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Essential Tips for New Drivers

Safety First!

No matter how excited you are about being able to drive, you must never forget the solemn responsibility you have to yourself, your family, and others to drive safely. Even if you have been able to learn the basics, there are extra tips that are helpful to know. Here are some essential tips for new drivers.

Cold Weather Tips

In cold weather, go outside and warm up your car to get the engine oil flowing. It is better for your engine. Also, put your fan and heater setting on defrost and defrost the front and back windows. Take an ice scraper and scrape off all the ice and snow on all the windows. Do not attempt to drive without the windows being clear. Also, if you are in cold country, always drive with a full tank of gas in case you get stalled. Otherwise, you will have to walk through the snow and cold for fuel. Keep some water to drink and snacks in the car, in case you get stalled, as well as plenty of extra warm clothing in case you are stuck in your car for an extended period of time. If you think that is dramatic, just consider some of the more recent winter storms that have been harsher than expected.

Winterize Your Vehicle

Ensure your car is winterized before the cold weather starts. Make sure you have enough anti-freeze to keep your engine from freezing and cracking. A local mechanic can check that for you. Finally, have the proper type of snow tires for your car. Depending on where you live, you might use snow tires or chains.

Drive Slowly in Snow and Ice

Drive much, much, much slower than usual in ice and snow. It can be tempting to drive quickly, but if you lose control of the car, you could slide across an intersection in front of oncoming traffic and you would have no control over the vehicle to escape. As a matter of fact, if you don't need to drive in icy, snowy weather, don't. Wait for better weather.

Defensive Driving

Another tip for beginning drivers is to realize that it is not enough to simply know the basics of driving, or to even drive carefully yourself. What does that mean? You have to drive carefully yourself, of course, but you need to be aware that other drivers may be distracted. They may be on a cell phone, they may be on medication, they may have had a bad day at the office or just gotten through an emotionally-charged incident, and they might not be their best in driving. So do your best to follow the rules of the road, but also watch out for others who might be distracted. Be proactive. Be a defensive driver. Drive, watching out for other drivers who are not driving carefully.

Use Your Mirrors

Use your mirrors. Before changing lanes, make sure no one is in the lane where you plan to move. Also, glance over your left shoulder when moving into the left lane to check your blind spot. Even if your mirrors show no one is there, there might be someone in the blind spot. If you are slowing down for a yellow light, check your rear view mirror and make sure that the person behind you planned on slowing down as well. If they are pushing to get through the intersection, you might have to move ahead or change lanes so you don’t get back-ended.

Look Both Ways

If you are sitting and waiting at a red light, when the light turns green, don't push down on the gas and go. Stop and briefly look both ways to make sure that no one trying to run the red light. There has been more than one story of a driver who stayed parked when the light turned green, only to thankfully miss being involved in a head-on collision when someone in the other lane ran the red light.

Start Early and Other Tips

A few other tips are these. If you have to get somewhere on time, start early. Give yourself plenty of time. Don't speed. Careless mistakes are made when drivers are in a hurry. Keep your car or truck in good repair. Get an oil change every 3000 miles. Make sure your vehicle's maintenance service schedule is followed. Keep your brakes working.

Becoming a Good Driver

If you take good care of your vehicle, drive safely and drive a little slower than the speed limit, plus drive proactively or defensively, you are on the way to becoming a good driver.

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