Q Mr. Roadshow, your son and daughter had excellent suggestions regarding advice for 16-year-old Ali Albanese and other new teen drivers (Roadshow, Aug. 26). I taught high school driver education for 30 years and behind the wheel for 20. Besides the obvious booklet of rules and procedures, teaching defensive driving techniques is paramount.
The absolute best is called the Smith System, which can be found at http://ritzel.siu.edu/courses/302s/SIPDE/SmithSystem.pdf. It explains five major defensive driving habits all drivers need to use when behind the wheel. It is a must for all new drivers to learn. I used it with all my students in the classroom, and again with them in the car. They were much safer drivers because of it.
A The first tip may be the best: Keep your vision high and look 20 to 30 seconds down the road. That's what CHP officers are taught, especially when driving curvy roads like Highway 17.
Q Here are my best tips for new drivers (aside from what has already been covered regarding texting, etc.):
Adjust side mirrors properly to eliminate blind spots, as discussed in Roadshow previously.
Remember that it is your job to read what other drivers are about to do, and to clearly communicate to others what you are about to do. This goes beyond just using turn signals.
Drive at a reasonable speed. Driving too slowly can cause accidents, too. Go with the flow of traffic.
Know what to do if you are involved in an accident and be sure to take pictures of damages to your car and the other person's car.
Be patient when other drivers make a mistake or stupid move. You will make them, too. Anger just causes more problems and mistakes.
A I so agree.
Q I told my daughters to be predictable on the road. Help other drivers know where you're going to be so they know to not be there. No herky-jerky, zippy, temper-tantrum driving.
And, imagine you have a big, assembled and delicate wedding cake in the car. If you drive aggressively, it will end up in pieces all over your car (which you will have to clean up to avoid being yelled at). If you drive smoothly and evenly, your cake will arrive ready to be admired.
A This is funny, because Matt-the-Roadshow-Son delivered wedding cakes at his first job while in high school. And one of his bosses was big sister Anne, the wedding cake seller at the time. He didn't dare drive too fast and incur her wrath, especially when delivering a cake over Highway 17.
Q My advice for all drivers: Drive as if the DMV examiner was sitting next to you, or the CHP was behind you.
A And if a CHP officer looks at you, just smile.
Q The big truck is always right. Again, the big truck is always right. Big rigs cannot stop as quickly as the car you are driving -- not even close. Do not cut them off. Do not turn in their large blind spot.
A Let's hear from a tow-truck driver.
Q My suggestion for new drivers is to learn good manners. Things like: Pull to the left of the lane when stopping at a light so people can turn right.
Always stop behind the limit line or before entering a crosswalk. Look for cars, then proceed to pull forward if it is safe. Turn on your headlights in the mountains and when the weather is bad. Consider other drivers.
A Anything else?
Q Read Roadshow!
A Right on! Ali, I hope this helps.
Q The advice was definitely helpful; my driving instructor never mentioned wearing sunglasses as your daughter did, but the cutdown in glare in the morning made such a difference.
It would also be helpful to know the best and worst roads for new drivers. I attempted Highway 17 over the summer with mixed results, but used Central Expressway to get to work with no problem. I'd also be grateful for a heads-up on any particularly dangerous spots to look out for when driving locally.
A Folks, any suggestions?