When it comes to driving, the US is not the best. In fact, US drivers are ranked as some of the worst in the world, if you count fatalities. (Source). There is no reason, though, that any of us have to be as bad as the average US driver – we can certainly strive to be more like the average UK driver, or those from Germany or Canada or Sweden. Truth be told, there are a lot of countries that have fantastic drivers – the US just didn’t make the short list.
So what are the habits that make good drivers good? Well, it turns out it is simpler to be a good driver than you might think.
What Habits Make UK Drivers So Good
Since we know that the UK has some relatively great drivers, it makes sense to turn to them to find out what makes this happen. It turns out, according to The Telegraph (a major British newspaper) this:
The first, and perhaps most obvious, thing to say about good drivers is that they know what speed they should be driving at. That is not always as straightforward as you may think. Road signs aren’t always clear, and many motorists aren’t always sure of the basic rules. For example, unless signage indicates otherwise, you should always stick to 30mph when there are street lights alongside the road…Drive too fast, says Sarah Sillars, chief executive officer of the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM), and it’s not just yourself you put at risk. “[People who speed] are playing with their own lives and others,” she says. “They are accidents waiting to happen, and [we need] a major shift in [their] attitudes to think about safety…”
Focus on the road. We live in a world of instant communication… This is about physically keeping your hands on the wheel and your eyes on the road, which is a factor in the majority of road accidents in the UK. Indeed, as Mr Clinton reports, “failing to look properly [causes] many thousands of accidents on our roads”… Take regular breaks… [and] stay stone cold sober. Driving while tired is a dangerous habit for motorists to get into. But there’s another one that is even more likely to result in an accident: namely, taking control of a car while drunk or under the influence of drugs. [Finally, they point out], “the key to safety on the roads is not to be overconfident… few people believe they are bad drivers, but thousands of us still have accidents each year. Driver error is a factor in almost three-quarters of all crashes.”
This is how the UK defines good driving. What is interesting is that Germans are even better drivers and they have roads that are set for drivers to go much, much faster. So what is the German secret to safe driving?
German Drivers Are So Much Better Than US
We know that this will rankel a few people, especially those WWII Vets who fought against them a couple of generations ago, but it is a true fact that the average German is a better driver than the average American. Here’s how the German rules of the road work, according to a writer for Auto123:
The sequence of traffic lights plays an important role in that flow. While still red, yellow will light, and that’s when you should start rolling forward. Green will follow shortly after and red will turn off. But if you’re not moving when the yellow alights, you’re putting a kink in the beautifully well-oiled machine that is the Berlin downtown core. Outside the city and on the wide-open streets of the Autobahn, I learned another important rule: Flashing your lights is not polite in Germany. Neither is honking. Germans have a certain amount of respect for one another on the road and generally pay attention to those around them. On the speed-limit-free stretches of the Autobahn, not once did I have to “ask” another motorist to move out of my way. And likewise, I was sure to move out of the way for fast-moving traffic behind me (despite my 160 km/h speed).
They continue, with an explanation of why Germans are so good behind the wheel. Essentially, because it is really time consuming and expensive to get a license.
To obtain your license you must first take 20-30 hours of theory lessons, in a classroom. At the same time, you take your practical lessons in a car on the road. Once you’ve docked your hours of study, you have to write your theory exam. The exam is generally 4-5 pages long with questions that are worth points. You never know what points each question will be worth and you can only miss 10 points or you fail. Sometimes questions require choosing the correct response from a multiple choice, sometimes they require crossing out all the wrong answers and leaving the right one blank—you never know what you’re going to get.
If you fail your theory exam, you have to wait 6-8 weeks before you can take the test again. However, should you pass the theory exam, you can then move on to your practical test. The driving test lasts anywhere from 30-90 minutes. Your teacher sits in the passenger seat and your test-grader sits in the back. If you pass everything, after you’ve paid 200+ euros to do so, you’re rewarded with paying approximately 2,000 euros (about $2,700 CDN) more to keep that license. Perfection clearly comes at a high price.
If it were that tough to legally drive in the US, we are not sure that so many people would. Or maybe they would just be safer?
Best Driving Habits Of US Drivers
We think that there are three things that make the best drivers, at home and abroad. Basically they are as follows:
- Drivers that avoid distractions. Distractions can range from cell phones to radios to children fighting in the back seat (yes they all do this) to conversation. Those drivers who work to intentionally quiet the noise and focus so that they are present and aware tend to be much better drivers.
- Law and order types. Drivers that follow speed limits, road signs, and always appropriately use their signals and lights are also focused on the road and their surroundings. Being conscious of not breaking the law is a really good way of staying focused on being safe, which in turn makes one a good driver.
- Experienced drivers. This includes drivers that practice, are educated, and know their vehicles and the roads they travel.
We at Moon Township Automotive want to keep you stay safe on the road. We hope this gives you the inspiration you need to become a great driver!