Before Getting on the Road
Whether you’re a teenager who’s just gotten the keys to the family car, or someone who has learned to drive later in life, it’s important to prioritize safety above all. As you gain experience, safe habits will become a reflex—but until then, take a look at the tips we’ve compiled that will make you a safer and more confident new driver. Remember, being a good driver actually begins before you even pull out of the driveway.
You need to keep a few vital things in your glove box: first, your registration, which you’ll need along with your license if you get pulled over or are in an accident. In case of an accident, you also need to have your insurance information handy, and you may want to print out a contact-information emergency card. Detroit’s trusted law firm also suggests keeping a car accident checklist, which will tell you what immediate steps to take following a collision.
Check that your car is in good working order: functional lights, working turn signals, and tires inflated properly. Similarly, make sure you know how to do basic maintenance on your car—nothing fancy, but you should at least know how to pump gas, check the oil, and change a tire. If you don’t know how to do these things, many communities offer adult education courses that will teach you.
Adjust your mirrors to minimize your blind spots, and be certain that you and your passengers are all wearing seatbelts.
Tips for Safe Driving
Once you’ve taken care of those items, you’re ready to hit the road:
Drive defensively. This means paying attention to other drivers, and being considerate of them. Being safe is more important than being “right”—so take care when merging, passing and turning, even if you have right of way. Don’t succumb to road rage if another driver does make a mistake; it isn’t worth the danger of a confrontation.
Remember always to use signals when turning, and to check your mirrors when passing. Other drivers should be able to anticipate what you’re going to do next.
Stay focused. According to the CDC, in 2012 3,328 people died in accidents involving a distracted driver. To avoid being part of statistics like that one, keep both hands on the wheel, and your eyes on the road. This means no phone calls, no texting, no eating—essentially, do nothing that takes your mind off the most important task at hand: driving safely.
Never drive under the influence—drivers impaired by alcohol or drugs are deadly to themselves and others. Sometimes being a good driver simply means not driving: you can always ask someone sober to drive, call a cab, or stay at a friend’s.
Follow the speed limit, and adjust according to weather conditions. Not only is it illegal to speed, it’s also dangerous for everyone on the road. Moreover, those limits do not take rain, snow or ice into account—in those conditions, take extra care and slow down.