While for many road users, driving is a pleasure and a necessity, it is not without its risks.
Recent research has found that 59% of young people wish they’d paused before buying their first car, demonstrating that today’s millennials and Gen Z drivers are focused on more than just the freedom of the open road. Rising living costs, concerns about the environment, lack of knowledge about car maintenance and the potential for lawsuits resulting from accidents are just some of the reasons for this hesitancy among the next generation of drivers. However, given the convenience, mobility and independence which cars provide, it’s apparent that for many people, it’s still a commitment worth making. If you’re just getting started on your driving journey, here’s what your future self wants you to know.
It’s smart to be safe
The CDC reports that the risk of motor vehicle accidents is higher among teens aged 16-19 than any other age group. It is always made clear to learners that you must wear a seatbelt and never drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs. However, new drivers are also often excited to give their friends a ride, turn their music up or text a parent to let them know they’ll be back late. More experienced drivers know that these distractions are dangerous to novices. As far as possible, remove distractions from your vehicle. If you’re offering a lift, ask your friends to let you concentrate (they’ll need you to do the same for them when they pass their tests). Put your mobile phone firmly out of sight, for example in your glove box. Finally, choose the safest car that your budget can buy; look for protective crash features, assistive technology, airbags and anything else which will keep you as safe as possible.
Expect the unexpected
For many new drivers, navigating the behavior of other road users is a bigger challenge than executing the driving skills you’ve been taught. People may brake suddenly, or change lanes without warning. While experience helps you to anticipate some of these moves, as a new driver the best thing you can do is give other drivers as much space as possible, so that you have time to react to sudden changes.
Get hands on
After several years of bad press about their practical car maintenance skills, today’s young drivers are bouncing back; a recent survey found that 65% of millennials and 52% of Gen Z-ers can now change a tire. As a new driver, it’s important to learn basic car maintenance skills in case you find yourself in need. It’s also worth writing down the number for your breakdown recovery service somewhere in your car, as well as saving it to your phone. Keep a blanket, torch and spare bottle of water in your trunk, in case of need.
While for many road users, driving is a pleasure and a necessity, it is not without its risks. By removing distractions, giving yourself the time and space to react to other drivers, and equipping yourself with basic maintenance skills, you can enjoy the benefits of life as a new driver whilst keeping yourself as safe and comfortable as possible.