Home » How Are You Making Yourself A Better Driver? Autopian Asks

How Are You Making Yourself A Better Driver? Autopian Asks

Autopian Asks Making Yourself A Better Driver
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Like anything in life, developing skills behind the wheel is a continuous experience. There’s always something new to be learned, or something to be tuned up or tweaked. Whether you’ve been driving for five years or 50 years, there’s always something to do, and it can be as simple as regular medical examination or as elaborate as trackdays.

I’ve already dropped some coin this year on something that should improve my driving — a regular bi-annual eye exam. An up-to-date eyewear prescription and both glasses and contacts to match may not be cheap, but subtle eyewear changes can make a big difference out on the road. Likewise, I’ve also signed up to run a season of autocross, as practice in a controlled environment is a great way to safely learn the limit handling characteristics of a new chassis.

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In addition, my office share has a few fancy simulator rigs, and I’ve been using them here and there to stay on top of techniques like trail braking and looking through the next corner. While a good simulator rig is a chunk of change, it’s cheaper to hit reset than it is to re-shell a car after a shunt on track.

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So, how are you making yourself a better driver? Whether you’re dropping bad (i.e. unsafe) habits, picking up new skills, or making sure you’re in tip-top shape, we’d love to hear from you.

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Is Travis
Is Travis
2 months ago

SIM RACING!
Or, BeamNG Drive.
Sim racing. I dodged an idiot flipping a Uturn on a mountin highway without panic braking which could have caused a wreck among the traffic around me, and dodged just enough to avoid the collision without veering too much into the other lane to the right of me. It was top if r/idiotsincars for a week or so. My driving skill and confidence is way different now than it was 5 years ago.

Last edited 2 months ago by Is Travis
Dhunt
Dhunt
2 months ago

Look both ways at an intersection where I am first when the light turns green. Have saved myself and others a couple times since deploying this practice.

Also not while driving, but the Dutch look when opening the door is common for me now since learning about it. Use your right hand to open the left door, forcing you to notice if a car/bike/animal would run into your opening door.

Last edited 2 months ago by Dhunt
Manwich Sandwich
Manwich Sandwich
2 months ago

Over the past several years, I’ve incorporated hypermiling techniques so I use less fuel. I estimate it cuts my fuel use by 10-30% depending on the circumstance.

And using these techniques in my daily driving has resulted in my fuel economy on my 2008 Honda Fit averaging 5.9L/100km… which is about 40 mpg (US gallons). And that’s an average over 5 years and also includes winter driving in snow.

And I’m guessing that’s a very good average considering the EPA rated average is 31 mpg and the user-reported fuel economy average is 35.3mpg
https://fueleconomy.gov/feg/Find.do?action=sbs&id=24921

And part of using hypermiling techniques involves not speeding.

So as a result, it has been years since I got a speeding ticket.

Last edited 2 months ago by Manwich Sandwich
BuildWithAndrew
BuildWithAndrew
2 months ago

Being intentional to make a complete stop at stop signs

Last edited 2 months ago by BuildWithAndrew
Captain Muppet
Captain Muppet
2 months ago

I did the UK driving test, then some training with the Institute of Advanced Driving (I fell out with them over the correct use of indicators: they say don’t indicate if there is no one there, I say that’s a system that assumes perfect observation skills and creates a problem if you miss something), some track driving, motorcycle training, more motorcycle training with the police (I learnt so much about observation and positioning), some skid pan time, BDC drift licence, some high speed track coaching, OEM driver training so I can drive engineering prototypes for testing (mostly how to avoid crashing someone else’s hand-made car), a day of trials motorcycle training (riding with the front wheel locked and the rear wheel spinning!), race licence for sprints and hillclimbs, and eco driving training (I thought I already knew how to do this but didn’t).

I’ve done all that, and I know I’m not a good driver. I’ve seen good drivers, and I’m not that.

What I’ve become, via quite a bit of hard work, is competent.

Mike F.
Mike F.
2 months ago

I drive with my wife in the passenger seat. She is CONSTANTLY advising me on how to improve my driving.

Captain Muppet
Captain Muppet
2 months ago
Reply to  Mike F.

Yeah me too.

Not your wife, that’d be weird.

The other thing that’s weird is that I have to take her excellent advice with a smile on my face, but when I suggest something like maybe not doing 50 in a 30, or changing down a gear or three if she’s doing 25mph in sixth, then I’m being a dick.

Mike F.
Mike F.
2 months ago
Reply to  Captain Muppet

Yeah, been there.

Manwich Sandwich
Manwich Sandwich
2 months ago
Reply to  Mike F.

Is it good advice?

