So, you just got your license and you’re on your own. No one is in the passenger’s seat, constantly monitoring your skills on the road. Just like the millions of people on the road, you’re responsible for a massive, one-ton machine, and you need to stay safe inside that machine.
According to the CDC, 2,634 US-based teens between the ages of 16 and 19 were killed in 2017, and 300,000 were treated in emergency departments after suffering from car accident-related injuries.
We have some tips on how you can remain safe so that you won’t become a statistic.
Take a driver’s ed course
Drivers education may not only lower your insurance rates, but it makes you a safer, more knowledgeable driver. Be sure to sign up for a course in your area.
Practice makes perfect
Practice, practice, practice! Only experience can make you a master at driving. Practice the following, even though some may not come in handy regularly:
- Parallel parking
- Changing lanes
- Merging onto oncoming traffic
- Driving during rush hour
- Driving in various weather conditions
Always look behind and ahead
Don’t just rely on your mirror. Keep an eye on the road ahead of you – not just the vehicle directly in front of you – and check behind you when merging.
Tailgating must be avoided
Tailgating is extremely dangerous, not to mention rude. In fact, it is the leading cause of rear-end collisions. Stay a few feet away from the vehicle (rule of thumb is to stay far enough away so you can see the entire bumper of the vehicle ahead of you) and keep an eye on the vehicle behind you.
Avoid any and all distractions
Make sure to keep distractions away from you. Keep your phone away from you. Go hands-free, if you need to change songs on your phone. Whatever you do, don’t take any unnecessary risks; if you must, slow down and stop at the side of the road.
Properly use your blinkers
Yes, there are so many people out there who ignore their turn signal daily, but you shouldn’t follow their example. Using turn signals lets others know that you are going to turn in the determined direction. If you don’t use a blinker, the chances of getting accidently hit skyrockets.
Safety is priority
You should learn to drive defensively to minimize your risk of getting into an accident. Avoid succumbing to road rage, always remain attentive, and don’t depend on other drivers. You never know when the other driver may make a potentially fatal mistake, and you’ll need to protect yourself from such.
Wear your seatbelt
This will constantly be drilled into your head, but please always wear your seatbelt, as the seatbelt prevents you from being thrown from the vehicle should you end up in an accident.
Maintain your vehicle
Vehicle maintenance is one of the key ways of staying safe. Make sure your oil is changed as dictated by your vehicle’s manual. Change your tires or rotate them when/as necessary. If you sense that something is wrong with the vehicle, then have the vehicle checked at a reputable garage or dealership.
Slow down on the brakes
Whatever you do, unless it is 100 percent necessary, do not slam the brakes! Be sure to brake slowly as you near a stoplight, stop sign, or another vehicle. This reduces the likelihood that you’ll be rear-ended by another vehicle.
Adjust your seat/mirrors
Before you set out on the road, adjust your seat so that you are comfortable and that your feet can reach the brakes and accelerator. Additionally, you should set your rear-view mirror so that you can see behind you and your side mirrors so that you avoid any blind spots (make sure your vehicle is not in the mirror).
Don’t rideshare or become a taxi
You’re not an Uber or a Lyft. You aren’t a taxi. Since you’re new to driving, you should be focused on yourself and your experience. If you spend your time hauling around friends/family/strangers, you may be distracted by the riders, increasing your risk of ending up in an accident.
Don’t speed. You may feel tempted, especially when others are speeding ahead of you, but it isn’t safe, period. You may not only be ticketed by police, but you are also at risk of getting into an automotive accident that leads to injury or death.
Don’t drink and drive
It is unacceptable to drink and drive, as a mixture of both can often lead to fatal accidents. If you are planning to go to a party, arrange a safe method for returning home. Use an Uber/Lyft, a designated driver, or public transportation. An accident / DUI is never worth the risk of driving home.
Stay safe while on the road
There is a lot to keep in mind as you cruise along in your new vehicle, but what will help you the most is the amount of experience you’ll get as the years go by. Just remember to remain attentive, resist the urge to speed, keep safety as your number one priority, and consider a driver’s ed course. It may just save your life one day.