Driving is a milestone that every young child looks forward to. They watch the adults in their lives and yearn for the freedom that comes with being a licensed driver. However, as they get older, and the dream starts to become a closer reality, one question gets louder in their minds—is driving easy?
Driving is not a difficult task, but it depends on what and where you are driving. Standard vehicles are often more difficult to drive than automatics, and most people find city driving more difficult than rural driving.
Below we will look at the things that make driving difficult, along with some tips that can make driving easier for those who are just learning to drive.
Things New Drivers Struggle With
Despite the obvious differences, there are many ways that driving a car is like riding a bike. Once you know how to do it, you will never forget, but learning can be a bit of a struggle.
When it comes to driving a car, there are a few things that all new drivers struggle with, but with practice, these too can become part of the automatic process of driving.
1. Learning the Rules of the Road
Venturing out onto the road can be scary for new drivers who are not familiar with the rules of the road. Most states require drivers to take a driver’s education course before being eligible to receive their license, but there may still be rules that were not covered in the class. Things such as knowing when you have the right of way, where to yield to traffic, and which lane you should be in can make driving a stressful situation.
A good way to overcome this problem is to pay attention and ask questions as a passenger. Make mental notes about how others are driving, where they slow down, and areas that may be more problematic. Also, asking questions is a great way to pick the brain of someone who has been driving for several years.
2. Dealing with Traffic and the Unwritten Rules of the Road
You could memorize the entire driving handbook and still find yourself unprepared for the open road. Over the years, drivers pick up bad habits, and it is common to see people who are not following the written rules, but instead, following a set of unwritten rules. This is especially true in big cities such as Boston or New York.
An effective way to overcome this is to watch traffic as a passenger. Make a note of the things you see drivers do that are technically not “legal,” such as turning on a red light or making a U-turn. Knowing what to expect from other drivers is a big part of defensive driving and keeping yourself safe on the road.
3. Being Too Hesitant
Being cautious is important, but there is such a thing as being too cautious while driving. While being careful will keep you safe, being overly cautious could cause confusion amongst drivers and actually increase your chances of getting hurt. For example, putting your blinker on too early might cause another driver to think you are turning sooner than you are, and they may pull out in front of you as a result.
Or not going when you have the right of way could throw off the timing at an intersection, causing two other drivers to go at the same time.
A safe way to overcome this is to stay within your comfort zone. If you find yourself feeling panicky about city driving, find a small town to practice driving in first. If you find that you have more anxiety about certain situations, such as intersections, find a slow intersection in which you can practice.
4. Night Driving
There are many experienced drivers who still struggle with nighttime driving. Driving in the dark is much different from driving during the day. It is much harder to see the road and predict turns, the headlights of oncoming traffic can feel blinding, and you never know when an animal might run out in front of you. Additionally, you may encounter rural roads that are not properly marked, and rain can reduce visibility even further.
Although there is little that can be done to change the environment, there are a few things you can do to make night driving a bit safer. Get your eyes checked. Even if you have perfect vision, you might need glasses to drive at night. Also, make sure the headlights on your vehicle are in tip-top shape. Bad headlights can make nighttime driving a nightmare. Finally, stick to routes that you are familiar with until you get more comfortable driving at night.
5. Being Distracted
Distractions are dangerous and can result in significant injury or even death. Unfortunately, most people think they can deal with distractions and will put themselves in dangerous situations without realizing it. It can be hard for a new driver to find a balance between staying alert and being distracted.
The best way to overcome this is to remove distractions. Most states have rules that stipulate who can be in the car with a new driver, and it is typically restricted to only family members. But even if your state does not restrict passengers, you should only allow people who will respect your need for quiet.
Additionally, leave cell phones out of reach or use a hands-free device when phone calls cannot be avoided, and refrain from playing with the radio. Friends, phone calls, and music are not worth losing your life over.
6. Parallel Parking
Parallel parking is everyone’s worst nightmare. Even people who have been doing it for years still hate doing it, and learning how to parallel park can be stressful. However, even if you live in an area where you can avoid parallel parking, it is a good skill to know.
A good way to overcome this is to take a couple of street cones to an empty/open parking lot and practice between the cones. This way, you are not damaging your car or anyone else’s car if you do hit the cones, which may relieve some of the tension of learning.
7. Winter Driving
Driving in the winter is much different from driving on clear roads, and it can sometimes feel like you must learn how to drive all over again. For example, you would normally apply the brakes while going down a hill, but you would not want to do this on snowy roads. It can be difficult to learn to drive in the winter and a lot of inexperienced drivers simply avoid it whenever possible.
A good way to overcome this is to take a defensive driving course or take classes from a quality driving school that will teach you how to drive in different situations. Additionally, it is a good idea to watch how other drivers handle trickier situations, such as driving in heavy rain or on snowy roads.
Tips For New Drivers
Learning how to drive can be both stressful and exciting. Over time, you will grow in maturity and experience, and things will become more second nature. However, until then, there are a few things that all new drivers should know.
- Hold the wheel with both hands. Sure, it might not feel “cool,” but it will help you respond to dangerous situations more effectively.
- Give yourself amply time to slow down and stop. Tailgating or turning at the last minute are both dangerous and you should start slowing down well before you intend to stop or turn.
- Maintain a safe speed and follow posted speed limits. Tickets stink, but that is not the only reason to follow the speed limit. Speed limits are posted because that is the maximum speed at which the road has been deemed safe to travel. If a road has a low-speed limit, it is probably going through a residential area or has sharp corners.
- Watch the signs. It is not just stop signs you need to watch for. Areas where animals are known to cross, or residential areas where children play will be marked. Additionally, sharp corners and dangerous frost heaves will typically be marked as well. You should make a conscious attempt to look at all road signs and markings.
- Always plan ahead. This is especially important when driving in areas with which you are unfamiliar. Knowing where you are going will help you know which lane you need to be in and prevent last-minute mistakes.
- Use your signals and mirrors. Most new drivers get sick of hearing this, but it might be the most important thing to know. If you are not effectively communicating with the drivers around you, you and increasing your chance of getting into an accident.
- Check your vehicle. Inspecting your vehicle is a good habit when you are first learning to drive. Make sure all your lights are working and the tires are inflated properly.
- Avoid peer pressure. Many avoidable accidents happen in response to peer pressure. Pressure to drive faster, to drink and drive, to have too many people in your car, or to “have fun” while driving. You are operating a dangerous machine that could hurt not only you but the other drivers on the road. It is important to drive safely, even if that means saying no to your friends.
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