Mike F.
Mike F.
2 months ago

Ummmm…. I’ll take the fifth.

Aardvark775
Aardvark775
2 months ago

I’m only driving if there is absolutely no other option to get me where I need to go. Moving thousands of pounds of metal around to transport a single 200lb person is irrational.

Manuel Verissimo
Manuel Verissimo
2 months ago

I could bring up trackdays and mechanical sympathy but I’ll go another way: saving fuel.

When I’m commuting I try and limit my fuel consumption. To do so, I try and avoid braking on the highway and I make it so I never stop the car in the city (safely!)

Braking is when you waste energy, so that approach is helpful for savings AND it forces you to anticipate as much crap as possible, making you look ahead.

It’s a good exercise for defensive driving which saves you a buck. What’s not to like?

Last edited 2 months ago by Manuel Verissimo
Stones4
Stones4
2 months ago

Did this when I had a 45 minute commute. Got a ’15 Sierra 2500 diesel to get 25 mpg average over 50 miles one day

Freelivin2713
Freelivin2713
3 months ago

I refuse to use any phone/electronics, etc like most people do and are distracted. I like driving and want to enjoy it as much as possible. Also, I don’t let people push me to speed and always try not to be in a hurry

Totally not a robot
Totally not a robot
3 months ago

I installed a dashcam with GPS. Not only do I have a record if someone else crashes due to idiocy, I have proof of my own fault if I crash because I was being an idiot.

RC
RC
3 months ago

Unserious answer: I’ve put a gas can, full-length roof rack, raptor lights, and a spacer lift kit on my 4Runner. I’ve debadged my BMW, carefully reworked the exhaust, and made sure my tire pressure is the same in all 4 tires. That’s enough to make me a better driver, yeah?

Serious answer: Tackling harder stuff requiring greater technique offroad. For all the 4Runners that never go off pavement, those that do have some niceties (like front-facing cameras and the overhead camera thing) that make obstacles a lot easier to tackle. Going after those trucks helps me figure out which lines are optimal and a better feel for the geometry of my own truck. Really, just finding a buddy and doing stuff that requires some technique without severe risk of ending up on YouTube on one of the offroad recovery channels.

Danny Zabolotny
Danny Zabolotny
3 months ago

I do HPDE track days pretty regularly, it’s fun to hustle my daily driver BMW around on some sticky tires in a fairly low-risk environment where I can push it to 10/10 without losing my license. Otherwise I do plenty of canyon driving, lots of it here in Arizona.

Knowonelse
Knowonelse
3 months ago

Since I have been doing a 700+ mile one-day drive a few times a year for the past few years, I have been focusing on just being safe from the idiots. A bit scaled down from my motorcycle years where you have to assume that to every other vehicle driver out there I am either A) invisible, or B) a target.

At every intersection I refocus my eyes on all impinging roads, sit up straighter, and assess hand-on-wheel positioning. Be more in the ready position.

After cataract surgery I don’t -have- to wear glasses anymore, but I bought Rx sunglasses for driving that sets both eyes to distance vision. It is so refreshing to be able to see everything in the distance in focus. When I leave for the long day-drives, I can’t wait for there to be enough light to put them on.

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
3 months ago

I let FSD take the wheel so I can better comment here…

Last edited 3 months ago by Cheap Bastard
Clark B
Clark B
3 months ago

I’ve been driving more efficiently since I got my Sportwagen, four years ago. Mostly because you can get good fuel economy without trying, so it’s fun to see how much better you can do. My previous two cars, a 2009 GTI and a 2012 CC, were okay on gas, but could only get high 20s on the highway and low 20s in town. Since I can’t bring myself to drive the speed limit on the highway (I usually do 75-85, traffic and conditions dependent of course), I’ve never hit the magic 50mpg number, but I’ve managed 47 before and once, somehow, managed 45 on a handful of two hour drives. In the summer, ac cranked, going 80-85 most of the way. In town, coasting and rev matching downshifts can get you close to 35mpg. I don’t go full hypermiler, and never drive under the speed limit, so I think that’s pretty good.

Owning this car has made me think diesel quality is inconsistent. I once got gas at a Mobil station while out of town and got stellar fuel economy. I had to stop getting diesel at Kroger because I consistently got a 2-3 mpg hit over other stations. Am I crazy?

GreatFallsGreen
GreatFallsGreen
3 months ago
Reply to  Clark B

I don’t think you’re crazy – not quite the same since this is regular gas, but I swear my GTI gets better mileage on tanks from Exxon/Mobil vs. Costco. I usually do Costco on my dime and Exxon if it’s someone else’s, but the drive habits aren’t quite consistent enough to chalk it up to routes or seasonality or anything. I keep telling myself I’ll export the data from the logs I have to compare the averages between different brands but promptly forget until my next fuelup.

