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You’ll learn a lot of valuable information in a drivers ed course whether you’re a teen, seasoned driver or senior. It’s an opportunity to learn proper driving techniques from the pros and the latest rules of the road that keep everyone safe.
A primary objective of drivers ed programs is to help students avoid getting into a car accident. But driving is a skill, and like any skill, certain things are only learned from experience. Today we’re sharing some of our top crash avoidance tips that veteran drivers may already know, but you may not learn in a formal drivers education class.
5 Ways to Avoid Car Crashes
1. Drive Like You’re in the Daytona 500
No, we don’t mean go 200 miles an hour in a circle. What we mean is 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 because it’s 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. However, you probably haven’t adjusted the mirrors to get the best possible view. Turning your side mirrors out so that you have to lean a bit to see the sides of your car, will give you a near-panoramic view of what’s happening behind you. Doing this almost completely eliminates your blind spots.
Keep in mind 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 Big 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 can 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.
4. Actually, Don’t Trust Anyone Else. Period.
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 keep a handful of car lengths from him.
Oh look, there’s someone who’s checking out 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 definitely 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?
A little paranoia on the road is a good thing. 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. Remember, you have no control over what other drivers do, so the best option is creating a buffer zone.
5. Know Your Car
Know why Formula One cars are able to execute a 2-second braking maneuver at speeds of close to 200 mph then take a hairpin turn without becoming a flaming wreck? Because they’re Formula One cars and their drivers know them inside and out.
All cars are bound by the laws of physics, but unlike race cars, the average car is limited by its design. When you first start driving, your focus is on learning how to drive in general. But you also need to know how your car drives. There are subtle distinctions that make each car unique, and those small differences are 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 car lag before the gearing kicks in, or is the power delivery smooth and even? When you turn, does your car lean a lot?
Every time you drive take note of how everything operates. Thoroughly understanding how your car performs is key to keeping yourself out of trouble, and it can help you identify maintenance needs before they become expensive repairs.
Teen Driver Safety
National Teen Driver Safety Week is a great time to make education a priority. The event is held every October to raise awareness about the dangers of driving among the youngest drivers. We’ll be sharing a load of great information for teen drivers and their parents — tips that will help everyone in your family stay safe on the roads.
Looking for an online drivers ed course? DriversEd.com has state-approved courses for drivers of all ages and skill levels. If you’ve already been in a crash and want to avoid future problems, then online traffic school is another great option that can also keep points off your license.
*This article was updated on 5/8/2020