Driving can be fun and exciting, but it can also be stressful, especially for those who are new to the game. There’s no shame in having a lack of experience on the road, and, of course, it doesn’t last forever, but during that time of inexperience it’s easy to make big mistakes.
That’s why it’s good to take things slow and get as much advice as possible from those with more real-life on-the-road experience. There’s no possible way to prepare for every single situation, but we can take a look at ten of the most common mistakes made by novices behind the wheel and how to anticipate and avoid them.
10 Rules Of The Road
When a new driver is studying for their driving test, the rules of the road are paramount. After some time driving, through, it's easy for some of the little technicalities to slip from your mind a little. Things like right of way, proper signaling and yielding are concepts that even the most seasoned drivers can let slide at times (no doubt you've encountered some of these drivers and had some harsh words to say about them to your passenger).
The thing is, though, these rules are more than multiple-choice questions. The rules of the road are crucial in helping to make driving safe and keep things running smoothly. It’s essential to keep them in mind, even when the books and tests are a thing of the past.
9 Close Following
A key way to avoid an accident is to keep a respectable distance between cars. Cars need a certain amount of room when stopping, about 243 feet. The rule of thumb is to leave a car’s length between one vehicle and another when coming to a full stop.
If that’s not possible, say in bumper to bumper traffic in a big city (which is super common), make sure to ease up on the gas and give as much distance as possible.
8 Lack Of Car Maintenance
No matter the experience of a driver, car maintenance is always an on-going issue. However, being a new driver does make it harder to remember sometimes. A car is an investment, so what’s put into it is what comes out of it.
Without proper and regular care, that car that once represented independence and freedom can become dead weight, shackling you to auto shop visits and big, unwieldy mechanic bills. Most maintenance is very simple and doesn’t take too much time. It isn’t ‘cool’ or ‘fun’ but it’s definitely worth the effort, so try not to skimp on the maintenance.
Driving can be scary, especially if you’ve just started driving on your own. One thing that can’t always be accounted for is other drivers on the road. The last thing that one should do when they find themselves in a sticky situation is panic.
Anxiety and panic slow down response time and critical thinking, and a driver is bound to make impulsive decisions that will most likely make the situation worse. What can be done? It’s normal to have a little anxiety, but if there is a tendency to panic, it might be worth it to practice more before getting on the highway.
6 Too Many In The Car
A study conducted in the year 2000 showed that the more people that are in a car, the higher the risk for a fatal accident. It might sound unrelated, but there’s something about piling people in that makes a driver more distracted and more likely to drive aggressively.
Maybe it’s the feeling of having a mini party in the back seat that gets the driver in a more reckless mood. Whatever the case, you should never, ever have more passengers than it’s possible to have seated with a seat belt. If the car seats five, there’s no reason seven people should be trying to squeeze in. There’s a limit to carpooling.
5 Taking Too Many Risks
This isn’t about the occasional distraction; risky behavior is deliberate and involves speeding up at yellow lights, ignoring stop signs and pedestrian crosswalks, changing lanes unnecessarily or without checking blind spots, just to name a few.
The road is not the place to be impulsive or spontaneous. Every risk taken is a risk that produces consequences that others on the road are forced to deal with. It’s not just one person out there, as much as we might like it to be. Taking risks is a conscience decision, so when the time comes, err on the side of caution.
4 Driving Tired
This one is for the full-time workers, the straight A-students, the kids putting themselves through college, the ones with the night shift, and pretty much whoever has a full plate (which is most people).
Everyone gets tired, but there’s a level of fatigue that can make driving extremely dangerous. Sleep deprivation is no joke; it’s a serious hazard that has resulted in an estimated 1,500 deaths each year. If it’s late, it might be best to take a moment to rest. There’s no shame in pulling over on the side of the road. Heck, it might save your life.
Ever had a close call? It’s a normal part of driving, but when a driver speeds, it goes from a rare occurrence to a regular scare. A new license, a nice car, it’d make anyone want to rev the engine and experience that heady feeling of independence.
However, there’s nothing good about getting into an accident, and speeding significantly raises the chances of that happening. It’s still possible to enjoy that sweet freedom without breaking the speed limit. The temptation can be strong, but try to resist. The need for speed can turn into a serious need for medical attention.
2 Not Buckling Up
Sometimes, it just slips the mind. Thankfully, most cars these days have reminders in the form of annoyingly persistent warning lights and sounds that won’t let anyone get away with not buckling up. It’s really for the best.
A seat belt may feel restrictive, but at the end of the day, it’s one of the few things between the driver and certain death. It’s a bit macabre to think of it that way. It’s also extremely true. So, even if it’s just a trip around the corner, it’s always the vital to buckle up. Do it every time you get in the car and soon you won’t even have to think about it.
1 Being Distracted
In today’s tech-fueled world, it’s easier than ever to get distracted while driving. Out of all the mistakes a new driver (or an experienced one) can make, this is probably the most common, and not just among young drivers.
Whether you're texting, answering what seems to be an important call, or unable to resist the urge to scroll on a social media site, distracted driving can and will have disastrous results. Besides technology, anything can be a distraction, like eating or doing makeup in the rearview mirror. Do everyone a favor: when behind the wheel, just drive. Don’t ever try to multi-task.