Manwich Sandwich
Manwich Sandwich
2 months ago
Reply to  Clark B

“Owning this car has made me think diesel quality is inconsistent. I once got gas at a Mobil station while out of town and got stellar fuel economy. I had to stop getting diesel at Kroger because I consistently got a 2-3 mpg hit over other stations. Am I crazy?”

Well I think you’re crazy for putting in gas sometimes and putting in diesel at other times…

/jk

Clark B
Clark B
2 months ago

Ha! Four years into ownership, you’d think I’d remember to say “diesel” every time by now!

Boulevard_Yachtsman
Boulevard_Yachtsman
3 months ago

Teaching my daughter to drive – it’s been a good refresher on some of the more mundane rules of the road for myself as well.

Cheats McCheats
Cheats McCheats
3 months ago

I try to have 1 less beer than normal at the bar…

Andy Individual
Andy Individual
3 months ago

I walk and use transit as much as possible. Statistically it makes me a better driver.

Especially if I’m going out for beers.

Timbales
Timbales
3 months ago

Most of my driving is stop and go driving, rarely on highways for longer than 15 minutes. I try to remain deliberate in my driving practices, both in terms of safety and general courtesy. Sometimes it pisses off other drivers who want me to do things like speed through the active school zone or move past the stop line so they can turn right on red, but I don’t care.

Pupmeow
Pupmeow
3 months ago

I got a car with a manual transmission. I had become so DISCONNECTED from the drive. Focus was on kids, music, phone calls, etc. A manual forces you to pay attention to the drive.

Inthemikelane
Inthemikelane
3 months ago
Reply to  Pupmeow

Yes it does!

The Pigeon
The Pigeon
2 months ago
Reply to  Pupmeow

My same answer. A manual really makes you connected to the car, makes you realize you’re operating a machine, not an appliance.

KevFC
KevFC
3 months ago

1. Stay away from other cars, EG tailgating or travelling in groups on the highway.
2. Remember that stopping distance and the energy to be dissipated in a crash go up with the square of your speed (mv^2/2).
3. Avoid driving “at the limit” unless at a track or other controlled environment.
4. If you have a near miss, even if not your fault, ask yourself how you could have avoided it.

Col Lingus
Col Lingus
3 months ago

When it comes to the other guy, assume nothing.

And always look for a hole. Whether you’re doing 25, 60, or 100mph. This is something most racers do, and it has become really helpful to me since I was taught this 50+ years ago. This trick has saved me from countless accidents, and certainly saved some lives.

This learned habit has the side effect of keeping you subconsciously alert to the chance that one of your fellow drivers might soon pull some really stupid shit, you will be ready to react, hopefully in time.

And as a lot of others have already said, if you can know the limits of your car, especially before an emergency happens, it will pay off when the unexpected happens. YMMV

TwoThousandMiles
TwoThousandMiles
3 months ago
Reply to  Col Lingus

In my state’s driver’s manual, they call what I think you’re referring to as “a hole” “escape routes,” a clear area that you can move into if something unexpectedly blocks your path or will soon occupy the same space as you are currently in. I use this frequently also, and that awareness also makes me a bit on-edge when there is dense traffic moving at high speeds –higher chance of something unexpected, less places to escape to without hitting another vehicle or obstacle. Try and keep as much clear area around your vehicle as possible.

Angrycat Meowmeow
Angrycat Meowmeow
3 months ago

Hear me out, because I know many people believe the opposite to be true, but ADAS has made me a better driver. When I get on I-4, I no longer worry about getting cut off, or the guy in front of me going 1.5MPH slower than I wanna go. I set the active cruise to as fast as I’m willing to travel, and I let it maintain my speed and distance. Someone fills the gap between me and the car in front of me? No biggie, ACC will back off and resume a safe following distance. ADAS has taken a sizeable chunk of stress out of driving in traffic. Being calm behind the wheel and not getting worked up allows me to focus on the big picture, instead of focusing on the ASSHOLE IN THE ROGUE WHO JUST CUT ME OFF WHAT THE FU** WAS THAT ASSHOLE?!?!

Ryan
Ryan
2 months ago

I 100% agree. I love ADAS features because they allow me to focus less on keeping speed and more on watching traffic and predicting when someone will do something detrimental. I thoroughly enjoy Blue Cruise because the car can handle speed and lane position while I watch cars around me, check entrance ramps, watch mirrors for fast approaching cars and other potential hazards.

It seems like ADAS makes attentive drivers more attentive and inattentive drivers less attentive.

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