How to be a good driver

12 minute read Published on Jun 12, 2024 by BrokerLink Communications

Focus shot of cheerful mid adult man sitting in passenger’s seat and putting on seatbelt next to a teenage son in the driving seat.

In order to become a better driver, you need to focus on developing good driving habits, and that takes time. Being a well-rounded and responsible driver requires dedication and practice. Below, we outline a few tips that can help you be the best driver you can be, as well as explain the driving behaviours that most commonly lead to accidents.

Attributes of a good driver

To kick things off, we are going to run through some of the top attributes of a good driver:

1. Good drivers are always prepared

First, it’s important to be prepared if you want to be a responsible driver. This means inspecting your car before you pull it out of the driveway, checking that your tire treads are at a safe level, that you have enough gas and windshield wiper fluid to last you your trip, and that your mirrors are all adjusted correctly. It’s also a smart idea to be prepared with an emergency kit that includes a first aid kit, water, a battery pack, a blanket, and non-perishable snacks.

2. Good drivers know their cars through and through

Second, good drivers know their cars through and through. While you certainly don’t have to have a background in car mechanics to be a good driver, you should have a basic understanding of how your car works. This will allow you to adapt better to certain situations and could even end up saving you money down the line if you identify a problem and are able to fix it without taking your car to a mechanic. For instance, you should know what type of engine your car has, what types of brakes your car has, and what types of fluids it needs to run efficiently.

In addition, you should know what the various buttons and levers on the dashboard do. Otherwise, you could end up in a situation where you aren’t able to clear your windshield of debris or see the road ahead of you because you don’t know how to turn your headlights on. A responsible driver will know how to use the various controls in their cars, from the headlights and turn signals to the gear shifts and steering wheel. You should also have an idea of what the different signs and symbols mean on your dashboard, such as the check engine light or the symbol needed for the oil change.

3. Good drivers are always in control of their vehicles

Next, good drivers are always in control of their vehicles. When it comes to being in control of your car, this means making sure that you’re aware of road conditions so you can adapt to them. For example, if you’re driving in inclement weather or notice that the road turns to gravel or is unpaved up ahead, a good driver will respond to this by slowing down so that they can retain control of their vehicle even as they travel through more hazardous areas.

Another facet of staying in control of your car is staying in control emotionally. We all let our emotions get the better of us from time to time, whether it’s anger, sadness, or another emotion. However, becoming irritated or impatient while driving can lead to aggressive and unsafe driving behaviours. For this reason, a good motorist is one who is in control of both their physical car and their emotions while driving. Should you be overwhelmed by your feelings or you are not emotionally in a good place, you may be better off calling for an Uber or getting someone else to drive you so you do not put yourself or other drivers on the road at risk.

4. Good drivers remain focused on the road at all times

The next attribute that makes a good driver is a driver who remains focused on the road at all times. Growing distracted while driving is easier than ever before, but it’s incredibly important that you resist temperature so that you can focus 100% of your attention on the road. This means waiting until your car is parked to adjust the radio or air conditioner, have a snack, drink a beverage, or send a text. Texting and driving - is illegal in Canada. All of these behaviours require your attention, which means that if you’re engaging in any of them, you aren’t focusing on the road. Since distracted driving is such a leading cause of collisions in Canada, you can only be a good driver if you do not engage in this behaviour. Avoid colliding with a pedestrian, another car, or hitting an animal on the highway by keeping your eyes on the road.

5. Good drivers hone their driving skills

The fifth attribute of a good driver is someone who takes the time to hone their driving skills. This is usually done through practice, but as a first-time driver, these skills can also be developed by signing up for an approved driving course in your province. When we talk about driving skills, we’re talking about the basics, such as steering, braking, accelerating, and switching gears. These skills might sound basic, but you would be surprised about how many people don’t know how to drive well. Not only does this increase your risk of getting into an accident but driving poorly can also lead to unnecessary wear and tear, which will cost you more money to fix.

6. Good drivers know and obey the rules of the road

Next, good motorists are familiar with the rules of the road in their province and municipality and always abide by them. The most obvious example of this is driving the speed limit. There are posted speed limit signs on roads all across Canada. It is the driver’s responsibility to take note of these signs and obey them. Generally speaking, drivers should have a firm grasp of what the different road signs and markings mean.

