AutoTrader and advanced driving instructor-stuntwoman Michele Habig, team up to give us some advice on how to be a better driver
43-year-old Michele Habig is one of the few female driving instructors in South Africa, and has been freelancing for 10 years for various car manufacturers.
“Interestingly, women are far easier to teach than men,” said Habig. “They listen well and are attentive drivers, making them much more conscientious. If there is a ‘bad habit’ that female drivers have, I would say it’s a lack of confidence.”
AutoTrader Marketing Director Angelique Lynch says that women are less likely to take risks and therefore typically benefit from cheaper insurance prices than men. “The next step is to improve your abilities on the road by learning advanced driving skills in addition to the basic driving rules you learn as part of your learner license” she points out.
Skills typically taught are ABS braking, collision avoidance, brake distance recognition (how long it takes for your vehicle to stop when travelling at different speeds), correct steering (with steering exercises), driver assistance (safety systems, what these are and how they work).
“Practical exercises are carried out on different terrains like a skidpan, which can be abrasive when it’s dry, and slippery when wet, in order to simulate different weather and road conditions” Lynch points out.
Adjust your seat position
For those wanting to immediately improve their driving habits, Habig suggests a simple correction to seat placement; an often overlooked detail that she has seen repeatedly.
“Ladies tend to sit way too close to the steering wheel, which inhibits their arm movements when trying to steer,” said Habig. “The reason for this is no surprise – women are generally shorter, and without proper guidance it’s easy to get too close to the wheel in favour of making sure the pedals are in easy reach.”
Habig recommends three points to look for when finding the right distance from the steering wheel:
1. Touch the brake pedal with your right foot (there should be a good bend in the knee with no stretch to reach, and the knees should not be touching the wheel.)
2. Make sure you are able to see over your steering wheel and in the centre of your windscreen.
3. Make sure the height and depth of your steering wheel allows you to rest your wrists on the top of it without your shoulders leaving your backrest.