Driving is the controlled operation of a land vehicle, usually a motor vehicle such as a truck or a car. Although direct operation of a bicycle, a mounted animal (not including chariot operation) or a motorcycle (at least in the United Kingdom, the United States and Canada) is commonly called riding, such operators are usually legally considered to be drivers and are required to obey those rules of the road which apply to all drivers.
In terms of the basic physical tasks required, a driver must be able to control direction, acceleration, and deceleration. For motor vehicles, the detailed tasks include:
Driver error is an important factor in driving accidents, a primary factor in the deaths of over a million people every year. Avoiding such error involves more than just following the rules of the road literally; defensive driving also involves the cultivation of good habits, maintaining attention and a thoughtful, cooperative attitude.
Avoiding or successfully handling an emergency driving situation can involve the following skills:
Distractions can compromise a driver's mental skills. One study on the subject of mobile phones and driving safety concluded that, after controlling for driving difficulty and time on task, drivers talking on a phone exhibited greater impairment than drivers who were suffering from alcohol intoxication.
Another survey indicated that music could affect a driver's concentration.
Almost every jurisdiction has rules of the road, driver licensing and vehicle registration that apply when driving heavy motor vehicles on public roads. Some also have criminal law for negligent operation, vehicle safety inspections and compulsory insurance. The high degree of responsibility imposed by these laws is based on the extraordinary danger of driving heavy motor vehicles.
Motorists are almost universally required to take lessons with an approved instructor and pass a driving test before being granted a license. The trend has been towards increasingly tougher tests in recent decades. Almost all countries allow all adults with good vision to apply to take a driving test and, if successful, to drive on public roads. Saudi Arabia, however, bans women from driving vehicles (whether pedal or motor powered) on public roads. Saudi women have periodically staged driving protests against these restrictions.
In many countries, even after passing one's driving test, new motorists may be initially subject to special restrictions. For example, in Australia, novice drivers are required to carry "P" ("provisional") plates, and are subject to lower speed limits, alcohol limits, and other restrictions for their first two years of driving. This varies between states.
Most countries have also implemented laws in relation to driving whilst under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The limits up to which drivers are permitted to drive vary according to the jurisdiction in which the offence occurs.Driving under the influence.