7. Good drivers are courteous to others

A good driver is courteous and respectful to other drivers. They yield to others, maintain a safe distance between cars, always use their turn signal to make other drivers aware of their movements, and never pressure or rush other drivers. They also never hog a lane, park somewhere they aren’t supposed to, or block turns or junctions. The same goes for pedestrians or cyclists. A good driver will always give a pedestrian or cyclist as much time and space as they need. When driving, be as courteous as possible, not only because it’s the right thing to do but because it can significantly decrease your odds of getting into an accident.

8. Good drivers are confident

Good drivers are confident on the road. Confidence is key in many aspects of life, and that includes driving. Driving with confidence will make you a stronger and safer driver. Oppositely, if you are a nervous or careless driver, it will show in your driving, and it can increase the likelihood of a collision. To become a confident driver, you need to practice. Ideally, you should practice driving in a wide range of conditions, including those that make you nervous. For instance, you should gain experience driving at night, in inclement weather, on highways, and on streets with lots of pedestrian traffic.

If you are having trouble feeling confident behind the wheel, even after lots of practice, consider signing up for a defensive driving course or a driver’s education course in your province. Doing so might even make you eligible for a car insurance discount.

9. Good drivers are defensive drivers

No discussion of being a good driver would be complete without mentioning defensive driving. Defensive driving encompasses many of the attributes listed above and is a style of driving that all motorists should aspire to. More specifically, the Canada Safety Council outlines the three basic principles of defensive driving:

  • Recognizing hazards on the road
  • Understanding the best defence technique to employ
  • Responding in time to prevent the collision

What driving behaviours result in car accidents in Canada?

The following is a list of driving behaviours that increase your odds of getting into a car accident in Canada. If you want to be a good driver, you should do your best to avoid these behaviours at all times:

Driving while distracted

As mentioned, distracted driving is one of the most common causes of car accidents in Canada. For this reason, driving while distracted is extremely dangerous. Distracted driving counts as anything from eating or drinking a beverage while driving to speaking to someone in the back seat, scrolling through your phone, texting, tuning the radio, setting your GPS, or adjusting the air conditioning settings. In essence, any behaviours that take your attention away from the road should be avoided at all costs. It only takes a split second of not paying attention to end up in a collision.

Driving while impaired

Driving while impaired isn’t just a frowned upon driving behaviour, it’s also illegal. In other words, if you are caught drinking and driving or driving under the influence of drugs, you could be charged with a crime under the Criminal Code of Canada. Impaired driving is extremely dangerous, as when you’re under the influence of drugs or alcohol, your driving abilities go out the window. Your vision may become blurred, you may have more trouble concentrating, and you might find it more difficult to judge the positions of other cars and pedestrians. For this reason, there is a legal limit that all drivers must be within in order to legally drive in Canada. A good driver will never engage in impaired driving.

Driving while fatigued

Driving while fatigued is one last driving behaviour that can result in accidents and is therefore not an attribute of a good driver. Although driving while tired might seem relatively harmless, if you are so tired that you can barely keep your eyes open behind the wheel, this is a major problem. Anytime you are driving, you should always be alert enough that you can remain concentrated on the road. Otherwise, your vision and reaction times could be affected, making you more likely to get into an accident. To ensure you are fit to drive, have a cup of coffee, eat a snack, or take a power nap before driving.

Safe driving tips to follow

By now, you know the attributes of a good driver, as well as bad driving behaviours. To help you be the best driver you can be, follow the safe driving tips below:

Practice makes perfect

To become the safest driver possible, you will need to prioritize practice. No one can become an expert in something overnight, and that includes driving. Rather, it requires dedication and diligence to become a safe driver. Even if you’ve already passed your driving test and now have your first car insurance policy, you should still make time to go for practice drivers that allow you to hone your driving skills. For example, you should make plans to practice driving in a wide range of conditions and to practice specific and challenging driving manoeuvres s, such as parallel parking, three-point turns, or U-turns.

