Driving cars has been around much longer than any of us have been alive, and while the safety features and technology of cars have adapted, that doesn’t mean we’ve left old, outdated driving techniques in the past.
Feeding the wheel technique
Feeding the steering wheel is a turning technique pushed on many young drivers. The technique overall is simple, you simply feed the wheel between both hands while you turn. In doing this, drivers never release their hold on the steering wheel, which many people believe makes it a safer way to turn. The logic is outdated for many reasons.
First, feeding the steering wheel is an incredibly slow and inefficient process, while you never break contact with the steering wheel itself, it takes significantly more time for you to turn the wheel this way. This can be dangerous because it becomes harder for drivers to react quickly if a hazard arises mid-turn. Feeding the wheel also doesn’t benefit you in case you lose control of your car under most circumstances, such as hydroplaning, in which the control is lost at the wheels, not the steering column.
Applying the handbrake at stops
This technique is more outdated than it seems in the United States, but it is still being forced upon new drivers in the United Kingdom. In fact, the UK driving test requires that drivers use the handbrake any time the car comes to a stop, including in stop-and-go traffic or just at a short red light. For most people, the foot brake will suffice for keeping the car at a stop and there is almost no conceivable reason as to why you would want to pull the hand brake every time you stop.
This can also be dangerous if you find yourself stopped in traffic and need to move your car quickly, such as you noticing another car is going just a little to fast to stop before meeting your bumper.
Checking your mirrors at certain times
When you first get your driver’s license, you learn that you should check your mirrors constantly, and while you should be very aware of the cars and potential hazards around you, checking each mirror every 10 – 30 seconds isn’t necessarily useful or safe. After years of driving, most people abandon this technique as it doesn’t really increase our situational awareness.
With the prominence of new safety features like lane departure assist, blind-spot monitoring and rearview cameras drivers can focus on what is directly in front of the car instead of frantically checking mirrors. While it’s true you should check your mirrors and remain aware of cars around you it is just as important to keep your eyes forward at what your car is going towards in case the car in front of you comes to an emergency stop or a hazard appears in the road.
While many of these techniques are required to pass a driving test, they aren’t actually helpful or safe ways of driving. Most drivers ditch these techniques as soon as their tests are over, realizing on their own how useless or inefficient they are, but some drivers hold on to the lessons for life.