Driving Secrets All First Time Drivers Should Know
Being a dad kind of sucks in that you have to watch your kids grow up. They take your heart one piece at a time…first baby steps, first day of kindergarten, first day riding the bus to school, first school play, first violin concert, first honor roll award, first talk about the birds and the bees, first boyfriend / girlfriend, first boyfriend / girlfriend you scared off by showing them your gun collection, first driver’s test…
They grow up so fast. On that note…
I was recently approached by one of my younger readers who is near and dear to me (you know who you are…schmeahhh) to help them prepare for their driver’s test. This mystery person already scored points for deducing that I, the greatest genius that ever lived, would be full of useful knowledge.
No rolling your eyes or gagging at my blog!
The first thing new drivers should know is that your vehicle is to get you from point A to point B, that’s it. It’s easy to be distracted by phones, music, passengers, and other things we take for granted. The first secret to driving is to remember why you are in the car in the first place, everything else should be in the back of your mind. Getting from point A to point B without killing anyone or yourself should be your primary concern, not which Lady Gaga CD you should listen to during your drive.
The second thing new drivers should know is that in order to be successful, you need to be observant. If you’re unable to walk from room to room in your own home without tripping over something or running into something, chances are driving is not for you. Driving requires the user of the vehicle to travel up to sixty to seventy miles per hour sometimes. At those speeds, anything could happen in the blink of an eye. Hell, anything could happen in the blink of an eye when you’re going fifteen miles per hour. Successful driving requires…demands that the driver be paying attention at all times to the road and to his or her surroundings. Being accident prone can be very expensive and dangerous when behind the wheel of a car.
The third thing new drivers should know is that laws and signs exist for a reason. There’s a universal code everyone follows, or should follow, so that when the unexpected happens everyone knows what to do. Other drivers rely on you to follow the law and pay attention to the signs directing you. If you have to, read your state’s driver’s manual a few times. You’d be surprised how many people don’t know the difference between a flashing yellow traffic light and a flashing red traffic light.
I’m pretty sure the law frowns on this kind of thing, even if “We so excited” because “Thursday was yesterday” and “tomorrow is Saturday and Sunday comes after…wards.”
The fourth thing new drivers should know is that driving requires a bit of street smarts and common sense. If it’s snowing outside and the roads are pretty slippery, common sense should tell you to drive at least half of your normal speed limit to compensate. If there is a driver in front of you swerving periodically and you notice he’s busy looking for something on the floor then you should probably back off in case he does something even more stupid. If there is a right turn coming up and the truck in front of you signals to turn, back off in the event he misjudges the turn and has to back up to attempt the turn again. Planning ahead and using common sense can mean the difference between avoiding an accident and being involved in one yourself, even if you’re not the one at fault.
The fifth thing new drivers should know is that driving in areas you aren’t familiar with increases your chances of having an accident. When you’re familiar with the road patterns, you can concentrate more on your surroundings and watch out for other people being stupid instead of trying to figure out where you’re supposed to be going. If you’re new to driving, resist the temptation to go exploring until you’re comfortable operating a vehicle and are confident in your ability to pay attention to where you are and what others are doing at the same time.
The sixth thing new drivers should know is that emotions should play no part in your ability to drive. The jerk that cut you off without signaling was wrong for doing what he or she did, but you have to swallow your pride and remember secret number one: you’re driving to get somewhere and that’s it. Driving isn’t a competition. If you have someone honking at you or swearing at you for driving too slow, pull over and let them pass so that you don’t feel pressured to speed up. Road rage is a real thing and you’d be surprised how many accidents resulted from people acting like children behind the wheel.
Sometimes rage can’t be helped, we’re only human, but pull over first and take a few deep breaths before you chuck a nine iron into a crowd of people.
The seventh thing new drivers should know is never, ever get behind the wheel if your senses are impaired. This could be due to lack of sleep, medication, drinking, and other things. You will only put yourself and others in danger if you aren’t at your best while driving. Make sure you’re well rested and distraction free before setting off.
The eighth thing new drivers should know is that it’s important to know the basics of your car. You should regularly check your tire pressure, for example. It’s a simple thing really, but did you know that having incorrect tire pressure can affect turning, stability, breaking, the amount of gas you use, and in worst cases, cause an accident? The correct tire pressure, among other things, can be found in the manual that comes with your car. It’s generally a good idea to give it a once over to familiarize yourself with the different indicators and features your vehicle comes with.
The ninth thing drivers should know is how something as simple as the day and night cycle can affect how well you operate a vehicle safely. At night, one of your main senses is impaired. Sure, you have headlights but tell me the truth, just how well do they work? How about when it’s raining on top of being dark? Do yourself a favor and slow down when driving at night.
The last piece of advice I’d like to convey is that new drivers should always err on the side of caution. Just because you may be young and have good reflexes doesn’t mean you’ll be able to “speed up and make the merge safely” for example. There are times in life where taking chances is necessary, driving is not one of those times. Would you rather be late five minutes or be really, really late because you had to be rushed to the hospital? Flooded road? Don’t take the chance of driving through it. Snowy weather? Don’t really need to go out? Don’t! Miss a turn and discover you can cut across three lanes to make the next turn if you act now without looking? Don’t be an idiot.
Driving is a privilege. Don’t abuse that privilege. It may cost a life.
Oh yeah, and buckle up.