5 Crash Avoidance Tips You Won’t Learn in Driver’s Ed

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Yes, we realize that we are in the Driver’s Ed business — you should still take one of our courses, even though we’re going to give you some pro tips in this post. Driving is a skill, and like any skill, certain things are only learned from experience. We’re going to save you a bit of time with these 5 tips that veteran drivers use to keep them out of trouble on the roads. (And yes, we used the word “crash”, instead of “accident” . Here’s why.)

1. Drive Like You’re In The Daytona 500

No, we don’t mean go 500 miles in a circle. Adopt a Racecar Driver position when you’re behind the wheel. Many drivers like to stretch out a bit when they’re in the car — it might be more comfortable, but sitting closer to the wheel is actually better. Slide your seat forward so that your wrist can rest on the top of the wheel with your arm outstretched and your back against the seat. This will keep your arms from getting fatigued (which can slow your reaction time) and it puts them in the best position to execute quick evasive maneuvers, like sudden swerves.

2. Don’t Trust Your Mirrors

Yes, you should use your side mirrors. No, you probably don’t have them adjusted so that you get the best possible view - turning your side mirrors out, so that you have to lean a bit to see the sides of you car, will give you a near-panoramic view of what’s happening behind you. Doing this almost completely eliminates your blind spots. Yes, we said “almost”. When you change lanes, or back up, you should still look over your shoulder to make sure that there’s nothing in your blind spots.

3. Don’t Trust Anyone Else’s Mirrors — Especially Trucks’

Too many drivers don’t check their own blind spots — which can spell disaster for you. Along with knowing where  your car’s blind spots are, understanding where others’ blind spots are will help you avoid a crash. Big rig trucks (as well as RV’s) are particularly dangerous to be around, so stay out of their blind spots whenever possible.

The cars in the shaded area are in the truck's blind spot. (Image Credit: ca.dmv.org)

The cars in the shaded area are in the truck’s blind spot. (Image Credit: ca.dmv.org)


4. Actually, Don’t Trust Anyone Else. Period.

A little paranoia on the road is a good thing. See that guy next to you, the one driving the car with a smashed-in front fender and all of those dents? Wonder where he got those? Best to stay away from him — he looks like he’s been in a few crashes. Oh, look, there’s someone who’s looking at her phone while driving. Avoid her like the plague. Looks like that car in front of you has a right tire that’s really low on air — you don’t want to be behind it if there’s a blowout. That big long-haul truck to the left of you? It’s been drifting over into the next lane for the past couple of miles — wonder how much sleep that guy’s had in the past 24 hours? You were probably taught to keep your eyes moving when you’re behind the wheel — fixating on objects can be bad . Savvy drivers know to keep their eyes peeled for cars (and drivers) that scream “Crash Waiting To Happen”, and make sure to keep their distance from them.

5. Know Your Car

Know why Formula One cars are able to execute a 2-second braking maneuver from speeds of close to 200 mph to enter a hairpin turn without becoming a flaming wreck? Because they’re Formula One cars. All cars are bound by the laws of physics, but unlike race cars (and sports cars), the average car is limited by its design. When you learn to drive, your focus is on learning how to drive a car. But you also need to know how your car drives. There’s a subtle distinction, but it’s crucial. How much stopping power do your car’s brakes have — do you need to mash them down, or do they respond to the slightest push? When you accelerate, does your lag before the gearing kicks in, or is the power delivery smooth and even? When you turn, does your car lean a lot? Thoroughly understanding how your car performs is key to keeping yourself out of trouble.

October 19th through the 23rd is  National Teen Driver Safety Week . This week, DriversEd.com and our sister site  IDriveSafely.com  will be sharing a lot of great information aimed at teen drivers and their parents — tips that will help everyone in your family stay safe on the roads.   And for teens and their parents in California and Texas, we’re offering something extra — we’re giving away over 2,000 hours’ worth of online California and Texas driver training course! To enter to win one of the 35 I Drive Safely California Online Drivers Education Courses for novice drivers (30 hours each), California teens 14 and older can email  CA_Sweepstakes@eDriving.com . To enter to win one of 15 DriversEd.com Parent-Taught Drivers Education Courses for novice drivers (86 hours each), Texas teens should email  TX_Sweepstakes@eDriving.com .  The courses have a retail value of $64.95 and $149, respectively. Find full rules for the giveaway at  www.edriving.com