Driving a car is one of those skills in life that we don't really think about. But spend a few minutes with an advanced driving instructor and you'll realise that anyone can benefit from a refresher course, whether you have been driving for five or fifty years. Marc Allison, advanced driving instructor for Audi Germany, gets back to basics with five useful tips on safely handling your vehicle.
1. Sit in the correct position.
"Not too high in the seat, not too far from the pedals. Your legs should never be straight - go for a nice bend. This will also protect you against serious hip damage should you crash into someone."
2. Hold your steering wheel correctly.
"Many driving guides recommend a '10 to 2' position (as on a clock) but I recommend a 'quarter-to-three'. This way you can exercise much more control and you have a better idea of when the wheel is straight."
3. Look as far ahead as possible.
"People often just concentrate on the car in front of them but you should train your eye to always look at the very last piece of road you can see. If you look far ahead all the time, your peripheral vision will sharpen up to see everything between you and the horizon, as well as on your left and right. Often by the time you hit that pothole that was coming your way or notice the cow crossing the road, it's too late to react safely."
4. Make sure your tyres are always on fully loaded pressure.
"It's a myth that you will experience tyre burt on high pressures. If anything, they are more likely to burst on low pressures. A two bar pressure is way too soft for most cars on South African roads. The air in a tyre keeps it cool and the more air it has, the cooler it runs. Check your car manual to see what the recommended tyre pressure is. Don't rely on petrol attendants to know this!"
5. Get to know your brake system.
"Most modern cars these days are fitted with an ABS (anti-lock braking system). Experiment and get the feel of it with the guidance of an advanced driving instructor, who will teach you how to swerve to the left to avoid a collision. Alternatively, do your ABS testing in a safe, controlled environment, e.g. an empty parking lot with about 500m of open space or a good quality dirt road."
Visit our car advice page for more useful tips.