If you want to enhance your driving skills and become a more professional and confident driver, you need to understand that driving is not just about getting from point A to point B; it is about mastering the skills required to ensure your safety and the safety of others on the road.

Before embarking on the journey to enhance your driving skills, it's crucial to begin with a comprehensive understanding of your vehicle. Every car operates differently and knowing how your vehicle responds under various conditions is foundational.

Start by familiarising yourself with the owner's manual. This might seem mundane, but it's a goldmine of information about your vehicle's features and specifications. Pay special attention to the braking system, steering sensitivity, and the car’s behaviour during acceleration and deceleration.

Car dashboard from driver view

For the very best in pre-owned cars click here

Learn about the maintenance requirements to keep your car in optimal condition for safe driving. Knowing when to check and change your oil, the importance of tyre pressure, and how to ensure your brakes are in good working order can significantly impact your driving performance.

Spend time adjusting your seating position, mirrors, and steering wheel to ensure maximum control and visibility. Understanding the ergonomics of your vehicle can greatly reduce fatigue and enhance your reaction times.

Finally, take note of your car's dimensions. Practise parking and manoeuvring in tight spaces to get a sense of the space your vehicle occupies. This awareness is pivotal when navigating through traffic, ensuring you can do so smoothly and safely. 

Related Article: Save your life - check your tyres

Mastering Vehicle Control

Mastering vehicle control is pivotal to becoming a good driver. It requires a combination of theoretical knowledge and practical experience. Begin by perfecting your steering technique. Hold the steering wheel at the '10 and 2' position or the '9 and 3' position for better control and less fatigue during long drives.

Learn the art of smooth acceleration and deceleration, which not only conserves fuel but also minimises wear on your vehicle's brakes and tyres.

Car is misty conditions

Check out our Student Cars listing for the best and most affordable cars

Understanding how to control your vehicle during adverse weather conditions is essential. Practise driving in the rain and mist – ideally with someone who already has the skills and experience. Get familiar with techniques such as threshold braking and the controlled use of anti-lock braking systems (ABS) to prevent skidding.

Another critical aspect is learning how to correct understeer and oversteer, situations where your car doesn't turn as expected or turns more sharply than intended. These skills are crucial for maintaining control in emergencies or adverse driving conditions.

Incorporate these practices into your driving routine, focusing on one skill at a time until it becomes second nature. Remember, mastering vehicle control is not about speed but precision, safety and the ability to react calmly and effectively in any situation. 

Advanced Driving Techniques

Delving into advanced driving techniques requires a commitment to refining the finer aspects of driving that distinguish a seasoned driver from a novice. Defensive driving is a paramount skill, entailing constant awareness of your surroundings, anticipating potential hazards, and knowing how to avoid them.

This involves regularly checking mirrors, scanning the road for potential risks and maintaining a safe following distance from the vehicle in front.

Driver checking rearview mirror

Related Article: Headlight manners

Another key technique is eco-driving, which focuses on maximising fuel efficiency and minimising environmental impact through strategic driving practices. This includes maintaining a steady speed, using cruise control on motorways and avoiding unnecessary idling.

For those looking to harness the full capabilities of their vehicle, understanding and practising performance driving principles can be invaluable. This includes learning the correct way to execute high-speed cornering by balancing throttle and steering inputs to maintain control and speed through bends.

Lastly, situational awareness and quick decision-making are crucial in emergency manoeuvres. Practising how to swiftly and safely respond to unexpected situations, such as sudden stops or evasive actions to avoid obstacles, is critical. Each of these advanced techniques requires time, patience and often, professional instruction to master fully. 

The Importance of Mental Preparation

Mental preparation is as critical as mastering the physical aspects of driving. Approaching driving with a calm and focused mindset can significantly enhance your performance on the road. It involves developing a heightened sense of situational awareness, allowing you to anticipate and react to potential hazards more effectively.

Cultivating this level of concentration requires practice and patience. Regularly visualising various driving scenarios and mentally rehearsing your responses can prepare you for real-life situations. Equally, managing stress and learning to remain composed under pressure are invaluable skills for any driver. This not only aids in making safer driving decisions but also in maintaining control of the vehicle during unexpected events.

Man driving a right-hand drive car Embracing a mindset geared towards continuous learning and improvement is fundamental. Acknowledging that every driving experience offers an opportunity to learn something new enables you to adapt and refine your skills continually.

Therefore, dedicating time to mental preparation is an indispensable component of evolving into a professional driver, ensuring that both your mind and body work in harmony to navigate the complexities of the road with confidence and precision. 

Practising and Perfecting Your Skills

The journey to mastering professional driving skills is one defined by consistent practice and dedication. Establishing a routine where driving techniques are regularly honed is crucial. Begin with local roads familiar to you, then gradually challenge yourself with more complex routes, incorporating varied terrain and traffic conditions.

Traffic at nightThis incremental approach allows you to build confidence and skill in a controlled manner. Utilising empty car parks or approved areas to practise manoeuvres such as reversing, parking and tight cornering can also be immensely beneficial.

Enrolling in advanced driving courses offers structured opportunities to refine your skills under the guidance of experienced instructors. These courses often cover a range of scenarios, including defensive driving, high-speed control, and emergency responses, providing valuable feedback and insights to improve your technique. Incorporate feedback constructively, focusing on areas for improvement with a positive mindset.

Remember, perfection in driving is an evolving target; there's always room for enhancement. By committing to regular practice, seeking constructive criticism and embracing each driving experience as a learning opportunity, you will steadily advance towards becoming a proficient driver.

Colin Windell