Top driving tips every driver should practice

Car owners must also be responsible drivers. Many of us buy a car, but forget that we share the road with other car owners and it is our responsibility to make their drives pleasurable and safe, by following basic rules and etiquettes. Are you a car owner? Do you practice the following when driving?

I consider myself a fairly good driver. I follow traffic rules and more importantly I am adept at reading and understanding traffic signs. I know the unwritten rules of driving, ones that my driving instructor didn't teach me. I got my drivers license through the proper channel – yes, I went through a driving test. So, I think I am qualified enough to give new drivers a few tips on driving.

It is advisable to go through driving lessons before heading out on the road on your own. Driving school instructors teach the nitty-gritty of driving and provide ample practice of driving on main roads, with real traffic. This helps in getting rid of any fear you may have of driving in traffic and makes you comfortable behind the wheels. Yet, many drivers are a hazard to other motorists. And you don't want to be termed as one.

Driving lessons should always be taken in an old car. It also makes sense to have a trained driver sit next to you on your first few drives in your own vehicle.

Here are some lessons that years of driving have taught me and every new driver must know –

The correct way to hold the steering wheel

Your hands on the steering wheel must always be positioned in the 10:10 position, like the hour hands on the clock. This position of hands prevents locking of the hands when turning the wheel. You can let go of the steering wheel, for split seconds, to re-position your hands, but at all times keep them in the 10:10 position.

Learn to operate the ABC

The ABC of a vehicle is its acceleration, brake and clutch pedals. There are three pedals and only two feet to operate them. So, how do you manage? The left foot must always be used to release and engage the clutch and the right foot to hit the brakes and the accelerator. Don't fumble with your feet. Your reflexes must tell you which foot to use on which pedal. Practice the feet on the pedals, in your stationary vehicle, until you master the 'technique'.

Change gears the correct way

Press down the clutch before changing gears. Do so each time you change gears. Do so in one smooth, easy motion, without struggling with the gears. A new driver can sit in their stationary car and practice changing of gears.

Don't drive in half clutch

Many drivers use half-clutch when they drive. The clutch should ideally be pressed down fully. Driving in half clutch will damage the clutch plate and you'll have to spend a huge sum to have it fixed.

Objects in the mirrors

It is important to keep your eyes on the road, but every few seconds look into the rear view and side view mirrors at the traffic behind you. Learn to properly identify the distance of the objects seen in the rearview mirror. It must be noted that the other vehicles are closer to your vehicle than they appear in the rearview and side mirrors.

Driving on inclined roads

Driving on slopes is tricky and new drivers must go down to the first or second gear while going uphill. The vehicle will not pick up if you attempt to climb uphill on a higher gear, at a lower speed. You'll need to learn to read your car and understand what it is telling you. If the car doesn't pick up, even when you accelerate, when going uphill, you'll need to come down in gear. The car will sound and behave differently.

Learn to operate the handbrake

Engaging and releasing the handbrake is a skill that every driver must master, especially when on you're on a slope. It needs some practice to release the handbrake and accelerate at the same time. Have the right foot on the accelerator and press down on it, while simultaneously releasing the handbrake. Practice how to do it, because you don't want to be accelerating too much and ramming into the vehicle ahead of you or sliding back and hitting the vehicle behind yours.

Handbrake to the rescue

The handbrake must be applied when parking the vehicle on a slope. But, you also need to put the car in gear when doing so, If the vehicle is parked on a downward slope then along with the handbrake, put the vehicle in the reverse gear. If the vehicle is parked on an incline then the vehicle must be left in first gear, along with the handbrake.

Practice reversing

New learners must also practice reversing the vehicle. Take a walk around the vehicle before you begin reversing, to ensure there's nothing behind it. The correct way to do it is to crane your neck towards the rear windshield and then reverse. Though, you may make use of the rear view and side view mirrors, if you want.

