Years ago a father complimented me on teaching his teenage son how to drive. "He drives better than me now", he said, and then added this comment. "I wish I could get rid of the stress the way he has done. By the time I get to work every day my stomach is in a knot." With that opening, I offered to give him a free evaluation behind the wheel, which he accepted. What followed was 5 more two hour lessons in which this Dad learned how to drive stress free.
I have long said that anyone can improve their driving, and learn how to drive even in modern conditions by mastering just a few principles. One of those principles is learning how to stay away from "clusters of cars" whenever you go driving. Here's what I mean.
Have you ever noticed that on city streets, and especially on highways and freeways, drivers always seem to congregate close together in "clusters". It is a common practice to see cars driving all together, bumper-to-bumper, fender-to-fender, almost like a pack of wolves. The problem, of course, is that they travel sometimes at pretty high speeds. If someone in the middle of the pack gets into trouble and is forced to take evasive action, all of a sudden everyone is in trouble. That is precisely how chain reaction accidents occur - vehicles traveling too close together with not enough time or space between them to avoid trouble.
What I taught this father was a simple truth. YOU DO NOT HAVE TO GET INVOLVED IN EVERY CLUSTER OF CARS THAT COMES ALONG. In fact, you can design your driving specifically to avoid them. The concept is known by professional drivers as "Space Management". It involves learning how to manage and control the "space" on all four sides of your car; front, rear, and 2 sides.
Since we will not be able to cover all 4 in this abbreviated column, today I will simply illustrate how you can actually CONTROL the "space" on the right side of your car. When I say "control", I mean HOW TO KEEP SOMEONE AWAY FROM THE RIGHT SIDE of your vehicle anytime you are driving. (Subsequent columns we will go over the left side, rear, and front). So, how do we accomplish the task of always keeping the right side of your vehicle unoccupied, allowing no one to drive in that space? Even more importantly, why is that beneficial?
If you can keep people from driving alongside of you on the right, you can avoid being "boxed in" on that side of your car. Would that help you be stress free? Of course. That's 25% of the space you want to be in control of. If no cars are ever on the right side of your vehicle, that means you could swerve to the right if an accident were close by, correct? As a general principle, why wouldn't it be good to always have the right side open? If you have nothing but space over there, space cannot and will not ever damage your car. It is only metal-to-metal that presents a danger.
How do we keep other drivers from driving alongside us on the right? Simple. Always drive in the RIGHT LANE. As much as possible, keep your driving in the right lane and you will automatically eliminate any cars from boxing you in on that side. As long as you are in the right lane no one can pass you, no one can drive alongside. On those occasions when you must drive in the left lane, do so only to make a left turn or get around traffic. Then immediately resume driving to the right. Thus, you learn to "control the space" on the right side of your car, and give yourself a 25% safety factor by doing so. Never allow another driver to box you in on the right side. Stay in the right lane as much as possible.