When you're a new driver, you may get tired of hearing advice about safe driving. No one thinks an accident will happen to them until it does, and the statistics show that new drivers are at greater risk of being involved in an accident. Safe driving helps avoid accidents and saves lives. It can also save you money because often insurance costs to go up if you have an accident. When you have a good driving record, car insurance is more affordable. Here are eight ways to be safer on the road.
1) Don’t Speed
One of the major contributors to fatal teen accidents is speed. Slow down especially in heavier traffic. Speeding won’t get you there that much sooner. Even if other traffic seems to be going faster, follow limits and go a safe speed. Traffic tickets for speeding are expensive and can cause your auto insurance costs to go up significantly.
2) Drive Defensively
Focus on the road and scan the traffic ahead, behind, and next to you. Keep a safe distance and think about how you would escape if a car suddenly stopped or came into your lane. Keep at a safe distance from cars ahead of you. The faster you’re driving the more space you need to maintain. Consider taking a defensive driving course.
3) Don’t Use Your Cell Phone
Massachusetts law and that of other states prohibit the use of a cell phone or other mobile electronic device while operating a vehicle by drivers under age 18. Studies indicate using a cell phone while driving is the equivalent of driving drunk as the distraction impairs driving ability. Turn your phone off to eliminate rings and alerts that distract you. Even when you are of age to legally use a phone, don’t forget that phone use distracts…focus on driving.
4) Don’t Text and Drive
In Massachusetts and other states, laws prohibit drivers from using any mobile electronic device to write, send, or read an electronic message (including text messages, emails, instant messages, or accessing the Internet) while operating a vehicle. This law applies to drivers of all ages. Researchers have shown that texting causes drivers to look away from the road for 4.6 seconds on average. Imagine driving the length of a football field without looking at the road…that’s a lot of distance. If you see others doing this and you are in a vehicle, ask them to stop.
5) Avoid Distractions
Distractions increase the chances that you won’t notice and react to a dangerous situation or that you’ll react too late. Beyond phones, other equally dangerous distractions include eating, drinking, playing with your radio, navigation or other controls, loud music. All these take your focus off the road, and being alert can give you extra seconds to react, which can make all the difference in avoiding an accident. Statistics show that inexperienced drivers are more likely to lose control of a vehicle, so avoiding distractions can help you stay in control.
6) Drive Alone
You might not realize it, but other people in your car can sometimes be a distraction. Having one teen passenger can double the risk of causing a car accident. Adding additional teen passengers increases the risk. Don’t offer to drive others unless you have to. Be aware of the risks to help focus your attention on the road.
7) Turn on Headlights
Headlights increase visibility even in daylight. The more visible you are to other drivers the better. Don’t wait until it’s completely dark to turn on lights. Be sure they are on in early morning and early evening so that other drivers can easily see you.
8) Use Seatbelts
Wearing your seatbelt is the law, but sometimes people take chances. Always buckle up! Newer cars have excellent safety equipment be sure you understand the safety features of your vehicle and how they work to protect you. Be sure you understand how to properly brake with anti-lock brakes.