How to overtake

Dip the headlights when you wish to overtake a vehicle, instead of honking to alert the driver of the vehicle ahead of you. And always overtake from the right side.

Driving with high beam

Driving with the headlights on high beam blinds motorists of the oncoming traffic. A good driver always keeps this in mind and dips the headlights, particularly when there is no median. Avoid using the high beam as much as possible.

Stay in your lane

Maintaining lane discipline is also important. New drivers often hog the road, riding the white line. They must know that the white lines are there to demark the lanes and that they are not supposed to stride the white lines.

Overtaking rules

Some motorists don't like anyone ahead of them. So, they overtake just for the sake of overtaking and then slow down. Don't be one of those irritating motorists. Overtake if you must, and maintain your speed. There is nothing more irritating than someone overtaking you and then slowing down in front of your vehicle.

Overtaking on the Highway

The extreme right lane on the Highway is for high-speed traffic. Use the lane to overtake vehicles, and move into the centre lane, keeping the lane free for vehicles that want to speed.

Windsheild care

Make sure your windshield is clean before you set out on a drive. A clean windshield makes night driving easier as it prevents light diffraction that makes night driving difficult.

Car servicing

Have your car serviced as advised in the vehicle's manual. Always go to an authorised dealer for proper service. They will ensure that the engine oil, wheel alignment and brake fluid etc. are in order.

Park properly

Park your vehicle in the centre of the parking slot, such that your vehicle does not cause an obstruction to the vehicles parked on either side. Some motorists park their vehicle very close to other vehicles, making it difficult for the owners to safely open the door at the driver's side.

Are you a good driver? How many of the above do you practice? To become a better driver, keep the tips in mind.

Article by Juana
Juana is a freelance writer, with years of experience, creating content for varied online portals. She holds a degree in English Literature and has worked as a teacher and as a soft skill trainer. An avid reader, she writes on a variety of topics ranging from health, travel, education and personality development.

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Author: Dr. Paresh Gujarati31 Jan 2018 Member Level: Gold   Points : 2

Currently, I am learning to drive a car afresh. I have been learning to drive the car for 10 days from now. I have read all your tips and advice. The things will be easier when guidance is always available to us. Thank you for writing such nice article on driving skills.

Author: Natarajan02 Feb 2018 Member Level: Diamond   Points : 6

An informative write up for new drivers. Even after learning driving lessons from an old car, the first car in my view should be a compact/small car if one is driving in the city. Our Maruti Celerio has taken many dents, scratches and minor hits from behind at busy traffic junctions, that we are happy that we didn't go for a bigger car. There are some driving instructors, who, for a small extra fee agree to be with us for an hour a day in our own car. I used their services for a week and I found this useful.

As a new driver, I had issues with people honking very close to me (most of them would be cabs), the two-wheeler just zooms in and out without any regard for where we are. It took some time for me to ignore people who were honking at me purposely for going at low speeds.

I have struggled with stopping and resuming on a slope, a couple of times the vehicle has gone back so much that the drivers in cars behind used to shout.

I have developed a healthy respect for the water tankers (rash driving and total disregard for cars close to them) and the long Volvo buses (the length and speed make it difficult for new drivers to overtake them and then slide back into the left lane ahead of them).

I would also suggest new car drivers to be cautious at traffic signals in the metros. A lot of hawkers and beggars keep crossing around us and put the hands and items they are selling into the front or rear door windows.

Lastly, while parking in congested basements of malls or on the side of the streets, I've learned the hard way that it is better to keep the side mirrors folded.

Author: Juana02 Feb 2018 Member Level: Platinum   Points : 7

That is good to know Paresh.

When I learnt to drive I would sit in the car, getting the feel of it. I practised changing gears in a stationary car. This helped me a lot when I was actually driving on the road.

