When you’re handed a set of car keys and given freedom for the first time, you may have a few mixed emotions. Undoubtedly, you’re very excited, but you might also be afraid of what could happen if you get in an accident. Follow good common sense and learn how to drive in tricky situations to ensure your newfound freedom doesn’t result in an accident.
General Driving Tips
Everyone should heed basic driving tips to keep the road safe for everyone:
Remember the basics: Your parents have probably already told you to obey the speed limit, wear your seat belt, and use your turn signal when changing lanes or turning. Still, these basics can’t be reiterated enough.
Consider other drivers: It’s rare to be the only car on the road, so you need to consider what other drivers are doing to stay safe. Keep your distance from aggressive drivers and never antagonize them with rude language or gestures. Stay in your lane and never pull out in front of another driver. In the end, don’t drive like you own the road; drive like you own the car.
Remain aware: You need to maintain constant awareness to make split-second decisions behind the wheel. Keep an eye on your surroundings to prevent hitting pedestrians or wildlife. Pay attention to traffic and wait until the intersection has cleared before you proceed, even if the light is green.
Be extra cautious driving on campus: Arrive five minutes early to avoid rushing through the parking lot, which could cause an accident. Always stop for school buses with flashing lights, even if you’re on the opposite side of the road, and watch for kids crossing the street. When parking, try pulling forward so you don’t have to back out when the parking lot is crowded after school.
Bad Weather Driving Tips
Driving in heavy rain, hail and snow can be dangerous, so it’s best to avoid it. If you have no choice, follow these tips to drive safely in bad weather:
Keep an ice scraper in your car and top off the windshield washer fluid often.
Turn on your headlights.
Double or triple your following distance to give you more time to stop.
Accelerate slowly to keep the wheels from spinning. Then brake gently to prevent your brakes from locking up.
Pull over if visibility decreases too much.
Don’t use cruise control.
If you get stuck in the snow, put floor mats under the tires to help give them traction.
Tips for Avoiding an Accident
You can’t control other drivers’ behavior, but by following these tips you can avoid causing an accident:
Don’t text and drive: This can’t be reiterated enough – don’t text and drive! Over 50 percent of 16 to 19 year olds admit to texting behind the wheel. No text is worth taking your eyes off the road and potentially causing an accident. If you don’t think you can resist checking a message, activate your phone’s driving mode to ignore incoming texts and calls. If you have a Bluetooth car radio, pair your phone for hands-free functionality.
Avoid other distractions: Everything from changing the radio station to putting on makeup to having a conversation with a passenger can become a deadly distraction. Drive as distraction-free as possible at all times. If you find yourself feeling fatigued on a long drive, pull over and take a break or let a passenger take a turn driving.
What to Do If You’re in an Accident
Accidents happen. You may feel scared and emotional, but try to remember these tips:
Call 911 immediately if anyone is injured. Call the police next to report the accident. Then, call your insurance company to start the claims process. Finally, call your parents to tell them you’re okay.
Get the other driver’s name, address, phone number, license plate number and insurance information. Also collect names and numbers from any witnesses.
Take photos of the accident before moving the cars.
Cooperate with the police and answer their questions, but don’t admit guilt until you’ve talked to your insurance agent.