Good driver

Reducing speed and staying alert makes a better driver. Page 2 of 2

What makes a good driver?

Page 1, Page 2

The actual stopping distance is the sum of the braking distance plus the reaction time distance. The braking distance depends on pure physical laws already mentioned, the factors affecting the coefficient of friction. The braking distance is the distance the car will travel after the brakes are applied. At 10 miles per hour, on a hard-surfaced road with brakes in "good" condition, it is 7.5 feet; at 25 miles, 46.9 feet; at 60 miles, 270 feet.

But, before you even begin to push your foot down on the brake pedal, the foot must respond to a signal from your brain. This takes time; the nerve impulse must travel from the original stimulus on eye or ear to the brain and from the brain to the leg and foot muscles. The length of time required for this action is called the braking reaction time. It varies in different individuals, and in the same individual at different times. It can be measured with a fair degree of accuracy by various testing devices. Under ordinary driving conditions the average braking reaction time is about three-fourths of a second. A car traveling 25 miles per hour will have moved ahead about 27 feet in that split second.

However, even young people with comparatively fast reaction times on ordinary tests slow down under many conditions, notably fatigue; drinking of alcoholic beverages; inattention owing to daydreaming, conversation, or listening to an car radio; eye strain; low visibility; and indecision possibly reflecting emotional strains. The good driver knows all this and guards against most of these hazards.

If he is drowsy or tired while driving, he pulls off the road and takes a nap. If he drinks, he doesn't drive. If he finds himself distracted by "back-seat driving" or other conversation, he refuses to go on until it stops. If he is required to wear glasses while driving, he always wears them. He constantly takes visibility conditions into account; he slows down at intersections; he does not pass cars on hills; he doesn't overdrive his lights, that is, he doesn't drive at night or in a fog at a speed which makes the inescapable danger zone ahead of him greater than the distance he can see ahead.

Daydreaming and indecision are more difficult factors to control. About the only possible advice that can be given here is not to drive on days that you find yourself acting absent-minded or feeling "jittery." Physical condition is a factor in safe driving; sometimes a toothache may be at the root of an car accident.


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