Whether you are studying to get your permit or you just took your first official license photo, it’s important to master good habits behind the wheel. These five habits are essential to safe driving to ensure you and those around you

1. Check the space around your vehicle before getting inside.


You never know what obstructions have been placed near your vehicle before you begin driving. Children could place their toys underneath your wheels, nails could be dragged into your driveway, a neighbor’s cat might be sleeping under your hubcap, or a tire could be flat. Even worse, there could be a small child playing in the vicinity that can’t be seen from inside your vehicle. Whatever the case, it’s always best to check each side and underneath your car before getting behind the wheel. This way, you can remove any unseen obstructions before you hit them.


2. Don’t transport children or pets without seat belts and safety carriers.


It’s common to see a driver distracted by a dog or a small child. We often brush this off as part of life, but it can be easily prevented. Rather than allowing your dog to roam free in your vehicle, consider purchasing a travel crate or another safety carrier that will confine him or her to one seat in the car. 


As the teen driver in the family, you might be tasked with transporting younger siblings around so be sure you are aware of the car seat laws in your state. It might be tempting to remove your sibling or the child you’re babysitting from his or her car seat for comfort, but it’s always best to take safety precautions no matter how short the distance is or how much screaming is coming from the back. 


3. Remain calm, even in frustrating situations.


Road rage doesn’t help anyone. It only increases temper and dangerous decision making on the roadway. Rather than being part of this cycle, remain calm when a driver makes a bad choice. Unless you are trying to warn a driver that comes too close, honking can actually cause more harm than good. According to Health Watch Center, road rage is also bad for your overall health. While it can seem impossible to stay calm when a driver puts you in danger, remember that you aren’t helping matters when you lose your temper.


4. Don’t be afraid to pull over.


There are dozens of reasons to pull over on the roadway. Maybe the weather has gotten out of hand. Maybe a warning light you aren’t familiar with has just come on. Maybe your dog keeps jumping into your lap. Whatever the case, there is nothing wrong with pulling over – even on the freeway. Being aware of your surroundings and your car can keep you and your passengers safe while driving.


5. Avoid any and all distractions.


It could be texting, talking, or snapchatting on your phone. It could be a small pet or a car full of friends. There are far too many distractions on the roads today – and just as many drivers taking part in them. How often do you see a driver swerving on the road, making reckless mistakes, only to find that he or she is talking on a cell phone? Now, be honest, how often do you find yourself talking or texting on the phone while driving? According to Driving-Tests.org, texting and driving means you are 23 times more likely to get into a car accident, and 11 teens die every day as a result of these crashes. You might insist that you never make poor decisions or that you’re able to handle the distractions, but you’d probably be wrong. Learn more through Cell Phone Safety, which outlines the risks of talking and driving.


These five habits are a great start to safe driving. Use them and teach them to drivers around you, including your friends and family. You’ll be surprised who you can influence when you share good driving tips.


Photo via Unsplash

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