When you’re behind the wheel of your first car, it can be tempting to do everything you can to push the boundaries and see how fast you can go or how far you can drive without stopping. It feels like the golden ticket of adulthood has been handed to you.
However, while it may seem exciting at the time, these behaviors could potentially cause an accident that puts you in danger or hurts another person or their property. And while driving can give you independence and help you explore new areas and meet new people, it also poses some serious dangers that you should always be aware of when on the road. Some of these dangers include distracted drivers, dangerous weather conditions, and poor traffic flow—but no matter what the situation may be, there are plenty of helpful tips for first-time drivers that can help keep you safe.
Use Your Phone Sparingly
Having both hands on your phone, behind or under your wheel, is not only an excellent way to get into an accident, but it’s also illegal in many states. Make sure you turn off your smartphone before getting into a car—and only use it for navigation purposes when necessary. If you must make calls and send texts while driving, then pull over at a safe location. Car accidents with people using their phones as a distraction are dangerous for everyone involved. A recent survey revealed that drivers had been distracted by their phones once every 5.5 miles in 2020 while driving, which is why experts recommend sending out text messages before entering your vehicle.
Always wear your seat belt when you’re in a car, regardless of who is driving. This can be hard to remember when you’re in another person’s car, and it might feel like a hassle, but that extra click makes all the difference if you get into an accident. Not only are you not protected without a seat belt on, but wearing one could save your life. Buckle up or risk getting a ticket!
Follow Traffic Laws
When you’re a new driver, it’s tempting to speed up as soon as you see someone in front of you. This is a big mistake! It’s not only illegal, but speeding leads to fatigue and distracted driving. Make sure you know all of your state’s traffic laws before you get behind the wheel. And no matter how experienced you are, try to obey traffic laws every time—even if you don’t think they apply to your situation. It might keep you out of a sticky situation later on.
Don’t Drink and Drive
Driving under the influence (DUI) is a serious offense that can cause you to lose your license and even end up in jail. Don’t risk ruining your life just because you’re under pressure to show off or out of fear of getting left behind. Take it from someone who has been there: drink responsibly and stay off those roads if you’ve had a few too many. Book an Uber/Lyft instead, catch a cab, or sleep over at a friend’s place for the night—whatever helps you sleep easy after having fun. You have years ahead of you to have all kinds of fun without jeopardizing yourself and others around!
Check Your Engine Often
If you’re getting ready to take on the road, consider having your vehicle checked out by a mechanic. These experts can assess any issues with your car and tell you what needs fixing before you hit the road. This is especially important if your vehicle is an older model or has high mileage, as these types of vehicles are at risk for engine failure when put under stress from long drives or highway driving.
Bring Your Vehicle for a Checkup
Whether you’re just starting to learn how to drive or are a seasoned pro, driving requires your full attention and helps keep you alert. But if you don’t maintain your vehicle, you run the risk of having mechanical problems when you’re on the go—something no driver wants. Besides the engine and battery, check your auto glass, which can have damage that could easily be replaced before it becomes a bigger concern. A windshield replacement service is necessary for damaged windows caused by accidents and other types of damage like pitting, cracking, chipping, and more. Check your brakes, too, since they’re one of the most important safety features in any car.
Do Not Give Into Peer Pressure
It is important to remember that some people will try to pressure you to do dangerous or reckless things, like driving too fast or not wearing a seat belt. There is always safety in numbers, and you should never have to compromise your safety for any reason. Be smart when it comes to choosing your friends. If someone pressures you into doing something unsafe, end the friendship right then and there; it’s just not worth it!
Learning to drive is an exciting and life-changing experience, no matter your age. For new drivers, in particular, it can also be overwhelming. With so much information to process, teens are at risk of missing critical information about staying safe on our nation’s roadways. Consider some of these first-time driving tips to help avoid becoming a statistic and better understand what it takes to become a safe driver.