Whether you passed your driving test on your 16th birthday or you are an adult who only recently got your driver’s licence, learning to drive safely is a skill that takes lots of practice. However, there are some habits you should develop right away to keep yourself, your passengers, and others on the road safe. Every time you get into your car, commit to these driving safety tips before you even turn the ignition key:
- Buckle your seatbelt and insist that anyone riding with you does as well. Child passengers should be in car seats appropriate for their age, weight, and height. You should never drive with so many passengers that they can’t fit safely in your car.
- Make sure that you have a clean windshield and that you have adjusted the rear view and side mirrors to give you a clear field of vision.
- Turn on your headlights at dusk or when rain or other weather conditions make it more difficult for other cars to see you.
- Check your gas tank and fill it immediately if it’s running low. Pushing it to the limit could leave you stranded in a dangerous situation.
Consideration and Awareness of Other Drivers
One of the most important things to remember as a new driver is that while you know what you’re going to do, you don’t know the intentions of other drivers. Even a driver with his or her turn signal on may have forgotten to turn it off, so don’t assume the driver is turning or changing lanes. When at a four-way stop, make eye contact with the other drivers before you enter the intersection, even when you have the right of way. This lets them know to wait their turn before proceeding through the stop sign.
You should always avoid pulling out in front of another driver or swerving into his or her lane. This is sure to irritate the driver, which may lead to an unwanted episode of road rage. However, you will deal with aggressive drivers even when you do everything perfectly. It’s best to allow them to pass you and let the highway patrol officers deal with them later.
It would be nice if you always got to drive under clear skies and on a dry road, but that’s not the reality for anyone. On days when you find yourself driving in heavy rain or snow, allow two to three times the stopping distance that you normally would. That means there should be several car lengths between your vehicle and the one directly in front of you.
If you live in a climate that receives a fair amount of snow and ice, make sure you have brushed or scraped it off your car before you drive anywhere. Not only can both seriously obstruct your vision, but you can also receive a ticket for unsafe driving practices. When it is raining or snowing so heavily that you can’t see clearly, pull over to the side of the road until it passes. It’s far better to arrive somewhere late than to cause a serious accident.
Factors That Increase the Risk of an Accident
To ensure everyone’s safety, you should always avoid the following when behind the wheel:
- Texting or using a cell phone
- Consuming any amount of alcohol or drugs
- Smoking, applying make-up, changing the radio station, or anything that takes your eyes off the road for even a second
- Driving while fatigued
Always keep in mind that driving is a privilege you must continuously earn and not a right.