Getting a driver’s license is a huge step in adulthood towards your independence, but it’s also an enormous responsibility. With so many distractions these days, it’s more important than ever to practice safe driving habits to help you avoid an accident. Remember, you’re not just keeping you and your passengers safe, but others on the road, too!
Driving doesn’t have to be scary, but it’s essential to you and other drivers that you begin practicing good driving habits so that you can stay safe on the road, wherever you are. Take a look at some of the most important tips for new drivers to avoid accidents:
- Focus. When you’re in the driver’s seat, your number one focus should be on the road. Try not to pay too much attention to other distractions in the car, like music or conversations with your passengers. Your eyes and ears should always be focused on driving so that you can be prepared for other drivers and make safe decisions.
- Limit Distractions. Try to limit distractions as much as possible to make it easier to focus on driving. Put your phone away, and do not try to multitask – this means no radio channel surfing or turning around to talk to your friends. Set up your driving conditions before you start driving: turn on your GPS so you can follow directions, choose a playlist or radio station you love, and turn on do not disturb on your phone to stop notifications from coming in while you’re driving.
- Wear Your Seat Belt. This goes without saying, but ALWAYS. WEAR. A. SEATBELT! And make sure your passengers are wearing them too. New drivers, particularly teens, tend to neglect to wear a seatbelt since they’re mostly traveling short distances, but the truth is, almost 50% of teens who died in car crashes in 2018 were because of the lack of seatbelt usage. A seatbelt can literally save lives!
- Obey Traffic Laws. Before receiving your license, you should have been able to prove that you’re knowledgeable of your area’s traffic laws. Remember to put these into practice when driving. Stay aware of road signs, speed limits, and traffic signals, and remember the appropriate times to use lights. This will keep you and others safe and relaxed on the road – and may even save you a driving ticket!
- Don’t Tailgate. One of the leading causes of rear-end accidents is tailgating or following the car in front of you too closely. Try to leave about three seconds of space in between you and the vehicle in front of you, so if they were to slam on the brakes, you’d have enough time to slow down as well.
- Practice Defensive Driving. When driving, it’s best to always assume the worst of other drivers so that you can be prepared to avoid an accident. Stay extremely aware of what others are doing, and expect drivers to make unreasonable or unexpected decisions.
- Monitor Time and Weather. Try to observe driving conditions before getting on the road, especially if driving at night or in inclement weather. The risk of a fatal crash is three times higher at night, and driving in the rain, snow, hail, etc., makes driving even more challenging and more dangerous. If you can, stay where you are until you feel you can safely drive back.
- Never Drive Under the Influence. Do not, under any circumstances, drive under the influence. This especially goes for underage drivers. Under the influence includes drugs or alcohol, or even a lack of sleep. Driving under these influences can affect your judgment, perceptions, and even reaction time, making you an unfit driver. Request an Uber or Lyft when possible, or try to have a designated driver. Remember, driving under the influence may cost you your license, or worse, your life.
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