Car AdviceTop 5

Friday 5: driving techniques you were taught but are now wrong

Remember your driving lessons? Don’t pass these golden oldies on to your kids:

DRIVING EVOLVES, but we aren’t required to do any more training after our license, more’s the pity. So here’s five techniques that you might need to update:

  • Hold the steering wheel at 9-3 not 10-2 – do not hold the steering wheel at 10-2, only 9-3. We explain why here;
  • You don’t have to use shuffle steering – you were told always to shuffle-steer, tiny movements of hands to move the steering wheel. But now, with modern power steering and quick-ratio steering racks, there’s much less need. At speed, simply grasp the steering wheel at 9-3 and keep your hands there, even up to 120 degrees of steering. You’ll be more accurate and relaxed. The shuffle-steer has its place at lower speeds with more steering lock though, but even then there’s alternatives. Read more here;
  • Don’t cadence brake in an emergency – the idea of pulsing the brakes on and off is totally dead. All modern cars have ABS these days, so the technique is simple; slam your foot to the floor and keep it there, letting ABS take care of avoiding a skid;
  • You can overlap – the old idea of brake down to your required speed, then change gear, then drive around the corner. Oh so tiresome, and nobody bothered with such silly ideas once they passed their test. And now, even the most slow moving driver training organisations are admitting that perhaps the idea of braking and changing down at the same time might not lead to a complete loss of control; and
  • You can use third-gear on tight corners – many drivers are fixed on the idea of second gear in corners, and back in the day when cars were low-powered four-speed manuals that made sense. Now, we have much more powerful cars with six manual speeds, so third gear for a ninety degree suburban corner is the ideal gear.

There’s more – for example skip-shifting is now a thing – but what are you doing now that you were taught not to when you were first learning to drive?

Further reading


26 Comments

  1. JohnGC
    January 6, 2017 at 8:33 am — Reply

    Well I can’t remember if I was taught this or not, but if I’m going straight through a roundabout, I don’t indicate. There was a story on the news last night about this, and the law seems to be that I have to first indicate right upon entry, then indicate left upon exit, even when I’m staying on the same road.

    Gee, I’m having trouble getting back into work after the break. This website is very distracting.

    • Alan
      January 6, 2017 at 10:08 am — Reply

      Going straight ahead, you DON’T indicate entering the roundabout – that way someone approaching from the opposite direction knows you’re not turning right, and they can enter safely. BUT – you must indicate exiting, no matter which exit you take.

      They are, in effect, an intersection – and you use indicators the same, with the only exception of indicating EVERY TIME you exit. Turn right, turn left are the same as a cross road. Go ahead, you don’t indicate right because you’re not turning right.

      Poor indicating at roundabouts is why they’re becoming bottlenecks.

      • Territory46
        January 8, 2017 at 6:33 pm — Reply

        Hooray, Alan, best explanation I’ve read! It’s what I do but have always had difficulty explaining to my kids.

  2. Alan
    January 6, 2017 at 10:02 am — Reply

    Hold the steering wheel at 9-3 not 10-2???? That just won’t work with most steering wheels. I don’t know what car the writer was driving, but it’s a sheer impossibility in most cars now, which push you hands up above the 9&3 positions.

    • January 6, 2017 at 10:20 am — Reply

      Not true. Post one modern car that can’t be driven 9-3. None of the cars I’ve tested in the last ten years cannot be driven 9-3 with ease, and the wheels are now designed for it.

      • Alan
        January 6, 2017 at 4:47 pm — Reply

        2016 PRIUS, V40, CT200h – the thumb points on the wheel are very definitely at 10 & 2 – trying to put your hands at 9 and 3 is very difficult. Try it and post a photo? I tried posting a photo but it wouldn’t allow me.

        Only car I drove which you could get close to 9 and 3 was the new KIA CERATO where the cross spoke was dropped at the ends. Or a VL Commodore.

        • January 6, 2017 at 7:16 pm — Reply

          Nope 9-3 is the way to go. I tested a 2016 Prius and it was fine.

          • Alan
            January 6, 2017 at 7:52 pm

            Can we have a photo please – I just went out to the car and tried it – it’s extremely uncomfortable to hold the wheel that way, the thumb rests on the wheel aren’t in the right place at all. And you have to reach up to reach indicators and wipers.

          • January 6, 2017 at 8:42 pm

            I can do better than a photo – here’s video.

            https://practicalmotoring.com.au/car-advice/how-to-steer-a-car-part-2/

          • Alan
            January 6, 2017 at 9:23 pm

            I’m not convinced – in fact the photo at the top of the link shows the persons hands at 9 and 2, and the 2 look where they’re designed by the steering wheel maker for them to be. 90% of my driving is on Motorway, almost straight, 100/110 speed slight bends, not the type of driving shown in the 9/3 video.

            And 100% of the time we’re now watching the Speedo coz the Qld police have just upped the ante with a new flock of portable RADAR trailers.

            What are the 2 thumb-rests on the wheel at 10 & 2 for?

  3. Andrew Riles
    January 6, 2017 at 2:48 pm — Reply

    The shift logic in autos now means that manually shifting them to ensure they hold the right gear is no longer necessary….I remember having to do it to prevent our old Magna from hunting between gears up hills, or coasting down them with the engine idling….

