New drivers have a tough road ahead of them. They’re statistically more likely to get into an accident, pay more for their vehicle on average, and get accepted by fewer auto insurance providers. But that’s partly on us, the more experienced drivers who should be making the effort to teach them better. Just because someone has passed their driving test doesn’t mean they’re really ready for the road or the responsibilities of car ownership. This is for all the new drivers out there, their parents, siblings, and friends.
Your training has just begun
The average new driver might feel like they’ve walked a long, hard road to get as far as they have and for many of them, that’s true. However, there are plenty of situations and driving conditions that the average set of driving lessons simply doesn’t cover. For those, there are further training options available. The new driver might feel like more theory and practical learning is the last thing they want. But it’s worth expanding your knowledge and getting prepared for conditions such as driving at night, the difference between urban driving and driving outside the cities, and so on. At the very least, a new driver should do their research about practical ways to prepare for new conditions.
You need to know your car
There are plenty of drivers who see their car as little more than a tool and plan on taking the hands-off approach with it. They might feel like it’s a job for the mechanics, but in reality, it’s a job for every single car owner. You have to get truly familiarized with your auto and the many little tasks that are going to be required of you. Some of them are practical quick fixes to get out of a jam such as changing a tire and how to jump start it. Others are crucial to keep a car healthy such as checking tire pressure and changing oil levels. Make sure you get familiarized with your dash, not just the controls but the warning lights, too. They can help communicate issues way before they become serious problems that take money to fix.
It needs work
That doesn’t mean that you should try and skip the mechanic. Learn as much as you can about your vehicle, the little fixes, and even some DIY repairs skills. But be aware of when you need an expert opinion. More important, make sure that you keep a maintenance log of your auto and get it serviced according to the schedule. You should receive one with every new car you purchase and hopefully most used cars you might own down the line, too. Keep your auto maintenance log will help you not only slow depreciation on a vehicle and retain its value, but can help you get a better insurance deal, too.
Those costs can take over your life if you’re not careful
Routine maintenance, both at the level you’re personally capable and by a licensed mechanic, are important for more than just keeping your auto functional. They’re a crucial part of avoiding the huge repair and replacement costs that can eat up a budget if you’re not careful. Cars are expensive beyond just the initial price and financing. On average, they take up to 20-30% of a driver’s income. There are plenty of ways to save on the costs of insurance, too, even for new drivers. A black box policy, for instance, can prove you a much less risky prospect and open up better deals.
Distraction is one of the biggest dangers on the road
We can’t about new drivers without talking about the mistakes that many of them tend to make when they first start out, too. Distraction is a killer on the road and as serious a risk as driving under the influence. It’s easy to be tempted by the opportunity to get on the phone, eat at the wheel, or do your makeup while in the car, given how much time you might start spending in there. Even at a stop, however, this is highly dangerous, drastically reducing the time you have to react to any sudden changes on the road. An even bigger danger, however, is using the car to socialize. It’s best to limit how many passengers you let in the vehicle with you at once. Consider even driving entirely alone for some time until you get more used to the road, and be firm if passengers are talking to you too much and taking your focus off the road.
Learn to anticipate dangers
Not all the risks of the road are your fault, either. Other drivers can be as big a danger, but that doesn’t mean you can’t learn how to deal with them. The art of defensive driving is always about being the more responsible one on the road. It means keeping as much awareness about your place in traffic and the behavior of other drivers as possible. Maintain a safe distance and watch other drivers for their reactions in order to find the safest way to extricate yourself from any potential danger.
Be aware of everyone’s blind spots
Your awareness while you’re driving only extends so much. If you’re keeping your eyes on the road, you have your blind spots that you can’t see through your windshield or mirrors. For most cars, they’re on their sides. Checking your blind spots when taking corners, changing lanes, or entering roundabouts is crucial. But you have to be aware of other vehicles’ blind spots and those that can easily enter yours, too. For instance, truck drivers have a much smaller area of awareness, so extra care and distance must be given when you’re driving with them. The inverse relationship goes for cyclists and motorcycles. They can easily slip in and out of your lines of sight, so when you first spot one, you have to take care to refresh yourself on their position now and then.
The left lane is for one thing only
The temptation is there to use the left lane incorrectly. The most common mistake is that drivers will slip into it anytime they want to go over the speed limit, regardless of what the situation on the road is. In case it’s not already abundantly clear, if you’re not overtaking slower traffic or you’re not turning off the road, depending on the state, you shouldn’t be in the left lane. No exceptions, no excuses. A lack of lane discipline is the leading cause of car accidents in some states.
Weather should be a constant concern
If you completed your driving test and got your license in no time at all, then you’ve only experienced driving in one season. Likely, it was one of the milder seasons, too. At the nights get longer and the air colder, the roads get a lot more dangerous. Driving in the fog, rain, snow and ice all require a different tactic to driving. It’s worth investing in winter tires depending on how the conditions are in your area, as well. Low visibility and reduced traction as a result of adverse weather conditions mean you have to learn how to drive more carefully and learn the important talent of turning your way out of a skid if necessary.
Accidents can and will happen to you
As careful as you might be about following the advice above, the chances are that you’re going to get in an accident at some point. It might not be your fault, but the statistics say that every single driver is likely to get into at least two collisions in their life. You have to know how to deal with them, including calling the right people immediately. You have to report collisions to the authorities and if it’s not your fault, a personal injury lawyer can help, too. In those events, make sure that everyone is safe, and take pictures of the scene, even reaching out to witnesses to get support for your side of the story.
Breaking down can be just as bad
A breakdown might not seem as serious a situation, but they can be truly dangerous. For instance, if you’re forced to pull over on the side of a narrow country road, you are at risk of being hit while stationary, especially if it’s a dark night or there are weather conditions limiting visibility. Signing up for breakdown cover is essential to make sure you can get off the road as soon as possible. You should pack an emergency kit, too, including a charged phone in case yours dies during the journey, and visibility gear like cones to surround the car and a reflective jacket. However, once you place those cones down, it’s wise to not leave the vehicle until help arrives.
Everyone is individually responsible for how they behave on the road, not to mention their own car. However, that doesn’t mean we can’t all help along our more inexperienced motorists by teaching them the right way. After all, it makes us all safer to have more smart drivers out there.