TEN FOR TEENS: DRIVING TIPS FOR NEW DRIVERS Congratulations on your new driver’s license! Your license is an exciting step toward independence and adulthood, but it’s also a huge responsibility. Remember, what you do in the driver’s seat affects not only you, but everyone else on the road as well.
We’ve rounded up some of the best tips for new drivers to help you stay safe and have fun on the road.
OBEY ALL TRAFFIC RULES From traffic signals to the right of way, there are rules that drivers must understand and follow. Following the speed limit, leaving adequate space between you and the car in front of you, obeying traffic signals, and wearing your seat belt are just a few. Learning and applying traffic rules will help you have a safe and relaxed time on the road, and will also help other drivers around you to be safe and relaxed. Also, following traffic rules can help you steer clear of traffic tickets, which are costly and could increase your car insurance rates.
REDUCE THE PASS! According to CDC.gov, “Teenagers are more likely than older drivers to speed up and allow shorter headways (the distance from the front of one vehicle to the front of the next).” The higher your speed, the less time you have to stop your car and the worse the impact and subsequent injuries are likely to be. Stopping distance increases exponentially at speeds above 45 MPH.
KEEP YOUR CAR IN GOOD WORKING CONDITION Taking care of your car can help you avoid breakdowns and other potential accidents. Car care includes regular oil changes and tune-ups, checking tire pressure (don’t forget the spare!), regular tire rotation, checking brake fluid and coolant levels, and filling the car. gas tank before it gets too close to “E.” For your car to take care of you, you have to take care of it. As a new driver, don’t add to the variables of being behind the wheel by letting your car maintenance skip.
USE YOUR SEAT BELT Forever. And make sure your passengers use yours too. “Among teen drivers and passengers ages 16 to 19 who were killed in motor vehicle accidents in 2018, nearly half were not restrained at the time of the accident (when restraint use was known),” CDC.gov reports.
AVOID DISTRACTIONS Distracted driving claimed 2,841 lives in 2018 alone, reports the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. So keep your eyes on the road. That means no texting, no calling, no eating, no flipping the radio, and no turning around to talk to friends in the backseat. Accidents can happen in a fraction of a second, but if you pay attention, you’ll have a better chance of avoiding one.
One of the best tips for new drivers is to take the time to prepare to drive while you’re still in the driveway. Choose your music, set your GPS, put your phone on Do Not Disturb, and make sure any important communications are completed or stopped before you drive.
ADJUST YOUR ACCESSORIES No, it’s not your bling. We’re talking about making sure your seat is in a comfortable spot and checking all your mirrors to make sure they give you visibility into your car’s blind spots. How to check? A vehicle passing you from behind should begin to appear in the side mirror just as it disappears from the center rearview mirror. As a tip for new drivers especially, do this before you start driving, not when your vehicle is in motion.
DON’T DO THE TAILGATE Following too closely is one of the leading causes of rear-end accidents. Just remember the 3-second rule: Pick an object in the road (like a sign, tree, or overpass), and when the vehicle in front of you passes, slowly count “one-one thousand, two-one thousand, three and a thousand”. If you reach the object before the count is complete, you are following it too closely.
Remember: If the car in front of you slams on the brakes and you rear-end it, it could mean a ticket for you, a lawsuit from the other driver, and an expensive bill from your insurance company.
BE PREPARED In case of accidents, breakdowns or other emergencies, your car should always contain critical driving documents and an emergency kit with everything you would need for extended time in your vehicle. Make sure you have things like your vehicle registration, proof of insurance, and driver’s license handy. A good emergency kit also includes water, non-perishable snacks, an emergency blanket, flashlights, road hazard cones and possibly flares, jumper cables, essential tools, and a small amount of oil and coolant your car needs.
LOOK AT THE TIME Rain, wind, and snow can make driving more difficult and dangerous. If it’s wet, make sure your headlights are on, slow down, and increase your following distance. Braking takes longer on slippery roads, sometimes up to ten times the stopping distance than on a dry road. Most importantly, if conditions are too treacherous, it’s best to stay off the roads until you’ve mastered the art of winter driving.
DO NOT DRIVE UNDER THE INFLUENCE Driving under the influence includes being under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or sleep deprivation. No one should have to tell you how severe the consequences can be. Just don’t do it. Request a rideshare or call a friend or loved one to take you where you need to be.