You passed your state’s driving test. Congratulations! You have a new driver’s license, and you probably can’t wait to the road and embark on different adventures. Before you start taking trips, there are essential tips for new drivers that you need to know. There are a few reasons auto insurance premiums are higher for new drivers than drivers who have more experience. Use the following tips to help you as a new driver as you navigate roads.

Once You Pass Your State’s Driving Exam

After you pass your state’s driving exam, you’ll receive your official driver’s license which states you passed the exam and are legally able to operate a motor vehicle. Not to obliterate your confidence, but even though you have a driver’s license, you’re a qualified driver, but it doesn’t mean you’re a good one. You need to make sure you’re a safe and responsible driver, and that takes practice. So, after you get your driver’s license, here are a few steps you should take.

1.    Practice

Now that you can go out and drive on your own, the world is yours! However, you don’t want to venture onto busy highways and streets just yet since you’re a new driver. It’s important to practice the driving skills and techniques you learned about in Driver’s Ed.

Take your time and practice on roads and streets that are less busy, meaning little to no traffic. You can even practice in front of your home, given it’s not a busy area. By practicing driving, you can improve your driving skills before you venture out into more challenging driving situations.

2.    Take Another Person Along

This will likely be the first time you’ll be driving without someone else in the car, which can feel weird at first. If driving alone makes you feel uneasy, see if someone will be willing to tag along with you to different destinations while you practice driving. It’s a good idea to drive with someone who is an experienced driver, so they can give you helpful tips as you drive.

3.    Take More Driving Courses

Don’t make the mistake that most new drivers make. Having a license doesn’t automatically make you an excellent driver. However, with practice, you’ll be a master of the road in no time. Although you passed your state’s written and in-car driving exams, you still have a lot to learn about driving. Did you know that new drivers are at the highest risk of being involved in an accident? The good news is that you can lower your risk of being in an accident by completing more driving courses. A few beneficial driving lessons include highway, skills, and defensive driving lessons. These courses may have online options, so don’t forget to check! Completing advanced driving courses can also decrease your auto insurance premiums. You also have the option of obtaining a “P” Plate, which lets other drivers know you’re a new driver.

4.    Hold the Steering Wheel Correctly

There’s a correct and incorrect way to hold the steering wheel. You can place your hands at 9 and 3 o’clock or 8 and 4 o’clock. These driving positions give you the best combination of control and stability and are the best positions to use to make sure your arms don’t become stressed and tired.

5.    Adjust Your Mirrors

Before you start driving, adjust your mirrors. You rely on a vehicle’s mirrors to see different blind spots. Although these mirrors won’t cover all your blind spots, they cover most of them. You can perform a shoulder check to see other blind spots.

6.    Always Use the Indicator Lights

Neglecting to use the appropriate turn signal(s) at the appropriate time(s) is one of the best ways to frustrate other drivers, and it’s also dangerous. It’s important to use your turn signals at the correct time, so you remain predictable to other drivers and prevent accidents.

You should always use your turn signals and other indicator lights, even when there appears to be no one else on the road. Getting in the habit of using your indicator lights at all times is a good way to stay safe. There may be another vehicle or pedestrian that you don’t see, or they may not see you. Using indicator lights helps you remain visible to pedestrians and drivers, even if your headlights are on or it’s daylight outside.

7.    Learn How to Merge Correctly

Knowing how to merge correctly into a different traffic lane is essential for your safety and the safety of other drivers. To merge correctly into a different traffic lane, you must be patient. Rushing makes you an unpredictable driver, and could cause an accident. Wait until there is a break in traffic, use the correct turn signal, and when you can, move into the traffic lane you want to be in.

8.    Practice Parking

Parking of any kind can give drivers anxiety, especially regarding reverse or parallel parking. To save yourself a little anxiety, find a quiet place to practice parking. You can use cones if you would like. An open parking lot would be a good place to practice. Take your time and practice parking inside the lines. Use cones or similar objects if you’re practicing parallel parking.

9.    Avoid Speeding

Whether you’re a new or experienced driver, having the need for speed usually doesn’t end well, and it puts you and other drivers in dangerous situations. Always stick to the posted speed limit. Even going 5 mph over the speed limit can get you in trouble with authorities and it increases your risk of being involved in an accident. Regardless of how cool your car is, it’s not a race car, and speeding isn’t cool Being involved in an accident due to speeding will skyrocket your auto insurance premiums, and you could be seriously injured.

