Driver’s Ed teaches students how to drive, but there are plenty of other important lessons that still need to be taught. Here are 7 helpful things to discuss with a new driver:
1) What to do if you get a flat tire?
Pull completely off the road, even if it means destroying the tire. Call roadside assistance and let that person change the tire. If you have a spare and know how to change the tire, make sure you are out of traffic and in plain sight of oncoming traffic before changing it yourself. If you are in need of a new tire, we’ve got you covered! Visit http://wiygul.com/tires/ to shop for tires by vehicle, size and brand.
2) What to do when the "Check Engine" light comes on?
If there is any change in the car's performance, or you notice any noises or smells, stop the car immediately? If there are no symptoms except the “Check Engine” light is illuminated, take the car to your trusted mechanic (Wiygul Automotive Clinic, we hope!) and let them diagnose the problem.
Important tip: If you just bought gas, the “Check Engine” light might just be indicating that the gas cap is loose. Tighten the cap and continue driving. The light should go off on its own. If it doesn’t then we recommend bringing it to your trusted mechanic.
3) How to drive safely while talking on a cell phone?
Most states ban all cell phone use by rookie drivers, so be sure you know the laws in your area. If it is permissible to use a cell, always use a hands-free device/bluetooth so you can keep your hands on the wheel and your eyes on the road. Don't even think about texting while driving (no, not even at stoplights)!
4) How to get an honest quote for an automotive repair shop?
If you know what is wrong with your car, use the internet to estimate how much the repair should cost. Then use online review platforms to find an auto shop with high customer ratings. It is always best to have your vehicle inspected at an auto shop to receive the most accurate quote for the repair.
5) How to drive in rain and snow?
Reduce your speed and leave more room between your vehicle and those in front of you. Understand that a car might hydroplane on a rain puddle on the road and learn how to react to driving with reduced traction and visibility. If possible, practice driving off the main road (like an empty parking lot, for example) after snow or heavy rain to get some experience without risking your safety around other vehicles.
6) How to avoid road rage situations?
As an inexperienced driver, you may drive more slowly, more cautiously, or make a mistake. If you inadvertently anger another driver, don't get drawn into interacting with them. Ignore them or, if necessary, change your route. If someone offends you, take a deep breath and know that your anger will dissolve in minutes.
7) How to keep your vehicle running smoothly>
Follow your vehicle’s maintenance recommendations stated in your owner's manual - this includes things like oil changes and tire rotations. Also, keep in mind, if you own a vehicle in Virginia you will be to a Virginia State Inspection every year and a Virginia Emissions Inspection every two years.
We understand that as a new driver, there’s a lot to keep in mind. Start good driving habits now by following these tips:
Always buckle up - Make sure you and your passengers are wearing seatbelts. More than half (52%-59%) of teens (13-19 years) and adults aged 20-44 years who died in crashes in 2015 were unrestrained at the time of the crash.*
Keep your distance - Maintain a safe following distance so you have time to react. Remember this three-second rule: When the car in front of you passes a fixed object on the road, it should be three seconds before your car passes that same object. We know that in heavily congested traffic areas like Washington DC, this isn’t always do-able. However, we recommend that you do your best to keep a safe distance. Along with this, look ahead so you have time to react to any sudden changes.
Use your turn signals - Not only is using a turn signal important to letting other drivers know where you want to go, but it’s a courtesy that makes driving easier for everyone. Be sure to check blind spots before changing lanes!
We hope these tips help you feel safe and prepared to drive and operate your vehicle. If you ever have any questions we welcome you to call or stop by one of our many DC Metro locations.
*National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Traffic Safety Facts: 2015 Data – Occupant Protection. Washington, DC: US Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration; 2017. Publication no. DOT-HS-812-374. Available at https://crashstats.nhtsa.dot.gov/Api/Public/ViewPublication/812374. Accessed May 18, 2017.