Compared to human drivers, self-driving cars are super-smart. They have 360-degree vision, they react incredibly quickly, they don't get distracted or tired, they can memorize entire maps and remember driving directions for entire trips.
I don't have a self-driving car, so my car is driven by a dumb human (that's me). Since there are still very few self-driving cars on the road, I'm surrounded by plenty of cars driven by dumb humans whenever and wherever I drive. That's not a good combination at all. Here are a few driving tricks and hints that I wish I had been told when I was taught how to drive:
-Sit close enough to the steering wheel to be able to rest your wrists on the top of the wheel with your elbows slightly flexed. From there, hold the wheel with two hands, in a 9-3 position (i.e. where the wheel is widest). That combination isn't tiring and allows to turn the wheel quickly, smoothly and precisely. No matter what, don't keep an arm across the center of the wheel, so that it doesn't hit you in the face if your airbag deploys.
-Adjust your side-view mirrors as a continuous panoramic view around your rear-view mirror. They shouldn't show you any of your own car, and they shouldn't overlap with the rear-view mirror. That way, they show you a wide enough view that there's no dead spot, and cars on the side are always visible either directly or in a side-view mirror.
-Don't brake or turn the wheel abruptly. The car needs up to half a second to stabilize its balance when the braking or steering inputs change, and if you brake or turn faster than that, the car will get off-balance and will slide instead of braking or turning. Sports-tuned cars can react a bit faster.
-If you're braking hard, don't turn. If you're turning hard, don't brake. If you try to brake hard and turn hard at the same time, the car will do neither.
-Look far ahead. Human brains are biased: they're designed to pay attention to what's close and to ignore what's far. If you focus on a point on the road that's close to your car, your brain won't "see" what's beyond that point. However, if you focus on a point on the road that's far ahead of your car, your brain will "see" everything that's between that point and your car.
-Stay focused on driving. Don't drive more than 2 hours straight without taking a break of a few minutes.
-Finally, whenever you're fighting against sleepiness, stop right away. When you're driving a car, you're less than 10ft / 3m away from being in the wrong lane, and there's death there. Don't drive to the point where you're so sleepy that you don't realize you're sleepy. Stop in a safe place, get some sleep. It's much better to be late than dead.
Copyright 2012 Jean-Baptiste Quéru / CC BY 3.0