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September 21, 2018

5 Practical Driving Tips to Help You Be a Better New Driver

You’re behind the steering wheel, cruising into an exciting new world of driving. But in today’s crowded cities, it can be a dangerous world, too. Traffic is hectic, distractions are all around and other drivers and pedestrians can behave unpredictably. While being in a car can feel safer than riding on a scooter, you’re only as safe as your actions.

A recent survey commissioned by Ford found an alarming number of young drivers who admitted using risky behaviors while driving, such as speeding and even watching TV. While some things are out of your control, knowing road safety rules and following a few practical tips can help protect you on the road—no matter how far or near you go.

#1. Buckle your belts! This may seem like old news. Wearing a seat belt is Rule #1. But many people are still reluctant to wear a seat belt, especially in the backseat.

The reasons why may surprise you. One common excuse for avoiding seatbelts is not wanting to wrinkle clothes! Let’s consider the trade-offs. Don’t wear a seatbelt and you’re prone to serious injury (or even death). In fact, wearing the seatbelt, wrinkled clothes and all, halves the chance of injury in an accident; and the risk of death by 45 percent.

#2. Know your car. This may seem obvious, but every car is different, so know the car you’re in to avoid distractions on the road. Read the Owner’s Manual and understand how to use basic controls such as the headlights, wipers, and even temperature controls. You don’t want to be caught scrambling to turn on your lights when darkness hits. And many cars today are equipped with driver-assist technologies to help keep you safe on busy roads. Get familiar with this technology before you set out.

#3. Don’t be distracted. Phone alerts. Social media. Noisy children. Eating food. Applying makeup. Lack of sleep. Loud music. The list of distractions is endless. But distracted driving is linked to a growing number of accidents and fatalities and puts you in danger.  Fifty four perceont percent of drivers in Asia Pacific say they try not to use their phones while driving, but they do anyway. Finish what you’re doing before you drive—your life and the lives of those around you are more important than answering that text.

#4. Drive defensively. Crawling along in bumper to scooter traffic can be frustrating for any driver, experienced or not, but here are some strategies for defensive driving. Be aware of your surroundings, especially when backing out of parking spaces or making lane changes and turns. Take advantage of your car’s parking technology and other driver-assist technologies like rear parking cameras or blind spot monitoring.

#5. Watch the weather. Seasons change, and your situation on the road will, too. Practice driving in bad weather in a safe, secluded location to see how your traction, braking and steering are impacted at various speeds—if possible, have an experienced driver join you. Practicing will help you remain “calm in the storm” during a roadtrip or when it’s time to go to work or school.

Cyclical monsoons and typhoons can cause flooded roads with fallen or floating debris. Strong winds can make it difficult to stay in your lane, and sudden gusts can cause tall trucks to veer out of their lanes. Driving on flooded roads should be avoided, but here are a few strategies for cruising through the rainy season:
  • Replace windshield wipers before the rains start…and check your tires to be sure they have adequate tread and are properly inflated.
  • Turn on your headlights. 
  • Take it slow. Driving at high speeds can cause your car to hydroplane (lose traction and skid) on slippery pavement and may cause you to lose control.

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