Congratulations! You passed drivers’ ed. You survived driving with your overanxious parents. You’re ready to drive! But first here are some tips to keep you safe on the road.
10 Essential Tips for New Drivers:
- Always wear your seatbelt. Don’t drive until everyone is buckled up. Not only are there hefty fines for not wearing it, you are adding an extra measure of protection in case of an accident when you do.
- Obey the speed limit. In fact, obey all traffic laws and follow the signs. They’re all there for good reason — your safety.
- Don’t multi-task. Avoid eating or drinking while your driving. If engaging in conversation is distracting, let your passengers know. Most importantly, do NOT text while driving. If you can, avoiding using your phone altogether. If you need to take or make a call, pull over. Better safe than sorry.
- Don’t drive if you are sleepy. If you feel tired, and are close to a rest stop, pull over and nap. Or grab a coffee or soda to keep you alert. Turn on your music and sing along. Again, if you can stop to rest, do it.
- Be prepared for anything when you are driving alone. Let your parents and friends know when you leave your house, and tell them to expect your call when you arrive at your destination. This way someone is aware that you are on the road alone. Keep your cell phone charged and an extra charger. Carry an emergency car kit with essentials like a first aid kit, extra clothes, water, and other things you might need if you’re stranded.
- Know your car. Learn how to check your tire pressure and fluid levels. Know how to pump your gas. Know where all your buttons and accessories are located. Make sure your mirrors are in place so you can see all around the car.
- Adjust your driving for weather conditions. Slow down during heavy rain and snow to avoid collisions.
- Practice defensive driving. Be aware of your surroundings and the actions of the drivers around you. We are all responsible for our own safety on the road and that includes knowing what everyone else is doing, so to speak. Be ready to stop suddenly and swerve to avoid cars if you need to.
- Do NOT tailgate. If you are being tailgated, pull over safely and let the car pass you. If you are not in a safe area to pull over, turn on your hazard lights.
- Don’t drive at night, until you feel comfortable doing so.
5 Tips for Mastering a Manual Car:
- Master the start. Starting your car from a resting position into first gear is one of the most crucial things you’ll learn about driving a stick shift. It’s also one of the trickiest. As with all things, practice makes perfect.
- Practice stopping. One of the easiest mistakes to make is releasing the clutch too soon when braking and stalling the car. Be sure to depress the clutch while you are pressing the brake to avoid an awkward and potentially dangerous situation.
- Avoid overgassing the car. This happens when you press the gas too hard when starting the car or shifting. It floods the engine and wastes fuel.
- Time your shift. In an automatic, your transmission will shift gears for you. However, a manual car depends on the driver to shift. This means you need to know how to time your shift. Generally speaking, you want to shift into second gear once you reach 15 mph or 3000 rpm. Then you want to shift every 2000 to 3000 rpm until you’ve reached 5th gear. This takes practice and eventually will become second nature.
- Avoid driving on the highway until you are comfortable shifting in heavy traffic.
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