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Driving Tips for Beginners

Woman pumping gas at gas station

May 5, 2022 Topic: Safety Tips

Beginning to drive is an exciting time in life. Whether you’re a new driver or the guardian of a new driver, it’s important to be prepared before you hit the road. We have gathered 28 driving tips to help with the preparation and development of smart driving habits for new drivers.   

#1 Start With Driver’s Ed

There is no better place for new drivers to learn how to drive and learn the rules of the road than a proper driver’s education center. Driver’s ed is available broadly across the US and is offered to new drivers of all ages. These courses cover the essentials from the basic rules for driving to the fundamentals of the vehicle itself. It gives you the opportunity to learn and improve your driving in a controlled environment. This is essential to not only pass your driving test but also the foundation to being a better driver.

#2 Have your license or learner’s permit

No matter how good your driving skills are, all the police officer will care about is whether or not you have a valid license. To drive in accordance with the law, an individual must have a driver’s license. Getting pulled over without a license can lead to serious consequences, depending upon the circumstances. 

#3 Adjust the vehicle so that you’re comfortable behind the wheel

Even a small tweak to your driving position makes for a much more comfortable, pleasant, and safe ride. It’s important that your backside and back are up against the seat, as this allows for better support of the body while you’re driving. Here are some adjustments for new drivers:

#4 Get rid of distractions

Distracted driving is any activity that diverts attention from driving, this includes talking or texting, eating and drinking, talking to people in your vehicle, changing your music or your GPS — anything that takes your attention away from driving safely. You should always avoid distractions, and if you find yourself being distracted pull over to a safe spot and don’t begin driving again until you can fully focus. Learn more about distracted teen driving statistics.

#5 Do not overthink the driving situation

Driving requires you to multitask. As you sit in the driver’s seat as a new driver, you might begin to feel overwhelmed by all the rules that you have to remember. Although remembering to use turn signals and what a particular road sign means are both very important, what’s even more important is your ability to concentrate on the task at hand. Try to keep your mind clear and focused.

#6 Calm your nerves 

Almost everyone has some nerves when they first begin to drive. Try and calm these nerves by taking a long, slow breath in through your nose and holding for three seconds. Exhale slowly through your mouth and relax the muscles in your face, hands, jaw, shoulders, and stomach. Repeat these steps as many times as necessary.

#7 Practice makes perfect

When you first begin to drive, you’ll improve quicker the more you practice. Even if it’s just for 15-20 minutes. Make sure you practice: parking, driving in traffic, and driving at a specific speed. Bring an experienced driver with you for tips and guidance. 

#8 Stay on familiar roads

When you first begin driving, it helps to first go to places you feel comfortable driving to, and the places that you know the way. This allows you to focus on driving and avoid distractions like using a map service. You will also feel much more comfortable when you know exactly where you are headed. 

#9 Stay away from interstates and major highways

Driving on major highways and interstates can be very stressful for new drivers. Avoid them when you first start driving. Once you get more comfortable driving on smaller roads you’ll gain the confidence to enter and drive on roads with more traffic and higher speeds. 

#10 Know the rules of driving

As a new driver, it is extremely important to ensure you remember and follow all road signs and rules of the road. Following the rules makes the roads a safer place to be, and if everyone follows the rules, it makes it easier to predict how people will behave, making your own life behind the wheel far less stressful. Remember, a safe driver is a confident driver.

#11 Get comfortable with the vehicle before driving it

To feel comfortable and secure in your car when you first begin to drive you must know it inside and out and master all of the settings. You should walk around your vehicle and get a feel for its dimensions and size. This helps gain spatial awareness when you are around other cars or trying to park. Learn what all the buttons and switches do and how to use them. Here are some important car features that beginner drivers should know: 

#12 Don’t worry about what other drivers think

As long as you are driving safely, it doesn’t matter what others on the road think about you. Don’t feel pressured to drive fast or recklessly just because others on the road are doing so. 

#13 Choose your passengers wisely

According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, “Passengers are one of the most frequently reported causes of distraction. It’s important that you only let people in your car that are going to help you be the best driver you can be. Your passengers should help you avoid potential distractions by helping you with directions or answering your phone. They can also help control air conditioning and adjust the music so you can concentrate on the road. 

#14 Learn from your driving mistakes

 It’s very easy for mistakes to rattle your confidence when you first begin to drive. You might feel embarrassed, or that you’re just a hopeless driver. Though it’s easy to feel this way, you should strive to keep going and not let these negative experiences hold you back. If you do make mistakes you should look at them as learning experiences so that you can grow from them. 

