What makes a good driver?

If you were to ask 10 people if they were good drivers, i bet you at least 6 of them would say they are. And it’s no surprise, since we generally don’t tend to downplay our abilities and skills. 

If we think we are such good drivers, then why is it that almost every Singaporean I asked has nothing good to say about driving in Singapore? (other than the pretty smooth, paved, pot-hole free roads)

There is clearly a gap here. And I would probably agree with others - that Singaporean drivers are simply not as great at driving as they think they are. 

Amongst other silly things, we don’t use our signals, we refuse to give way to others merging into our lane, we road hog, park badly and a list of other frustrating driving habits.

Whilst driving schools do their best - it is simply not possible to instil good driving habits to all who pass their Traffic Police test, because as humans we will forget something if we don't do it often. And I know of a lot of drivers who drive only on weekends. On weekdays, they take the MRT or bus to work. This means they do not drive that often, and may take longer to cultivate good driving habits. 

So what makes a good driver, you might ask?

I believe a good driver is respectful of other drivers, always aware of their surroundings, drives within the law and anticipates danger that could be caused by other drivers, other road users and the environment (e.g. the weather). 

Sounds like a lot to learn? It is!

Which is why you won't be a good driver straight away. Heck, when I first passed my Traffic Police test and got my all-mighty class 3 license, I drove as slow as a grandma because firstly, I was driving someone else’s car (my dad’s) and I was scared of getting into an accident with another car, or damaging his car for the fear that he would never let me drive it again. 

I think the 3 important traits of a good driver is being respectful to other drivers, being alert and having a good attitude. 

Being Respectful

Being respectful means being gracious. For example, Singaporean drivers are notorious for not letting others cut into their lanes, and I think I found out the reason. I asked a few drivers and all of them had the same answer - they were afraid that the other car would slow down in front of them. 

As much as i’d like for us to give way to our fellow Singaporeans, I have encountered my fair share of drivers slowing down after I gave way to them. And this is very frustrating. So I guess this will be a defining trait of our local drivers for the time being.

Another aspect of being gracious is thanking others for allowing us to merge into their lane, or after they have given way to us. I do this by raising my hand as a ‘thank you’ , or turning on my hazard lights and letting it flash twice before turning it off. If you’re wondering how this weird trend of using the hazard lights to thank others started, it started in Japan. 

Ahh… the polite and gracious Japanese

I personally think Singaporean drivers should embrace this habit to make our roads more friendly. Of course, it’ll take ALOT of time before this becomes a thing here.

Alert 

Second, a good driver is always alert and aware of the road situations. By being alert, it means that the driver is not texting or checking Facebook on his phone, and he/she can anticipate danger that could be caused by other drivers. 

This can single handedly reduce traffic accident rates by a significant amount. We tend to see a lot of road traffic accidents happening here because of drivers who drive even though they are tired or sleepy, or those inattentive ones who only come back to their senses after losing control of their vehicle. 

Imagine a world where every driver is not distracted - and they are focused solely on driving. Wouldn’t that result in safer roads for everyone?

Having the right attitude

Lastly, the driver’s attitude also contributes to being a good driver. Drivers who are aware of their own shortcomings, and take the necessary steps so as to not affect other road users.

For example, if you know you are a slow driver - then drive on the left most lane on the highway. It’s frustrating getting stuck behind a slowpoke on the first lane, driving at 70 kmh when the speed limit is 90. 

Another example would be - if you know you are tired, take a break and stop driving. This is a considerate move as you are only endangering your life and others by refusing to stop even though you can’t fully focus on the roads.

Let us all strive to become better drivers. It doesn’t take that much effort and has far-reaching benefits for everyone.