Scared of Driving? These 10 Tips Will Save You!
I got my driver’s license a few weeks before my 26th birthday. It was long overdue, highly anticipated, and one of the scariest things I have ever done. So many things can happen on the open road, and for years, the thought of driving absolutely terrified me. You take on a lot of power and responsibility when you are behind the wheel.
While there is nothing wrong with being afraid, I let that fear control me for far too long. Don’t let fear control you! Driving is liberating. There is nothing like rolling the windows down, turning the radio up, and cruising down backroads. You can go wherever you want, whenever you want!
I always keep these 10 pointers in the front of my mind when behind the wheel, to protect my safety, and the safety of those around me.
#1 Just because you have the right of way does not mean other drivers will adhere to the law. To avoid being hit, always wait a few seconds after a light turns green before driving through the intersection. Look both ways before you go, the same as you would if you were crossing the street on foot. This advice was given to me by a coworker, and it has saved me from an accident more than a few times.
#2 Put your phone away! This should be a no-brainer, but according to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s NHTSA report, in 2020 more than 3,142 people were killed by distracted driving. No text message or phone call is worth your life or someone else’s.
#3 For every turn, lane change, merge, and parallel park - USE YOUR BLINKER/TURN SIGNAL! Sometimes people ignore this crucial step, but it is so very important. This is the universal signal to other drivers that your several-ton vehicle might be heading in their direction.
#4 If you have a tire blow out, do NOT slam on your brakes. Having a tire blow out can be scary, but do your best to remain calm. Let off the gas, turn on your hazard lights, and if you are able, make your way to the right shoulder of the road, slowly coming to a complete stop.
#5 When it is raining, snowing, or icy outside, do not drive with your Cruise Control set. If you hit a large puddle of water or a patch of ice, it could potentially cause you to hydroplane or spin out of control.
#6 If your vehicle happens to hydroplane while it is raining or snowing, again, do not slam on your breaks. This can cause you to further spin out of control. This happened to me once when my tire pressure was low and I was having to drive in a heavy rainstorm. I could feel my vehicle starting to drift. After a brief second of panic, I let off the gas and was able to gain back control. Had I slammed on my breaks, it likely wouldn’t have ended well for me.
#7 If there is a vehicle parked on the shoulder of the road, whether they are changing a tire, having car trouble, a tow truck giving roadside assistance, or an emergency vehicle, decrease your speed and approach with care. If you are able, give them space. Space keeps you (and them!) safe.
#8 Lock your car doors immediately after getting in your car, especially if you plan to sit parked for a moment. This will prevent someone from being able to sneak up on you and open your car door. It’s always better to be safe than sorry!
#9 When you are preparing to turn, keep the steering wheel straight. If you don’t keep the wheel straight, and someone were to rear end you, you could be pushed into oncoming traffic. (There’s a good example of this in the movie Charlie St. Cloud. Had he kept his wheel straight, I guarantee the accident would have never happened.)
#10 I have encountered a number of people who are not aware of this, but a lot of car insurance companies offer roadside assistance as a part of your insurance package. Find out if your insurance offers this, and it may save you if you are ever in a pinch. (Also, if you are a Texas driver, on the back of your driver’s license there is a number for roadside assistance. I am not sure if this is something that is offered outside of Texas, but definitely check out your local DPS office and see what is offered to drivers in your area.)
I am by no means an expert on driving, but these tips have saved me more than once. Know the rules of the road, read your driver’s handbook, and drive safe and drive smart! You are ready to conquer your fear; I believe in you!
Written by: Taylon Black
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