Being a licensed driver can be both an exhilarating and frightening ordeal.
You’d finally get unadulterated access over a vehicle’s steering wheel—and there are very few things as monumental as that.
But as a great man once said, with great power comes great responsibility. That’s why getting a driver’s license is a crucial first step in the process of driving a car.
Learning to drive can bring you to previously unreachable places. However, the act of driving itself also exposes you to more risks than ever before.
For drivers who drive recklessly, even one misstep can be costly or prove fatal.
So if you want to stay safe on the road, here are some things you should know before formally starting your driving journey.
1) Be a Keen Observer
You probably have a few days or weeks before you lay your novice hands on the steering wheel.
When you take the passenger role in moments between your driving lessons, use your time in the vehicle to study your driver’s movements in the car, whether it’s your siblings, parents, or licensed friends.
As an exercise, find answers to these questions: How do they position their hands when gripping the steering wheel? Where do they position their left and right legs? What do they do when they want to open the gas tank or unlock the car?
By actively learning these mechanisms, you can more smoothly get accustomed to getting behind the wheel—which can make your driving test outcomes significantly more favourable.
2) Enrol in a Driving School
One of the most critical milestones every driver has to go through is getting the right education to pass their driving exam.
These driving fundamentals are typically offered by private instructors and reputable driving schools.
More specifically, quality driving schools that you can find through Ezlicence or from searching your local community typically provide structured lessons that cover both the theoretical and practical aspects of driving, from understanding traffic rules to mastering vehicle control.
These teachers are licensed and specifically trained to guide you through the learning process, offering personalised insights on your driving style and ultimately helping you hone your skills.
3) Understand Traffic Rules and Regulations
Before you start your vehicle, familiarise yourself with the vast array of traffic rules and regulations that you’re likely to come across.
Knowing these driving rules is a requirement when obtaining a driver’s license for a reason. Without adequate knowledge, you may as well be a road hazard in the making.
As such, take the time to really get into the nitty-gritty of safe driving. For a start, familiarise yourself with road signs, right-of-way principles, and the consequences of violating traffic laws.
This knowledge forms the foundation for safe and lawful driving.
4) Practice Defensive Driving
While you may be inspired by F1 drivers and their skilful driving abilities in the pit, it’d be foolish for an amateur driver to think they’re at that level of skill when they’re still wet behind the ears.
Being a new driver, it’s important to develop good habits as early as your first test drive. One such habit that we’d wholly recommend is defensive driving.
Defensive driving is, in essence, a skill that can keep you and your passengers as safe as safe can be.
It involves an array of microhabits that uphold good safety standards, that is, staying alert, anticipating potential hazards, and being prepared to react quickly.
The overarching notion of defensive driving is the slim but possible reality that other drivers could make dumb driving decisions, so you’d need to account for their bad driving abilities to help you get ready to adjust your driving accordingly.
Usually, maintaining a safe following distance, using mirrors effectively, and obeying speed limits are crucial elements of defensive driving.
When you drive defensively, you help keep not just you and your passengers safe, but you keep the entire public road network at large safe too. Remember, being safe always trumps being fast.
5) Master Basic Vehicle Maintenance
Here’s the cold, hard truth: your car is not an invincible, eternal machine. It deteriorates over time—and it’s very vulnerable to encountering minor and major problems that can hamper its ability to bring you places.
Even if you’re following all the right rules and defensively driving, it’s all for naught if your car is working against you in the first place.
As such, it’s important to regularly repair your vehicle, as a functioning car is essential for being safe on the road.
Don’t know where to start? Learn how to diagnose basic car parts first.
Read up on how to check tire pressure, how to monitor fluid levels, how to fix a windshield wiper, and how to test the turn signals.
If anything’s amiss, contact a car repair specialist or read up on search engines for less complex car problems.
Understanding these aspects not only helps keep you safe, but it also prevents unexpected breakdowns.
Furthermore, if you regularly maintain your vehicle, you also promote its longevity and help it be durable enough for driving for years to come.
As such, be sure to familiarise yourself with your car even when it’s stationary.
6) Develop Patience and Stay Calm
Your attitude plays a big part in your overall driving experience.
While there will certainly be moments of great stress and outrage, it’s important to stay calm and collected even in moments of intense exasperation.
Road rage may not affect you at the start of your driving journey, but once you get better, you start to realise that not everyone’s driving skills on the road are up to par.
Once you do recognise yourself about to unload a barrage of curse words, return to baseline, count to 5, and breathe.
Aggressive driving behaviour dramatically increases the risk of accidents and injuries on the road—and you definitely won’t be looked at favourably if you’re the one who instigated it.
As such, practice maintaining composure in various driving situations, and remember that arriving safely is more important than reaching your destination quickly.
Ultimately, this can contribute to a more harmonious and secure driving experience.
7) Don’t Forget About Parking
Parking is a skill that often gets overlooked at the start of one’s driving journey, but it’s one of the most important skills you’ll have to hone to be a better driver.
There are many forms of parking—parallel parking, angled parking, and backward parking, to name the most common ones.
Parking is all about estimating the correct angle to move and performing the right technique. It can be tricky when you’re in a crowded zone, so be patient and follow your instructor’s guidance closely.
You may also start by practising how to park in more open areas to reduce the risk of any unwanted accidents.