10.Drive Accordingly

Failure to adapt to the current driving conditions can have fatal results. If it’s currently raining, decrease your speed. If it’s snowing or there is ice on the roads, only drive if you have to, and you need to drive slower than you would if it were raining.

11.Spot Potential Dangers

Driving causes anxiety for many drivers because you have to continuously remain aware and alert. One of the best ways to prevent an accident is to spot the danger before it occurs. Always keep your eyes on the road and pay attention to what’s going on in front of you. If you notice that a driver is being reckless, (merging in and out of traffic lanes or speeding) distance yourself from the driver. Be prepared to slow down in the event of an emergency.

12.Drive in the Right Lane, Pass in the Left Lane

The far left traffic lane is known as the “fast lane”, however, this lane is not particularly for speeding, it is for passing vehicles. If you plan on going the speed limit, which you always should avoid the left lane unless you need to pass the vehicle in front of you.

Do not pass vehicles using the right lane. The right lane is the lane other drivers use to enter or exit the highway, making it dangerous for you to use to pass a vehicle. When you aren’t a predictable driver, other drivers don’t know what you’re planning to do, such as switch traffic lanes or exit the highway, so stay predictable, and don’t use the right lane to pass vehicles.

13.Have a Good Driving Attitude

Having a good driving attitude makes more of a difference than you think. Your driving attitude can dictate your entire mood, especially while driving, so make sure you’re being positive and remaining aware of your surroundings. Having a poor driving attitude can cloud your judgment and cause you to take unnecessary risks.

14.Drive Defensively

Believe it or not, the best way to stay safe on the road is to drive defensively. Driving defensively means giving other drivers plenty of room. You also need to pay attention to the road and other drivers’ behaviors, so you can anticipate what they’re going to do and drive accordingly.

15.Don’t Assume All Drivers Are Good Drivers

Don’t assume other drivers are good drivers. Not making assumptions is a part of defensive driving. Some drivers won’t stick to the rules of the road, making them a hazardous driver. Be prepared for vehicles to turn suddenly without seeing a turn signal or braking suddenly. These unexpected erratic movements can be considered reckless driving, so always be on the lookout for such dangers.

It can be difficult to determine who’s a good driver and who’s a bad driver by looking at them, so pay attention to the vehicles on the road and give yourself plenty of space from the vehicle in front of you in case they aren’t the best of drivers.

16.Avoid Using Your Car’s Horn in Anger

It’s no secret that driving can be frustrating at times. However, do not engage in road rage or drive while you’re frustrated. Instead, take a deep breath and remain calm. Your car’s horn is for alerting other drivers of your presence if they veer into your lane, or if you need to get their attention for some other reason. Don’t lose your temper, and don’t use your horn out of frustration or anger.

17.Deal With Aggressive Drivers Correctly

At some point, you’ll run into an aggressive driver. The best thing to do in this situation is to know how to mitigate the situation. Avoid making contact with the other driver and don’t make gestures, such as you being mad or frustrated with them, as this will worsen the situation. If you notice that a driver is being aggressive, allow them to pass you and distance your vehicle from theirs.

If the situation escalates and the other driver tries to run you off the road or something similar occurs, as soon as you can, pull over to the side of the road and notify authorities. If you can, get the license plate information and an approximate location.

18.Avoid Being Rude

Being a rude or aggressive driver won’t make any situation better, especially on the road. Although road rage is common, it’s not a good thing. If a driver cuts you off, starts tailgating, or anything similar, remain calm and never retaliate. Although some actions may seem to be done on purpose, that isn’t always the situation. Drivers make mistakes, so their actions aren’t always deliberate. If a driver cuts you off, don’t react. Keep driving and distance yourself from their vehicle.

19.Follow the Rules of the Road

This is a simple tip that all drivers know, but we’ll mention it anyway. There are more rules to the road than speeding. Cars weigh more than you think and can cause serious accidents and injuries. The good news is many accidents and injuries can be avoided by following traffic rules, such as coming to a complete stop at stop signs. Pay close attention to road signs and speed limit signs, and follow them accordingly. There’s no need to get tickets and pay expensive fines.

20.Avoid Speeding to Catch a Green Light

As you drive, you’ll notice that some drivers drastically increase their speed to avoid missing a green light, also known as “beating the light”. This is an unsafe and dangerous driving practice! Once a traffic light turns yellow, slow down. There’s no need to put yourself in a dangerous situation.

