The best driving techniques include good driver communication
effectual and often with other drivers.
Driving is similar to dancing with a group of people, that is, you need to be in step with other drivers around you in order to drive safely. In order to be in step with other drivers, you need to let them know your intentions and use good driver to driver communication.
Using your Turn signal is one important way to communicate.
When should you use your turn signal?
Answer: Any time you make a turn onto a new road, or make a lane change. Not, however, around curves or when you are following your road.
At confusing intersections it may
still be wise to use your signal around a curve
or when following your road to avoid collisions.
You should turn on your signal
about 1/4 to 1/2 a block before your turn,
but not before a road or driveway you
will pass before your turn.
If another driver turning from that
road or driveway sees your signal,
they might turn in front you, thinking you will turn there.
Some people won't use their turn signals when they don't see other drivers around.
Even if you don't see another driver, there could be a driver you don't see or pedestrians wanting to know which direction you will go.
You would also hate to have a policeman hidden watching you, then give you a ticket for not signaling on a turn!
Your Horn should be used to prevent dangerous actions and to warn people of your presence, NOT to scold someone after they did a dangerous maneuver(the best driver communication will be positive not negative)
If you are coming into someones blind spot, a short, polite tap on your horn will let them know you are there when they can't see you.
This is particularly important in busy parking lots where people are backing out of stalls. Even if they are trying to look all directions, other cars and obstacles could be blocking their view of you driving past them.
The position of your vehicle is very important driver communication.
When you see a person on the far right or left side of their lane what does it say to you? That they will either make a turn, a lane change or pull to the curb.
Do you expect a driver to turn right if they are to the far left of their lane or vice versa?
In the picture above, if the driver trying to come into my lane from
the turn lane is still that far left when I get within two car lengths
of him, he won't have time to come in front of me.
His tires need to be next to the right line.
*If you are trying to make a lane change in heavy traffic and people aren't helping you come in, here is one of the best driving techniques to use to get someone to give you space to come in:
get your tires ON the white line, as the driver in the picture is doing,
(not coming over until it is safe).
This is excellent driver communication. It's amazing how quickly people will slow down to let you in when your tires are on that white line.
On the other hand, if you are on the opposite side of your lane of the direction you want to lane change, people won't help you come in because:
1. They won't take you seriously that you want to lane change.
2. They may see they are going too fast to give you time to come from the far side of your lane into their lane.
Hand gestures and eye contact
Be careful in using hand gestures with other drivers.
If you wave someone through an intersection, you may not notice a hazard such as a pedestrian.
If your hand signal caused an accident, you could be at fault.
using obscene gestures may cause more problems than it solves by getting the other driver angry at you.
Don't rely on someones hand gesture to know it's safe to proceed. You could misinterpret it or they might not have seen a vehicle or person coming in your path.
One time I told my
student to cautiously go around a car stopped in the isle of a parking
lot when I saw the driver waving us around.
With tinted widows, what looked like a hand waving was a dog wagging its tail!
Making eye contact with someone is a good indication they see you, but it doesn't guarantee they see you.
If you attempt to make eye contact with someone and see them looking your direction, be careful, I have had people tell me I was looking straight at them, so they assumed I saw them when I didn't.
Just because someone has their head turned your direction doesn't mean they were looking at you or saw you!
The speed you are traveling while driving tells other drivers a lot.
If you have a turn signal on, but you are coming to an intersection at
40 miles an hour, other drivers won't (shouldn't) expect you to make
This is why making last minute decisions to turn risks a rear end collision.
Braking to stop within 2-3 seconds, in what should take you 5-10 seconds, your speed decreases by about 15MPH, surprising the driver behind you.
If your turn signal is on AND you are slowing to 10-20 MPH other drivers WILL expect you to turn.
Don't surprise them and keep going straight, especially if they are about to turn right in front of you.
These are just six of the most common forms of driver communication.
Others include tapping your brakes so your brake lights come on, warning people you are slowing, even if you don't completely stop.
Putting your car in reverse allows people to see you are getting ready to drive in reverse even if you delay a few seconds.
Coming into this parking lot, I saw this vehicles white lights on, letting me know he was moving in reverse (my direction).
I didn't turn down that isle until the white lights were off.
Never underestimate the importance of communicating correctly to drivers around you what you will do.
Also make sure you don't miscommunicate your intentions, that will cause frustration and sometimes collisions.
More to come on driver Communication
DMV Practice Tests DriversEd.com.
DMV Practice Tests DriversEd.com.