Driving Tips for New Drivers – Your driving lessons are finally DONE. Your driver’s license is now in your hands, and you’re ready to set off into the sunset with your car. There’s such a feeling of excitement when you first sit behind the wheel, on your own, independently, to start your new journey as a driver…But you see, all the excitement aside, there’s a lot of responsibility when it comes to driving, and even though it might not feel this way at first – knowing how to handle certain situations can be a true lifesaver.
You might be wondering what I’m talking about, so I’ll get into that in a jiff, but let’s start from the beginning. So, once you get your much-desired learners permit, you begin to study the driver’s manual, which can be a bit daunting. But after that, the real fun begins. What do I mean?. You get your first hands-on experience in a parking lot; and if you do well enough,you can take it to the road – you might even graduate to the highway level on the same day.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves, because doing things at your own pace is key to progressing as a driver. Even with the slightest experience you get as a new driver, you might already feel like you know everything about the road. But at the same time, there’s this little annoying voice in the back of your head nagging you in a parental tone “Do I really know enough to be a responsible driver?”.
There’s a high probability that the nagging voice is really trying to warn you that you need more experience to feel confident enough – and… it’s probably right. There are, of course, a lot of situations that you need to experience first-hand in order to know what you need to do. But don’t you worry, because I have some great examples to help you prepare.
1. Driving in bad weather
Whether you’re driving in rain, blinding fog, ice, or a thunderstorm, (sounds like fun huh?), you should know that bad weather conditions can truly affect the way you drive and how your vehicle responds. It’s not enough to just drive when it’s nice and sunny outside, good experience comes from driving in all sorts of weather conditions. So, don’t be afraid to practice in bad weather, just be more careful. For example, when it’s raining, make sure your headlights are on, even in the daytime.
That’ll help you be more visible to oncoming vehicles, and it’ll also help you see clearer. In fact, in most states in the US, you’re required by law to have your headlights on when it’s raining. When you’re driving in heavy rain, make sure you drive slowly. As I said earlier, not only do you have limited visibility in those situations, but there’s another danger called hydroplaning.
Most vehicles rely on the friction between the tires and the surface of the roads to change directions and speed. Those grooves that you see in the tires of your vehicle are designed to get rid of excess water beneath your tires, thus giving your tires enough friction to continue in wet weather. But during heavy rain, the tires aren’t able to keep up with all the excess water.
So, the water pressure in the front wheels forces a large amount of water to go under the leading edge of the tire, forcing it to lift off the road. Then, the tire slides around on the surface of the road, sometimes barely touching it. And if this happens to all the tires because of the large pools of water in the roads,it might cause them to lose control.
And yes, that would be bad. Driving slowly allows more time for the tires to get rid of the water and obtain friction,thus preventing you from having an accident. In this situation, you don’t have time to panic, but you need to act fast. First, take your foot off the gas, and don’t attempt to slam on your breaks just yet – because this can result in an uncontrollable skid.
What you need to do instead, is get a good grip on your wheel and try to keep it straight. After a few split seconds, you should be able to gain control of your car again. Sometimes these sorts of situations can terrify new drivers, so they might want to take defensive driving courses to gain some experience in bad weather conditions. In fact, most racetracks around the US promote these classes, which allow you to drive on slippery roads and help you recover from crazy spin-outs.
That DOES sound like fun. That, however, doesn’t mean that when it’s nice and sunny, all is well. The sun can cause accidents too. Let’s say you’re going down a hill and the sun is shining straight into your eyes, this can cause a glare which could then result in you losing control of your car and causing an accident, or you don’t see the other driver coming your way.
Same result. So, always wear sunglasses, and keep your visor down when it’s needed. But that’s not enough, make sure you go slower in these conditions to give your self enough time to react when you need to. Also, you need to keep in mind that glare can temporarily blind you. If that happens, steer to the side of the road and wait until you regain your bearings, and the fogginess fades.
Speaking of fogginess, let’s not forget the real difficulty when you’re driving in fog. Foggy spells can be truly unexpected, especially during the Fall, when patches of fogginess appear around the roads in the morning. In this situation, always keep your headlights on and be alert. Plus, make sure that you leave more space between you and the car ahead of you, because even when you’re crawling, they might break suddenly, and you won’t have enough time to stop due to the low visibility.
2. Driving at Nighttime
Now that we’ve covered the awful weather conditions, let’s not forget the cautions you should take when driving at night. First things first, even when you’re confident with your driving, make sure you drive around at night a few times to familiarize yourself with it. You’ll definitely notice that the scenery and roads look different in the evening, and everything else looks disoriented. One thing you should keep in mind is to dim your lights when you come across an on coming car.
It’s unbelievably easy to be blinded by someone’s high beams and go off the road. If you’re driving behind a car with your bright lights on, dim them as well, because you might blind the driver in front of you through their mirrors. It might seem too obvious, but always drive at, or just below, the speed limit in the evening to avoid any accidents.
When you drive over the speed limit, especially in the dark, you risk over-running the safe stopping distance that your car requires. Sometimes, there could be pedestrians or animals in the road that aren’t visible until you get really close to them. So, to keep yourself and others around you safe, always be more alert when driving at night.
3. Running off the road
Now that we’ve covered the situations you need to be more cautious in, let’s move on to what you need to do when your car accidentally runs off the road. This can happen to anyone, but thankfully, cars are more forgiving in certain situations,and running off the road is one of them. So, don’t panic. If this happens to you, the first thing you need to do is get your foot off the gas and try to guide the car towards the pavement. One key thing you need to keep in mind, is to avoid jerking the wheel, which could make you lose control of your car once it has a solid grip on the pavement. Calmly, and steadily, guide the car back onto the road.
4. Let’s talk about Urban Driving
Urban driving might be one of the hardest driving environments you’ll ever be in. Not because it’s difficult to handle your car, but because it’s difficult to predict and handle the other cars around you – and let’s not forget how stressful it can be. When you’re driving in an urban area, be aware the whole time. Don’t let yourself lose attention at any point.
And, keep an eye out for pedestrians, because sometimes they can come out of nowhere. When you’re driving in these areas, you learn how to deal better with traffic, stoplights, intersections, and one-way streets. But, once you have enough urban driving experience interacting with other cars, you’ll understand better what your own capabilities are.
5. Don’t forget the Interstate Driving
Now that we’ve left the Urban Driving areas, let’s move to the Interstate, which is a bit trickier than it seems. Driving on the interstate teaches you what driving in heavy traffic conditions really feels like. And one thing that you’ll learn from that is how to merge with the rest of the traffic, how to change lanes correctly, and how to take an exit.
When changing lanes, you need to make sure you check your mirrors for fast cars and motorcycles approaching from behind you. You should learn to look over your shoulder, as well, and make sure that there are no other vehicles in your “blind Spot”. Turn your indicators on, and slowly and steadily merge with the rest of the traffic like a true champion. Okay guys. For all you experienced drivers out there, what advice would you give to people who just got their license?. Please let me know in the comments below.