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: Gold   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.

Author: Gypsy27 Jun 2018 Member Level: Gold   Points : 25

Well, the irony is that everyone thinks that he/she is a good driver.

About the 10-10 position of hands
1. If one is driving in 10-10 position, then generally their hands or some portion of the arms are above the level of the heart (Not all the cars or models have seat-height adjusters). So, the heart has to do some extra pumping to keep the blood flow in the hands.

2. Nowadays vehicles come with airbags. If one is driving in 10-10 position then in case the airbags inflate, most probably it will cause injury to the hands. World over, the 10-10 position is not considered to be the best or even safe position of hands while driving.

Looks like you have been driving in controlled traffic, like in cantonment areas.

I do not want to brag about my driving skills, but still, could not stop myself after reading the following words- 'fairly good driver' and 35-yaer experience. Here are few of my experiences and adventures
1. If I am going on a long drive, say out station, then I am the one on the driving seat always. It does not matter who owns the car. Once, I had to go to Rishikesh with my cousin. He came to pick me up. As soon as I put my bag in the boot, my cousin tossed the keys of his Ford Endeavor to me without I asking for it even. I had not driven an Endeavor before that. Still, my cousin had so much confidence in my driving that he handed over the keys of his Rs 25 lakhs plus Endeavor to me. I drove that Endeavor at 165-170 km/h on that route.
2. I just cannot tell you when did I get my DL, but would say that I have driven more than 1.5 lakh KMs since I started driving. Mostly on hills.
3. I have driven on all sort of terrains and in all sort of weather conditions -
a) have driven in heavy rains, heavy fog,
b) Dehradun - Mussoorie, Kalka- Shimla, Kiratpur- Manali are just runways for me. I have driven at 80kmph on these routes.
c) have driven on muddy roads, roads with landslides, through rivers where the bridge got washed away, through jungle
d) have driven on treacherous routes, where even the professional taxi drivers do not dare to drive sometimes, like Badrinath (been there five times), Gangotri (three times), Yamunotri once. God has been kind to me.
e) have driven 700 Kms in a single day

Whatever you have mentioned in the article is just plain run-of-the mill thing. It is just the basics. You have not shared anything new or unique. Hereunder are things which I do while driving

1. While driving on a highway, I always use my headlight for asking for a side irrespective of the fact whether it is daytime or night time. Suppose you are driving on a highway in the daytime and see a vehicle say one km ahead of you. If you switch on the light, then the driver of the vehicle ahead of you, whom you intend to overtake, will see a vehicle approaching from behind with lights on in his rearview mirror. An experienced driver will understand that the vehicle approaching from behind is coming at a speed higher than his own, wants to overtake him and needs space. He will immediately swerve his vehicle towards the inner lane allowing the approaching vehicle to overtake his own vehicle without forcing the vehicle coming from behind to reduce its speed or break his momentum.

Using headlights instead of a horn to indicate one's intention of overtaking uses the basic fact that light travels faster than sound. A vehicle ahead 1 Km of you cannot hear the horn you blow, but surely can see the headlight even from a distance of 1 km or even more. That way the approaching vehicle does not have to break its momentum, hence saving fuel and time (by not reducing speed and then accelerating again to get back to the original speed).

2. The basic principle of driving on hills is that one must use the same gear while driving downhill which one used while driving up the hill.

3. The vehicle going uphill gets precedence over the vehicle going downhill always so that it (vehicle going uphill) does not lose its momentum.

4. One must add a pouch of shampoo to the wiper water always. It cleans the windscreen better and prevents the windscreen from getting scratchy.

5. Knowing about your car always helps. If possible, stay beside your car when you are getting your car serviced. That way you may learn which wire is connected to which point. That may save you a lot of trouble.

6. Always keep the wiper blades in a good condition. Immediately change the wiper blades if they are not wiping the windscreen properly. That will save your life one day for sure.

7. If one is driving on a rainy day, then one must switch on the AC if the car does not have a defogger. It not only keeps the humidity out but sucks moisture from the screen too.

