Becoming a new driver is a rite of passage that gives you an amazing amount of freedom. But it also comes with the responsibility of being safe behind the wheel. With that in mind, we reached out to Laura Adams, safety and education analyst at DriversEd.com, for expert advice for those new to the driving life. She provided the following six tips to stay alert and in control, so you avoid getting into an accident.
1. Get plenty of driving education.
Driving education exists for a reason: to make you a safer driver. No one is born with all the skills necessary to be a defensive driver. Online or in-car driving lessons pay off with tips that can save your life. Completing a course at DriversEd.com can even make you eligible for an auto insurance discount!
2. Don’t be in a rush.
Speeding gives you less time to react to unexpected situations. Always allow plenty of time to reach your destination without exceeding the posted speed limits. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 2017, speeding killed 9,717 people, accounting for more than a quarter (26%) of all traffic fatalities that year.
3. Keep a safe distance.
Tailgating is a surefire way to get into an accident. When you’re driving on a highway use the 3-second rule: Choose an object on the road ahead, such as a tree or billboard, and when the vehicle in front of you passes it, count three seconds. If you reach the object before finishing the count, you’re too close.
4. Avoid all distractions.
Good drivers say “no” to all distractions behind the wheel such as eating, putting on makeup, texting, talking on the phone, using social media, and turning around to chat with backseat passengers. Accidents happen in a split second, so be sure you’re always focused on the road.
WHN Expert TIP – Know the Law: According to the National Conference of State Legislatures website, 20 states, D.C., Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands prohibit all drivers from using hand-held cell phones while driving, 38 states and D.C. ban all cell phone use by novice or teen drivers, and 21 states and D.C. prohibit any cell phone use for school bus drivers, and 48 states, D.C., Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands ban text messaging for all drivers. (Missouri prohibits text messaging by novice or teen drivers.)
5. Stay sober.
Make a promise to yourself that you’ll never drive drunk or drugged. The consequences could be expensive and deadly. Plan ahead, so you have a designated driver, taxi, or ridesharing service for transportation instead of driving impaired. (For more on drinking and driving, read DriversEd’s Facts and Laws about Drinking and Driving.)
6. Maintain a safe vehicle.
Being a safe driver also means having a safe vehicle to depend on. Mark your calendar with dates for regular maintenance, such as oil changes and tire rotations. Also keep your ride stocked with emergency supplies—such as water, a blanket, and an inflated spare tire—in case you have a breakdown.
WHN Expert Tip – Wear the Belt: According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), seat belts saved an estimated 14,955 lives in 2017. With the exception of New Hampshire, all states and the District of Columbia require adult front-seat occupants to use seat belts. Adult rear-seat passengers also are covered by the laws in 30 states and the District of Columbia. Thirty-four states and the District of Columbia have primary enforcement. Primary enforcement laws allow a police officer to stop and cite a motorist solely for not using a seat belt. In states with secondary enforcement, police can only enforce the law if the motorist has been pulled over for another violation first.
Photo Credit: Samuel Foster