Seven Tips for New Drivers

There’s no feeling quite like that of when you’re finally holding that freshly lamented printed license for the first time. Sure, it’s just a piece of plastic, but to a new driver, that plastic card represents the freedom that they’ve been dreaming of for as long as they can remember. Putting a new driver behind the wheel can be quite nerve-racking for parents, guardians and other drivers who will be on the road. Before your new driver hits the open road on their own, it’s important to take a moment to remember a few tips for safe driving. Here are seven “dos and don’ts” that all new drivers should heed on the road.

1. Speeding
When it comes to new drivers, according to the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA), speeding is a major factor in approximately a third of all traffic fatalities. It also plays a major role in serious injuries caused by car accidents. New drivers lack the knowledge of how long it can take to stop a vehicle when faced with a panicked and dangerous situation. Even if you think your reflexes are fast, if you have to stop in a split-second and you’re speeding, your car may be unable to stop in time. So, instead of pushing things to the limit, choose the smart, safe way and avoid the urge or the need to speed.

2. Driving Under the Influence (DUI)
This one should be pretty self-explanatory. Most new drivers are under the age of 21, which means that it’s illegal to consume alcohol. Unfortunately, even this law doesn’t stop everyone from driving under the influence. While it may be tempting to enjoy a few cold beers or shot of vodka at the bar before hitting the road, driving while impaired increases your risk of an accident in addition to possible license suspension, fines and fees and even jail time. Simply put, don’t drink alcohol before you get behind the wheel.

3. Distracted Driving
Distracted driving is any activity from checking emails to daydreaming that takes your attention away from the road. In everyday driving, however, distractions are common. From talking with the passengers in your car to eating, to turning around to check on your bickering children or crying baby, distracted driving endangers your life, your passengers, pedestrians and others who are on the road.

These are just some of the most common distractions, but there are hundreds of other potential disruptions a new driver may face. Did you know distracted driving is a deadly epidemic on the nation’s roads? Distracted driving caused at least 3,450 deaths and nearly 391,000 injuries in 2016, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation. Most distractions that take place behind the wheel are self-imposed, meaning they are completely preventable. So, take control of your environment and safety by getting rid of all things that could potentially distract you while driving.

4. BUCKLE UP!
IT’S THE LAW! The first thing that any driver should do upon entering their vehicle is put on their seatbelt. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, car accidents are the leading cause of death among those aged 5 to 34 in the United States. The most reliable method of saving lives and preventing injuries from occurring is to wear a seat belt. However, millions of drivers and passengers choose not to wear seat belts on everyday occasions. Make wearing your seatbelt a priority by buckling in before doing anything else.

5. Overcrowding
For new drivers, having too many people in the car can create a very distracting situation. When new drivers first get their license, it’s all too tempting to go grab your friends or family members and hit the road. However, this might not be the best idea, especially when you know that a new driver’s risk of being in fatal crash increases with each passenger added to the vehicle. So, before you start to offer to pick up all your friends, acquaintances and family members, remember the additional risk that comes with getting into a car with them.

6. Following
Following too closely to other drivers on the road is a terrible idea even for the best drivers. Of course, it’s no fun to get stuck behind a car that’s driving five or ten miles per hour under the speed limit. Hey, it happens right! No matter what though, it’s important that you always leave enough room in between yourself and the car in front of you just in case you need to make a sudden stop.
As a rule of thumb, when driving on the highway, try to leave at least 3 seconds or more between your car and the car in front of you. With inclement weather conditions, allow even more time between cars.

7. Be Alert and Practice Defensive driving
For a lot of new drivers staying alert is the main priority. Be alert when driving because you never know when another driver might come into your lane, or when a pedestrian might cross the street.

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