    • January 6, 2017 at 7:16 pm — Reply

      To some extent, but in some situations – towing, offroad, performance driving, overtaking, downhills – manual select is still worth doing.

  4. Harold
    January 6, 2017 at 4:20 pm — Reply

    >>Hold the steering wheel at 9-3 not 10-2 <<

    No, its because of the airbag.

    <<You don’t have to use shuffle steering <>You can use third-gear on tight corners >>

    I never changed down on corners. Its cheaper to replace brake pads than gearboxes.

    • Harold
      January 6, 2017 at 4:21 pm — Reply

      I didn’t do this, its your software.

    • January 6, 2017 at 7:14 pm — Reply

      Not on corners, it’s the overlap of brakes and gearchange that is the point. There is no ADR specifcying understeer.

  5. imotorhome
    January 6, 2017 at 5:20 pm — Reply

    We’ve got a 2010 Ford Transit 6-speed manual motorhome and can tell you skip-shifting is alive and well!

  6. Simon
    January 7, 2017 at 12:37 pm — Reply

    skip down shifting? bah humbug…. (with out double clutching that is)

  7. JaiNormosone
    January 8, 2017 at 10:09 pm — Reply

    “All cars have ABS…”
    Really????
    Maybe you should qualify your statements better than you do currently?
    Maybe you should also learn the difference between what is ‘wrong’ and what is a different way of doing things so that you know more than one way.

    The youngster who learns to drive on a dirt road in an old banger with stock and wildlife around will always be a better driver (as opposed to a “car operator”) than those in the cities who are taught to sit in the right lane and ignore everything in their mirrors.

    The entire learner-driver/P-plate system needs to be reassessed – and there needs to be some form of re-testing for older people who’ve done things a certain way for Age-of-Noah-plus-10 years.

    • January 8, 2017 at 10:58 pm — Reply

      Sorry that should have read ‘modern cars have ABS’. Fixed. However I don’t agree about the bush youngster as that’s situation dependent. How would this youngster go first time out on a busy freeway if all they’ve done is bush driving?

      • JaiNormosone
        January 9, 2017 at 7:11 pm — Reply

        Think of it in terms of actual safety….
        A youngster who learns to drive in the city is taught to press lever A (and maybe lever B) using handle C and turn round thingy while being taught by someone who also only knows how to operate a motor vehicle rather than ‘drive’.
        A youngster from the bush will learn single lane roads; to look at the road surface; to look at the edges of the road for animals or things that will damage the tyres or suspension (and potentially leave them stranded).
        The difference is that the former learns to pass a test. The latter learns to look for dangers and be wary rather than look at their mobile phone or change radio stations.
        The latter might be out of place on the Freeway and will potentially be slower but no worse than the majority or people on the roads who are in an oblivious state while sitting at 100 or 110 as their brain goes to sleep from the lack of stimulation.

        Another simple fact is that most people – if they develop the ability to ‘drive’ at all – need to do at least half a million MILES before they become competent behind the wheel. This equates to maybe 25 years driving for the average person.

        I’ve driven all around this country (truck, bus, car, motorcycle, tractor and bicycles) and in several countries of the world and the training I received was FAR superior than anything from a driving school or know-nothing parents (who tell their kids to drive in the right lane). I’ve taught a few to drive and advised young fellas to do driving courses *before* buying mags or exhaust for their car.

        • January 9, 2017 at 8:10 pm — Reply

          I think you’re making an important distinction between well-trained and poorly-trained drivers, but that is not the same as country or city drivers.

          It is an interesting characteristic of drivers that they all think everyone else is an idiot – country vs city, 4WD vs roadcar, Sydney vs Melbourne, male vs female.

          Definitely driver training is a good idea!

  8. SgtCarlMc
    January 8, 2017 at 11:26 pm — Reply

    Driving Tip # 6

    When reversing into a space opposite shops. Look at the shops window for a reflection of your car, just use the reflection to steer into the space and watch how close you are to the vehicle behind you. Doesn’t work on angled windows, just beware, must be straight

  9. Cam from ADI
    January 9, 2017 at 1:11 pm — Reply

    Once again, great info!
    My 2 bob’s worth are these.
    9 and 3 are not due to air bags, this is a myth. 9 and 3 came in around 1985 and was based on high speed balance/stability. The ill informed say air bags but this rare event doesn’t justify change. In fact, 4 and 8 are better again for very high speed.
    Thumbs wrap around the wheel and not up the wheel. Dam,age in crashes are mythical too. Control is key.
    Mirrors are not designed to share information and setting mirrors to still see your car will generally be incorrect.
    Country drivers are not better (firstly, define better).
    You indicate off round-a-bouts even when going straight on…, like most developed countries.
    Love your work Robert.

    • January 9, 2017 at 7:22 pm — Reply

      Thanks Cam. Audi also told us the airbags is a myth.

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Robert Pepper

Robert Pepper

Robert Pepper is a motoring journalist, offroad driver trainer and photographer interested in anything with wings, sails or wheels. He is the author of four books on offroading, and owns a modified Ford Ranger PX which he uses for offroad touring. His other car is a Toyota 86 which exists purely to drive in circles on racetracks, and that's when he isn't racing his Nissan Pulsar. Visit his website: www.l2sfbc.com or follow him on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/RobertPepperJourno/ or buy his new ebook!