Meditate on these 11 ideas to become a better, more confident driver

Everyone seems to have advice on how you can become a better driver, from Jalopnik to MotorAuthority, lifehacker to DriverSide.

Much of that advice is what you would expect to hear or already have heard.

Some of it is much too much – such as MA’s 59 tips, hints, and tricks to being a better driver.

So we’ll try to boil down all that advice to our favorite 11 ideas to help you become a better driver – and avoid those who won’t be doing the same (i.e., almost everyone else).

Some of the most unusual advice comes from Jalopnik, a news and opinion website about cars, in a blog post Ten ways to become a better driver.

  • Learn and practice “situational awareness” – and then just “pretend everyone else on the road is trying to kill you.” These actually are two separate suggestions we’ve combined because, well, they just seem to belong together.
  • Test your car’s limits (and yours) in an empty parking lot after it rains or snows, attend driving school or, better yet, rally school where instructors undoubtedly are better drivers than you, participate in autocross, play driving video games and, generally, drive more.

“Our roads are clogged with distracted, drunk, texting people pretending to drive but really just aimlessly pointing their vehicles,” says Jalopnik. “You don’t have to be one of them.”

The Lifehacker blog, which offers “tips, tricks and downloads for getting things done,” suggests:

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  • Keep your hands at the proper position on the steering wheel – and, no, that is not 10 and two. Now you’re supposed to keep your hands lower for more control and stability.

MotorAuthority’s lengthy list includes several favorites:

  • Don’t depend on cameras, entirely, because they “see things differently than do you and I.” Research shows that the technology hasn’t significantly reduced back-over accidents.
  • Don’t jump in and out of traffic lanes just to get ahead of one or two vehicles, and when you’re out on the road, “don’t forget … we’re all in this together.”

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  • Stay focused on your driving. “Put down the muffin, put down the cell phone, put it all down.” A Virginia Tech transportation study showed distraction precedes a large majority of crashes.

Among his ideas on being a better driver, blogger Jens Meiert suggests:

  • Try to look ahead to see what’s coming up and be prepared to adjust. “Simply watching the car in front is not safe, and gets unsafer and unsafer the shorter the following distance.”

Which leads to …

  • Keep a safety margin. Generally, apply the two-second rule, the equivalent of one vehicle length for every five miles per hour. Applying this (or a three-second) rule has been shown to considerably reduce the risk of collision or the severity of an accident.

Among its 10 ways to become a better driver,, “The website for car owners,” provides some advice that may not be as obvious as it appears on the surface:

  • Look where you want to go (duh), but here’s the kicker … “Humans have an instinct to go where their eyes are looking, a tendency which can have disastrous effects on the road.”

One auto insurance company urged the following:

  • Drive with confidence – but not overconfidence. “Think you’re a good driver? So do 99 percent of people on the road, according to the National Safety Council … Never mind that 93 percent fail to follow basic safety practices like turning off cell phones or obeying the speed limit.”

Finally, in a Scientific American article How to be a better driver, Sunny Sea Gold suggests:

  • Take up meditation to meet the challenges of the “ultimate multitasking activity.” A University of Washington study found that “people who trained in mindful meditation … were better able to focus during multitasking tests than those who never meditated.”

“Driving isn’t a right – it’s a privilege,” wrote Marty Padgett at MotorAuthority. “We don’t always treat it that way, though. All too often, we forget the basic courtesies, the finer points of driving.”

These 11 ideas will help you remember – and probably get you down the road further and safer.

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