Being a good driver

During the winter when it’s dark, wet, windy and generally likely to be more challenging weather-wise, being a good driver is clearly an advantage.

So, how do we optimise our driving skills to try and keep driving as safe and enjoyable as possible. Obviously, managing our temperament is important. Being tolerant, calm and measured in potential tricky situations is a real bonus whereas anxiety, panic, or a short temper is unlikely to be helpful. Quick-thinking, on the other hand, is an asset.

Whilst many of us may not claim to be naturally tolerant and calm, to have the self-awareness necessary to recognise and try to overcome our bad habits and learn from our mistakes is part and parcel of being a good driver. As with most things, no matter how practiced or experienced we think we are, there is always something to learn.

Developing a courteous outlook towards other road users is a real advantage. Just like car drivers, other pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists are entitled to be there, and all users have to share the road together. That’s where patience and tolerance is key to avoiding adverse or avoidable consequences.

More practically in terms of the actual process of driving the vehicle, smooth gear changes, smooth acceleration, smooth braking and controlled steering are all signs of good driving – both for the maintenance of the vehicle and the comfort of the passengers. Driving smoothly and in anticipation of other road users and pedestrians makes us better prepared to deal with any potentially hazardous situations ahead such as icy or wet surfaces, runaway balls or scared animals. By being aware and paying attention, we can act pre-emptively on the information around us to anticipate and avoid problems – rather than having to react to them.

Finally, common sense always has a role to play in being a good driver. Tiredness, distractions and apathy can lead to accidents, so a good driver tries to minimise the risks and knows how to mitigate them when they occur, for example by stopping for a rest or a drink sooner rather than later.

No matter when we passed our test, being a good driver is an ever-evolving skill that needs constant attention for the benefit and enjoyment of everyone on the road.