You took up driving earlier than your peers? You mastered shifting gears on your car without stalling it? But was that early experience good enough, or do you think you missed out on something. Well, here are a few tips (vital piece of information) that whoever taught you how to drive might have forgotten to tell you.
Starting with the most basic of things
Wrong driving position can kill
Unless you’re on the extreme ends of physiques, no one is going to ask you to adjust the seat (and steering, if your car has the ability to adjust it) before you start. And while most of the times it’s just about the vision, the driving position in reality is way more than that.
Too close to the steering and you’ll be unlikely to rotate the steering freely; too far from it and you’ll have the same problem as well. Same goes with the pedals: when they’re fully depressed your legs shouldn’t be straight but still bent a little. As for the steering reach, it ideally should be touching the ends of your palms, when they’re fully stretched.
No Vin Diesel nonsense here!
The right way to use rear view mirrors
First thing, if you happen to be one of those keeping the rear view mirrors closed and relying on the in-cabin one for your guess work, stop that. The exterior (ORVM: Outside Rear View Mirrors) are there for a reason. Open them up in such a way that instead of your car you see what’s around it. Now that doesn’t mean you unfold them outwards, but rather open enough to just start covering the area where your car ends. It might take some time getting used to this, but such a practice reduces blind spots.
Blind spots are dangerous
Talking of which, blind spot is another thing often missed out when we impart the driving ‘gyaan’ to our siblings. And most ‘driving academies’ miss it, too — hardly a surprise. Blind spots are basically those points beyond your vision that may have a vehicle/obstacle but since you cannot see it, you are unaware of its presence. While some new-age cars come with blind spot detectors, which can beep if there’s someone in the blind spot, the best way to avoid them is to have all mirrors open, the technique mentioned above, and of course, have the tiny blind spot mirrors fitted, as well.
If you started driving when there were just two lanes on most roads — one for you and the other for the oncoming traffic — it’s unlikely that you ever heard the term ‘lane driving’. Very much a thing now, lane driving brings discipline to everyday driving and must be followed. It’s rather simple to follow as well: on the highway, slow-moving traffic sticks to the left, while the right most lane is for overtaking. You don’t jump lanes, so if you have to take a right turn, you don’t just go barging into the right lane, instead you cross one lane at a time. Simple!
And just as you’re about to drive:
Do you start your car in the morning and head out to drive asap or do you warm the vehicle up a little before doing so. Now in case of modern cars, you don’t necessarily need to warm them up: just drive them slowly for a few kilometers and then continue with your normal driving. In case of extreme cold, do make a point to warm the vehicle up a little — about five minutes or so. Making hurried progress with a cold engine will damage it, sometimes beyond repair.
And when you come to a halt after a drive, do you let the engine run for a minute or so before shutting it off? If yes, great. If not, then you aren’t to be blamed, because maybe no one told you. But the issue here is that by not doing so, you’re very likely to be damaging the components, especially the turbocharger, in case of turbo-petrol and diesel vehicles.
Mileage loves coasting
Coasting is when you come off the accelerator, depress the clutch pedal and let the vehicle move using the momentum it’s carrying. You don’t use the brakes or shift down, thus ensuring the engine doesn’t consume any extra fuel but the vehicle keeps going. It’s a great thing especially if done when you’re approaching a red light, etc. But doing so while going downhill means you have limited control, and this lack of control can end up in a crash, too. Same goes for switching the engine off while on the move.
We’ve included the three points from above in our recent story ‘Big mistakes that can damage your car’. Read it here.
Engine braking is your friend
This happens when you let the wheels run the engine, instead of the other way round. In simpler words, when you have to slow down, you take your foot off the accelerator and switch to a lower gear. That way the engine, when not fed power, is basically being run by the motion of the wheels. Eventually that helps slow the vehicle down. Like coasting, you can rely on engine braking when you see a clear path ahead, or use brakes when you need more effective braking.
AVOID BRAKING WHILE CORNERING
These might sound like advanced driver techniques/jargon, but they aren’t. Weight transfer, for instance, is how the vehicle’s weight transfers when you brake. Because of which the rear suspension becomes unloaded. Now in case of aggressive driving, this can cause the rear to step out. That’s why a lot of drivers tell you to not brake while cornering. Well, it turns out you need to be a bit more gentle while cornering and braking at the same time. Failing to do so, you can see the rear wheels overtake the front ones. And that’s a difficult situation to handle.