#15 Never give in to road rage

It can be very uncomfortable when another driver acts aggressively, especially when you are a new driver. Always remember to:

#16 DON’T drive under the influence

This isn’t just one of those basic driving rules or safe driving tips, it’s the difference between life and death or a lifetime spent in prison. Alcohol and other drugs impair your judgment and reduce your ability to respond to emergencies quickly. Make sober driving a priority when you first begin to drive, this will help you develop healthy habits and keep you out of dangerous situations.  

#17 Look far down the road

It’s critical to keep an eye on your mirrors and scan the roads ahead of time. Look as far up the road as possible as this will allow you to see when corners are coming, and also if there are other vehicles that you might need to overtake or brake for. A general rule of thumb is to scan the road at least 12 seconds ahead to avoid potential trouble spots and to identify possible road hazards. Blind spots and mirrors should be checked every 3-5 seconds before and after changing lanes.

#18 Use all your senses

Driving is about more than just seeing where you’re going. It’s so common for new drivers to hit the road and blast their music. But remember, by turning up your music you are removing a very good sense and increasing your risk of a crash. Be aware of your surroundings, and be aware of your car. If you smell anything funny or feel any vibrations, trust your instincts that something may be wrong.  Use common sense, as this is one of the most important senses that tell us to do the right thing while driving.

#19 Know the basics of automotive mechanics

As a new driver you don’t need to be a master mechanic, but you should know how to change a tire, pop the hood,  jump a battery, add oil and coolant to the car, and understand what the different dash warning lights mean. Cars have a way of breaking down in the most inconvenient place and you should always be prepared. 

#20 Keep your car in good shape

We’ve just mentioned that it’s important to learn basic car mechanics, but you should also learn to check that your car is in good shape before you hit the road. A healthy car is a safe car. You should know how to check your brake pads and tires. You should also make sure your oil is changed regularly. If you notice something is off, get an auto specialist to look at it as soon as possible. There are mobile brake repair services for convenient repairs.

#21 Perfect your parking

Learning how to parallel park is important. As a new driver, this can seem like a daunting task at first, but in the long run, you’ll be happy you mastered the skill. It’s also important to learn how to reverse park because it means you have clear visibility when you need to leave and don’t have to worry about reversing into the path of an obnoxious driver who refuses to slow down. Remember practice makes perfect. 

#22 Keep your distance

Maintaining a safe distance is the right policy for all drivers, however, it’s especially important when you are just getting used to being behind the wheel. Use the “3-second rule”, this is where you observe a car in front passing an easily visible landmark up ahead. When it passes, you start counting. If it takes you 3 seconds or more to pass the same landmark, then you are at a safe distance. When it comes to tailgaters, it can be difficult for you to keep your distance. Avoid them when possible by changing lanes. If you cannot change lanes, slow down slowly to encourage the tailgater to go around you. If this does not work, pull off the road when it’s safe and let the tailgater pass.

#23 Avoid speeding

As a new driver, you may be tempted to see how fast a car can go. However, this can be very dangerous since the faster you go, the less control you have. One of the most crucial safe driving tips, especially for new drivers, is to slow down. This isn’t just about speed limits, but it’s more about reducing your speed to be safe and suitable for the road and the conditions at hand. If road conditions aren’t great, including if you’re driving in rain or snow, reducing your speed is the key to staying safe.

#24 Speed up and brake with care

Your gas pedal and brakes have a range of use, however,  you don’t need to put your full force into accelerating and braking. You should only slam on them with all of your force in instances of danger, where you need to speed up or stop immediately. Knowing how much force to press down with is something to get used to. This takes practice, but in time you’ll get a feel for what will give you the smoothest ride. Becoming a good driver means being a smooth driver.

#25 Look both ways at intersections

The majority of intersection accidents occur only seconds after the light has changed. This is why it’s critical to keep an eye on your mirrors and scan the intersections ahead of you to proactively check for red-light runners. Anytime you’re the first vehicle at a stoplight and the light turns green, look both ways to make sure cross-traffic is stopping. Never blindly trust everyone will stop. Sometimes large and heavy trucks are unable to stop or someone can just not be paying attention.

#26 Be prepared

Your car should always have the supplies you might need in case you run into trouble. This includes:

#27 Buckle up

As a new driver you should get in the habit of always wearing your seatbelt and always check that your passengers are also strapped in. This is one of the most important things you can do as soon as you get in the car. Seatbelts are simple, but they are also one of the most important safety features in your car. 

#28 Enjoy the ride

Learning to drive is an exciting time. A driver’s license can be a gateway to freedom, however, there are many rules that every driver needs to learn. It will take time and becoming a confident driver is a process that requires commitment. 

Remember to be safe and enjoy the ride. 

Before you hit the road, make sure your brakes are safe. Brakes To Go is a mobile brake repair service, so they come to you for the most convenient repairs. Get a free brake quote today!