Every year, teens across the country gain the privilege of driving alone for the first time. While the various graduated licensing statutes around the country help to ensure that every new driver has some experience, driving alone is a very different experience from supervised driving. That’s why it is important for every new driver to remember these 10 safe driving tips.
1. Turn Off the Phone
Sixty percent of the car accidents involving teen drivers also involve some kind of distracted driving, and the most popular type is cell phone interaction. If you are using navigation or streaming services, silence the ringtone and put it out of reach, using your vehicle controls to manage things. The best practice is to have it off and in the glove compartment, but the key is to keep your hands off it when you are driving.
2. Use Your Safety Belt at All Times
Seatbelt use drastically reduces the rate of fatal injuries in automobile accidents, even at lower speeds. Whether you are just moving your car across a parking lot or you’re going on an out of town road trip, it’s important to always buckle up. It’s also important to make sure your passengers buckle up, too.
3. Set a Zero Tolerance Policy for Alcohol
Being charged with driving under the influence as a minor can create long-term legal issues you will be dealing with for years to come. More importantly, though, alcohol drastically increases the rate of accidents and the rate of fatal accidents. Since teen bodies are still growing, alcohol can have unpredictable effects, making it unsafe for drivers in any amounts.
4. Don’t Make Assumptions—Follow Your Eyes Instead
It’s vitally important that you remember not to make assumptions about what other drivers will and won’t do. The fact is, you can never tell who is about to make an un-signaled turn or who will suddenly punch the accelerator to run a red light. You can make good judgments if you pay attention to vehicle movement and speed, and those judgments will keep you safe, but if you count on assumptions, you will miss what is actually happening on the road in front of you.
5. Learn to Brake Gradually
Hard braking can be dangerous as a habit, because it is easy to misjudge your deceleration speed and distance when driving conditions shift. That means that every time it rains or snows, you might wind up misestimating the safe stopping distance. Hard braking is also hard on the car, and it contributes to brake system problems while also increasing the rate of wear on parts like your brake pads. Slower braking is less likely to result in an accident and more likely to extend the life of your brakes.
6. Respect the Speed Limit
Exceeding the speed limit is not only a good way to wind up with a ticket, it’s also one of the most dangerous maneuvers that new drivers can attempt. Cars are more difficult to control and take longer to execute maneuvers at high speed, and the safe speed limits for most roads are set for a reason. By staying within the speed limits, you are more likely to avoid losing control, even in good weather.
7. Maintain a Safe Driving Distance
Many, many people on the road do not follow this advice, and that can make it difficult for teen drivers to be consistent in their follow-through when they make the attempt. Maintaining safe distance is the best way to make sure you can always brake in time, though.
8. Both Hands on the Wheel
While modern power steering is fantastic, maintaining control over a vehicle still takes both hands. Make sure you can put power into your steering maneuvers when it counts.
9. Avoid Unnecessary Lane Changes
The less often you have to change lanes, the less vulnerable you are to problems with your blind spots. If it is possible to move with the flow of traffic, go with it.
10. Brake for Yellow Lights
Erring on the side of caution means avoiding any drivers who might jump the gun by anticipating the green light. Keep yourself safe.
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