The first time behind the wheel can be overwhelming. Starting off with the right state of mind and preparation will enable new drivers to gradually gain the experience they need to drive safely. Listed below are ways new motorists can drive safely.
Get Familiar With the Controls
Every vehicle operates and handles differently. Before you start your car, familiarize yourself with the basic controls. Know where the gear shift, headlight, turn signal, emergency brake, windshield wiper, and other basic controls are located. Practice turning them on and off while parked so you know how they work. Next, adjust the seat, steering wheel, and rearview and sideview mirrors to your comfort. Finally, put on your seat belt, and make sure all passengers do the same.
It is also important to be sure the vehicle is in good working condition. Check whether there is gas in the tank, tire pressure is optimal, and even check the level and condition of the engine oil. Vehicle maintenance is an important part of safe driving. Start developing good habits now to avoid unpleasant incidents later.
Another part of being prepared is making sure you have all necessary driving documents, including your learner’s permit, vehicle registration, vehicle insurance, and health insurance identification card. Finally, check to see if the vehicle has some basic emergency items, such as a spare tire, flashlight, first-aid kit, and even bottled water.
Focus Attention on the Task at Hand
Driving requires using many skills at once. There are traffic regulations to honor, road conditions to monitor, other drivers on the road, and many controls to operate simultaneously. It is normal to find driving very demanding at first. It is not possible to reduce the complexity of driving. It is possible to clear your mind and the vehicle of distractions. Turn off the radio, roll up windows, and set aside the cellphone. The best way to learn to drive is with a trusted and experienced driver in the passenger seat who is a calming and instructive influence on you. Do not have any other passengers besides this trusted driver with you at first.
Drive when you are alert, rested, and in a relatively calm state of mind. Being tired or upset can be distracting, which is incompatible with learning to operate heavy machinery.
Alcohol is known to interfere with judgement, coordination, and focus. Do not drive after drinking any amount of alcohol. In addition, some drugs make you drowsy. Do not drive if you have taken any drugs, including prescriptions and over-the-counter medications that can cause drowsiness.
Distracted driving is a major factor in car accidents, and cellphone use is a serious problem. However, there are many other distractions. Avoid eating, conversing, drinking, smoking, and all other distractions that can take attention off the road.
Develop Basic Skills and Maneuvers First
Driving requires substantial skill and focus. If you take your time, you will find that you will quickly gain confidence. If you try to perform advanced driving skills before mastering the basics, you are more likely to experience a close call or worse. This can erode confidence and cause setbacks in learning.
Start off slowly by driving during daylight hours, with good weather, and on very familiar roads where there is little traffic. Some people practice in an empty parking lot steering around light poles to get the feel of the vehicle before going on the road. The more familiar you are with how the controls work, the easier it will be to drive. Practice accelerating, decelerating, and stopping at a designated point.
When you are new, you should avoid major highways, parallel parking, or entering busy intersections. These areas require quick and decisive actions that are not automatic for beginners. Other things to avoid are drive-through windows, such as fast-food restaurants. This requires a good sense of judging distance from the curb, which is also a more advanced skill.
Know the Rules of the Road
Traffic control signs and devices are located in strategic places to warn drivers of the need to attend to different road features. You must know the basic stop, yield, and other traffic signs as well as who has the right-of-way at intersections and on traffic circles. Many drivers take driver’s education classes to learn the rules and understand traffic flow conditions in a classroom setting before getting behind the wheel.
Motorists must pass a driver’s test on the basic traffic laws to qualify for a learner’s permit. For full licensure, states require drivers to pass a road test as well. Some states have a graduated driver licensing (GDL) laws that gradually allow increased driving privileges over time. They establish restrictions on beginner drivers, such as limiting driving to daylight hours and/or with an experienced driver as a passenger. GDL programs are an effective tool in reducing young driver crashes, injuries, and death. Each state is different, and you should know and follow restrictions on driving imposed by your state.
Do not make assumptions about how other drivers will act. They can be unpredictable and/or aggressive. Avoid the temptation to reciprocate when someone is being hostile on the road. Do not act like you own the road, act like you own the car.
Defensive driving involves using strategies that are proven to enable drivers to identify hazards and address them timely and in a predictable manner. The practice includes maintaining adequate and safe following distances depending on road conditions. The three-second-plus rule is a defensive driving strategy that involves keeping at least three second’s distance from the vehicle in front. Additional seconds of distances are added for conditions, such as limited visibility or driving in a work zone.
Pause when a traffic light turns green before entering the intersection. Some drivers speed passed red lights. Getting into a side-impact car accident can cause devastating injuries. Avoid exceeding the speed limit. It is designed to enable safe handling based on the road conditions.
New motorists should consider taking a defensive driving course as part of their learning experience. Many insurance companies offer discounts to drivers who have taken such a course.
Pittsburgh Car Accident Lawyers at AlpernSchubert P.C. Help Drivers Navigate First-Time Collisions
Learning to drive is a significant rite of passage for teenagers. If you have been injured in a car accident, it is important to take steps to preserve your rights. Our experienced Pittsburgh car accident lawyers at AlpernSchubert P.C. are available to discuss your options if you have been injured in a first-time collision. Call us at 412-765-1888 or fill out our online form to set up a free consultation. Located in Pittsburgh, we serve clients in Allegheny County, Lawrence County, Washington County, and throughout Western Pennsylvania.