TodayApril 15, 2022

Driving tips for beginners

Top ten things to do before driving

Whether you have received a ticket for speeding or have been in an accident, there is always room for improvement when it comes to your driving skills. Being too confident is just as dangerous as hesitation, so revisiting the rules, and updating your skills will always pay off. Not to mention that there are more cars on the road every year, and the number of challenges you have to face during your daily commute is rapidly increasing. Below you will find a list of safe driving habits you should take on this year to protect your safety and your car.

Mirror Checks

What was the last time you carried out proper mirror checks before you maneuvered? Are you paying as much attention to it as you did when you did your driving test? Stop and think about your habits and make sure that you are always safe to maneuver before you pull out. If you have become too confident and trust your judgments instead of your eyes, you can end up in an accident. Practice mirror checks during your drive consciously.

Speed Limit Warning

If you catch yourself going over the speed limit without noticing, you might need to update the satellite navigation system on your car to give you an audio or visual warning if you are going dangerously fast. You will avoid expensive speeding tickets from your friendly police officer, and you will be able to pay attention to your driving. You can spot hazards on the road easier if you stick to the speed limits.

Route Planning

One of the reasons traffic jams and buildups happen is that people don’t plan their route. In today’s world, there is no excuse for not planning your route and having the right amount of time allocated for your journey and unexpected problems. It is crucial that you check the weather forecast before you go on a long drive, and keep an eye on the road reports, having a couple of alternative routes planned. Put Waze on your phone, and it will redirect you around clogged traffic.

Regular Checks

To stay safe on the road, you need to make your car suitable for the journey and ensure that you can stop safely when you need to maneuver. Create a vehicle checklist that you can regularly use to assess the condition of your car, including the tires, the brakes, and the steering. Make sure that your brake lights are working well, replace the bulbs when needed, and have spare ones in the boot, just in case.

Break Planning

If you are planning a long journey or a road trip, you don’t just have to be prepared for the drive, but also the stops. Have a break, stretch, and give your body some space, walk around and allow more oxygen to enter your brain, so you can fight fatigue, which can be dangerous behind the wheel. Just because the route planner says that you can complete the journey in 6 hours, you don’t have to. Plan your stops and make sure that your body and mind are ready for the long drive.

Following Distance

When you first start driving, you are told that you should have a safe stopping distance. However, how long it takes you to stop will depend on the road conditions, how tired you are, the weather, as well as the state of your brakes and tires. It helps if you practice judging following distance behind a car. Generally, in slow-moving traffic, you should at least see the license plate of the vehicle in front of you to stop safely, but with the rise of SUVs, this might have changed.

Proper Use of Headlights

It is important that you are aware of the controls of your car. If you have just got yourself a new model, it might be a good idea to sit down with the manual and locate all the controls and switches, so that you are familiar with the controls and don’t get distracted while driving trying to locate them. Some safe driving experts and trainers will tell you that you should keep your dimmed headlights on in traffic when it is dull and dark outside, or it is raining. In fact, in some countries in Europe, you are required to do so when outside of urban areas, even in daylight.

The Glass Test

If it is important that you save fuel by planning your maneuvers, and also preserve the condition of your car by having a smooth drive whenever possible. Give yourself a challenge and place a small glass on the dashboard of your vehicle, so that you can see where you can improve your steadiness. Erratic driving is dangerous using more fuel, wearing out your brake discs, and your tires faster.

Avoid Mist

In case you have an older car, you will need to make sure that you maximize your visibility at all times. If the seals are not in the best condition, you might decide to treat your inside windows and windscreen with an anti-mist solution, so you don’t have to clear up the condensation every morning. An air dehumidifier that plugs into your cigarette lighter might also be a good idea. Make sure that your air conditioning and heating system works well before long journeys so that you can keep the temperature and condensation under control.

Blind Spot Monitoring

Some drivers starting to drive a new car are often unsure about the blind spot locations and are making mistakes that can cause accidents or dangerous situations. If you don’t trust yourself, or want to be sure that it is safe to move out, you might want to get a blind spot monitoring system. If your new car has this, you should get used to this technology because it will save your life. However, you might also be able to get an aftermarket installation that will keep you safe in the trickiest situations. Additionally, you can also find a system that automatically detects pedestrians and gives you a warning.

Automatic emergency braking systems on some vehicles can detect and brake for pedestrians

Automatic emergency braking systems on some vehicles can detect and brake for pedestrians

Get a Dash Cam

If you want to avoid being blamed for an accident that was not your fault, you should invest in an onboard computer or a dashcam. This dashcam will help you present evidence when your case goes to court, and you need to talk to a personal injury lawyer about the events. In most cases – if you don’t have evidence – the court will rely on your version, the other party’s, and the witness statements. To learn more about how car accident cases work, you will need to do your research before you end up in the situation.

Always Feel Comfortable Behind the Wheel

When you are too busy adjusting your steering wheel, your seat, and your mirrors, you will take your eyes off the road more often, and will be more likely to be involved in an accident. If you let a family member or a friend borrow your car, you need to allow yourself time before you head out to readjust all the controls, so you can focus on the road ahead, instead of trying to feel comfortable behind the wheel again.

Be Prepared to Stop or Pull Over on Narrow Roads

You might be driving home through a narrow bridge, and have priority at night, but if a car approaches you at high speed, you will end up in trouble. Just because you assume that the road is clear ahead, you will need to be prepared to stop and pull over. The same applies to city traffic. As soon as you hear the siren behind you, look for a safe spot to pull over and give way without inconveniencing other drivers.

Overtaking at the Right Speed

One of the main reasons for holdups on motorways is the lack of planning when drivers try to overtake each other. You might have been stuck in the outside lane for miles, waiting for one vehicle to pass another. Most drivers already understand how important it is to complete this maneuver as soon as possible. When you are overtaking, you will need to have the appropriate speed already built up, so you can pull back in the default lane and let faster traffic get past.

Indicate Just In Time

You might think that the sooner you indicate, the better, but you can confuse drivers behind you if you do this too early. Put yourself in the shoes of other drivers and make sure it is clear for them where you are turning. Even if you don’t see a car behind you in the mirrors, you should still indicate, in case a vehicle approaches or pedestrians are trying to cross the road.

If you would like to become a safer driver in the new year, you will need to pay attention to your habits and improve them. It might also be a good idea to enroll in advanced driver training that will help you correct your mistakes and identify dangerous situations.

Lou Ann Hammond

Lou Ann Hammond is the CEO of Carlist and Driving the Nation. She is the co-host of Real Wheels Washington Post carchat every Friday morning and is the Automotive, energy correspondent for The John Batchelor Show and a Contributor to Automotive Electronics magazine headquartered in Korea. Hammond is a founding member of the Women's World Car of the Year #WWCOTY, and board member of the Women in Automotive.

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