Are you learning to drive? Congratulations on this rite of passage! The freedom of getting behind the wheel can be exhilarating, but driving can also be very dangerous. As you learn to drive, these tips for new drivers can help you stay safe.
Take Drivers' Ed
Drivers education can really help make you a safer, better driver. It may even help you get a discount on your insurance. Look into various options, and sign up for a course before you go for your license.
Don’t just practice driving in empty parking lots. You need to learn to merge onto a busy highway, change lanes in traffic, drive in a city, and handle a car in various weather conditions. While we don’t recommend heading out in a snowstorm, you do want to get used to driving in various situations. If there’s something you don’t like, practice it even more, until you've conquered your fears enough to drive safely.
Some people feel calmer with music playing. Others become distracted by their favorite tunes. Know yourself, and don’t take risks. If you do want to play music, start it before you leave your driveway. Don’t mess with buttons and playlists while you’re in traffic.
Look Ahead and Behind
Don’t just focus on the car right in front of you. Keep an eye on the traffic further up, and look for potential obstacles. Check behind you regularly as well, and make sure there isn't someone tailgating you.
Don’t Tailgate. Ever.
Tailgating isn’t just rude: it’s extremely dangerous, and is actually the cause of most rear-end collisions. Many states are now enacting laws that hold tailgaters immediately responsible for actions. There’s a reason for this: if you’re too close, the odds of you hitting the car in front of you are much higher.
Avoid Fast Stops And Starts
Keep an eye on traffic lights: if the light ahead is red or yellow, start slowing down immediately. And when that light turns green, don’t show off by flooring the gas pedal.
Watch Your Blind Spot
Blind spots are one of the most dangerous aspects of driving, particularly when passing. Get to know your car, and figure out where your blind spot is. We also recommend looking back by turning your head: better safe than sorry!
Keep An Eye On Road Signs
It can be easy to look straight ahead, and miss a stop sign, traffic light, or a speed limit sign. These aren’t the only things you need to be watchful of, however. Hidden drives, children at play, and other caution signs are there for a reason: to alert you of a possibly hazardous area ahead.
Use Your Blinkers
We know, many drivers ignore this rule. And many of those drivers end up getting into accidents. Be polite, and use this basic courtesy.
No matter how good of a driver you are, there’s always a chance that someone else could hit you. Keep an eye on the other cars on the road. If someone is speeding or weaving in and out of traffic, get as far away from them as possible. When you’re on the interstate, keep several car lengths between you and the car in front of you. This give you time to react if the vehicle ahead of you loses control.
Put The Phone Down
Texting and/or talking while driving is extremely dangerous, and can be a fatal mistake. The only reason you should ever use your phone while driving is for the GPS. If you do need GPS, get a phone holder that attaches to your dashboard, so you don’t have to look away from the road to check your map. That said, you should always have your phone charged and with you, in case of an emergency.
Don’t Drink And Drive. Period.
Alcohol and cars are a terrible—and often fatal—mix. If you’re going to a club or party, plan your night so that you don’t find yourself getting behind the wheel when you’re over the limit. Use a designated driver, call a cab or Uber, or use public transportation. Get used to planning safe transportation now, before you can let drunk driving become a habit. If you get caught over the limit, you may find yourself in a legal and financial nightmare that could impact your life for years. And an accident can have tragic and devastating consequences.
Don’t Become A Taxi
It’s fine to offer a friend a ride now and then, but know when enough is enough. You don’t want to find yourself bringing several people home, especially when they all live in different directions.
Becoming a driver for the first time means taking on a new set of safety rules. Park in well-lit spots, and always lock your doors. This is especially crucial for women! If you have a pet, never, ever leave your pet in a locked car: temperatures inside cars can reach deadly levels in a very short time. You’ll also need to get into the habit of monitoring your gas and engine lights.
Last but not least, watch the speed limit. Most areas will offer you a 5 mile an hour leeway. Any more than that, and you could be risking a ticket . . . or even your life!