What New Drivers Need To Know
Learning the basics of driving, passing the road test, and finally acquiring your license is a significant milestone. However, the learning process doesn’t suddenly end after acquiring your driver’s license.
As a newly licensed driver, you’ll need to know how to properly handle any situation you’re faced with when driving. You also need to know and abide by all traffic regulations, know the appropriate times to take your vehicle for servicing, what to do if your tires get punctured. The list goes on.
While in driver’s ed, you must have learned the basics of driving, how a vehicle’s mechanics work and how to navigate safely. However, not even the most qualified driving instructor can impart all the knowledge they’ve acquired all through the years they’ve been driving. Although the most effective way to become a better driver is with constant practice, knowing what to expect and how to manage in different road situations can help greatly.
Things You Should Know As A New Driver
Below are some useful tips to help you become a better driver, including a few things you probably weren’t taught in drivers Ed.
1. Familiarise Yourself With Your Car
As a new driver, you must familiarize yourself with your vehicle’s gears and control buttons to the extent that you’re comfortable locating them even without looking. Once you understand what each button or pedal and control does and can easily find them, you’ll be more relaxed while driving.
You should also practice turning your car’s lights on and off and using your wipers. If there’s something you’re unable to figure out, you can always refer to your vehicle’s manual, which should be stored in your glove box just in case.
Accessing and using your current car’s controls will make it easier to adapt when driving a different one. Besides, you’re less likely to panic when there’s a sudden downpour or when driving in the dark.
2. Turn Off The Radio
One of the notable benefits of being a licensed driver is that you can listen to whatever you want when driving. However, concentration is vital as someone still settling into their new driving role. Therefore, you might want to avoid blasting your speakers as it can distract new drivers.
According to statistical data on driver behavior, 98% of teenage drivers make the most life-threatening errors compared to all other age groups when they listen to loud music while driving. Whether you fall under this age demographic or not, remember that listening to loud music greatly impacts concentration and must be avoided, at least during the first few months after obtaining your license.
3. Avoid Going On A Road Trip With Your Friends For The First Few Weeks
Going on road trips can be a lot of fun. However, your experience could be the exact opposite if you aren’t well prepared for the trip. When driving with friends, you might feel pressured to show off by doing things that aren’t safe.
One of the ways to ensure you don’t take unnecessary risks as a new driver is by limiting the number of passengers with you or, better still, avoiding road trips altogether, at least until you’re confident enough to handle peer pressure and all the possible distractions.
If you think you can manage driving with your friends, make sure you can handle driving in adverse weather conditions, just in case. Also, remember to put on your seatbelt and ask your friends to do the same before heading out.
4. Go For A Weekend Practice Drive
Getting your license is not enough. You’ll need enough practice to polish your driving skills. So whenever you get the chance, probably during the weekend, you can go for a weekend drive with a friend who’s an experienced driver.
You can as well drive by yourself if you’re comfortable doing so. Even if it’s just a quick drive to the shop down the street. Remember that the only way you can improve your driving is with constant practice, so you might as well use whatever free time you have to hone your skills.
5. Know Where You’re Going
Driving is much easier if you know where you’re headed. While this applies to every driver, it’s especially true if you just recently obtained your driver’s license. Although navigational devices are quite useful when driving around areas you aren’t familiar with, it’s not a good idea to rely on them all the time.
If you plan on driving somewhere afield, make sure to map out the area beforehand, as knowing the motorway exits, junctions, and A-roads will help you relax a little.
6. Observe The Three-second Rule
It’s essential to adhere to the speed limit and observe the three-second rule as a novice driver, as it will help ensure your safety while driving. By leaving a three-second following distance between your vehicle and the car in front of you, you’ll have sufficient time to respond if they suddenly decide to stop. Also, remember to look at the road ahead for road bends or curves.
7. Iron Out All Your Weaknesses
To make significant progress as a driver, you must first acknowledge your weak points and face them head-on. Your weakness can be anything, like not knowing how to do a Three-point turn, a U-turn, or perhaps a parallel park. No matter how difficult the task might be, there’s nothing constant practice can’t remedy.
8. Think About Your fuel efficiency
After acquiring your license, it’s normal to want to spend as much time behind the wheel as possible, although this doesn’t necessarily mean you have to spend excessively on fuel bills. The best way to avoid overspending on gas is by accelerating and braking gently, with smooth gear changes, adhering to speed limits, and by limiting the duration of each practice session.
9. Tackle The Highway As Soon As You Can
Most newly licensed drivers dread the thought of driving on motorways even though it’s slightly easier to drive on motorways than in the city. The key to overcoming your fear of driving on highways is to try it repeatedly until it becomes second nature to you. Otherwise, you’ll become overly anxious and may never be able to get over your fear.
It might help to take someone with you while you drive as it will help reduce your anxiety, but make sure to take someone who will cheer you on and not make you even more nervous.
How To Drive Defensively
As a newly licensed car owner, anytime you get behind the wheel is an opportunity to learn something new. However, you can only get better at driving if you’re able to drive safely. Accidents happen all the time; therefore, make sure to learn and utilize the following safety tips for new drivers, and you’re sure to become a much better driver for it.
