Driving tips for first-time drivers

BEING able to get a driver’s license is an enormous step in a person’s life, whether the new driver is a teen or older. Once the ability to drive is earned, a car and the freedom to travel without the help of others symbolize independence for many, regardless of age.

However, a driver’s license should be considered as a serious responsibility and should not be taken lightly.  There are many factors that a driver must understand to earn and maintain an excellent driving record.

Learning the rules of the road

Prior to and after obtaining a license, the driver must first learn the basic rules of the road to help maintain safety for everyone on the road. Recognizing, following and understanding these rules will help the driver know how to properly drive on any kind of road — surface streets, highways and freeways, and at intersections and special crossings.

Drivers should also know what to do during traffic hazards, as well as know and obey speed limits that may change depending on the road or weather conditions.  These can also change according to the presence of pedestrians, people riding bicycles and in school zones.  Understanding traffic and pedestrian signals, traffic signs and pavement markings are essential as well as hand signals.  A list of these basic rules is available on the Department Motor Vehicle (DMV) website.

Getting that license

Rules and regulations on getting a driver’s license differs from one state to another, but almost all require a written test and a driving test.  Apart from these, certain paperwork is needed to prove one’s identity and age.  Some states allow teens as young as 14 years old, others 16.

For people under the age of 18, all of the 50 states have some form of graduated licensing system in place that requires them to go through a period with a limited license.  This is often called a probationary or intermediate license and will be used before they can obtain their regular license. These licenses will typically restrict how and when the teen can drive and how many passengers they may have in the car, if any. This type of system is designed to allow the driver to gain the skills and experience needed to safely operate a vehicle.

Safety first

A new driver must make safety a priority at all times as this will lower his risk of causing or being involved in an accident.  In short, he must drive defensively as the driver can only control how he drives.  This is a method of driving in which the driver anticipates and avoids accidents caused by the action of other drivers.

One part of defensive driving is being alert and attentive to other drivers on the road.  There is also a course to master this type of skill.

Other ways of ensuring safety in driving are obeying speed limits and adjusting speed according to weather conditions — fog, rain, and snow — to reduce the risk of an accident.

Car maintenance

Equally important to how one drives is the way he/she maintains his/her vehicle.  Practicing good car maintenance can reduce the chance of getting into an accident and is good for the environment.  It also can save the driver money when it comes to fuel as well as avoiding costly repairs.

A routine car check-up has a great impact on all of these issues.  Checking all four tires for the right air pressure decreases the risk for a flat while on the road.  Tires not correctly inflated wear out faster and will require early replacing.  They also cause the vehicle to consume more gas.

Checking the motor oil and air filters, as well a routine check on the brake fluid, transmission and power steering coolant is also part of good car maintenance.  Cleaning the car in terms of cleaning the windows, mirrors and lights, is also important and improves the safety of the vehicle. If the driver is unable to perform maintenance on his or her vehicle, a car mechanic may be hired. A qualified mechanic is also needed when spark plugs, brakes and the timing belt need replacing.

Remember, driving is a huge responsibility and should not be taken lightly.  Ignoring safety on the road not only affect the driver’s life, but other drivers and pedestrians as well.  (AJPress)

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