If you’re a newly licensed driver, you’ve likely taken some driving classes and had practice sessions with someone who’s had their license for at least a few years. Even if you feel prepared to hit the road, you might also experience a little anxiety about the new responsibilities of having your license. Fortunately, the car experts right here at Huffines Kia Corinth have put together this handy guide for new drivers to help you drive safely while enjoying your newfound freedom.
Understand the Car You’re Driving
Although many cars have similar features, every vehicle has unique traits that vary based on factors like its manufacturer, trim level, and year released. Before you hit the road, make sure that you understand the distinct properties of your vehicle. This includes knowing where important controls are, such as your parking brake, turn signal, heating and cooling system buttons, and headlights. It can also help to review what the various dashboard symbols mean so that you can know right away if you have low tire pressure, dirty oil, or another issue that needs immediate attention.
Practice Driver Etiquette
Pay attention to and be kind toward other drivers. This may involve using your turn signals, following the correct driving order at four-way stops, slowing down safely to allow others to merge into your lane, and adhering to the speed limit. While you may encounter some more aggressive drivers or don’t follow the laws, continuing to practice excellent driver etiquette during these scenarios can help ensure that you don’t get pulled over and that everyone stays safe.
Prepare a Safety Kit
Make a safety kit that you can keep in your vehicle at all times. A safety kit can be a vital tool to have in case your car unexpectedly stops, gets a flat tire, or experiences another issue that makes it either unsafe or unable to keep operating. Car safety kits typically include:
- Jumper cables
- A spare tire
- Batteries and flashlights
- Road flares
- A tire iron
- Windshield washer fluid
It’s also a good idea to pack materials that can help keep you safe and comfortable in case your car breaks down. For this part of your safety kit, include items like bottled water, a blanket or coat, portable snacks, and bandages.
Do your best to reduce your potential distractions while you’re driving. Avoid checking the text messages or app notifications on your phone so that you can keep your eyes on the road instead.
If you’re driving a newer vehicle, you can pair your phone to the car ahead of time. This allows you to talk to people on the phone while you’re driving using hands-free technology. You can use this technology to give your phone voice commands as well. It’s also a good idea to set up any GPS systems you want to use or music you’re going to listen to before you hit the road so that you can keep your hands on the steering wheel once you’re actually driving.
Pay Attention to Road Signs
Learn about and pay attention to the different road signs you might encounter. Some signs have a similar color scheme that can make you confuse them at a glance, like railroad crossings and deer warnings, so it’s essential to pay attention to the specific words and images on each sign. Also, many roads change their speed limit at different points, so noticing when these signs appear can help ensure you obey the area’s driving regulations.
Keep Up With Regular Car Maintenance
Follow your vehicle’s suggested maintenance schedule to help prevent potential issues that might cause your car to break down or become unsafe to operate. Most vehicle manufacturers recommend that your car receive maintenance checks every six months for tasks like rotating the tires and checking the oil level. Car manufacturing companies also typically suggest more rigorous inspections for various milestones in your car’s life, such as when it hits 50,000 miles total or turns five years old.
Keeping up with this regular car maintenance can help protect you and your vehicle and other drivers and pedestrians you might encounter on the road.
Travel With Maps
It’s a good idea to keep maps in your glove compartment. Although most people these days have GPS systems on their phones, built into their car, or even both, it doesn’t hurt to be prepared for situations in which you might lose cellular or geographic information system (GIS) data.
With paper maps, you can easily navigate even if you’re in a remote area or experiencing a cellular power outage. It’s generally good to have at least a paper map of your local area and any other regions you sometimes visit.
Perform Regular Scans
Scan the road with your eyes as you drive to react immediately should any unexpected issues arise, such as another car going too fast or a pothole in the road. While it’s essential to scan the road ahead through your windshield, it’s a good idea to periodically check conditions in your rearview and side mirrors as well.
Master the Basics First
Become an expert at the fundamentals of driving before you start tackling more complex driving situations. For example, before you begin driving at night, master driving safely in daytime conditions. Also, get comfortable driving alone before inviting your friends along as passengers. And although you might be eager to hit the open road and go on a trip across the country, make sure that you’ve first mastered driving on highways for short periods of time.
Pay Attention to the Weather
Weather conditions such as heavy rain and high winds can challenge even the most experienced drivers. If you are brand new to driving or having a license, consider finding other means of transportation during severe weather situations. You can work up to driving in these more complicated conditions by driving after it rains, learning how to handle your vehicle on slippery roads.
Do you have another great tip that you’ve been using as you adjust to having a license? Or do you want to learn more about car maintenance and safety? Consider reaching out to the car experts at Huffines Kia Corinth. We’d love to hear your tips and can help answer questions related to keeping both you and your vehicle safe when you hit the road.