You may think you’re an experienced driver, but if you had to demonstrate perfect command of all skills in a driving test, how well would you rate? Here are seven of the top forgotten driving skills you should be sure to practice next time you’re out on the road.
The skill: Properly check blind spots
Why it’s important: Forty percent of your vehicle’s outer perimeter is covered in blind spots. Failing to check your blind spots when making a lane change could lead to a collision.
Master the skill: First, check all mirrors—rear view and side. Next, turn your head to glance over your shoulder to make sure no one is in your blind spot.
The skill: Knowing who has the right of way in an unmarked intersection
Why it’s important: An unmarked intersection is one that doesn’t have a traffic light, so you need to know who has the right of way. Intersections can be among the most stressful driving situations, especially because there are different types and different rules for each.
Master the skill:
- Four-way intersection with a stop sign: Come to a complete stop, then yield to drivers who have arrived at the intersection before you. If you arrive at the same time as another vehicle, the driver on the left should yield to the one on the right.
- Intersection without a stop sign: Treat the intersection as though there is a stop sign, by yielding to drivers who have arrived before you. If you arrive at the same time as another vehicle, the driver on the left should yield to the one on the right.
- Three-way, or T-junction, intersection: Drivers on the through road have the right of way, so if you are approaching the intersection from the road that ends, yield to drivers on the through road.
- Intersections with stop signs for only one crossroad: If you’re on the crossroad with the stop sign, come to a complete stop and wait until traffic in the through road is clear before proceeding.
The skill: Knowing which lane to turn into
Why it’s important: Different roads have different scenarios based on number of lanes and whether they are one-way or two-way travel. You need to be aware of the differences in order to turn safely and observe the laws wherever you’re driving.
Master the skill: We don’t cover all scenarios here, but here are some of the most common. Always be sure to observe posted signage and road markings that indicate where you should turn.
- Right turn: When turning right, begin your turn in the lane nearest to the curb on your right, and remain in that lane to complete your turn.
- Left turn: When turning left, turn from the designated lane and turn into the lane farthest to the left that’s traveling in your same direction. In Arizona, it’s against the law to enter the right lane when making a left turn.
- Right turn—One-way street: When turning right from a one-way street onto a one-way street with multiple lanes, start your turn in the lane nearest to the curb on your right, and turn into any lane.
- Left turn—One-way street: When turning left from a one-way street onto a one-way street with multiple lanes, start your turn in the lane farthest to the left, and turn into any lane.
The skill: Leaving intersections clear
Why it’s important: During rush hour and other peak traffic times, it can take extra time for traffic to move through an intersection. Some drivers try to proceed through an intersection even if there’s not enough room on the other side, blocking the intersection and preventing others from turning left.
Master the skill: Even if the traffic signal is green, if the intersection isn’t clear, you cannot legally proceed until there is enough room for your vehicle to completely cross the intersection.
Wait at the white stop line until the intersection is completely clear and there’s sufficient space for your entire vehicle on the other side of the intersection.
The skill: Keeping a safe following distance
Why it’s important: Knowing what a safe following distance is and sticking to it can help you avoid rear-ending the vehicle in front of you in case they have to slow down or even stop unexpectedly. This is especially important when traveling on the freeway during peak times, because speeds can change erratically.
Master the skill: A safe following distance on dry roads is at least three seconds. To maintain this distance, first locate a fixed point ahead, such as a sign. When the vehicle in front of you passes that fixed point, count three seconds: One thousand one, one thousand two, one thousand three. If you arrive at that fixed point before you count to “one thousand three,” then you’re too close. Increase your distance slightly.
If you are driving in rain, add one additional second for a total of four seconds. Add at least two more seconds if you’re driving in conditions such as dust storms, thunderstorms, torrential rain, snow, or icy conditions.
Is it time to brush up on your driving skills? Stay safe on the roads with our driver’s education courses. Find a course today.