Use It or Lose It: 3 Easy Ways to Refine Your Driving Skills
You’ve probably heard the expression, “use it or lose it”. In most cases, the person who says it is referring to the brain or a particular skill. When it comes to your brain, there’s scientific evidence to prove that the more you use your brain, the sharper it stays for years to come. And no one needs to tell you that if you haven’t touched the piano, written in your journal, or swung a baseball bat for a few months, that it will be tricky trying to pick it up again. But what about your driving abilities? Are they the same? Many people are overconfident behind the wheel, and need to take into account the importance of keeping their driving skills in good shape. What you need to know is that these skills can diminish, but it’s still within your control to improve and use them for the safety of yourself and others.
Remember the first day you went for your license? You walked into the Drive Test centre, and circled away on the written test. Some of you passed, while some of you had to retake it. Regardless of that initial outcome, you eventually moved on and faced the in-car instructors. You were most likely a bit nervous and on-edge – a feeling that’s common to anyone doing something new for the first time. But as the weeks and months and years went by, your nerves calmed down. Soon, you were turning, changing lanes and parallel parking with utmost confidence. In fact, you were probably so smooth behind the wheel, that you felt there was nothing left to learn.
But the problem is that we get too comfortable. Once you get fully licensed, and no longer have an examiner sitting beside you, things like the 10 and 2 O’clock position (which is now disputed as not being the safest) go out the window. Your seat get’s a little more relaxed, and you might make sharper turns than the smoother ones you had made before. It’s safe to say that some of us get a little too relaxed when driving, especially if we’ve been doing it for years.
3 Teaching Tools for Better Driving Skills
So how exactly do you improve your driving savvy? Do you have to enroll in a fancy academy? Or can you just go on a blog and read “how to” advice to get better? You’ll find that all of the above work, and more as well.
Defensive Driving Training
One of the first things you should consider, are courses that teach defensive driving techniques. They’re great for new and young drivers who still need practice, because they prepare these motorists for the hazards out there on the roads. It’s basically a “heads-up” for newbies. Older and more experienced drivers can benefit from these courses as well. It’s easy to slip into bad habits, and we often overlook tiny details or skills that we never really learned properly in the first place. A defensive driving course will help you overcome those habits, and teach you the techniques you may not have mastered yet.
Dump Your Distractions
There are things you might hold onto even if you know they’re not good for you. Junk food, a T.V. binging habit, a bad relationship – you might allow them into your life for a certain period of time. But driving distractions shouldn’t be one of them. About 80% of collisions and 65% of close calls are the result of inattention, and drivers who text and drive are 23 times more likely to crash or have a close call. Your driving skills mean next to nothing if your mind is focusing somewhere else. So if you want to be a better driver in no time at all, give up the distractions!
Practice, Practice, Practice!
Athletes practice for many hours before hitting the field. Musicians practice for many hours before hitting the stage. So why do we assume that driving is just a matter of jumping into our cars and hitting the road? It’s true that it doesn’t take a lifetime to learn how to drive. However, wouldn’t you agree that if you’re not too skilled in a certain area of driving, that waiting until you hit the road is not the best time to practice? That’s why it helps to work on your skills on the side. But how?
There are several ways to do this. You can practice in empty parking lots or on residential streets that aren’t busy. Attending a driving course may also require you to complete some “on-road” tests (just like when you first got your license) with an examiner. And then there are some other non-traditional/surprising methods of getting your practice. Video games that focus on safe driving (probably not Grand Theft Auto), namely, simulation games, can actually improve certain aspects of your driving, such as hand-eye coordination, judging distances, changing speeds when making turns, and avoiding close calls with other vehicles. The beauty of using video games as practice, is that you’ll learn and have fun at the same time.
Why Mastering Your Driving Skills Matter
You might say to yourself that you’re not looking to become a race car driver, and that’s understandable. After all, only a select few get to compete in Formula One and NASCAR events. But that doesn’t mean you have no reason to improve your driving skills. You have plenty of reasons for doing so.
Benefits of Refined Driving Skills
- Fewer or no tickets
- Fewer close calls
- Lower risk of “at fault” accidents
- Reduced damage/injury if accidents occur
- Lower repair costs
- Lower insurance premiums
- Less stress while driving
There’s Nothing Wrong With Getting Schooled
At the end of the day, you can’t prevent every accident or event that takes place on the road. You will have close calls, someone else may hit you, your car may have a glitch, or nature may lash out against you. With that said, you can reduce the chances of collisions or injuries by refining your driving skills. And keep in mind the benefits listed above. Fewer expenses, more time, less stress – wouldn’t you want to have more of these things in your life? Better driving skills can make all of those things possible, both directly and indirectly. So don’t be that person who thinks you can’t get any more skilled behind the wheel. After all, there’s always room to improve.