young girls driving car

When getting your license, you're likely pumped up to get out on the road. Unfortunately, there's a chance you might make some simple mistakes that aren't always covered in driver's ed. These mistakes can range from minor inconveniences to serious problems that endanger your life and that of others.

That's why it's crucial to understand these common new driver mistakes and how to avoid them. Most are simple enough to grasp quickly and even better, they're easy to implement when driving.

Forgetting To Gas Up

New drivers often get so excited about their new license and car that they don't pay careful attention to their fuel gauge. This problem may seem minor, but it isn't. Riding around empty or near it can damage your engine by allowing dirty fuel to flow into it. In cold weather, it can even cause the fuel to freeze up. The U.S. Department of Energy's Fuel Economy website offers helpful tips on maintaining your vehicle's fuel efficiency.

The most embarrassing situation this can cause is running out of gas. This may not seem like a huge deal, but running out of gas in the middle of heavy traffic can be dangerous. Make sure to visit a gas station regularly and keep your car fueled up. You don't need a full tank at all times, but at least half should be enough.

Thinking Four-Wheel Drive Is Magical

New drivers are often excited to get the chance to drive a four-wheel drive vehicle. They frequently make the mistake of thinking it is something akin to magic and that they can drive as fast as they want in bad weather. This is simply not the truth.

While four-wheel drive provides you with more control in snowy weather, it certainly doesn't make you immune to its effects. Even worse, braking won't be any easier with four-wheel drive. Put on the four-wheel drive in bad weather, but make sure to still drive safely. The NHTSA's Winter Driving Tips can help you navigate challenging conditions.

Passing Improperly

New drivers often make many mistakes when trying to pass. Here are a few simple tips to keep in mind when passing:

  • Go 10 miles per hour faster than the person you are passing without breaking the law
  • Avoid passing if any oncoming traffic is present
  • Pay attention to the center lines: only pass when dotted lines are present on your side
  • Slow down during bad weather and don't pass: the risk is too severe
  • Never pass vehicles you can't see around
  • Give the car behind you at least 10-20 yards of space before merging in front of them

Left Turn Woes

If you live in a busy city, you probably already know how difficult it is to turn left. This is especially true at intersections that don't have signals specifically set up for turning left.

Sitting and waiting for an opening can be frustrating. For timid new drivers, it can cause them to sit for a long time and back up traffic excessively. For aggressive drivers, it may cause them to drive dangerously.

Try to avoid left turns when at all possible. Plan your route in a way that minimizes them. For example, if you are out getting gas, find a station that lets you turn right in the direction you are going. So if you are heading back the way you came, pick a station on the left. If continuing along the same way, find one on the right. And only turn left at traffic lights that have a left-turn-specific signal. Utilizing a navigation app like Google Maps can help you plan your route efficiently and avoid unnecessary left turns.

As you can see, these mistakes are easy enough to avoid if you plan carefully. Make sure to take them into account every time you drive. That way, you can prevent serious accidents and other personal dangers. Improving your driving abilities requires learning how to drive carefully and protecting the lives of everyone on the road. For more information on safe driving practices, visit the National Safety Council's Road Safety website.