Common Dangerous Mistakes That New Drivers Make

Learning how to drive is a milestone in many people’s lives. The freedom and responsibility that come when you get your first set of car keys is likely a memory that you’ll carry with you for the rest of your life.

But as liberating as driving is, it’s not without its risks. Most teens are familiar with driving fatality statistics. In 2016, more than 2,400 teens were killed in car crashes.

Young drivers lack experience on the road and so may be more susceptible to certain behaviors that, if left unchecked, could impair your driving.

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Not Looking Before Changing Lanes

Not looking around your car when you’re changing lanes puts you at risk of sideswiping , rear-ending, or otherwise colliding with neighboring vehicles. Changing lanes can be a bit nerve-wracking and confusing at first, but with a little practice you’ll soon get the hang of it.

Always be sure to flip on your turn signals before you switch lanes, not while you’re doing it. It’s good practice to let your signals blink for a few seconds before you make the switch too, because it may give other drivers time to respond or even make more room for your vehicle.

And no, just checking your mirrors isn’t enough. You’re best off actually turning your body, or at least your neck, to briefly survey either side of your car and make sure you’re in the clear.

Speeding Through Yellow Lights

Making that late-yellow stoplight can be so, so tempting.After all, you’ve got somewhere to be, and you already hit three red lights coming down the road. But it isn’t worth it. Not only is speeding up to “beat the light” illegal in some states, it’s also very dangerous. 

Many drivers use the yellow-light period as an opportunity to make a left turn, and if you’re driving straight during their turn it can be a recipe for disaster. It can be difficult, but play it safe and slow down if you’re only just approaching the intersection. You should only quickly proceed if you are already in the intersection during a yellow light.

Not Paying Attention

Distractions, distractions, distractions. They’re everywhere, and it doesn’t even seem like you need to make much of an effort to find them – they find you! Between our mobile phones, car stereos, and people you may be sharing your ride with, concentrating on driving can become a challenge.

You’re probably familiar with the term “defensive driving.” The driver’s seat isn’t a place to multitask but to concentrate wholly on driving. This may sound a bit fatiguing, and it can be, but it’s also necessary.

If you’re prone to certain distractions more than others, try taking preventative measures such as sticking your phone in the backseat while you drive or setting the stereo before you take off, not while pulling out.

Driving is a skill that will take some time to master – good driving, that is. Studying the rules of the road and going out as a practice driver are helpful steps, but for most of us, there’s only one way to become a good driver – just drive. Carefully.

Read this next: How to Deal with the Aftermath of a Car Accident

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