With a little extra effort, you can be a wise and smart teen driver. First, to pay close attention to the road, limit the number of passengers, turn off the radio and silence the phone. For your safety and that of others, always wear a seat belt and obey all traffic laws. Continue with supervised practice for as many hours as you can and you will soon feel more comfortable behind the wheel.
Method 1 of 4: Minimize Distractions
Step 1. Keep your eyes on the road
While driving, do not apply makeup, do not play with the radio, do not eat or see your friends in the rear view mirror to chat. Constantly ask yourself "Am I looking at the road?" If the answer is "no," refocus or park and take a break.
If the car has an infotainment system, use it only when the vehicle is stopped. Some infotainment systems block the current when the vehicle is in motion
Step 2. Never text or talk on the phone while driving
Turn off or silence your phone even before getting in the car. Devices with Bluetooth technology or other “hands-free” devices are an option to consider, but even these devices increase the risk of an accident. It is not worth the risk, so you better make the calls before and after driving.
In many places, texting or talking on the phone while driving has been banned. If you break this law, you could lose your permit or license
Step 3. Never drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs
You simply shouldn't. If you have drunk alcohol, your reflexes are likely to be impaired, making it very dangerous for you to drive. You can call a friend to pick you up or call a ride service, like Uber or Lyft.
- Nor should you make the mistake of accepting that someone else who has drunk takes you.
- Also, some medications can make you feel sleepy or out of focus. Ask your doctor about medications that do not cause drowsiness.
Step 4. Stay wide awake when driving
Driving when you are drowsy or exhausted can be dangerous for you and everyone else. Park in a safe place or call a family member or friend for help if you start to yawn continuously, your eyes close, you can't keep your eyes on the road, or you hit rough strips.
If it's a short trip, sometimes you just have to stop, get out of the car, and have a soda or coffee to stay awake long enough to get home safely
Step 5. Lower the volume on the radio
It may seem a bit strange to you, but listening to music at a high volume could be a huge distraction on the road. You may not hear important warning noises, such as horns or even emergency sirens. Lower the volume so you can simply hear a background noise while driving, or better yet, keep the radio off while you learn.
Step 6. Download an application to drive safely
Some apps, like TextArrest, will disable your phone automatically when you get in the car. The basic version of this application, like many others, is free. You have to pay a cost to update it and unlock the other features. Other apps, like DriveScribe, keep track of your driving habits and reward safe behaviors.
Method 2 of 4: Follow Traffic Laws
Step 1. Ask everyone to wear a seat belt
When you get in the car, get in the habit of wearing your seat belt. Also, you should not let passengers go with you unless they use it. Since it is your vehicle, take responsibility to protect everyone who goes with you.
Don't let more people get on than the number of seat belts available
Step 2. Observe the speed limit
Watch the signs and respect the limit. Keep an eye on your speedometer to make sure you don't go over the speed limit, as this decreases your reaction time and increases the risk of an accident.
Step 3. Use the turn signals
Turn them on well in advance before turning or changing lanes. This way, you give other drivers enough time to react before making a move. Turn them off after turning or changing lanes.
Step 4. Pass with caution
Passing is perhaps one of the most important skills a new driver must master. Take the time when you decide to pass and make sure you have completely cleared the other car before rejoining the lane. When passing, stick to the speed limit, but try to speed up a bit so you don't get into their blind spot.
Don't pass if you don't have enough space; if the yellow line is solid; if there is a blind spot ahead, such as a hill; if there is a tunnel ahead; or if there is a road under construction
Step 5. Practice defensive driving
Just because you're committed to complying with the law doesn't mean that other drivers will, too. Don't assume that everyone is a good driver. Instead, watch drivers closely and take your time before moving. If you see an aggressive driver, try to get away from him as soon as possible.
For example, don't assume that another driver will actually turn when using the turn signals. Wait until it has finished turning before moving
Method 3 of 4: Gain Experience
Step 1. Drive only with a legal license or permit
Find out about the restrictions of that permit or license. For example, for most US permits, you must be accompanied by a legal driver who is over the age of 21. Most licensed drivers have a trial period in which they cannot ride with minors in the car. Make sure you adhere to these rules, otherwise your license could be delayed or taken away.
- Laws are different in each region, so you can visit the Department of Motor Vehicles website if you live in the United States and want more details.
- Take your printed permit, printed temporary license, and final license with you when you drive. This way, you can show these documents to any police officer who requests them.
Step 2. Practice driving with other adults
Try to drive with supervision for at least 30 to 50 hours after you get your license. This way, you can keep learning and can make mistakes safely under the supervision of a more experienced driver. Ask your parents or a friend for help. Vary your practice sessions in all possible conditions and at different times of the day.
Step 3. Enroll in a teen driving skills program
After receiving your license or permit, you can continue taking classes to improve your skills. Contact your local police department to find out if they have any courses currently available. Some businesses and nonprofits, like UPS, also offer classes for teens.
These classes are usually free and you can practice with the latest technology, such as driving simulators
Step 4. Slowly learn to drive at night
In many cities or counties, new teen drivers are required to follow a schedule of a few months to a year. For exact limitations, check with your police department. Although they do not impose a cutoff schedule, it is recommended that you drive at night only if you have an emergency until you have a few years of experience.
When driving at night or even at dawn or dusk, use your headlights. This makes it easier for other drivers to see you
Step 5. Limit driving in bad weather
Heavy rain, snow, hail, or fog can put even the best driver to the test. Check the forecast before you leave, and if the weather is bad, postpone the trip until it clears. If you must drive, leave three times the distance between your car and the one in front of you. Remember that you can park in a safe place if necessary.
Do not engage the autopilot if the roads are slippery. This will delay your reaction time and you will have less control over the vehicle
Step 6. Sign a teen driver contract
Sit down with your parents to write a driving contract. This document can be for all the drivers in the house, not just for you. Some issues such as cell phone use, use of good driving skills, and how to react to dangerous situations should be included. Ask everyone to sign the contract and agree to have a celebration every six months that it is completed.
If you are a responsible driver, but your parents are concerned about your safety, the contract might be a way to put them at ease
Method 4 of 4: Drive a Safe Vehicle
Step 1. Choose a safe car
Get a car that has plenty of navigation and safety tools. The antilock braking system and stability control functions will help you be a smarter and more cautious teen driver. These features will give you additional time in the event of an accident. Even a working defroster can improve visibility.
You can find the safety score for most cars by entering the year, make, and model on a car website, such as Edmunds
Step 2. Give the car frequent maintenance
Keep your tire pressure at the proper level. Change the oil according to the frequency recommended in the instruction manual, which is usually 4800 km (3000 miles). Check that all fluids, like the power steering, are full. Clean mirrors and windows for better visibility. Taking good care of your car will make it easier for you to be a safe driver.
- Sometimes it helps to keep a record on the phone or in a notebook in the glove compartment with the dates and information about the maintenance performed.
- A great way to protect yourself in case your car breaks down is to sign up for a roadside assistance service, like AAA.
Step 3. Make sure you have enough gas
Before taking a trip, check your gas meter. At all times, try to keep at least a quarter of the tank full. This way, you will have enough gas to get through bad traffic safely. Plus, the car will run better when it's not running low on fuel.