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Lessons from Driving School! 5 Skills for Safe Driving

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Most Americans have vague memories of high-school driving school: hands in proper position on the wheel; precise parallel parking; carefully turning to avoid orange cones and parked vehicles. This experience was not that. Laura Lee Jurgens indulge her need for speed at racing school and came back with a trunkful of driving skills. 

Sitting behind the wheel, instructors gave me directions over the radio encouraging me to floor the engine and then slam on the brakes. Driving a fancy and fast Cadillac through the Nevada desert and swerving at high speeds it was apparent I didn’t know as much about driving as I thought I did.

Whether you’re renting a car abroad or driving 5 miles from home, being more focused and capable can benefit any driver. Here are five skills for safe driving I picked up from the Cadillac V Series Academy at Spring Mountain Motorsports Ranch.

1. Anti-Lock Braking

This was one of my favorite skills to practice. Anti-lock brakes allow a car to stop quickly on slippery roads. Say one day you find yourself driving around the palazzo in Italy, you’re going to need to know how to avoid running into all those people riding bikes and swerving around. We set up cones and practiced slamming on the brakes and swerving with precision. It’ll come in handy in maintaining your cars aesthetic and your rental deposit.

2. Visual Scanning

Are your eyes glued to the road? Visual scanning is an imperative skill in the real world or abroad. Basically the idea is to always be looking on the horizon of the road instead of what is right in front of you.

3. Heel-Toe Shifting

Even if you are not planning on hitting the Autobahn in Germany, you need to learn how to handle shifting. Heel-toe shifting is a trick to downshift without losing speed and precision.

4. The Reason Behind 10-2

Leaning your seat all the way back and throwing one hand on the wheel may look cool but it’s a surefire way to get in an accident. Drivers are shown to be less aware and alert–scary! Keeping the hands at 10 and 2 and the chair upright will set you up to be aware and ready for whatever comes at you.

5. How to Avoid an Accident

Everyone needs to master the skill of controlling a vehicle, even as it skids across wet asphalt.

Learning to control your car instead of the car controlling you is something that we tend to forget about. Driving is so easy nowadays we let the car do all the work! Put yourself back in the “driver’s seat” and become actively engaged in what’s going on the road. (And put down the cell phone!) Getting reacquainted with basic driving skills and putting them to the test is a smart idea. The Cadillac V Series Academy at Spring Mountain Motorsports Ranch is a great place to do this. (Side note: They let you drive fast!)

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By Laura Lee Jurgens for PeterGreenberg.com

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