We were all newbie drivers at the beginning of our driving "car-reer".
Driving on our own brought both feelings of excitement and anxiety, especially when we had to drive to an unfamiliar location. On the road, our moves were tentative and tinged with nervousness.
But as time passed, most of us became more skilled. Driving was no longer a daunting activity.
So, if you've just earned your licence and still find Singapore's roads (and motorists) intimidating, you're not alone. Here are five driving hacks that can help make you a safer and more confident driver.
Watch that spray
As if heavy rain wasn't bad enough, we have to contend with road spray from vehicles in front of us.
Road spray further lowers visibility, so maintain a longer distance between you and the car in front. This gives you additional reaction time and a longer available stopping distance.
Staying further back from the vehicle in front also lessens the spray that actually hits your windscreen.
And while it's not always possible, try to avoid being near heavy vehicles, as the volume of road spray they'll kick up can feel similar to that of a heavy thunderstorm.
Speaking of heavy vehicles, one thing you should watch out for are other cars and motorcycles that can suddenly emerge from between them.
Sometimes, other motorists will cut into the lane of a lorry, bus or trailer so quickly that the other drivers have no time to brake. Seeing brake lights illuminate could indicate that a smaller vehicle has cut in front of the heavier one.
We can't always avoid driving next to the heavy vehicle lane, but it helps to know what to look out for when you do.
ABS actviated? Don't release the brake pedal
If you've never had to emergency brake or e-brake before, you've probably never felt the ABS (anti-lock braking system) kicking in.
It can be startling for a new or less-experienced driver. Apart from loud groaning and possibly thudding noises (that make it sound like your brakes are broken), the brake pedal also suddenly travels further downwards.
Don't panic. The ABS is working exactly as it should, and assuming you braked this hard because you needed to stop asap, do not release the brake pedal!
Some accidents can be avoided if you can stop in time, so trust your car to help you accomplish this.
Lean from side to side
You've learned to turn your head to check your blind spots. But your driving instructors may not have taught you to lean from side to side.
Obviously, you should do this when the car ahead is blocking your view of the side. It may look awkward, but if you can't position your car for a better look, this is a solution.
When will you need to do this? Let's say you're approaching a turn and the car in front is positioned too far left or right in the lane. Lean left or right to try and get a better view of what's ahead of the car in front.
Doing this helps you check for various things, such as pedestrians waiting to cross and traffic signals changing. Or, just to see what's in front, period. It's all part of being situationally aware.
Cross the stop line... just a little
A perfect example of this is when you approach uncontrolled T-junctions but find that you can't see oncoming vehicles in either direction from behind the stop line.
One such location is the junction where Dover Close East meets Dover Rise. As you approach Dover Rise, its slightly higher elevation makes it tough to spot oncoming cars.
In situations like this, creeping past the stop line to spot oncoming traffic is the only right move.
ALSO READ: You should slow down to a crawl at these 5 places in Singapore if you don't want an accident
This article was first published in sgCarMart.