Both adult and teen driving school programs teach drivers how to drive a vehicle on the road safely. They focus on the basics and teach how to navigate tough situations. While the basics are covered, they are also the items that most drivers go on to forget after driving classes are done. To help keep the roads safer, it is important to review these basics every few years. Here are some of the most common mistakes new drivers make on the road.
- Not Making Adjustments First. When a driver first enters a vehicle, they should immediately fix the settings for their height and preference. Adjusting the seat is critical to reaching the pedals, gear shifts, and viewing the road. Mirrors should be adjusted to give the driver an optimal view around and behind the car. These adjustments should be made before pulling out of a parking spot or driveway, not while the driver is going down the road.
- Driving Too Fast or Too Slow. It seems that new drivers are either driving too fast or too slow. It is important to not drive over the speed limit because it is too dangerous, but it is also dangerous to drive too slow. Without going too fast, drivers should keep up with the flow of traffic. Both extremes can cause problems, so be mindful of driving the right speed.
- Following Too Close. No matter what speed you are going, it is important to leave enough distance between your car and the one in front of you. This way, if there is a need for a sudden stop like a blown tire, car crash, or something running in the road, you have enough time to stop without crashing into the car in front of you. While some people want to know how many feet they should leave, the current standard is leaving a three-second following distance between your cars. This standard allows you to adjust the distance based on speed for the most safety.
- Not Using Turn Signals. Turn signals are used to alert drivers around you about what you are intending to do. This helps cars know when you are passing them, merging in front of them, or slowing down to make a turn. When other drivers know your intentions, they can adjust their speed and actions to avoid a crash. It is important to always use your turn signal, even if you are in a turning lane.
- Driving Distracted. Since cell phones have become a widespread problem with drivers, it is covered in almost every driving school. Even though most people acknowledge they are a problem, drivers still admit that they use them behind the wheel. Distracted driving isn’t limited to cellphone use though. Passengers, eating, and picking something up off the ground are all forms of distracted driving. Remember to always keep your eyes and mind on the road to keep you and all the other drivers safe.
New drivers need a little extra guidance on driving safely, but they are not the only ones. Remember to review the basics and practice them. Getting too comfortable behind the wheel of a car can lead to lazy maneuvers and over-confidence on the road. Take time to commit to mastering the basics and helping new drivers master them too.
Driving school will teach student drivers a myriad of skills. There are only so many situations you can prepare for before being in the situation and having to put those skills into practice. While driving teachers try to prepare students, there are still common driving challenges that require extra experience before feeling comfortable. Here are some of the most common challenges and how you can deal with them.
One of the hardest driving situations is extreme weather. Driving in bad weather is always scary because of limited visibility and intense driving conditions. Whether you are driving through a blizzard, extreme hail or rain, fog, black ice, or dust storms. These types of situations all require the same driving tactics to keep you safe.
- Reduce your speed. When major weather conditions hit, they all come with decreased visibility. When you cannot see as well, the best thing to do is drive slower. If conditions are too scary, pull off the road in a safe place.
- Limit distractions. The most important time to stay focused on the road is when you can’t see as well and you’re feeling tense. Turn down the radio, ask your passengers to be quiet, and make sure you are keeping your eyes on the road.
- Keep emergency supplies in the car. Having a blanket, some snacks, and water in the car so that if you ever need to pull off during extreme weather, you can be safe. Consider keeping an extra phone charger, tools, and a spare tire in your car too.
Drive Around Large Trucks
Large trucks on the road intimidate a lot of people. Truck drivers have a harder time merging because of their size, but they have bigger blind spots on both sides, the front, and the back of the truck. The best way to navigate around trailers is to avoid lingering in those blind spots. Be mindful and watching to see if they are attempting to merge and stay out of the way. Avoid trying to race past them or cut in front of them.
Heavy traffic is common during rush hour and construction zones. These times are terribly inconvenient and usually happen when you are in a hurry. Remembering your basics during these times are important.
- Use your blinker. Letting others know if you are trying to switch lanes or merge is important. Always use your blinker and proceed with caution.
- Plan ahead. Do not wait to move across four lanes to exit until ¼ of a mile away from the exit. Start moving over when you know your exit is coming up.
- Keep your distance. Even in slow traffic, you need to leave some room between your car and the one in front of you. If you are following too close when traffic starts moving, you need to have space for fast braking, if needed.
- Obey all signs. Always obey road signs but pay extra attention to construction zone signs. These signs are often letting you know about new traffic patterns and changes to speed limits. Driving slower and more carefully will help keep everyone safe in construction zones, but it also prevents a traffic ticket, which are more expensive in construction zones.
- Slow down. Try to remember that everyone is frustrated and impatient in these situations. Remember to slow down and remember that speeding and being impatient will not get you anywhere faster and the circumstances are beyond your control.
Avoid getting aggressive on the roads. Keep a level head and obey the driving laws. Do not race around drivers, engage in racing on the road, or slamming on brakes. Most people do not do things on purpose to make other drivers angry.
If an aggressive driver is pursuing you, ignore them. If they are relentlessly bothering you and putting you and others on the road in danger, it is important to call the police. Too often a situation will escalate and can turn dangerous. It is better to stay safe and call the police than end up with a physical confrontation.
Focus on the Road
In all these situations, there are basic driving skills every driver can fall back on in driving school. Even if you forget all the information you learned in class, remember to use your training. Do your best to remain calm and control the car. If you are remembering the basics, you can trust your instincts.