Tips for New Drivers

Something as quick and simple as putting on your seat belt or getting your windshield cleaned can mean the difference between life and death. Being aware of yourself and other drivers and practicing good road etiquette is equally important. Below are some tips to keep you mindful and safe.

Driving Tips

Simple but Crucial

  • Obey the speed limits. Going too fast gives you less time to stop or react. Excess speed is one of the main causes of teenage accidents.
  • Always wear your seat belt – and make sure all passengers buckle up, too. Don’t try to fit more people in the car than you have seat belts for them to use.
  • Adjust your car’s head rest to a height behind your head – not your neck – to minimize whiplash in case you’re in an accident.
  • Make sure your windshield is clean. At sunrise and sunset, light reflecting off your dirty windshield can momentarily blind you from seeing what’s going on.
  • Experts now recommend that you hold the steering wheel at either 3 and 9 o’clock on the wheel, or even lower at 4 and 8 o’clock. If you’re in an accident and the airbags go off, you’ll be safer with your hands not flying into your face from the impact of the airbags.

Consider Other Drivers

  • Don’t drive like you own the road. Drive like you own the car.
  • Don’t make assumptions about what other drivers are going to do. The only thing you can assume about another driver with a turn signal on is that they have a turn signal on. He/she might not be turning at all, and just forgot to turn it off.
  • Watch out for aggressive drivers, and try to stay out of their way. They are the cause of a lot of accidents – especially on freeways.
  • Never pull out in front of anyone or swerve into someone else’s lane.

Constant Awareness

  • Make sure your car always has gas in it – don’t ride around with the gauge on empty.
  • If you’re in the country, watch out for deer and other animals.  If you see an animal approaching, slow down and flash your lights repeatedly. Dusk and dawn are particularly bad times for running into animals, so be on the lookout for them.
  • When light turns green, make sure intersection clears before you go.

Merging / Turning  / Passing

  • Avoid making left-hand turns across busy intersections that don’t have turn signals. It takes awhile to learn how to gauge the oncoming traffic. It’s better to go down a block or two until you come to a light, or plan a route that doesn’t need this turn.
  • When there’s an obstruction in your lane, wait for oncoming traffic to clear before you pull around. Just because someone’s blocking your lane doesn’t mean you have the right of way in the next or oncoming lane.
  • Use turn signals to indicate your intention to turn or to change lanes. Make sure to give the cars behind you enough time to react before you take the action. Then make sure to turn your signal off.

Never Pass …

  • If you don’t know if there’s enough space or time.
  • Because you’re playing “passing games” with a friend.
  • If the car you’re trying to pass is going the maximum speed limit.
  • When there is another car passing you.
  • When passing one car doesn’t make a difference.
  • Over a solid yellow line on your side (you need a dotted line to pass).
  • In dangerous weather conditions.
  • When there’s a blind spot in front of you, like a hill or a curve.
  • When there is oncoming traffic in the other lane.
  • If there is road work or construction going on.
  • Through tunnels, on narrow roads, or on bridges.
  • On two lane roads, never pass trucks or other vehicles you can’t see around.

How to Pass with Caution

  • Pass at least ten miles per hour faster than the car you’re going around, but do not exceed the speed limit.
  • Be sure you’ve completely cleared the passed car with enough space before pulling back into your lane.