When you are new to the art of driving, all the enthusiasm for driving your vehicle can go down the drain if you’re involved in an accident. Getting a hold of an official driver’s license during your teens sure is exciting, but it is an anxiety-provoking accomplishment for parents, and rightfully so.
According to FMins, approximately 50% of all teenagers experience a car accident before graduating high school. Research by Insurance Institute for Highway Safety also indicated that drivers between the ages 16 and 19 were thrice as likely as those aged 20 and above to be in a fatal car crash.
These statistics show that great power comes with great responsibility; a driver’s license is a big responsibility that puts you in a position where you can affect your safety and that of others.
Don’t let overconfidence get the better of you and make you neglect safety and caution. Yes, avoiding a road accident may not always be in your hands, but there sure is a lot to do on your behalf to minimize the risk.
If you’re new to driving, keep in mind the following key driving tips;
1. Learn how to fix routine car problems
You aren’t always going to be within reach of roadside service assistance, and you definitely don’t want to be stranded somewhere unfamiliar with no idea what to do with your vehicle.
A flat tire, jumpstarting a dead battery, and fixing a headlight bulb, are just some key car issues you must be able to address. Fortunately, if you land in a sticky situation with a more difficult vehicle, like a truck, commercial truck roadside assistance services are always there to help.
Even if your vehicle is apparently in tip-top shape, there is no guarantee that you aren’t going to experience an unpleasant incident. It is always best to be prepared to deal with an emergency all on your own.
2. No over-speeding
No matter how late you are getting, there is no situation worth putting your safety and life at risk; as the very accurate and concise saying goes, ‘speed kills.’ It is one thing to drive fast to make it to somewhere; it is entirely another to do so for fun. Your life is precious, and the thrill of fast driving is not worth the risk.
Research has proven that each mile per hour you add to your speed increases the chances of being in an accident by 4-5%. If the speed is higher, the risk increases even more.
In fact, to put it into perspective, on a trip in town, driving 10 miles per hour faster will save you only a few minutes of driving time but increase the risk of a car crash by 50%! For longer drives, the time saved will be more or less inconsequential.
3. Avoid distractions at all costs
No matter how confident you are in your ability to multitask, remember that driving isn’t something you should be experimenting with. Our brains have limited cognitive capacity to divide between tasks when attempting multitasking, especially when both tasks have the same sensory modality.
For instance, when watching the road and looking at your mobile phone, your mind cannot keep up with both, and the risk of a road accident increases tenfold. The secondary task takes your attention away from the driving task.
A researcher comparing reaction times of drivers found that a 20-year-old driving while on a call had a reaction time comparable to that of a 70-year-old!
In another study, 60% of all near-crashes and 80% of all crashes were because of inattentive focus. Another experiment showed that the driving performance on multitasking was worse with novice drivers than experienced drivers; so as a new driver, it is all the more necessary for you to avoid all distractions and focus on the primary task of driving alone.
4. Drive only when fully alert
Driving when sleepy is a terrible idea, and driving while drunk is even worse. Being drunk impairs your cognitive functioning, reduces your coordination, increases reaction time, lowers inhibition, and blurs your vision.
Sometimes even unconsciousness can result when driving drunk, and driving while sleepy is just as dangerous. Research has found that 20% of all road accidents can be attributed to sleepy drivers. Being drowsy is bad enough, but the consequence is predictable if the driver is so tired that they fall asleep.
Responses to sleep deprivation can range from dozing off for a few seconds to losing all focus and zoning out. It is indeed a terrible idea to drive when you are anything but fully alert and conscious.
5. Always have the necessary repair tools with you
Your knowledge of repairing routine car problems will be of no use if you don’t have the necessary tools needed for it. Ensure your vehicle is equipped with the essential repair tools in case you land into mechanical issues.
Keep a jack, screwdriver, lubricants and cleaners, pliers, wrenches, gloves, a multi-meter, dead blow mallet, and zip ties in your vehicle’s toolkit. Also, your vehicle should have a spare tire, a tire pressure gauge, and jump leads to jumpstart a flat battery.
It is also a good idea to keep an empty jerry can you can fill from a nearby petrol station in case your vehicle runs out of fuel on a long journey.
6. Learn the basics of vehicles
Like any other device, a vehicle is a complicated machine with up to 30,000 individual parts, and you can only operate it optimally with sufficient know-how of its working.
Don’t go into the complex art of driving with no idea of its basic components. Some essential parts you should be familiar with include the engine, battery, alternator, radiator, transmission, shock absorber, silencer, fuel tank, and brake system.
With this knowledge, you can identify where something went wrong when you find yourself in an uncanny situation. You will know what kind of services you need and can tell if the mechanic is doing the right thing.
Many people can drive, but not everyone knows how to do it safely. Driving is a technical skill that requires plenty of knowledge and experience. With this also comes a huge responsibility.
Make sure to learn how to fix routine car problems, avoid over-speeding at all costs, stay focused, be alert and fully awake, and be prepared for any adverse situation. The preventive measures you take are necessary for your safety and the safety of the other drivers and pedestrians.