The Do’s and Don’ts of Learning to Drive

The Do's and Don'ts of Learning to Drive

Did you know that the risk of motor vehicle accidents is highest amongst teen drivers? This likely has more to do with experience than age, so even if you’re a new driver who’s an adult, you’re still at risk.

Learning to drive is scary when you know the odds aren’t in your favor. We’re here to help you with a few dos and don’ts that you should keep in mind while you’re behind the wheel.

Read on to learn more. 

Do: Read Up on Driving Laws and Regulations First

Too many people try to get behind the wheel before they know the basic rules of the road. We know that you want to start driving as soon as possible, but do your homework!

You’ll have to take a written test before you get your driver’s license anyway. That test will consist of various road rules, traffic signs, and basic driving procedures. If you don’t pass, you won’t get to take your official driving test behind the wheel, so it’s not something you can skip.

Even if it isn’t required, we recommend taking a driver’s ed course. You’ll learn in a classroom setting, which for some people is more conducive to actually retaining that information.

You can also take a practice test before your official written test. This will be helpful if you’re someone who gets nervous while taking tests, as you’ll be better prepared when it’s time for the real deal. 

Find a practice test here:

Don’t: Panic

So you’re excited to get behind the wheel, you’re finally there, and suddenly panic sets in. We’ve all been there! Even before you officially get on the road, it’s stressful and scary to be in control of a several-thousand-pound piece of machinery! 

Try not to panic. Remember that most people in the U.S. learn how to drive, and if they can do it, you can too. As long as you focus on the road, you should be fine. 

Panicking is more likely to result in an accident because you’ll make poor choices. Try to keep a cool head and relax.

Do: Drive With Someone Else in the Car

When you first start out, even after you get your license, if you’re feeling nervous, drive with another experienced driver in the car with you.

This will be a requirement while you still have your learner’s permit. You need someone else who can step in if you’re making mistakes and guide you while you’re still learning. 

With this in mind, you shouldn’t drive with people who are going to distract you if you’re not a confident driver. Resist the urge to drive your friends around until you have better driving skills and the ability to ignore distractions on the road.  

Don’t: Drink or Smoke and Drive

This should be obvious, but just in case, you should never drive while inebriated (even if you’re of legal age). Even if you’re below the legal limit for driving, this won’t apply if you’re a brand-new driver.

Alcohol can ruin your reaction times and decision-making abilities. While there’s less research on how marijuana affects your ability to drive, it has psychoactive effects that make it unsafe. Wait until you’re sober to drive. 

Do: Check Your Mirrors

This is a common oversight for both inexperienced and experienced drivers alike! You should always check your mirrors before you start your car.

Make sure that you’re able to see in both of your side mirrors. It’s common for mirrors to be jostled, and it would be unfortunate to only realize that when you need to be able to see.

Your mirrors will help you keep track of the cars behind you and let you merge without having to turn your body. 

Don’t: Use Your Phone While Driving

While this isn’t as dangerous as driving while inebriated, using your phone while driving is still a bad idea (especially texting). You should keep both hands on the wheel whenever possible, so holding a cell phone will put you at risk.

If you’re texting, you have a hand off of the wheel, and you’re not looking at the road. There is no text serious enough that it needs a response while you’re driving.

Many modern cars have built-in phone attachments that allow you to make hands-free phone calls which are safer (though not ideal for a new driver). They often also have texting features. 

Do: Practice Defensive Driving

The most important thing that you can learn as a new driver is defensive driving. This means that you’re keeping an eye on everyone else on the road (both drivers and pedestrians) and preparing to respond to any potential hazard. 

While this might sound negative, it’s always best to assume the worst of other drivers if you want to stay safe. Always expect the unexpected.

Many accidents can be prevented with good defensive driving skills and quick reaction times. 

Don’t: Drive in Risky Conditions Alone

If you live somewhere where risky driving conditions are common, you’ll want to practice driving in them before you actually get on the road alone. Until you feel confident, drive with another person.

This may include heavy rain, heavy snow, or even heavy traffic. While you’ll need to drive in these conditions eventually, don’t overdo it early on. 

Learning to Drive Is Tough: Use These Tips to Help

Learning to drive is scary but exciting. Use these tips while you learn to drive and adapt to the road. Before you know it, you’ll be a confident driver who’s ready to take on anything (even if it doesn’t feel that way now).

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