10 Tips to Be a Great Driver

by Kath Alfaro

Whether you are a beginner or a seasoned driver, it’s always good to be reminded of how to act while using the roads that you share with other people. Here are a few things to remember to be a great driver:

1. Enroll in a driving school.

There’s a good reason why enrolling in a driving school is now a requirement to get your driver’s license — that is to ensure that you are equipped with the knowledge to properly and safely drive your vehicle before hitting the road. Attending driver’s education classes will help you with Philippine traffic rules and enhance your skills in different driving conditions such as nighttime and rainy weather. Aside from these, being trained by a professional will help you gain confidence to drive smoothly.

Although quite costly, this investment will save you from far greater expenses. One simple mistake on the road can cause accidents and, worse, claim lives.

2. Use signal lights properly.

Signal lights are intended to alert fellow road users of your next move. So, to avoid being accidentally hit by other motorists, make sure to turn on your signal lights before you turn, change lanes, back up, or make a U-turn. Also, avoid confusing them with your signal lights switched on when you don’t intend to turn.

3. Always check your blind spots.

Blind spots are areas or zones on the road that cannot be seen by a driver while looking at rearview or side mirrors. To reduce these blind spots, adjust your mirrors to the correct angle .

It is quite common in the Philippines, especially during traffic, to see motorcycles squeezing their way between vehicles. So, always be on the lookout for other vehicles such as motorcycles, scooters, and bicycles by checking your side mirrors and rear view mirrors first before turning. Also, watch out for pedestrians crossing the street.

4. Don’t drive when you’re sleepy or drunk.

Make sure that you’re in good physical and mental state before beginning your journey. It is essential for you to be 100% alert and mentally present. Being intoxicated and sleepy will certainly affect how fast you react to what’s happening on the road. If you feel unwell, it is wiser to postpone your trip until you’re better or have someone else drive you to your destination.

Remember, a simple miscalculation may affect not just you, but also your fellow road users.

5. Be more courteous.

With the bad state of traffic on our major roads, it’s almost natural to get into “beast mode” with the every careless driver encountered. However, it’s still always better to calm down and be considerate of fellow road users. Give the right of way when necessary, let pedestrians cross the streets safely, and never beat the red light. Waiting is better than getting into a fight with other irate motorists.

6. Keep your hands off your phone.

Avoid distractions while driving.  A quick peak at your phone is not as harmless as you think it is. In just a snap, anything can happen and you can’t take it back.

If you really have to use your phone, pull over safely to the roadside before calling or texting. Else, keep your hands on the wheel and your eyes on the road. Better safe than sorry.

7. Always respect lane designations.

Road lanes are meant to guide drivers and prevent traffic chaos. Respecting the lanes meant for bicycles and PUVs and staying on your designated lane will save you from accidents, breaking traffic rules, and causing distraction.

8. Stay calm and focused.

One of the basic driving tips for new drivers is to relax and focus while steering the wheel. You are more likely to make mistakes when too anxious and while overthinking. When nerves get the better of you, just breathe deeply and calm down. And if you’re still uncomfortable or you just need a source of confident boost, get a driving buddy to help calm your nerves on your first few drives.

9. Drive within the speed limit.

Speeding reduces your control over your car and affects your reaction time when something suddenly happens — a pedestrian crossing or a vehicle pulls out in front of you. Familiarize yourself and comply with the speed limits set on different types of roads in the Philippines. For instance, the maximum speed when driving along expressways is 100 KPH, 30 KPH on city streets, and 20 KPH on busy streets. Getting to your destination safe is better than getting there fast. The risk in rushing isn’t worth it.

10. Observe all applicable rules.

Ignorance of the law isn’t considered an acceptable excuse especially when safety is at risk. As a driver, it is your responsibility to know the applicable rules and schemes when travelling to other places. Study and plan your trips responsibly to avoid getting caught in traffic and committing violations.

Being a driver who shares the road with other motorists and pedestrians, it is your responsibility to drive safely and develop the necessary defensive driving habits. Be reminded that the road is not yours and is definitely not a race track so be mindful of your speed and the signals you send to fellow drivers. Don’t be the “kamote” driver that you hate being on the road with.

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