What does ‘perfect’ even mean? Everybody has a different definition of what they think makes up a perfect driver. Nevertheless, there are some common threads in the factors referred to (it’s just the amount of importance placed on each of these that differ). This is L2P’s Triple A method.
Adaptability and skill
Roads can be very unpredictable and drivers must be able to adapt to a wide range of situations. This is where experience and all those hours you’re expected to drive comes in handy. It allows you to learn how to adapt to a variety of situations in a safe and controlled environment (with your supervisor advising and assisting you). There are three key areas where adaptability and skill play a key role:
You must always flow with the traffic and keep an eye on the road conditions. Variable speed limits on motorways, school zones in specified hours during school days, even traffic jams are just a few examples of conditions you need to keep an eye out for.
Australian weather is the king of unpredictable. It can be sunny one moment, rainy the next and you can never be sure what to expect when you step out of your house. Naturally, such weather changes can elicit difficulty for drivers and require them to alter their driving.
In rainy conditions or in the event of sudden hail, you should slow down, turn on your headlights and even pull over (if you can barely see the road). If there’s hail, you need to find some cover to prevent damage to your vehicle.
Accidents and Road Works
You must keep an eye on the flow of traffic and ensure they are also slowing down (lest they slam into you).
You must develop the ability to follow the instructions of traffic controllers: be they signs, signals or even gestures.
Adherence to road rules and awareness
There are two main situations where adherence to road rules and awareness plays a key role.
Sticking to the flow of traffic
Different situations require you to drive in different ways. Nevertheless, you must stick to the flow of traffic in order to prevent any potential accidents and hazards.
It’s a main road. The speed limit is 60km/hr.
Option A: Everyone’s doing around 80 or 90km/hr….
What do you do?
Stay in the right lane doing 60km/hr because that’s what the sign says?
No. It’s dangerous to go against the flow of traffic. You must move to the left lane and flow with the traffic. The converse is also true.
Option B: Everyone’s going really slowly at 40 or 50km/hr…
What do you do?
Keep beeping at people and tailgating them to get them to speed up? Perhaps keep swapping between lanes?
Definitely not. You must slow down and flow with the traffic. You can’t attempt to force people to speed up or stick to the speed limit. That’s dangerous.
Others don’t follow the road rules?
While you must adhere to road rules at all times, you must also be aware that there are dangerous drivers out there who don’t do so. You can’t force people to do the right thing, so you need to be aware and avoid potentially sticky situations.
E.g. You’re entering from the right side of the roundabout. You arrive at the entrance of the roundabout at the same time as the driver on your left. They decide to push in. Do you get angry and protest that it was your right of way by slamming into their side door? Of course not. If people do not adhere to the road rules, you must act accordingly.
Alertness and avoidance
You need to be able to escape from sticky situations by being alert and using avoidance tactics. That requires you to increase the degree to which you see potential hazards and obstructions. This is another area where experience comes in handy as the more you drive, the more you learn to ‘read the road.’ Reading the road involves being able to observe the cars around you (back, front, sides) even as far as a few hundred metres away (on motorways) or about five car lengths (on smaller roads) at all times and understand what they’re doing.
Here are some examples where alertness and avoidance must be present.
- On a motorway. A car cuts in front of you without checking their blind spot and indicating.
- Check your rear view mirror, blind spot and swerve to the right?
- Check your rear view mirror and remove your foot from the accelerator?
- You must NOT slam on the brakes and the horn simultaneously.
- It’s a three lane road. Two people are merging from the right and left simultaneously.
- You’re in the middle lane? Take your foot off the accelerator and slow down.
- You’re one of the cars merging? Check your blind spot and go back into your lane if you haven’t fully entered the middle lane.
- A car jumps out of a hidden alleyway?
You must check your rear view mirror, blind spot and swerve to the right OR
Check your rear view mirror and remove your foot from the accelerator.
- The traffic lights ahead turn red and the car three cars away from you slams on their breaks.
- Take your foot off the accelerator immediately and start slowing down
- I only need to watch the car in front of me? They make a sudden stop and you slam into the rear of their car.
The Triple A Method can be summed under the umbrella term Adaptability
You can learn the theory and study how to drive or even the potential situations a driver can face on the road for hours at a time. But the theory does not cover every single possibility that can occur when you’re on the road. There will always be circumstances which cannot be predicted or trained for. You’re not a seer and can’t predict the future.
The more you encounter these dilemmas and escape from them, the more you’ll practice and improve our response skills. Even those you’ve been on the road for 50 years can still be faced with something they haven’t seen before. After all, roads and road rules change quite regularly. Even the vehicles are changing. Imagine 50 years ago, a horse and carriage on the road may be a regular occurrence. It still is in some rural locations. As roads change, we must change with them.
Everybody has off days and this can influence their driving. While it’s easy to recommend you don’t drive on those days, you and I both know this can be pretty impractical. Thus, nobody can ever be a ‘perfect’ driver at all times. Just remember: