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6 Essential Tips For First Time Drivers

So you got your driver’s license, and now you’re ready to hit the road.  Congratulations!  Driving can be a great source of freedom and autonomy, but it’s not without its risks.  You learned the laws and got some practical advice from an instructor, which is important to always keep in mind.  While practice makes perfect, here are a few tips to keep in mind when you’re out on the road that you likely didn’t learn in driving school:

1.Don’t be intimidated by other drivers 

More likely than not, you will find yourself on a road full of other drivers who are more experienced than you.  But that doesn’t necessarily make them better behind the wheel!  Many drivers will be impatient, rude, or they’ll simply be having a bad day.  You may get other motorists honking their horn unnecessarily, tailgating you, or not wanting to wait while you check around you and make sure it’s safe to take off.  Don’t let their behavior intimidate you.  You are under no obligation to forgo safety in order to please them.  Your job is to drive safely, and you owe it to yourself and others to stay calm and focus on the road.  

2. Watch the intersection every time

Even if you’re not at a red light, it’s worth taking a quick glance around you for any cars coming from the right or left of you as you pass through an intersection.  They should all be stopped at the red light, but even though you have the right-of-way, that may not always be the case.  It’s best to keep your peripheral vision sharp just in case.  

3. Set rules for your passengers

Your passengers may not be aware that their behavior can be distracting.  Especially while you’re first getting used to being behind the wheel, it’s perfectly okay to let your passengers know what conditions you need in order to focus on the road and feel more confident in the driver’s seat.  This may mean no music, keeping conversation to a minimum, or not trying to point things out as you pass them.  

4. Hold off on more difficult driving

While you’re getting accustomed to being around other drivers, it might be a good idea to wait to drive on the freeway at rush hour, or drive at night. Don’t feel that you have to drive in any situation if you do not feel comfortable doing so.  

5. Take your time

Learning the right time to take off can be difficult, because the situation is different every time.  If you aren’t sure you can make it across a busy road or merging into traffic without cutting off another driver, just wait until there’s ample time. Remember, it’s better to be safe than sorry.  Keep your patience, and wait until the time is right.  

6. Keep your car well maintained

This is crucial.  Familiarize yourself with the schedule for getting your oil changed, rotating your tires, and replacing other parts and fluids.  Your oil should be changed once every 3 months or 3,000 miles, whichever comes first.   It’s also important to keep an eye on your tire pressure, and use a tire pressure gauge to check them regularly.  

As long as you stay focused, practice your skills regularly, and follow the rules, you can mitigate any pitfalls that can come with being behind the wheel.  Keeping these simple rules in mind will ensure that you stay safe on the road, and that you gain the confidence of a veteran driver in no time.  Good luck, and stay safe!