8. Always keep a torch and a tyre inflator with a 12V DC input lead in the car. It comes in handy if a tyre gets punctured and no one is near to fix the tyre. One can simply inflate the tyre using the 12V DC socket of the car and can drive for a few KMs like that till one reaches a mechanic or a petrol pump.

9. Petrol pumps in hilly areas are rare to find. While driving on hills, always keep the tank full. Get it filled up to the brim every day if you plan to drive daily on hills.

10. If you see any extra light on the dashboard, immediately take your car to a mechanic. Extra light on the dashboard means trouble. It indicates that there is some problem with the engine.

11. If the car is not responding to acceleration, then you need to shift the gear to a lower one.

12. Sometimes while overtaking a vehicle, some lower-end cars take longer than usual. Switch off the AC if you need faster acceleration.

13. Driving with the AC on is less tiring than driving without an AC.

14. If one is fond of driving at high speed, then one must keep an eye open for traffic interceptors. Traffic interceptors are the vehicles fitted with speed guns. They record the speed of the car with an image. Traffic interceptors are white colored MUVs, parked on the left side of the road. So, if one sees a white colored vehicle parked on the left side of the road, one must hit the brake pedal to bring the speed to the permissible level. Well, I normally drive at 80 Kmph whenever I can in a city and have been challaned four times for over speeding since I started driving.

15. Keeping the tyres properly inflated is a must for a vehicle's health. Get the tyres checked for pressure at least once a month. Needless to say that tyres should be rotated every 10,000 KMs to balance the wear and tear of the tyres.

16. Do not honk unnecessarily. In some countries, honking is considered to be equivalent to abusing.

Driving is observation, anticipation & execution. Observe other drivers, anticipate their moves and drive accordingly to avoid accidents. Driving at high speed is not always rash. The only thing is one must not lose control over the vehicle.

To be continued...........

Author: Vandana08 Jul 2018 Member Level: Platinum   Points : 7

While Gypsy has given many useful tips to drivers, surely it is giving wrong advice to say "Driving at high speed is not always rash". On top of that, Gypsy is even explaining how to look out for traffic interceptors! The statement made therein is so contrary to all the safety advice given. Such a reckless attitude surely endangers others on the road, not to mention those who are passengers in the vehicle. It is not a question of not losing control of the vehicle. It is a question of being a law-abiding citizen and following road rules. If there is a speed limit, drivers must follow it diligently.

The author's very first sentence in the summary is "Car owners must also be responsible drivers." I totally agree with this. It is easy to say that the "only" thing is one should not lose control when one is driving at high speed. Just think if somebody reads the suggestion that driving at high speed is Ok and is one day responsible for a severe accident. Rash driving can lead to losing control, isn't it? Drivers going above the speed limit have been known to crash into and over dividers and careening off into the lane on the other side, right into the incoming traffic there. Rash drivers have skidded and their vehicles upturned or crashed into light poles. Drivers hitting the road over the speed limit have knocked down children who run across the road or a cyclist who suddenly appears in front of the vehicle, without warning, without a chance to correct the speed and control the vehicle.

Drivers must not endanger lives - their own, those in their vehicle and of others on the road. I would advise Gypsy to make a vow not to get any more speed-ticketing or other rule-breaking challans. Be safe, ensure the safety of others.

Author: Gypsy09 Jul 2018 Member Level: Gold   Points : 3

It is good to see a non-driver advising a driver who has clocked more than 1,50,000 kms on the odometer. It is similar to the situation where a person like me, who cannot cook anything, telling master chef Sanjeev how to cook. No wonder the non-driver found the statement -"Driving at high speed is not always rash"- wrong. Driving at high speed or beyond the speed limit is called "speeding" and not rash driving. Suppose a particular road has a speed limit of 60 kmph and I am driving at, say, 80 kmph but sticking to my lane, not zigzagging, not bumping into anyone, then how come I am rash driving?

Secondly, I used the words "14. If one is fond of driving at high speed,.............. I think the non-driver missed the word "If".

Author: Gypsy27 Oct 2018 Member Level: Gold   Points : 8


You posted a response in the thread Which is the safest position of your hands to hold a steering wheel while driving? This following part was deleted from that thread as it was not relevant to the thread. I am quoting your response here as the response in that thread was a response to my response in this thread.

