You’re old enough to take driver’s education!
If you recently celebrated your fifteenth birthday, you probably read that sentence with a lot of excitement and a little nervousness. If you’re the parent of a fifteen-year-old, you might be feeling just the opposite.
Either way, learning to drive is an amazing privilege and a big responsibility.
You probably know to:
- Wear your seat belt
- Follow the speed limit
- Come to a complete stop at red lights and stop signs
- Use your turn signals
Driving is a more complex task than remembering to use your turn signal. That’s why we’ve compiled this helpful list of tips for new drivers: some will sound more familiar than others, but all will prove helpful as you prepare to start driving lessons.
1. Adjust your mirrors and seat
Before you hit the road, position your rearview mirror so you can see out the back window without moving your head and check the side mirrors to see what’s to your left and right, with just a sliver of your own car visible. Adjust your seat so you’re sitting straight up and can easily reach both pedals and the steering wheel.
2. Put your phone away
Set up your GPS app, decide on a good playlist, and answer your important texts before you put the car in motion. Research has shown that multitasking is a myth. If you’re driving, it should be your one and only task.
If you feel an urgent need to answer a text or call while you’re driving, find a parking lot and pick up your phone only once you are safely stopped.
3. Don’t drink and drive
This should be a no-brainer, especially considering the legal drinking age and the ease of ride apps like Uber and Lyft. Remember: driving and alcohol don’t mix, and the results could forever alter your life in a negative way.
4. When backing up, turn the wheel in the direction you want to go
Putting your car in reverse can be a little disorienting at first. It might seem that if you turn the wheel left to turn that way when going forward, the direction should be inverted when you’re going backward – but that’s not the case. If you want to back up to the left, you’ll still turn the wheel left. Turn it to the right to back up to the right.
5. A life-hack for the gas station
The arrow next to the gas pump icon on your gas gauge tells you which side of the car your gas tank is on to make refueling easier.
6. Pay attention to your brights…
Using your brights when driving on unlit roads at night is a great tactic to stay safe, just make sure you’re also considering drivers in the opposite lane. It’s common courtesy to temporarily turn off your brights so you don’t blind approaching cars.
7. …and your headlights
Once you reach your destination, make sure the car is completely turned off before you leave it. There’s no better way to ruin your day than accidentally leaving your headlights on and returning to a dead car battery. Most newer cars automatically turn headlights off once parked and locked, but it never hurts to check.
8. Leave some space
Tailgating is dangerous (and annoying). Leaving enough space between you and the driver ahead of you, both when in motion and when stopped, is a must to avoid collisions (especially a “chain reaction” crash) and wear and tear on your car from sudden braking.
9. Learn to read traffic
This tip is especially useful for slow or stopped traffic: look to taller vehicles like semis as guides because these trucks sit higher than other cars, meaning they have better visibility down the road. Paying attention to their maneuvers can help you safely switch lanes and more easily pass construction and accident sites up ahead.
10. Check the weather
The saying “the only constant is change” directly applies to Indiana’s weather. Rain, snow, ice, and every other weather condition you could think of can have an effect on how (or if) you should drive. Always pay attention to conditions and be prepared for anything!
These tips just scratch the surface of all there is to learn as a new driver. The CIESC Driver Education Program offers courses online and behind the wheel to develop effective defensive driving techniques and create responsible, knowledgeable licensed drivers.