With winter on its way, knowing how to navigate the roads is crucial for everyone’s safety. For drivers who are new to being behind the wheel, the snowy weather, wide-open roads, and oncoming traffic can be scary. While it’s sometimes helpful to have someone that you trust in the passenger’s seat providing reassurance when you become anxious, it may not always soothe your nerves. Driving takes focus and even the most seasoned drivers experience moments of hesitation and unease. In order to keep you and those around you safe, keep these six tips in mind.
Learn about and adjust to your vehicle.
Before you put your vehicle in drive, take a few moments to learn about your vehicle. You should know where all the necessary controls are, such as your lights and windshield wipers. It’s also a good idea to make note of where your hazard lights are, in case of an emergency. Another thing you should do before you hit the road is to move your seat so you’re comfortable and ensure your mirrors are adjusted to cover your blind spots as you’ll be using them frequently.
Stay on familiar roads.
When you first start driving, taking roads you’re familiar with will help keep you calm and safe. Since there are many roads which lead onto one-way streets or traffic circles, it’s important that you feel comfortable behind the wheel. Know where you’re going before you leave for your destination. Don’t wait until you are behind the wheel to map out where you are going; have a route planned out and keep it in mind.
Obey traffic signs.
Traffic signs have been implemented to keep you and others safe and by ignoring them, you’ll be increasing the likelihood of an accident. Come to a complete stop at stop signs, slow down in school zones and don’t turn on red lights when the sign forbids it. Keep in mind that some traffic signs are not permanent, such as construction signs, but are still important to obey, especially if you don’t want to receive a hefty speeding ticket.
From January to March of 2017, nearly 25,000 convictions for distracted driving were recorded. In 2016, the total convictions for distracted driving was 27,300. The number of drivers who are distracted while driving has only increased and that is a frightening thought. Many people think distracted driving only comes in the form of talking on a phone or texting. However, having a passenger or drinking a beverage can also sidetrack your focus. While you’re behind the wheel, limit the number of distractions you have around you. If a phone call or text message is important to respond to, then pull over and make sure you’re parked safely.
Keep your distance.
Tailgating may be extremely annoying, but it’s also dangerous. If the driver in front of you slams on their brakes, you want to ensure you’ll be able to stop without crashing into the back of their vehicle. Because of the speed in which most vehicles travel, having a safe distance in between is crucial. The recommended distance is to have at least one car length in between you and the driver in front of you, allowing room to stop should you need it.
Finally, just breathe.
Always breathe. Driving seems like it’s going to be continuously stressful, but once you get the hang of being on the roads, it can be rather relaxing. By obeying the traffic laws and driving more frequently, you’ll gain confidence as a driver and become used to interacting with other drivers. Of course, during times that are stressful, the best thing you can do is take a deep breath and assess the situation. Once you calm yourself, you’ll be able to efficiently handle the situation. Keep calm, stay focused, and drive safe.