What expert drivers know that you don’t

Don’t drive based on how things are NOW – drive based on how things COULD BE in the future. (The further ahead, the better.)

Notice the car on the side street ahead, angled as if preparing to merge with traffic in your lane. They may not adequately judge how large an opening they have (or need) or might just get impatient. If they pull in front of you, will you have the time and distance needed to slow down? If not, can you take advantage of an opening in the lane next to you, even if it means speeding up? What do you need to do to handle anything that might crop up in the next 3 seconds? The next 10 seconds? The next 30 seconds?

ALWAYS maintain a “Bird’s Eye” awareness of your surroundings. Five seconds ago, you saw a blue sports coupe in your passenger-side mirror – now you can’t see it at all.  Where is it?  Did they turn off?  Are they in your blind spot?  If you remember where it has been and where you know it isn’t, it’s pretty easy to deduce where that car is.  You can’t watch everything constantly, and some areas you can’t see well (if at all) anyways – use that grey lump between your ears to maintain a picture and make corrections on the fly.  With practice and experience, you’ll learn to see potential accidents before they even happen.

Headlights are to LET OTHER DRIVERS SEE YOU more than to help you see. A good rule of thumb is that if you need your wipers (even intermittently) you need your lights on.  I can’t begin to tell you how many times the only thing to save an idiot driving a gray/silver car was a high-contrast front license plate.  If it’s near dusk or dawn, in a dusty desert, or even on a winding mountain road, you need your headlights on so others can see you.  When in doubt, turn ’em on!

There’s no shame in parking. A lot of drivers tend to get macho and will try everything from caffeine pills to slapping themselves in the face to try to make “just a few more miles” – the morgues are full of them.  Stop at a 7-11 and get a Slurpee.  Hit up a rest area for a pee break.  Something as simple as a two-minute break from driving and a quick spot of activity can do wonders for your alertness.  If that’s not enough, find an out-of-the-way spot for a short nap.

Any time you think you’d be embarrassed for taking a rest break, think how embarrassed you’d be for having an accident because you didn’t!!

Want to become a better expert driver?

Enroll at Access2Drive Driving School, Jamaica, New York.

How to become a master driver

Here are the things I’ve done over the years.

Get an actual driving education! There are many skills and driving situations which are not taught in basic driver’s education classes and not required to get a license. They are still skills people should know. Many people are not aware that “advanced” driving instruction is available, but it is, and we’re not talking about racing schools, these are practical driving classes, available in almost every major city. Here’s an example of that: Access2Drive driving school in Queens.

Become a professional driver! There are many professional driving jobs available that don’t require a commercial license, but you can go that route as well, which will require some of that education I mentioned before.

Take every driving experience seriously and learn from it when you can. If someone cuts you off, instead of getting mad and possibly missing something, take a minute to see if maybe you could have let them in, maybe they had their signal on, and you were being a dick about it. Drive defensively, and learn to anticipate what other drivers will do. Study driver behavior in your area and learn how to avoid problems before they happen.

Now I don’t know if I consider myself an expert driver after all that, but with 30 years on the road and all that additional experience, I think I’m pretty good. I think if you do all those things and you make expert driving skills a personal goal, you should be able to be an expert driver in ten years. That’s how long it takes to be an expert in anything really.