car tuning

18 Jun 2007

What makes a good driver?

We all know what winds us up in other drivers from the recent survey, so what is that essential ingredient that makes a driver stand out above the rest. The primary skill in driving is anticipation, reading the road and traffic conditions ahead.

A good driver will see congestion, blackspots or lane restrictions far ahead, be fully aware of the drivers behind and around him and move into a safe position and gradually adjust his speed well before he hits the problem. His aim is to keep the traffic flowing so he will avoid stopping, slowing to a crawl where necessary but a stop will create a delay for the traffic behind. This includes moving into a free flowing lane or even taking a left turn, if the right turn lane is blocked, and then doing a right further up the road to resume the original course. The less time we wait at junctions the less congestion there will be.

Being aware of the drivers around you, and especially those behind, can make a big difference to road safety, is the driver behind close, is he concentrating on the road, is he weaving in and out ready to overtake? A good driver will adjust his distance from the car in front to allow extra stopping distance to enable the car behind to stop safely.

When passing a junction a good driver will slow and be ready to sound his horn as a warning should a driver pulling out fail to see him. Making eye contact with drivers is a good indicatior that you can continue past the junction. If you have not made eye contact you must assume the worst and be ready to stop, slowing a little and moving your foot to the brake pedal which saves precious stopping distance.

At all times a driver should maintain a bubble of space around the car, using every available inch of the road. For example on an empty road he will drive closer to the center line as he passes a junction. If a car comes in the other direction towards him he will move away from the center line and slow when passing an occupied junction.

Being prepared to take evasive action saves seconds when the unexpected happens. As a driver you should condition yourself to look for every possible hazard and prepare an escape plan. Thoughts like "car at side of road could pull out, the other lane is clear and I can move into that" or "oncoming driver could have a heart attack and veer across the road, I can use the verge and swerve away!" It sounds silly but after a while it becomes second nature.

We learn in our test the maxim "mirror, signal, manoever" and we should all make a point of checking that whenever we plan to change our path, direction, or change lane that it is safe to do so BEFORE we start the manover!

Most accidents are caused by carelessness on the part of one driver and usually by the negligence of the other. A cautious driver will be able to counter the carelessness of others and build into his driving a safe margin.

5 Jun 2007

Who are the worst drivers on the road?

Worst drivers:- We asked Torquecars members which drivers they thought were the worst on the roads and got a plethora of vitriol and tirades of frustration.

Top of the hate list came taxi drivers with their percieved "I own the road" attitude. Perhaps this is a little harsh as Taxi drivers clock up more miles in one year than some motorists do in 10! Perhaps it is true that familiarity breeds contempt and as we all encounter our fair share of taxi drivers it could go some way to explain their unpopularity. The cited reasons for annoyance include, double parking, cutting in too sharply after overtaking, aggresively pushing through gaps and general rudeness never thanking drivers for giving way and never allowing other motorists to pull out on to busy roads or giving way themselves. It is probably fair to say their is a vicious circle going on here with taxi drivers experiencing bad manners on the road from other motorists and responding in kind. I'm pretty sure you'll actually find that Taxi drivers have fewer accidents per mile they drive than other motorists.

The second most hated group are the hesistant drivers. Quite a wide ranging category typically characterised by undue caution, hesitation, slow speed and generally lack of assertion. Many drivers fall into this category and we probably all have been here at one stage of our drving life. Typically the hestitant driver includes the new inexperienced driver, the nervous old driver and the timid Sundays and special occasions only drivers. We must remember that we will also fall into this category if perhaps we are driving a new car which we are not used to for the first time, or perhaps our car is experiencing a technical problem and may cut out on us at any time so there is a need for caution. We may find ourselves in an unfamiliar area and be attempting to navigate but struggle to get in the right lane in time something which typically affects us on holiday. So perhaps we should cut a little slack for the hesitant driver and encourage them rather than sit of their boot driving aggresively and putting them off!

White van drivers also came in for some stick too. The way they cut up other motorists, drive really close to the car in front, jump lights and just leave the van parked in the middle of the road with its hazzard lights on (the hazzard lights do not in fact render the car invisible when turned on as many white van drivers seem to think!) We have a little sympathy for the stressful life of the delivery driver with ever shorter deadlines, early starts, vague addresses and route plans and a need to deliver to addresses which have no convenient parking facilities.

Old drivers also get to have their own category. They seem to have little awareness of other motorists keeping focussed on a very small patch of road in front of them (even when reversing). We know that many old drivers have very good driving skills, but when a driver only covers 1 or 2 miles per week he cannot possibly expect to stay sharp. Add into the mix the fact that the roads are very different from when these OAPs learnt (if they went through a formal set of tuition and tests) and the fact that reflexes and motor skills diminish with age along with eyesight. Per mile driven the older driver has the greatest number of accidents than any other motorist. We at Torquecars support the practical step of a retest, particularly for the over 70 year old driver and many of our members would even support a refresher test and course every 10 years to ensure that all motorists on the road conform to the required standard.

Mothers on the school run also got some criticism. I guess the effect of getting up early, having been kept awake all the night becuse little Jonny is crying and then taking the other 2 kids to school in the morning, with them argueing in the back over whose turn it is to choose the in drive movie, probably equals the equivalent of driving whilst 2 times over the breath alcahol limit. The stress and frustration the mothers experience is clearly demonstrated in their driving style and the way they park (dump) the car half off the road and pull out without so much as looking for other cars.

4x4 drivers, cyclists, bus drivers and HGV drivers also came in for some criticism but to be honest we couldn't write an article entitled "most hated motorists" and then include everyone!

Driving is a priviledge and not a right. We all do silly or plain daft things behind the wheel and rarely give other drivers much slack when they do daft things. Generally speaking if we all showed consideration and patience with even the hated groups of driver the roads would be a much better place for all of us.

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