Congrats! You're officially part of the club. You have joined the millions of new drivers already behind the wheel. You're probably feeling excited, nervous, or possibly scared — you may even be feeling a combination of all three. Don't worry, these feelings are normal.
Here are a few tips to keep you sane and safe.
When you were a kid and first learned how to ride a bike, you probably started out with the basics. You knew your limits — you kept both hands on the handlebars, your butt firmly in the seat, and you limited your trips to your neighborhood. After some time, you gained experience and became more comfortable with your bike; you probably ventured further and took longer trips.
Driving a vehicle can be similar. As a new driver, the key is to make sure you are extra-careful and fully aware of all of your driving habits. You might notice older friends and relatives doing something risky — like speeding up instead of slowing down at a yellow light. But when a driver who doesn't have a lot of experience on the road does it, that kind of behavior can be even more dangerous.
Before you take a long road trip, make sure you're completely comfortable going to and from school and work. Before you begin driving at night, when reduced visibility makes driving more complicated, make sure you have daytime driving down. Before you start driving your friends around, if your state's GDL program allows it, practice driving with a responsible adult riding shotgun and on your own — so you aren't distracted by the company.
Here are some tips for developing safe driving habits:
Responsible driving also can help you save money. A good driver is less likely to fork over money for car repairs and increased insurance premiums than a risky or bad driver is.
You aren't the only person you have to be responsible for on the road — there are aggressive and inattentive drivers of all ages and driving experiences, not to mention pedestrians and cyclists. Their presence on the roads means it's not enough to make sure that you follow all the rules of the road — you also have to watch out for people who don't.
It's important to be aware of your surroundings. For instance, when a light turns green, make sure the intersection is clear before you go; someone may run a red light and be headed for you.
Other ways to be better aware of your surroundings include:
Driver training shouldn't end with driver's ed. Consider taking a defensive driving or driver improvement course every 2-3 years to keep your knowledge and skills fresh. Not only will this help you reduce your risk behind the wheel, it may save you some money on your car insurance premiums. It could also show your parents you're serious about being a good, safe driver.
Taking care of your car ensures that it's in good condition and functioning properly. Many breakdowns occur because drivers neglect routine maintenance. To avoid being stuck in one of these situations, try getting familiar with:
Knowing your car means that you won't be that person who runs out of fuel in the middle of nowhere because he drove around with an almost-empty tank, or the one whose tire blew out because she forgot to check the pressure.
Sometimes vehicle crashes and breakdowns are unavoidable, no matter how responsible you are. You should keep some emergency items in your car at all times for use in such situations:
Practice makes perfect. So get out there and drive, keeping safety first.
Reviewed by: Kurt E. Gray, MSM
Date reviewed: July 2012
|Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) SADD is a peer leadership organization dedicated to preventing underage drinking, other drug use, impaired driving, and destructive decisions.|
|National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) NHTSA is the government agency responsible for ensuring and improving automobile and traffic safety.|
|Insurance Institute for Highway Safety/Highway Loss Data Institute This organization is dedicated to reducing highway crashes, injuries, and deaths. It also offers information on driving-related topics such as airbags, teen drivers, auto accidents, speed laws, and underage drinking.|
|Click It or Ticket Click It or Ticket (CIOT) is the most successful seat belt enforcement campaign ever, helping create the highest national seat belt usage rate of 82 percent.|
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|Bad-Weather Driving Factors beyond your control may affect driving conditions: rain, wind, snow, ice, bright sun, fog, and hail, just to name a few. So what should you do if you find yourself driving in bad weather?|
|The Keys to Defensive Driving These defensive driving skills can help you avoid the dangers caused by other people's bad driving.|
|What to Do After a Car Crash Although you do your best to drive responsibly and defensively, it's still a good idea to know what to do just in case you end up in an accident.|
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