You finally got your driver’s license? Wow, congratulations! Now you’re a part of a family that counts billions of people all over the world. It sure is a big step that will help your independence and allow you to have more freedom than ever. But, with great freedom comes great responsibility. It’s important to be a cautious and smart driver who practices safe road behaviors if you want to enjoy your vehicle for a long time. What you do behind the wheel doesn’t only affect you, but all other traffic participants as well! So, here are a few tips that will turn you into a safe new driver.
Every driver needs to wear a seat belt—always. According to crash experts, you’re 10 times more likely to be killed in a car crash if you don’t have your seat belt on, and that’s a huge difference. What your seat belt does is distribute forces from the crash and direct them to your chest and pelvis, the strongest parts of the body. It also prevents you from flying out of your set. This means you could stay safely in your car with only a few bruises and cuts instead of smashing into the windscreen and ending up on the road.
Don’t text and drive
Your phone offers a world of physical, visual and cognitive distractions that lead to unsafe driving behaviors and boost your possibility of an accident. Every time you text, your eyes are off the road for 4.6 seconds at a time—that’s more than enough time to go through a red light, smash into a car in front of you or drive off the road. Before you start your car, make sure to safely place your phone in the cradle, turn on Bluetooth or hands-free mode, play music, answer texts, and only then you can drive off. If you need to use the phone while driving, find a safe spot to park and handle your calls or texts.
Respect the speed limit
Speeding is the number one killer of young drivers, so try your best to avoid becoming a part of this statistic. There’s no pressure to keep up with the other drivers, especially your friends. The higher the speed, the less time you have to react and stop the car in case something happens. If you don’t have time to react, you might end up in an accident, cause a lot of damage and even hurt yourself or someone else. So, driving the speed limit will reduce your possibility of an accident while keeping you safe from traffic fines that can affect your insurance premiums and put a hole in your wallet. Speaking of insurance, make sure to look into insurance offers that fit your lifestyle and save you money. The best agencies also offer roadside assistance and car for hire for not-at-fault accidents, so shop around until you find the right deal.
Don’t drink and drive
Many people choose to avoid the subject of driving under the influence, but turning a blind eye won’t solve any issues. In many countries, new drivers (probationary license-holders) must have zero alcohol present when driving. Even the smallest amount of alcohol or illegal substances can affect your judgment and boost the risk of accidents, so make sure to only sit behind the wheel when you’re stone-cold sober.
Prepare a safety kit
Having a safety kit in your car can save lives and make every drive more comfortable. In case your car breaks down or you get into an accident, you will need your first aid kit, a flashlight, road flares, spare tire, basic tools and some spare oil, coolant and washer fluid. Additionally, if you get stuck somewhere without help, it’s smart to have a blanket, water and snacks with you. In case you live somewhere with a lot of snow, having a small shovel and some kitty litter for extra traction can also be a great idea. Whenever you’re going for a ride, no matter how short, make sure you have your cellphone with you so you can call for help if something unforeseen happens to you or anyone else on the road.
If you constantly practise these good driving habits, they will become your regular way of driving and you will be a safe and reliable member of the drivers’ family. Keep yourself and others safe on the road and you will enjoy the driving experience forever.
By Peter Minkoff