“Practice defensive driving!”
If you are a teenager just learning how to drive, this is a phrase you have heard more times than you have actually sat behind the wheel of a car. What does it even mean? Can you really be defensive when you are operating a two-thousand-pound piece of machinery?
Safe driving is easy in theory but harder to put into practice. That is why we have compiled this guide full of practical safe driving tips. Whether you are an expert driver or just got your learner’s permit, we think you can benefit from reviewing the suggestions below.
Keep reading to add one more key to your keychain, the key to peace of mind.
Safe Driving Tips Everyone Should Follow
Many of the tips that follow might seem obvious. As we said, safe driving is easy to pay lip service to, but the real test comes when the rubber literally meets the road.
With this in mind, we suggest reading these tips closely. Some things, like our first tip, cannot bear repeating enough, but we have tried to say them a different way than you are used to hearing them. We are not yelling at you, we promise.
Never Drive Drunk
There is no way around drunk driving when you talk about safety on the roads. Far too many people have engaged in drunk driving, and literally, no one ever should. Drunk driving kills more than 10,000 people per year, a horrifying, sad, and easily avoidable statistic.
There are numerous alternatives to drunk driving.
What gets lost when people talk about designated drivers is that some people really enjoy being the designated driver for their friend group. These people exist! All you need to do to find them is ask around.
One of the best alternatives to drunk driving has come about in recent years. Ridesharing outsources the designated driving to a stranger rather than a member of your party. If you can’t afford the cost of a Lyft, it might not be the greatest idea to spend a night out in the first place.
Plan for Longer Travel Times Than You Think You Need
What does this have to do with driving? More than you might think.
We will not beat around the bush. This is a different way of saying, “Obey the speed limit.” But we think it is worth saying this way because it gets to the heart of the problem behind speeding.
Sure, some people have “Fast and Furious” fantasies when they are on the road, but few people who drive faster than the speed limit are doing it to be daredevils. They have places to be, and they want to get to those places as quickly as possible.
It is a lot easier to obey the speed limit when you are not rushing to your destination. Trust us, building in extra travel time will give you a leg up on the majority of adults when it comes to being reliable. We wish we had learned this lesson years ago.
Keep Your Eyes on the Road
There are more distractions than ever. The same phone that is home to your life-saving ridesharing app can be a threat when you are behind the wheel yourself. Texts, likes on social media, and even directions can pull focus away from the task at hand.
Keeping your eyes on the road requires a mindset of diligence. But there are practical ways you can support this mindset within yourself. For one, you can place your phone in a location where it is impossible to reach or see.
The other distractions you face will depend on the passengers in your car. Feel free to set boundaries around music and conversations if you want.
Don’t Drive Tired
It is a simple fact. Sleep-deprived young drivers are more likely to crash. Few things come close to drunk driving in terms of threats to safety on the road, but lack of sleep is up there.
The same physical cushion you crave when you are sleepy becomes a metaphorical cushion around all your perceptions when you drive while tired. Your reaction times are slower, and you miss road signs. Just one slip and your lack of sleep could become deadly.
Require Everyone to Wear a Seat Belt
A seat belt is one of those things you do not appreciate until you feel it in action. Trust us that it is better never to get to that point. In the same way you know not to jump out of an airplane without a parachute, just buckle up when you get in the car.
Adjust the Way You Drive in Bad Weather
Driving in all different types of weather can be one of the joys of driving. You feel like a warrior sometimes when you are making your way through conditions that would slow down your ancestors’ wagons by weeks.
These conditions can still cause problems in the present day if you do not learn how to handle them. Rain, snow, sleet, and fog each come with their own challenges, and we advise you to prepare for them all.
Let us kickstart your education with one piece of weather-specific advice.
Often, you will hear that you need to pump your brakes when braking on icy roads to keep from sliding. This is actually not entirely true. If you have an anti-lock braking system, or ABS, you do not need to pump at all.
Assume Other Drivers Are Incompetent
Do you think other people are idiots? Then this is the tip for you! This is where you get to put your beliefs into practice.
Your assumption does not have to be malicious. All this suggestion requires is that you not allow your confidence in your own driving skills to lower your guard.
If you assume the incompetence of other drivers, you will always be on the lookout for the little mistakes they make. These could become much bigger problems for you if you ignored them.
The Journey of Safe Driving
Safe driving is about combining big-picture perspective with concrete practices that make your vehicle a safe space. If you follow these safe driving tips, it will be easier for you to enjoy the freedom that comes with driving your own vehicle.
Driving is just the beginning of the freedoms to enjoy as high school comes to a close and college awaits. Prepare yourself for that particular adventure by checking out our college packing checklist.