1. Look out.
“Driving can be boring,” says Mike Speck, an instructor at the Bob Bondurant School of High Performance Driving in Phoenix, “so we eat, talk on the phone, fiddle with the radio.” Instead, he says, you should be checking side and rearview mirrors, watching traffic ahead, and planning for various “what if” scenarios.
3. Slow down.
If there’s weather, construction, traffic, then take your pedal off the metal. Sudden braking is a recipe for an accident: The weight of the car shifts quickly toward the front tires, throwing it off balance.
4. Don’t panic.
“Often, it turns out that a driver just drives off the road or into another car, without even turning the wheel or using the brakes or gas,” Speck says. Rather than stare at the car that’s sliding toward you, identify an open area and steer in that direction.
5. Watch your hands.
In driver’s ed you learned to put your hands at 10 and 2 o’clock on the wheel. Clark prefers 9 and 3 o’clock, because this position gives drivers a better range of motion and enables them turn the wheel almost completely without their hands getting tangled up.
6. Leave a way out.
The worst place to be on a multilane highway is in one of the middle lanes surrounded by cars, Clark says. You always want to be able to pull onto the left or right shoulder if you need to avoid trouble.
7. Know your brakes.
Go to an empty parking lot and practice braking. If your car has anti lock brakes (ABS) you’ll feel them “lock” up when you press hard on the pedal. “This allows the computer to pump the brakes but gives you some steering effectiveness,” Cox says. If you have traditional brakes, pump them to stop in an emergency; to be able to steer, release the brakes completely.
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