Make the dashboard your friend. It will alert you to many things –

1. It is easy to speed on wide open roads, especially on the highway. Looking at the speedometer will remind you to slow down
2. Keep a tab on the fuel and temperature gauge
3. Sometimes it is possible to forget to release the handbrake. The dashboard will indicate if you if the handbrake is pulled up
4. If your car is fitted with a tyre pressure monitoring system the dashboard will alert you when the pressure in the wheels is low
5. It will also signal if a door is not locked properly
6. And will remind you to wear your seat belt

Have air filled in the spare tyre, periodically. You don’t know when you’ll have a flat and need to replace the wheel.

Author: Gypsy11 Feb 2018 Member Level: Platinum   Points : 4

I beg to differ with the fairly good driver.

10:10 is the worst position to hold the steering wheel. It tires your arms and shoulders. Moreover, it keeps both your hands occupied. 10:10 position is either for novices or for the formula 1 care race drivers. Generally people, who are sure of their driving skill, drive with single hand on the wheel, keeping their other hand free for other things such as changing gears, holding a drink (cold) or holding their beloved's hand.....

For how long have you been driving , Juana?

To be continued...

Author: Juana11 Feb 2018 Member Level: Platinum   Points : 10


Anyone who has been behind the wheel will know that the left hand is required in a right-hand drive vehicle and vice versa, to shift gears, unless they’re driving an automatic transmission vehicle.

Drivers sure of their driving skills don’t constantly shift gears or do they?

In my opinion, good drivers should be able to move their hand from the steering to the gear stick, to change gears, as a reflex. They should not have to keep a hand free just to do that. Shifting gears comes automatically to a seasoned driver – it becomes second nature.

Arms and shoulders would tire out in cars that had manual steering. Power steering makes driving easier on the shoulders and arms. Moreover, if the seat is properly adjusted then I see no reason for the arm or shoulder to feel the strain.

Holding hands when on a drive sounds very romantic, yes, but I would rather concentrate on the road than allow my attention to be diverted.

If someone driving needs a sip, they can surely show restraint and wait until they halt at a traffic signal or slide onto the side of the road or a lay-by to quench their thirst. Anything that distracts the attention of a driver is dangerous and I would neither practice nor recommend it to others. There is a reason why using a cellphone while driving is an offence.

I’ve been driving for over three decades, 35 years, to be precise. Driven cars that had column-mounted gear shifter, driven on all kinds of terrain, in all kinds of weather conditions, including long haul, interstate driving, way before the highways, as we see them today, were laid. Driven different types of vehicles, including one that went by the pseudonym that you use. I have not been involved in a single accident, while I was behind the wheel.

Author: Juana11 Feb 2018 Member Level: Platinum   Points : 6


Our hatchbacks have taken more bumps and nicks than our sedan. In fact, the sedan does not have a single scratch even though it is older than our present hatchback. The latter has lots of stories to tell. My guess is that riders are more careful around bigger cars. Most of the bumps on our hatchback were caused by bikers.

Most accidents happen due to rash driving and even if you are a careful driver, you have no clue about the driving skills of the others, on the road. For instance, despite it being an offence driver's continue to use mobile phones etc.

If I hear persistent honking from a vehicle behind me, I check to see if it has a yellow number plate. If it does I ignore the honking. I have observed that it’s either cabbies or drivers of cars bearing a party flag that honk the most, and most of the time the honking is unnecessary, more out of habit than an emergency.

I am wary of trucks and buses. The drivers change lanes without putting on the indicator light and they jump traffic signals and get onto the service lanes. They are rash drivers.

I tell new drivers to not panic and stick to their lane. Other vehicles will go around – there’s enough room on the main roads to do that.

I was lucky to have learnt driving when there wasn't much traffic on our roads. And providentially for me, there was a small bridge over a railway track, close to where I lived. That gave me ample opportunity to master driving on slopes.

If you stick to your lane and follow basic driving rules, you're good. Also always keep an eye on the road.

Most cars have blind spots that hinder the view. It is important to crane your neck for a better view, especially while making turns.

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