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No matter your age, getting behind the wheel for the first time is a major milestone. Driving offers an exciting new level of independence, but getting in the driver's seat can also be intimidating for new motorists.
All first-time drivers should consider taking a drivers education course. It's a great way to learn safe driving practices that will last you a lifetime. If you're a first-time driver, we also encourage you to follow these tips to help you get comfortable behind the wheel.
Don't expect to merge onto the highway during your first session behind the wheel. Start out in a parking lot and progress from there. Once you start to get comfortable in the driver's seat, move onto bigger and busier roads.
Though it's always important to be aware of the drivers around you, try not to worry about what they're thinking. If you feel safer waiting until no cars are approaching before you pull out of a parking lot, that's fine. If driving five miles under the speed limit makes you more comfortable, do it.
Though you may see a few drivers speed past you, keep in mind that safety is the number one priority when you're behind the wheel. Always follow your state's traffic laws and avoid picking up bad behaviors that you may observe from other drivers.
Whether you're a first-time driver or an experienced motorist, you should never drive distracted. Though some states allow you to talk on the phone and drive at the same time, you should avoid doing it. And, never text and drive. According to the National Highway Safety Administration, nearly 400,000 people were injured because of distracted driving in 2015 alone.
You should also be sure to get plenty of sleep if you're going to be behind the wheel. According to a 2014 study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, 21% of fatal crashes involve a tired driver.
One easy way to become a safer driver is to leave plenty of space behind the car in front of you. Rear-end collisions are the most common type of traffic accident in the U.S., but they can be avoided by allowing at least a three-second gap between your vehicle and the one you're following. Leave even more space if you're driving during inclement weather.
Though it's important to pay attention to the car in front of you, you should also look past it so that you know what's coming up. Continually scan the road rather than fixing your stare directly ahead of you. This will help keep you alert and aware of changing traffic conditions.
If you're driving to a new place, it's also helpful to look up directions ahead of time. Knowing what to expect can make first-time drivers feel much more comfortable behind the wheel.