Back in the day owning a car used to be for certain types of people. They were for the wealthy clan, who used to be driven around town by their drivers among the common folk following them with looks of admiration and envy. Fast forward to our current times where literally everybody owns a car or two, if not more. Everyone is driving. Even though driving is essentially a talent, we tend to forget this fact and it does not and should not come easy to everyone! Just because you have a driver’s license does not mean you really know what a huge responsibility driving around on the streets is or that you have the basic knowledge about this hazardous machine that is as dangerous as a lethal weapon, if not more, given its public accessibility.
Studies have shown that in most urban cities, driving accidents take the lead in the daily fatality count. Reckless drivers are responsible for ending people’s lives everywhere around the world. Of course, this is more prevalent in some parts of the world over others, where traffic law enforcement is strict and the rules are loud and clear for all kinds of drivers with no exceptions.
Speaking of the knowledge aspect, here are 5 essential things every driver should know:
1. Facts About Your Car
This is an important step, even before you purchase your car. It’s not just about the obvious features like whether it’s automatic or stick-shift. Since not all cars are the same, you will need to put some effort into learning about your car’s features, power, speed limits, and controls. Things that can be found in your car manual, unfortunately, reside untouched in the glove box. Almost all countries require that a person should learn about cars and driving regulations before being granted a driver’s license. But, this test is not enough, you will need to dig deeper than that. You need to know how to be self-sufficient with the handling basic issues that might face you while driving, like a flat tire or an engine heat up. Even though such problems might seem like mere nuances and not such a big deal, but that is actually not true. The repercussions of a small rise in your engine’s temperature can suddenly surge, blowing up your whole car, putting your life and others in danger. So, it is your responsibility first and foremost to learn about your vehicle.
2. Insurance Options
Not only because you have spent your hard-earned money on your dream car, but an insured car means that should you have any sort of accident, insurance companies will come to the rescue whether to you or the other party involved and fix the damage. Do your research to decide on what kind of insurance you will need. This will vary depending on where you live, whether you drive more often on highways (which are at higher risk) or within the city, which are only some of the variables, many others can be found in this detailed guide that demonstrates all the factors you need to consider before deciding on what kind of insurance will suit you. You will also find compelling statistical information that will convince you of the need to insure your car. It is no longer considered a luxury, so take your time studying your different options, budget-wise and benefit-wise, before making your final decision.
3. Road Signs
There are many types of road signs: regulatory, parking warning and construction among others. These differ from one country to the other that even the most seasoned drivers sometimes cannot interpret what road signs mean in different countries. For example, a Kangaroo crossing road sign in Australia would be perplexing for a foreign driver. You should always study and understand the meaning behind each sign for the sake of safety and to avoid any traffic fines.
4. Your City Map
Not everyone is good with directions. And unlike popular belief; it is not a gender-specific matter (male readers are probably rolling their eyes right now thinking “yeah right!”), it is a directional sense. For some people, it comes naturally, but for others, they need to make a conscious decision of paying attention to their whereabouts at all times. It’s true that most cars now are equipped with navigation systems and your mobile can seamlessly replace that to do the job. In both cases, your sense of focus when you do not know the way to your destination is immensely affected. A location-aware driver is more confident and knows how to go from point A to point B without the need for navigation system voice to give commands or worse yet, if the driver decides to silence the voice-because it’s bossy and annoying (we’ve all done that at some point!) and decides to steal glances at the screen every 2 seconds. This is very dangerous and unnecessary. Take some time to study your city map, or make a field trip out of it and drive around identifying different routes to your frequently visited locations. Also, try to utilize route optimization apps or get familiarized with how google routing works so you can save yourself some time and traffic headaches.
5. Driving Etiquette
Yes, there are indeed such things as manners and etiquette of driving. It is stressful enough to spend your long commute cramped up in your car, sometimes for hours, if you are that unlucky person who lives downtown and works miles away on the outskirts of the city. You do not need snarky comments from a fellow driver because you complained about his blinding headlights hitting your rear view mirror. One should learn when to allow an “overtake” and how to gesture apologetically when making a mistake. There is really no need for rudeness and inappropriate name-calling out on the road. Everyone should be able to stay composed and keep their cool while driving as this will significantly decrease the chance of accidents and ease heavy traffic making life easier for all of us.
Going for a drive in your car can be mind-clearing and relaxing. But you should always make sure you understand your rights against other fellow drivers and the responsibilities you incur the minute you drive your car out of the driveway.