Got Your Driver’s License? Top 10 Things to Do During the First Week
One of the biggest and most important milestones in any teenager’s life is passing the driving test and getting a driver’s license. This is proof that they are finally growing up and entering adulthood, and they have a new found sense of freedom. Often, new drivers just want to drive, and they do not think about all of the responsibilities they have now that they are licensed drivers. Not trying to sound preachy here, but driving is a privilege and not a right, and there are many responsibilities that go along with being able to drive.
If you are a new driver, here are 10 things that you should do within the first week of getting your driver’s license:
10 Things to Do in the First Week
Make sure you are covered
This is probably one of the most important things you are going to do in your first week as a driver. You need to make sure that you have adequate insurance, because no matter how good a driver you are or how confident you are, accidents can still happen quite easily. If you are a teenager, it will probably be a lot less costly if you are on your parents’ insurance plan.
Check your tires
It is extremely important that you learn how to check the pressure in your tires and put air in them. You should never let your tires go flat, and you need to know what to do when it does happen. If you don’t already know how to do this, you should make it a point to learn during your first week of driving. You can get tire gauges at any service station for less than $10, and it is a small investment for something that could save your life someday.
Learn about road safety
One of the things that is not really covered in your driving test is road safety. If you are ever in an accident, or even broken down at the side of the road, you need to know what to do. Learn about setting up road flares. It is even a good idea to learn how to do a few mechanical things, such as changing tires and jump starting.
Make a road safety kit and put it in the trunk
It is a really good idea to always have a road safety kit in your car, and if you don’t already, it should be something you do as soon as you begin driving. Some of the things you will want to include in your kit are road flares and a sign you can put in the window requesting help. You should have a set of jumper cables, and paper towel and a cloth for wiping your hands if you have to check your oil. If you live in areas where the winters are harsh, keep a coffee can and a candle (for melting snow under tires) and some kitty litter (helps you to get traction on ice) in your road safety kit. Also keep a blanket in case of cold weather.
Learn about the car you are driving
Whether you are getting your own car or driving your parents’ car, you should still be familiar with the vehicle. Make it a point to learn where everything is, and read through the owner’s manual.
Put the cell phone away
If you are like most people today, you are probably never too far from your cell phone. In your first week of driving, quit using it so much. If you really feel the need to talk while you are driving, which is a distraction in itself, get yourself a hands-free phone with a headset. Never text while you are driving. Many accidents have been caused by both inexperienced and experienced drivers using cell phones while driving.
Practice your driving skills
Just because you passed your driver’s test doesn’t mean that you are automatically a great driver. Even if you have had drivers’ training, it is still wise to find a place to go and practice some more during your first week of driving, and even longer if you need it. The more practice you have, the better driver you will be.
Don’t go too far
In your first week as a driver, you should probably not take any long road trips or anything like that. After all, you are not an experienced driver yet, and if anything were to happen, you would not be close enough to home to get help quickly.
Avoid rush hour traffic
Even if you have had training, until you are really used to driving in traffic, it is probably a good thing to avoid driving during rush hour traffic, usually between 7 and 9 in the morning, and at supper time when everyone is trying to get home. A lot of experienced drivers end up in accidents because they, or other drivers, are in a hurry. You may also want to avoid highway driving for the first week or so until you are more confident in your driving skills.
Map your routes
There are probably going to be places you go to regularly every day, such as to school or to work. In your first week as a driver, you should map out the best routes to take to get where you are going. After all, you are not all that experienced yet, and if you have to go to school or work, you want to find the routes with the least amount of traffic in the mornings. Map routes to all of your friends’ houses, the mall and any place else you go frequently.
You should be enjoying your freedom as a new driver, remembering all the while that you now have many responsibilities, not only to yourself, but to everyone else out there on the roads. Take care of all of the above things in your first week as a driver, and always work on your skills, especially defensive driving. Enjoy being a driver, but remember to always be a responsible driver.
Andrei Zakhareuski is the founder of Find-a-driving-school.ca. He has been writing for beginner Canadian drivers for several years.
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