1. Keep An Eye Out For Road Signs
Traffic lights and road signs are intended for all drivers and must be obeyed to avoid anarchy on roadways. As a newly licensed driver, it’s essential to drive in accordance with posted speed limits and adhere to stop signs and red lights whenever you come across them.
Road signs often indicate different things. One might inform you that you’re driving on a highway that’s about to branch off, and another might instruct you to avoid taking specific routes for safety reasons. Whatever the sign you encounter indicates, remember that it’s in your best interest to go with it.
2. Keep Cell Phones Out Of Reach While Driving
You’ve probably heard this a dozen times, and while it might be an obvious tip for novice drivers, it applies to even the most experienced drivers, as cell phone use has always been a major safety concern. Regardless of how good you are at multitasking, try to keep your phone as far away from you as possible when driving, as it’s not only a major safety risk but can also lead to higher auto insurance premiums due to the negative points that come with it.
3. Give Others the Right Of Way
You don’t want to start with aggressive behavior as a newly licensed driver. Instead of being a bad driver, try demonstrating some levelheadedness by allowing other road users right of way at intersections and multi-lane junctions.
Doing this will put other drivers in a better frame of mind and avoid potential accidents.
4. Driving On Wet Roads
It can be quite difficult, even nerve-racking, to drive in heavy rain, especially if you’ve never had to do so before. However, you can easily avoid crashing into other cars by following the three-second rule, as it will take longer for your vehicle to come to a stop when the road is wet. Also, remember to press lightly on your brake pedal before driving through puddles.
5. Don’t Trust Other Drivers
Good drivers do not count on other drivers to behave as they should. There’s no guarantee that the driver in front of you will turn right simply because their turn signal says so or come to a complete stop at a red light or stop sign.
To stay safe, it’s best to drive with a little bit of skepticism, as there’s no shortage of aggressive drivers out there. Also, many people drive while using their cell phones, have slow reaction times, can’t avoid distractions, and don’t always follow all the rules of the road
6. Forget The 10 And 2 Steering Wheel Position
Drivers have always been advised to hold their steering wheels in the 10 and 2 positions, kind of like how the arrows on a clock point. However, with vehicle design modifications, drivers have realized that this is not exactly the safest way to handle steering wheels.
The National Highway Administration has recently advised drivers against holding their steering wheels in the 10 and 2 positions. Instead, they suggest that drivers use the 9 and 3 position, which is more convenient and a much safer way to drive. The main reason for this new recommendation is to keep the hands from blocking airbags when deployed.
7. Expect The Unexpected
Even the most experienced drivers tend to switch off occasionally, especially when driving on routes they’re all too familiar with. New drivers simply do not have this luxury, as the consequences can be catastrophic. If you’ve not had your fair share of time behind the wheel, drive safely, avoid changing lanes abruptly and give the road your full attention, as a lot can happen in the blink of an eye, especially when driving in the fast lane.
Remember that being a good driver by following traffic regulations will help you avoid getting negative points on your license, which will keep you from having to pay higher auto insurance premiums.
8. Feel Free To Hit The Brakes Hard If Need Be
Newly licensed drivers tend to act reluctantly in quick-time situations, although this is quite understandable as it takes time to build the confidence to do certain things when it comes to driving. It makes perfect sense to act cautiously while driving. However, if you encounter unexpected obstacles or have to stop for something important, don’t hesitate in the slightest to slam the brakes.
We recommend wearing your seatbelts at all times, as there’s no telling when you might find yourself in such a situation. Also, ensure to carry out routine maintenance on your vehicle and remember to change your brake fluid and windshield washer fluid when you do.
9. Don’t Succumb To Peer Pressure
Teenage drivers are usually keen on giving their peers rides to school after becoming licensed drivers, and quite frankly, there’s nothing wrong with doing so. However, those riding with you must know how important it is for you to remain focused on the road.
If they don’t seem to realize how important your role as a driver is, then it’s up to you not to succumb to peer pressure, no matter how much they egg you on to speed up or take unnecessary risks. Due to the increasing number of road accidents involving teenage drivers, some road safety organizations have even tried petitioning the government to ban teenagers from having passengers.
10. Learn To Change Tires
As much as you’d like to pat yourself on the back for knowing how to drive, remember that you should know a few other things before you can become an experienced driver. One such thing is knowing how to change a tire properly.
Most drivers don’t expect their tires to blow out or get punctured. However, this doesn’t change the fact that it can happen to anyone. With this in mind, you should at least be prepared if you ever find yourself in such a situation and there’s no roadside assistance.
11. How To React To The Police
No driver wants to get pulled over by traffic officials. However, the chances of this happening are relatively high with inexperienced drivers. Whether or not you realize that you’ve committed an offense, the police are still likely to pull you over, so you might as well know the right way to respond. Whenever you’re pulled over by the police, remember to maintain eye contact and reply politely, and you’ll be on your way before you know it.
12. Keep The Windshield Clean
There is no rule against driving in an unsanitary vehicle. However, it’s best to keep your vehicle clean, especially the aspects of it that play an important role in road safety, like windshield and windshield wipers. It’s important to clean your windshield before you start driving as it will make it easier to see the road and other cars, especially on days with bad weather.
It’s essential to keep your vehicle in good condition with regular servicing. It’s also important to build your confidence if you intend to improve your driving skills, and what better way is there to do this than by constantly putting yourself out there?