Learning to drive for the first time is both exciting and daunting. For teen drivers and their parents, it’s hard to know the best ways to handle the experience. At Christian Brothers Automotive, we recognize the frustrations associated with this important life step, and we want to make the transition as safe and headache-free as possible.
To help teens in the process of obtaining their first drivers’ license (and their parents) navigate this new terrain, we’ve created a series of 10 important lessons for first-time drivers. Today, the first lesson is the most important:the basics of safe driving.
Whether you’re learning to drive for the first time or you have years of experience, these 8 tips for safe driving will help you navigate the road ahead.
1. Accelerate slowly
It can be tempting to slam on the gas pedal as soon as the light turns green, but it’s important to exercise self-control. Your engine performs better when it is eased into higher speeds. Go from a complete stop to a slow roll and gradually increase pressure on the gas pedal from there.
2. Hold the wheel steady
Smooth steering keeps you in control of the car. When taking turns or holding the car straight down the road, it’s important to keep a steady hold on the wheel.
3. Brake gently
Just like accelerating, it’s important to avoid slamming the pedal to the floor. Learning to recognize when to stop is one of the most important lessons a new driver can learn. If you see a stop sign or the light ahead turns yellow, begin applying light pressure to the brake as soon as possible.
Apply gentle, steady pressure to the brake pedal until your car rolls to a complete stop.
4. Maintain a safe speed
As you become more comfortable with driving, it can be tempting to push the bounds of posted speed limits. However, adhering to the speed limit is not just a matter of following the law – it is vital for the safety of yourself and others.
To determine the speed limit, the Department of Transportation sends engineers to perform a thorough investigation. These engineers take into account road type, accident history, traffic volume and sight distance. Your life and the lives of others are not worth shaving a few minutes off your drive time.
5. Follow at a reasonable distance
Keeping an adequate “cushion” between yourself and the car in front of you is important regardless of driving experience. However, as a first-time driver, your reaction time is inherently slower than that of other drivers.
Following the “two second rule” will keep you from rear-ending the car in front of you – and facing higher insurance premiums and expensive repairs.
6. Be aware of road signs
Develop a comprehensive understanding of all road signs, safety signals and pavement markings. Never ignore a road sign or safety signal because you are feeling confident in your driving abilities. The signs have been posted for a reason.
7. Choose your lane carefully
Become familiar with the purpose of each lane and give yourself adequate room to make turns or lane changes. If you know a turn or exit is coming up, move into the far right lane early enough to avoid cutting off other drivers.
Use the far left lane only for passing (at a safe speed) and for left exits. When traveling long distances at a consistent speed, the center lane is the safest option.
8. Communicate effectively
The blinker is an important part of safe driving. When your turn signal is used correctly, it can communicate your decisions and future moves to other drivers. Use your horn sparingly and only as a warning to other drivers.
Keep yourself alert and aware of the behavior of fellow drivers so you can be prepared to react in the case of an emergency. Check your mirrors frequently and always look over your shoulder before changing lanes or backing up.
Learning to drive can be intimidating, but with enough practice and a proper awareness of those around you, it can be a safe and fun experience.