7 Things a First Time Driver Should Know Before Hitting the Road

Listen to this article

Still feeling apprehensive about driving? We reveal seven things a first-time driver should know before they get behind the wheel.

Did you know that teen drivers are nine times more likely to be involved in a fatal car accident than adults?

Driving can be exhilarating. But it can also be dangerous.

Before you hit the road, there are a few things you should know.

Buckle up, because we’re about to offer some of the most important advice a first time driver can hear.

1. Make Adjustments Before Starting the Vehicle

No two drivers are the same. As a result, you’ll likely need to make some quick adjustments before you crank up the car.

Start by finding a comfortable seating position.

You can slide the seat forward or backward to adjust for your height. Ideally, the balls of your feet should reach the middle of the gas pedal.

If you inch up closer, you run the risk of pressing down too hard on the gas pedal and speeding or causing an accident.

Next, tilt the seat forward so that you’re sitting straight. Not only is this great for your posture, but it ensures that you can safely reach the pedals and have prime access to your mirrors.

On the topic of your mirrors, you might need to adjust them, as well.

When looking in the rearview mirror, you should have a good vantage point of your full back window.

Finally, adjust your side mirrors, as well. Make sure to study your driver’s manual so you know how to avoid blind spots.

2. Yes, Distracted Driving Is That Dangerous

Even if you’ve yet to take your first drive, your parents and teachers have probably scared you with all sorts of horror stories about the dangers of distracted driving.

We’re here to tell you that they’re right. In fact, motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death for teens in the U.S.

It only takes five seconds of looking away from the road to cause an accident that could cost you your life, so keep your eyes on the road. That text can wait.

But it isn’t only texting you’ll need to be cautious of. The same goes for talking on the phone or even conversing with your friends in the car.

We understand how fun it is to cruise down the freeway blasting your favorite music. It’s a fun, freeing experience.

But right now, you don’t have the driving know-how needed to do so safely. It’s best to play your music at low volumes while you get your bearings.

Stay focused. It could just keep you alive.

3. It’s Okay to Take the Scenic Route

As exciting as hitting the open road for the first time can be, it’s also scary in its own way. Stepping into a car and getting behind the wheel puts a lot of responsibility on your shoulders.

That’s understandable. Just remember that you don’t have to do anything you’re not comfortable with, including driving on busy roads.

If you’d rather take a longer route that’s less congested, by all means, you should do it.

In fact, that’s preferable. Smaller back roads can help you build the confidence you need to conquer freeway or city driving, which in turn influences your driving ability.

So if you’re too nervous to hit that major intersection, don’t worry about it. You’ll arrive at your destination all the same, even if it takes a bit longer.

4. Know Your Neighborhood

Speaking of traffic patterns, start paying attention to traffic patterns near your home and areas you visit on a regular basis.

Is there a traffic light that’s always backed up? Or an intersection that seems like accident-bait?

Knowing these things can give you a better idea of what to expect from your fellow drivers on these roads. Make a note of the routes you usually take and pay close attention to how others behave on these roads.

While you can’t always predict the behavior of other drivers, knowing which blind spots to look out for or which roads are the most dangerous can help you stay safe.

5. Hope for the Best, Prepare for the Worst

No one ever gets on the road hoping to be in a car accident. But that doesn’t stop thousands of accidents from occurring each day.

For that reason, it’s always a good idea to know what to do in case of an accident.
Before leaving the house, make sure you have your license or permit as well as proof of insurance.

If you’re caught driving without insurance, you could end up paying hundreds of dollars in fines. Your license may get suspended, too, even if it’s your first offense.

Next, double-check that your vehicle comes equipped with a spare tire, as well as a jack and a lug wrench. Flat tires are rare, but they happen at the most inopportune times, so be prepared.

If you are in an accident, make sure to call the police. You should also have the contact info of a local lawyer, especially if you aren’t at fault for the accident. Get the details on the legal implications here.

6. Don’t Forget to Breathe

Are you feeling nervous about your first drive? It’s common to feel that way.

But remember that stress affects your driving skills. Take deep, regular breaths as you drive and do your best to stay calm.

7. Your Parents Are Just as Anxious

We’ll let you in on a little secret: Your parents are just as nervous, if not more. Remember to be patient with them as you begin learning to drive.

Not only is driving a massive step toward independence, but your parents understand how dangerous driving can be. They’ve likely stayed up at night fearing the worst possible scenarios and praying for your safety.

Try to be understanding, even if you feel frustrated at the moment. If it makes you feel any better, their parents were likely the exact same way when your parents were learning to drive.

Take driving advice to heart. You might not think you need it, but your parents know what they’re talking about.

And when it’s time for your first solo drive, be sure to let your parents know when you arrive at your destination safe and sound. It’s a small gesture, but it’ll mean the world to them.

Plus, open communication goes a long way in establishing trust. They’ll be more likely to lend you the car for an evening if they know they can count on you to be a safe, responsible driver.

Things Every First Time Driver Needs to Know

Nothing quite compares to the excitement that comes with being a first time driver. Still, a lot can happen on the road.

Make sure to keep these tips in mind as you head out for your first drive.

And be sure to check back with our blog for more helpful content like this!