Quote - "I found your detailed responses rather interesting, after all, you are someone who claims to have driven 1.5lakh kilometres. You are quite the seasoned driver.

I have driven up and down hilly terrains, as recently as in January this year, when we holidayed in Munnar. And I have done all the mountainous destinations that you mentioned and then some more. I studied in Shimla, and even in those days, the traffic between Kalka and Shimla was heavy; doing high speed on the narrow, uphill/downhill, winding roads was never possible, especially with oncoming traffic and many hairpin bends.

Hence, I find your statement, in your response, quite an exaggeration -

"Dehradun - Mussoorie, Kalka- Shimla, Kiratpur- Manali are just runways for me. I have driven at 80kmph on these routes."

Anyone who has driven a car uphill knows that you cannot do it at 80kmph; you just cannot. To do 80kmph you need to be in the fourth or fifth gear, and a car moving uphill, will not have the power to pull, if you drive in those gears. My cars don't have a pull, going up the ramp from the underground parking lot, if I attempt to take them in third gear. You'll end up overheating the engine, and have an emergency situation, attempting to drive uphill in higher gears.

Further, a seasoned driver must know that you don't do highspeed in lower gears. I always switch to the first gear, when driving up steep slopes, or to the second gear, but it's mostly first gear. And I wouldn't do 80kmph while in first or second gear – even the manuals of my cars don't recommend it. I wonder how you do it?"

You said that you had studied in Shimla and even in those days, the traffic between Kalka and Shimla was heavy. You are talking about something that happened around 30-35 years back or even a bit more. Around that time, the roads used to be narrow. The roads have been widened since then. I remember driving to Shimla in 1994 for the first time. Even at that time, the roads were pretty wide and driving uphill at 50-60 KMph in third or fourth gear was not a problem.

Also, you may note that driving at, say, 80 KMph, one does not drive the vehicle at that speed all the time. One starts with first gear at 0 KMph and keeps on going to second third and upper gears as the vehicle gains momentum with the speed increasing and decreasing in between. So, the speed is not at all fixed at 80 KMph all the time. It keeps on varying according to the traffic and road conditions. 80 KMph is the speed that I have touched while driving uphill on many occasions in fourth gear. When did I say that I drove the car at 80 KMph in first gear? Enlighten me, please. Just because you drive your car uphill in first or second gear, does not mean that nobody can drive uphill in upper gears like third or fourth, does it?

Well, I wondered about the part where you said that you drive in first gear while driving uphill. Just saw a video of someone driving to Munnar (where you claimed to have driven your car in first or second gear) on YouTube. The person who was driving the car must have been driving at 40 KMph according to a conservative estimate.

If you are unable to drive uphill in third or fourth gear then you should know that driving in first gear for more than 10 secs will put a lot of pressure on your vehicle and it will certainly harm your vehicle’s engine. The only exception to this is when you are driving uphill where the angle of inclination is more than 40 degrees. Moreover, you cannot control a vehicle in first gear for longer times. Even driving up the ramp form a basement parking, I switch to second gear as soon as possible/as soon as my vehicle gains momentum, and even to third if the ramp is longer.

About the car’s power to drive uphill at 80 KMph – well, if your car does not have power to drive uphill (uphill does not only mean steep inclinations) at 80 KMph or in fourth gear, it does not imply that other cars too do not have that power. Moreover, it depends on the dexterity of the driver, how he/she handles and controls the vehicle.

You also mentioned that you have been to all the mountainous destinations that I have mentioned. Have you been to Badrinath, Gangotri and Yamunotri etc? Well, my guess is that you have not been to these places ever. Just search for 'road to Badrinath Dham' on YouTube, and watch some videos. It will be interesting watching for you. I have driven to Badrinath five times.

Once again, I will say that I have touched 80KMph while driving uphill and have touched 170 Kmph on highways on many occasions, and God has been kind enough that I never met with any accidents. Well, if you find that an exaggeration, then I cannot help it!

Bon driving and learning!

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