Summer’s here, school’s out and road trips here we come! Heavier traffic can make driving difficult for anyone, but when you’re a brand new driver it can be incredibly nerve-racking.
Texas drivers face even more challenges with the Texas Triangle—an area of the state bordered by Dallas, Houston, San Antonio and Austin, and connected by Interstate 45, Interstate 10 and Interstate 35.
The death toll in the Texas Triangle due to traffic accidents has climbed steadily since 2010, and in 2017 there were an average of more than 10 deaths a day. This means there were over 3,700 deaths that year due to car accidents in the Triangle alone. The area holds about 75% of all Texans and it’s growing, making it more important than ever for new teen drivers to keep safety in mind.
These five tips are great to keep in mind whether you’re a new driver or you’ve been driving for decades. The main thing to remember is to keep your eyes on the road and drive with caution—particularly in the Texas Triangle.
1. Be Aware of Your Surroundings
As a new driver, it’s easy to believe you have everything under control behind the wheel. While you may be safe and cautious, it’s imperative to keep your eyes on your surroundings. Heavy traffic means cars may slide into other lanes without using their turn signal, or they might weave in and out of traffic erratically trying to break through the mass. Remain alert and keep your eyes on the road at all times.
2. Consider Other Drivers
Always drive with other vehicles in mind. It’s common for people to drive as though they’re the only person on the road. As long as we remain patient behind the wheel and don’t make poor or reckless choices without considering others, then we’re headed in the right direction. Remember that if you get in a wreck because you felt it wasn’t necessary to consider others, you’ll still face the consequences of the accident.
3. Keep Your Phone Out of Reach
It’s so easy to get distracted in the age of smartphones when everything from social media to emails is accessible via this small device. A phone is great to have while driving, in case of an emergency, but consider keeping it in your bag or even in the back seat where it’s out of arm’s reach. The temptation to scroll through your phone is strong when it’s at your fingertips. All it takes is one glance away from the road to cause serious damage.
4. Obey the Speed Limit
Recklessly driving above the speed limit is always a recipe for disaster. Use the right lane on the highway so that speeding vehicles can move around you without being in their way.
5. Call an Uber if You’ve Been Drinking
Of course, teens should not legally be drinking alcohol at all, but that sometimes leads to fear of calling for a ride if they have gotten themselves in that situation. Losing your own life or inadvertently taking someone else’s is far worse than getting in trouble for underage drinking. Don’t get behind the wheel of a car if you’ve been drinking. Call an Uber or Lyft if you’ve had any amount of alcohol whatsoever.
Cover photo courtesy Steve Crane on Visualhunt
Donna Fitzgerald is an advocate for safety. In her spare time, she enjoys writing and sharing her stories with readers, and spending time outdoors with her family.