Do away with bad habits

Developing bad habits can be dangerous, especially at a young age. So, if you notice that you’ve started to develop negative habits, such as forgetting to use your turn signal, eating, drinking, smoking, texting while driving, or changing lanes erratically, take note and correct this behaviour as soon as possible.

Remain calm and try not to take things personally

It’s easy to become stressed or even angry while driving. For example, if someone is following too closely behind your car or cuts you off, you might be inclined to take it personally. The reality is that the other driver probably didn’t intend to do either of these things. Even if they did, getting angry doesn’t help anything. In fact, it only hurts you, as it could make you more distracted while driving or even cause you to engage in unsafe driving behaviours, like speeding or tailgating. So, do your best to remain calm behind the wheel.

Drive the speed limit

You should always obey the speed limit while behind the wheel. If you don’t, you could end up with a speeding ticket that raises your young driver's insurance premium. In addition, you could end up getting into an accident, and accidents that happen at higher speeds usually have worse repercussions, like more severe injuries and property damage.

Check your blind spot

Knowing how and when to check your car blind spots is of the utmost importance, especially when sharing the road with motorcycles or cyclists, who can be harder to spot in your rear-view or side-view mirrors. Anytime you are merging, changing lanes, turning, or backing up, you should do a shoulder check to make sure that there is nothing in your blind spot.

Wear your seatbelt

Wearing a seatbelt while driving is a legal requirement. It’s even something that you will be tested on during your driving exam. Make sure that your seatbelt is securely fastened at all times. You should also make sure that the seatbelts of any passengers in your car are secure before backing out of the driveway.

Give yourself space

Giving yourself lots of space on the road is crucial, no matter what type of road conditions you face. Remember that space equals time, so the more space you give yourself, the more time you will have to react to other situations around you. For example, if you’re following too closely and the car in front of you brakes suddenly, you will be far more likely to hit it than if you had left more space between your vehicles. Take care to give yourself extra space when driving at night or in inclement weather when roads are slick.

Use your turn signal

One of the only ways to stay safe on the road is to make sure that other drivers are aware of your intentions, and using your turn signal is one of the most effective ways of doing this. Thus, anytime you are turning, emerging, changing lanes, or backing into or out of a parking spot, make sure to use your indicator. If your turn signal isn’t working, employ a hand signal.

Why becoming a better driver is so important

Becoming a better driver is a goal that all motorists should work towards. Not only will becoming a good driver make you less likely to get into a car accident, but doing so can also qualify you for a car insurance discount.

If you are able to maintain a clean driving record for multiple consecutive years, your insurance company might be willing to offer you what’s known as a safe driving discount. At the very least, you will likely pay less for car insurance by having a cleaner record, but on top of this, you could qualify for an extra percentage off of your policy through a safe driver discount.

Also known as a good driver discount, these discounts are a way of rewarding policyholders for driving safely and keeping their records clean. Please note that a clean driving record is one that does not contain any tickets, at-fault accidents, or other infractions. As such, the policyholder usually has a minimal claims history. To qualify for a safe driver discount through your insurance company, you usually have to maintain a clean record for a number of years in a row. The exact number of years and any other conditions that must be met to qualify will vary between insurance providers.

In addition, the discount amount will vary between providers. Some can save as much as 25% on their car insurance policy by qualifying for a safe driver discount, while others may save as low as 5%.

If you want to learn more about safe driver discounts or how to reduce your car insurance premium, reach out to BrokerLink today. One of our licensed insurance brokers can explain how safe driver discounts work and help you qualify for one. Generally speaking, if you want to receive a discount on your policy, you should dedicate yourself to becoming a better driver and practicing safe driving habits at all times.

Contact BrokerLink for more tips on how to be a good driver

For even more safe driving tips, reach out to BrokerLink today. Our team of insurance advisors loves helping our customers improve their driving skills. Not only do good drivers keep the road safe, but they can also save money on car insurance.

Speaking of car insurance, if you want advice on how you can lower your insurance premium or need help finding a policy, whether you’re looking for third-party liability car insurance, uninsured automobile insurance, or a different type of coverage entirely, we can help.

With a licensed insurance broker by your side, you can find a policy that is within your budget and tailored to your needs. Reach out to BrokerLink today to request a free quote and learn more about how a broker can help you on your auto insurance journey.

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