When it comes to life skills, we’re always learning. Whether it’s working out your finances, nailing home cooking, or being able to put together an Ikea flat-pack without tearing your hair out, the learning curves are constant. The same is true of our driving skills. While taking classes, reading, or listening to tips from others to improve is considered normal for the rest of our everyday skills, once we’ve graduated from our L-plates, the learning generally stops.
Considering 64 per cent of Australian drivers were involved in at least one car collision in 2021, it’s safe to say our driving habits aren’t always up to scratch, and we’ve got more to contend with on the road than just changing gears or stopping at lights. We all pick up bad habits through taking shortcuts or learnt from others we passenger with. So, like our other life skills, we should consistently improve our driving skills through ongoing driver coaching, education, and training.
Here are four reasons driver coaching is for everyone — even if you have a perfect driving record.
1. Distractions are everywhere
Have you ever eaten while driving, one hand holding a cheeseburger and the other on the wheel? Maybe you’ve read (or answered) a text, changed a song on your Spotify playlist, applied lipstick in the mirror, or reached back to deal with arguing children in the backseat? If you have, you’re among the 10.4 million Australians who have admitted to distracted driving.
While eating food is the most common habit, with 45 per cent of Australian drivers admitting to chowing down behind the wheel, we’re often oblivious to what distractions are, and the reality is —they’re everywhere. Something as innocent as changing the radio station or admiring the scenery can cause a collision in the wrong circumstances. Driver coaching can help you recognise these subtle, or not so subtle, distractions and teach you ways to avoid them or respond safely when they’re outside your control.
2. Other drivers aren’t always safe
While you could be a fantastic driver with a great track record, you’re still sharing the road with others who may be erratic and unpredictable. All it takes is for someone else to run a red light, swerve into your lane, brake hard in front, speed, or doze off, and you’ll be in a difficult situation where you must respond quickly to control the situation. And given that distractions are everywhere, you might not be as quick to react as you’d expect.
Driver coaching can teach you how to be alert and aware and reinforce your knowledge of safe practices like following distances or being aware of the signs around you (no U-turns, speed limits, etc.). Defensive driving courses can go a step further, instructing you on emergency braking techniques so you can stop swiftly and safely in various road environments. These courses also provide guidance on other practical methods to ensure you and your vehicle are always working together in the best way possible while keeping an eye on everyone on the road around you.
3. Road conditions change
Unfortunately, we have limited control over road conditions, and conditions can change day-day and minute-minute. Rain, fog, and icy roads require more cautious driving, and sudden road changes like potholes, debris, black ice, animals, or car crashes can catch you unaware. Country dirt roads aren’t always well-maintained and can be narrow with blind corners and kangaroos aplenty. And, of course, driving at night can be a different beast entirely, particularly if there’s limited lighting and visibility.
While you can’t necessarily avoid these hazards, you can learn how to navigate them safely and confidently to protect yourself and others. Driver coaching can teach you the best driving strategies for different weather conditions and terrains and give your existing skills a leg up — which can go a long way when the conditions aren’t perfect.
4. Old habits die hard
We’ve all heard it before because it’s true: habits are notoriously hard to change. Many of us have driven almost every day since we were able, which means any habits are well and truly ingrained. And given most of us learned how to drive from our parents or guardians, we only know what they taught us, and those habits aren’t always safe.
If you’ve been driving for 10, 20, or 30+ years, driving techniques that might once have been considered safe may not be best practice anymore. For example, did you know the traditional ‘10 and 2’ steering wheel position advice has been adapted to ‘9 and 3’ because of the introduction of airbags? Things change, so your habits should too. Driving coaches can help you recognise potentially dangerous or less than perfect habits and teach you better ways to do things.
Driver coaching keeps everyone safe
It can be tough to accept there’s more to learn about driving when you’ve been doing it for years. You might have habits to change, skills to sharpen, or simply knowledge to gain. Regardless, ongoing driver coaching is for everyone; like our other life skills, there’s always more to learn, and this is especially true behind the wheel. However, unlike being able to put together an Ikea flat pack without a hitch, improving your driving could save your life and the lives of others, and there’s no better reason to learn than that.