As new drivers hit the roads in Denver and throughout the state for the first time, these safety tips could help them prepare and may even help avoid an accident.
Recognizing potentially dangerous situations is a key component to defensive driving. This goes beyond obeying traffic laws. It’s having an awareness of others who share the road and expecting the unexpected.
Of course, it’s impossible to always predict what other drivers will do. But there are ways to identify situations that could potentially lead to a crash. Additionally, drivers can depend on certain techniques to reduce the likelihood of an accident.
Adjust your Speed
For instance, drivers should adjust their speed when appropriate. If there are brake lights up ahead on the highway, start slowing down.
Don’t wait until the last minute, as there may not be enough time to make a safe stop, especially if others in front start braking suddenly. Drivers should also reduce their speed if the roads are icy or wet or if conditions make driving more dangerous, such as fog, snow, or rain.
Do Not Closely Follow the Vehicle in Front of You
Another defensive driving tip is to allow enough room to stop safely when driving behind another vehicle. You never know when the car in front will suddenly stop, and if you’re closely following you may not be able to stop in time.
Many advocate for the two-second rule, which encourages drivers to stay at least two seconds behind the car in front, though some call for a three-second rule.
When passing another vehicle, check mirrors and blind spots before changing lanes and then ensure there is enough space to get back in the original lane without cutting off the other vehicle. Also be sure to not suddenly slow down once in front of it.
Don’t assume that you know what a motorist is going to do. For example, if another motorist is intending to change lanes and has activated the right turn signal, don’t automatically assume the vehicle will change into the right lane. Some drivers may put the turn signal on in the wrong direction and change into the left lane instead.
Also, when approaching an intersection with stop signs, be prepared in case another vehicle rolls through it. Don’t expect all vehicles to stop. Even if your vehicle arrived there first, it doesn’t necessarily mean the other driver won’t proceed through anyway.
Other Road Safety Tips for New Drivers
Eliminating distractions is an important tip. Eyes, ears, and thoughts should be on the road at all times, and hands should always be on the steering wheel. Some distractions are obvious, such as talking on a cell phone or texting. But other less well-known distractions can be dangerous as well.
It’s also important not to get behind the wheel when impaired. This doesn’t just apply to alcohol or drugs, but even applies to taking a medication that causes drowsiness. Also avoid driving when you’re fatigued or angry.
If you encounter an aggressive or angry driver, safely distance your vehicle from his or hers. Do not allow yourself to get road rage, as this can endanger you, the other driver, and others on the road.
Learn more about safe driving by checking out some of our other safety-related articles about wearing a seatbelt and distracted driving.