It’s an exciting experience to finally get your driver’s license. Suddenly you don’t need ask for rides from your parents or friends, and you’ve now got the freedom to go wherever you want, whenever you want. As a newbie driver, you’ve got the rules of the road fresh from drivers ed classes in your mind. You’ve just finished up the course, studied for your test, and have been behind the wheel practicing for a while. Now all your hard work has paid off.
In some ways, new drivers are some of the safest drivers out there—unlike experienced drivers who have long since forgotten some of the technical parts of driving laws, novice drivers have just completed driver’s ed classes and are eager to drive well and get where they want to go with no issues.
But while the phrase “practice makes perfect” certainly does not apply to driving, there are some things you will only learn through experience and actually sitting behind the wheel.
No, this isn’t something your parents told us to tell you; instead, it’s simply a fact that seat belts save lives. Seat belts actually reduce the percentage of crash-related injuries and death by nearly half. You might get in the car and think that your destination isn’t that far, so no seat best is necessary, but never drive without one buckled. Even if you’re an incredibly careful and attentive driver, there are other drivers who are reckless. If you cross paths with them, a seat belt could very well save your life.
Your headrest isn’t just intended to be comfortable, but it can actually help you in an accident. Even in minor crashes, whiplash is a common injury to sustain. A headrest that is positioned behind your neck won’t do you much good, while a headrest that is directly behind your head will decrease the potential damage due to whiplash.
Although you might not have the newest car in the world, you should care for your car well. This means changing the oil regularly, getting tune-ups, and even just keeping it clean. A dirty windshield or windows can greatly hinder your ability to see the road and other drivers around you, making your drive incredibly unsafe. Clean the outside of your car on a regular basis and keep your dash clear of clutter.
Sure, driver’s ed classes may have taught you that your hands should go at 10:00 and 2:00 on your steering wheel, but there are differing reports on the best location for your hands. It seems that 9:00 and 3:00 or even 8:00 and 4:00 are actually better in the event that the airbag deploys. Envision the powerful force of an airbag on your hands and wrists if they are too high up (or too low) on the steering wheel. Placing your hands more in the middle is the safest spot when driving.
It’s incredibly frustrating to deal with an angry driver who is unreasonably mad, and it can be tempting to try and show them a lesson by pulling in front of them or driving slowly. As satisfying as you think this might be, do not do this! Aggressive drivers are responsible for half of all traffic fatalities and it’s impossible to reason with someone who has completely lost their cool. It’s best to get as far away as you can from this driver—let them pass and move on their way and out of your path. The average car weighs about 4,000 pounds, so when you’re operating a vehicle it is not the right time to try and deal with someone who can’t think clearly.
Blocking the intersection is not only rude, it’s dangerous. Before you enter an intersection, ensure that you’ll be able to clear it completely. This usually means stalling a bit at the beginning of the intersection to see if the car in front of you will make it all the way through. It’s extremely stressful to have angry drivers honking at you because you’re blocking their way, so try to avoid the situation altogether.
Yes, there are posted speed limits, but it’s always wise to decrease speeds in inclement weather or at night when your visibility is lower. Speed limits are definitely the fastest you should ever go in a given location, but they are not at all required! If it’s raining, snowing, stormy, windy, or dark out, don’t push things. Instead, take your time and reduce your speed. It will only cost you a few extra minutes in the long run but it will make your drive immensely safer.
It can be easy as you continue to drive to feel like you’ve got the whole driving thing down. You’ll begin to have your regular driving routes and you’ll start to feel a little more comfortable behind the wheel. This can lead to placing trust in other drivers that is not warranted. Even if you’re driving through an area that you’ve driven through many times before, always treat it like it’s brand new territory because you never know what could happen! There may be construction, an animal in the road, a drunk driver, or any other number of issues in your way. Stay alert and keep all of your attention on driving.
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