Now you finally have your licence, you have freedom and flexibility. But if you want to look after yourself and your vehicle, you will need to follow these safe driving tips.
Sadly, according to youngdriverfactbase.com, 45 per cent of all young Australians’ injuries and deaths are due to road traffic crashes. The best way to avoid becoming one of these statistics is to always follow the rules and drive with care.
Take a look at our top ten safe driving tips to check if you measure up as a safe driver in Australia.
#1 Have a wheel-y good vehicle
To be a safe driver, you need to have a safe vehicle. Ensure the car you’re driving has valid registration and is serviced regularly. Have problems like faulty brake lights fixed immediately and visit your mechanic if you hear a suspicious whistling or rattling noise coming from your engine.
#2 Set up before you start
Switch on the radio, adjust the rearview mirror and set the air conditioning before you leave your driveway so you can focus on the road.
Another safe driving tip is to check where your hazard light switch is on the dashboard. You may need to hit it quickly and you don’t want to waste time searching for the button.
#3 Buckle up
There’s no excuse for you and your passengers not to be wearing a seatbelt. Doing so will not only help you avoid a fine, it may save your life.
If you’re the driver, you’re responsible. Make sure your passengers have their seatbelts fastened correctly.
#4 Keep your hands on the wheel
Texting or even touching your phone while driving is illegal and you can even be picked up by cameras if you’re doing it. So don’t!
An important safe driving tip for Australians is also to avoid eating, drinking, applying makeup or handing items to passengers while you’re driving. Unless you’re changing gears in a manual car, you should aim to have both hands on the wheel at all times.
#5 Don’t take chances
It may save you a few seconds to drive through an orange light or speed through an intersection even though a car is coming in the other direction, but the risk is not worth the reward.
If you want to be a safe driver, always err on the side of caution. Slow down instead of speeding up at orange lights and wait until intersections are clear to pass through.
#6 Go easy
Slamming on brakes and accelerating in an aggressive manner will not only cause your car to wear out sooner, it can put you in the ‘dangerous driver’ category.
Harsh movements are uncomfortable for your passengers and can catch the other drivers around you off guard, which may lead to an accident.
Read more: Tips for buying a second-hand car
#7 Respect the speed limit
Another scary statistic is that the biggest killer of young drivers is speeding. Consider that if you’re travelling at 70 kilometres per hour and you need to brake suddenly, you’ll cover a distance of over 50 metres by the time you have reacted, pressed the brake and come to a stop*.
It may be tempting to go too fast if you’re running late or there is nobody around but the speed limits are set so they can protect the public and give you time to react if something unexpected happens.
#8 Expect the unexpected
Always assume other cars haven’t noticed you and try to keep a distance of a couple of car lengths, especially on the freeway.
This is a good safe driving tip that can prevent you from rear-ending someone who brakes suddenly at high speed.
And when you’re in the country, be on high alert for wildlife like kangaroos, which hop onto the road and behave erratically when you’re trying to avoid them.
#9 Don’t drink and drive.
There’s no excuse.
#10 Respect the elements
A final safe driving tip is to drive according to the conditions. If it is raining, the road is slippery and your car may skid if you brake suddenly so slow down.
In the afternoons and early morning, bright sunlight can be a hazard as well. Again, go slowly and give the driver ahead of you a lot of room. Keep some polarised sunglasses in the car to protect yourself from the glare.
In parts of Australia, high winds and flooding occur from time to time. In these conditions, if you really want to be a safe driver, it may be best to stay off the roads completely. Police say you should never drive your car into flood water as it may be a lot deeper than you think.
Follow these safe driving tips and you’ll be able to protect your vehicle, yourself, your passengers and the people around you. You’ll also save a great deal of money on insurance, infringement fines and the cost of smash repairs.
Read more: Buying a car during lockdown
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Disclaimer: The information above is of a general nature only and does not consider your personal objectives, financial situation or particular needs. You should consider seeking independent legal, financial, taxation or other advice to check how the information relates to your particular circumstances. We do not accept responsibility for any loss arising from the use of, or reliance on, the information.