21.Avoid Tailgating

Tailgating is another unsafe driving practice that you should avoid. Tailgating is when you follow too closely to the vehicle in front of you. Tailgating is an unsafe driving practice because you have no time to react.

If the vehicle in front of you suddenly brakes, it’s likely you will rear-end the vehicle, and the accident, regardless of damage, will be your fault! These types of accidents will increase your auto insurance premiums and you’ll likely get a ticket and have a fine(s) to pay. Tailgating makes a lot of drivers anxious, and anxious drivers are more likely to make mistakes, which can result in an accident.

22.If Someone is Tailgating You, Don’t Brake!

Similarly, if another driver is tailgating you, don’t brake. If the other driver doesn’t react quickly, they’ll end up rear-ending you, and you’ll have to sit and wait for the authorities to arrive and a report will need to be made.

Also, braking suddenly is one way to ensure you frustrate the other driver, which could lead to road rage, and this is not a situation you want to end up in. You never know how another driver will react when frustrated and upset.

If you feel pressured to speed because someone is tailgating you, when you have the opportunity, merge into a different lane and allow the driver to pass you. Once they pass you, you can merge back into the lane.

23.Don’t Drive Distracted

Texting and driving and eating and driving are considered driving distracted. Anything you do other than keep your eyes on the road is driving distracted. You shouldn’t text and drive or use your phone at all while you’re driving. If you have a hands-free kit, such as Bluetooth, that is connected to your vehicle and allows you to answer calls without reaching for the phone, in most states, this is allowed. However, you can easily become distracted while talking and not realize it, so stay alert.

Also, don’t mess with the radio. For most drivers, driving while listening to their favorite tunes is a must. However, constantly changing the song or the radio station distracts you from keeping your eyes on the road and paying attention to your surroundings. It’s a good idea to create a playlist and make sure everything is the way you want it before you leave your destination.

You’ll also want to avoid playing loud music. You may be surprised at how distracting loud music is. When you have your favorite artists blasting from your car’s speakers, it makes it difficult to hear car horns, sirens, and other noises that can alert you when there is an emergency.

24.Try Not to Rubberneck

Rubberneck? Right. Rubbernecking is what happens when people take their eyes off the road to stare at accidents or other situations, such as someone being pulled over as they are driving past. Make sure you focus on the road in front of you so you don’t end up in an accident.

25.Don’t Drive When You’re Tired or Sleepy

Everyone gets tired, but if you’re driving, this is a problem. When you’re tired, you’re less alert and aware of your surroundings, which can lead to an accident. If you’re sleepy, your reaction time is slowed tremendously and increases your chances of making poor choices and being involved in an accident.

You could also fall asleep at the wheel, and it’s easier than you think. What feels like a split second is actually longer, and fatal accidents can occur in a matter of seconds. Proper sleep is important in general, but especially before driving.

One mistake drivers make is believing they can make themselves stay awake. Blasting music, turning the air conditioning on, or rolling down the window won’t help. Your body is tired and you will fall asleep regardless of your efforts to stay awake. When you’re sleepy, avoid driving.

26.Never Operate a Motor Vehicle While Under the Influence

Driving under the influence can mean more than illegal substances or alcohol. Some prescribed and over-the-counter medications have drowsiness as a side effect. Dizziness can be another side effect of certain medications, so check the label before taking the medicine and attempting to drive.

If certain medications make you sleepy or drowsy, don’t drive. See if a friend or relative can run errands for you or take the medication when you know you don’t have things to do. Certain medications that must be taken at night can leave you feeling weak and tired in the morning, so make sure you know how specific medications will affect you before taking them.

27.Watch for Cyclists

When you encounter cyclists, (motorcycles and bikes) on the road, give them space. Don’t follow closely behind them or box them in with other vehicles. Pay close attention to their hand gestures. Since most bicycles aren’t equipped with turn signals, cyclists will use their hands and arms as turn signals to let you know what they plan on doing, such as turning.

It’s not uncommon for cyclists to be unpredictable. They can swerve or veer into a different traffic lane without warning. Cycling over rocks, pebbles, and potholes can also be a problem. Unlike motor vehicles, the tires on a bicycle are not the tires on a car, so cyclists will avoid them, causing them to swerve. Stay a safe distance to ensure the safety of cyclists on the road and prevent tragic accidents.

As a new driver, this may seem like a lot of information, but as time progresses, it will become second nature to follow traffic rules and guidelines. Remember to be as predictable as possible and watch for other drivers on the road. Stay safe and happy travels!