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Congratulations, but don’t get cocky. Here are some good driving habits you should develop to keep you and other road users safe.
Learning a new skill is one thing, but being good at it takes longer and requires practice. Every day, newly licensed drivers take to the roads, thinking they have earned the right. However, young and new drivers do not have much hands-on experience driving on public roads. Passing a driving test in a controlled environment simply cannot be compared to driving under real-world traffic conditions.
Some new drivers tend to be overconfident, overestimating their driving capabilities. That is a dangerous combination, which can lead to accidents and serious injury. What they need to know is that, with the driving licence, they also have a new set of responsibilities. Being in control of a vehicle also means being responsible for themselves as well as other road users around them. Here are a couple of good habits that newly licensed drivers ought to internalise.
Never Text And Drive
Using your phone while driving is extremely distracting, dangerous, not to mention illegal. If you are chatting or texting on a mobile phone, it means you are not paying full attention to your driving or other motorists and road conditions. This behaviour makes a crash highly likely. Practise the good habit of using the mobile phone only when the car is safely parked.
Don’t Ignore Road Signs
You have learnt all about road signs in theory, and now is the time to put that into practice. Road signs are there for a reason — they help regulate traffic and make the roads safer for everyone. Stay within the speed limit during good environmental conditions and reduce your speed when the conditions are not ideal, such as rainy days or road works. Don’t just follow what other drivers are doing because they may not be following the rules, and you could end up with a fine or, worse, an accident.
Driving too closely to the car in front of you can lead to a serious collision, especially when the car ahead needs to jam the brakes. Driving too closely also appears aggressive, and may not be taken too kindly by the driver in front. You have to make sure that there’s enough room between you and the car ahead. If in doubt, keep to the three-second rule: make sure you take at least three seconds to reach a landmark (pick something convenient like a tree, street lamp or signpost) that the car in front has just passed. Of course, never time the three seconds by staring at your watch — your eyes should still be looking ahead!
Always Give Way
As a new driver, it will probably take you a little more time to figure out who has the right of way at a junction. If you are unsure, it is best to just give way to other drivers first. Even if you are certain you have the right of way, check to see that the coast is clear first before proceeding. Respect other road users, including pedestrians.
Slow Down In Wet Weather
Be aware that driving needs to be slower in rainy conditions. We’ve already mentioned that you should allow even more space between you and the car in front, as you will need more time to stop on a wet road will. Water ponding may be new to the inexperienced driver, so you want to be extra careful. Slow down, even below the recommended speed limit, and proceed cautiously in flooded areas to give your car better traction.
As a newbie on the roads, you will not have the guiding hand of an instructor anymore. It may be wise to have an experienced driver — a friend or family member — sit with you on the first few drives, as they can offer advice for situations with which you may be unfamiliar.
Keeping you moving
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