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Learning to Drive

Informative Story: Smart Driving


Drive to the conditions. What conditions and how to do it?


Car care, car maintenance & smart driving tips

Previous Story: Drive To The Conditions

Hosh felt more confident after his second day’s driving practice.

Like yesterday, he talked about what he had done well and what he could have done better.

“Braking felt a bit different today, though,” he concluded. “Is it because of all the load we are carrying in the car today?”

“Yeah,” said Rosh. “I should have emptied the car before picking you up, but just didn’t have the time or energy.”

“Carrying load in a car or towing something can affect how a vehicle drives. The increased weight means it’ll take longer to stop, be slower to accelerate and not corner as well.”

“When towing, stick to safe speeds, increase your following distance and pull over regularly so other vehicles can pass.”

“I’ve been thinking about the 2-second following distance, Pa,” said Hosh. “How can I tell I’m keeping it? Do I just count the seconds it may take me to bump into the car in front? Like counting one, two in my head…”

“Can do,” said Rosh, “although many struggle to visualize motion. An easier visualization is to keep enough distance from the car in front, so you can always see enough road between your cars, to park an imaginary car in between.”

“Obviously, other drivers on the road will see that tempting space open up in front of you too, and some will try and squeeze in front. Keep calm and let them. If your L plates haven’t deterred them to stay away from you, nothing else will.”

“You will most likely never be asked to overtake anyone during a test. So don’t, if you don’t have to. Overtaking is a risky maneuver for a beginner, and riskier at high speeds, in poor visibility, high traffic or high-hazard areas.”

“Be ready to slow down or stop. But when you do need to overtake, double check your mirrors and blind spots for traffic passing inside or outside you. Only do it, if you feel completely safe and confident doing it.”

“Familiarity breeds confidence. Drive in the same car and on the same roads in the beginning to build up your confidence. Personally, I would take my own car to a driving test, and practice driving around on known driving test routes.”

“If you need to use other people’s cars, remember that they will accelerate, brake and handle differently from what you are used to in your own car.”

‘So, if you are using an unfamiliar car, take time to know where the controls are (lights, indicators, wipers, demister) and give yourself extra following distance until you're comfortable.”

“Learning to drive a car is easy, but great driving takes practice. I will give you lots of tips over the next few days on smart driving, and on basic car maintenance.”

“But the most crucial thing which will keep you and others safe on the road, and which you can do something about, is the condition of your own vehicle.”

“New Zealand cars are legally required to undergo regular Warrant Of Fitness checks, but there are many other little things you can do yourself to care for your car. Things which won’t cost you anything, but can save your life.”

“Like checking your tyres regularly. If your tyre tread is getting low, or the tyres are under-inflated, you’ll take longer to stop, and if there is water on the road, you will have less grip.”

“Similarly, having the right tyre pressure costs nothing, but saves you heaps. Check that all your lights are working and your windscreen wipers aren’t smearing. Safe drivers look after their cars and look after themselves. That is the key.”

“Look after themselves?” Hosh asked. “How?”

“Both our physical and mental state affect our driving,” said Rosh. “If we are sick or tired, we may take longer to react than we normally would. Similarly, lack of sleep, stress, medication and alcohol can cause loss of focus and concentration.”

“Be aware of yourself. If you’re unfit to drive, or not feeling 100%, avoid driving if possible. If you must drive, increase your following distance so you have more time to react.”

“Try to get a good night’s sleep before long drives. Check the side-effects of any medication you take and be extra cautious when starting a new one. Ask your doctor if needed, whether your medication could affect your driving.”

“Don’t drink and drive. Be very careful about having any alcohol when you are taking medicine, as it can change how the drugs affect you. But if you must drink, take a taxi back home, or get someone sober to drop you back.”

Next Story: Slow Doon Or Stop?

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