you driven off only to discover you can't see anything in the rear-view mirror? You haven't adjusted it because it's still positioned to suit the last driver.
Many drivers fail to check their mirrors at all when driving.
In preparing for the advanced driving test, my tutor told me that a driver should check mirrors on average every seven seconds. Yes, every seven seconds.
Knowing what's going on behind, and to the side, is just as important as knowing what's going on up ahead. Regular mirror checks mean you will see well in advance.