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Characteristics of Safe Drivers | Abilities to Develop for Safe Driving

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10 Skills and Abilities Required to Become a Safe Driver

Reading time: 5 mins

What do you think are the skills and abilities that make a good and safe driver? Driving a vehicle is an achievement for many, and although this might not happen until later in life, it’s empirical to learn to be the best at it when you finally have a vehicle of your own.

Mistakes can be committed by even the most professional drivers, but that does not mean you should be careless when driving. While getting your license is an essential part of becoming a driver, it is only the start of the journey in acquiring your driving skills. Once you’re driving on your own, you should learn and develop skills and abilities for safe driving.

So, what are the characteristics that make a good and safe driver? Let’s find out.

10 Abilities and Skills required to become a safe driver

1. Acquire an excellent sense of navigation

One of the most important skills required to be a safe driver is to have a great sense of navigation. While modern electronics and GPS systems have become an essential tool for every driver, it is important to remember that technology can be faulty or what’s worse, it may break down.

So, you must be able to read and interpret maps, be aware of which roads can or cannot be driven on and be able to look out for road safety signs.

2. Be responsible and reliable

Like any other job or task, you must be responsible and reliable, not only for your own safety but also for the safety of others around you – which include passengers and other drivers on the road. While driving, several situations may arise that will warrant you to respond accordingly.

For instance, if it’s pouring rain, you may want to slow down and keep a fair distance to the car in front of you. Road safety must be your top priority to prevent accidents and any other mishaps. No doubt, being responsible and reliable are characteristics of a safe driver that will help keep you and your community safe.

3. Keep in mind that speeding doesn’t save time

Driving basically helps you get from point A to point B. You might think speeding will help you save time and reach point B faster, but the simple truth is, it won’t. A vital characteristic of a safe driver is understanding that speeding, especially within the city or town streets, is potentially dangerous.

Your driving instructor would have stressed about sticking to the speed limit when you were first learning to drive. The instructor would have warned you about failing the driving test if you didn’t adhere to it. These rules are no set in place to make the test hard for you, but to ensure that you practise safe driving from the get-go.

There’s no question that speeding can put you and others around you at a safety risk. So, it’s advisable not to go beyond the stipulated speed limit on the roads. If you need to get to your destination quickly, use alternative routes. A safe driver will not rush through crowded streets.

On the other hand, driving extremely slow or road hogging is also not the characteristic of a safe driver. According to the Land Transport Authority (LTA), road hogging is an offence. If you are comfortable driving just a little below the speed limit, keep well to the left (including on dual carriageways) unless ––

  • you intend to overtake;
  • you intend to turn right; or
  • there is a bicycle lane, in which case, you should keep to the left-most vehicle lane.

4. Know which side the fuel cap is on

Have you ever arrived at the petrol station and pulled up to the kiosk, only to realise that the fuel cap is on the other side of the car? Then you hurriedly try to adjust your vehicle so that the pump would reach your tank? If your answer is yes, you are not alone. It happens to the best drivers, especially if they drive multiple cars – with the fuel cap on different sides – regularly.

DirectAsia Insurance_Car petrol fuel icon lit up in orange, signaling empty fuel
Empty fuel warning light in car dashboard. Fuel pump icon with arrow pointing to the left side.

But did you know that there is a way to tell which side of the car the fuel cap is on without having to get out of the car? First, look at your fuel gauge; you will see a little arrow next to the fuel pump icon. This arrow will either point to the left or right. Whichever side the arrow points to, indicates the side the fuel cap is on. However, this may not always be the case for continental and vintage cars, so, just to be sure, check your side view mirrors before you get to the kiosk.

This information does not only make for a smart driver but also a safe one. By not holding up others at the petrol station, you can fill up your fuel tank with ease and make way for others to fill up their fuel tanks too.

5. Keep alert

Another important quality of a good and safe driver is being alert and ready to handle any situation on the road. Sudden, unwanted situations could arise and put your driving skills to the test; Maybe you saw the red light later than you should have, or the driver in front of you suddenly steps on the brakes. How do you avoid an accident in that instance?

If you are driving a newer car, you probably have anti-lock brakes installed. But what if you don’t have it installed or you are driving an older car, you would need to steer clear even with the brake pedal pushed to the floor.

Though emergencies like this don’t always happen, it is important to always be prepared.

6. Understand the road rules

Keeping alert is necessary, but that’s not all the skills required. To be a safe driver that others can trust, you must know and understand the road rules. You must comprehend what the different road signs mean and always follow the stipulated rules and regulations.

Aside from that, it’s also important to use your turn signals. Your turn signals are there to alert other drivers that you will be changing lanes, getting off at an exit or making right or left turns. The driver behind you can’t read your mind, so not only is failing to signal one of the worst driving etiquette mistakes you can make, but it could also cause an accident.

7. Practise self-discipline

Self-discipline is another crucial quality of a safe driver. It’s easy to expect others to obey traffic rules and drive reasonably, but it may not always be the case when it comes to obeying it yourself. Driving past a red light may make you feel like a daredevil, but does it make you a safe driver? The simple answer is no.

A safe driver is a self-disciplined driver – there is no debate about that. Remember, that your life and the life of others around you can be at risk even with the slightest display of recklessness. So, always be disciplined and be a safe driver.

8. Be patient

Patience is a good virtue everyone should have. It is also an essential characteristic of a safe driver. Remember, you are not in a race to get to your destination first. Instead, you should be concerned about getting to your destination safely. Patience is a necessary quality of a good driver as it keeps you safe and helps you stay calm and collected even when things don’t go as planned.

9. Be cautious at all times

There are different types of drivers on the road with you. Some are great and practise safe driving, while others may be reckless. This is why you need to be cautious at all times in order to avoid mishaps and accidents.

Being cautious is certainly a quality of a good driver. Keep in mind that there are many people on the road who may not practise safe driving like you.

10. Ensure your vehicle is in good condition

Always ensure that your vehicle is fit to drive. Being a safe driver goes beyond keeping to traffic rules. It also includes ensuring that the vehicle is in excellent condition to be driven on the roads. You need to check the vehicle each time before you drive out to ensure it’s in good, working condition. It’s important to check the brakes pads, the lights, the tyres, the gearbox and the windshield wipers before you even leave your carpark.

Other important things to check would be the engine oil, coolant fluid, driving belt and the clutch. If you are not sure how to do these more difficult checks, ask a professional to help you out and explain to you, the important things you can look out for before you drive out the next time.


Being a safe driver should be the aim of all drivers. It comes from understanding that while your vehicle is a great asset to you, it could also cause harm if you are not careful in maneuvering it.

To be a safe driver, you have to be alert at all times, ensure you and the vehicle are always in great condition and bear in mind that you are not competing with other drivers on the road. Apart from being a safe driver, it pays to be a smart one too – make sure to buy car insurance that gives you custom coverage according to your needs. If you have any questions related to car insurance, you can connect with DirectAsia’s experts at 6665 5555.