The day that you finally get your driver’s license is one of the most exciting days of your life. You have the freedom to go wherever you want without having to rely on your family and friends to shuttle you around. It’s one of the most important milestones in our lives.
Getting that driver’s license isn’t a walk in the park. You have to pass both a practical and a written exam. Without studying and really knowing your material you would be left with a failing grade, having to give it another try in a month or so.
Unfortunately, much of that information disappears over the years. Driving becomes muscle memory and we forget some of the intricacies of our education. This leaves us susceptible to tickets, accidents, and increased insurance rates.
To help jog your memory, here are four of the most surprising things you probably forgot about after completing your driver’s ed class:
Signaling for Turns
Everybody knows that turn signals are an important way to signal to other drivers when and where you intend to make a turn. Not many people, however, know exactly how far in advance to signal. Each state has different regulations, but in general, you must signal between 100 and 200 feet in advance of a turn. You also need to use your turn signals whenever changing lanes, no matter how light the traffic situation is.
Remember not to signal too far in advance, too. If you pull the trigger too early, drivers could expect you to start slowing down too soon and rear-end your vehicle.
Cell phones are one of the most obvious distractions that cause accidents. In 2011, roughly a quarter of all car accidents were caused by cell phone usage. Glancing at your phone for only five seconds means that you’re moving the length of an entire football field when you’re on the highway.
Many people know about this. However, it’s easy to forget that there are other distractions that can take just as much time. The longer we drive, the easier it gets to start doing other things while driving. Some examples include:
- Grabbing a bite to eat.
- Drinking a coffee or soda.
- Changing the radio station or turning the volume up.
- Turning to talk to the person next to you.
- Reaching around for something you dropped.
- Daydreaming and failing to give the road your undivided attention.
All forms of distracted driving can lead to accidents or worse, so it’s important to know exactly what distracted driving is, and how you can learn to focus completely on the road.
Wearing a Seat Belt
If you’re in an accident, a seatbelt could save your life. In fact, seatbelts are the single most effective way to prevent auto fatalities according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Overall, they cut the chance of having a fatal accident by roughly 50%.
It’s important to be aware of the seatbelt laws in your own state. State seatbelt laws vary by age of the driver, age of the passenger and which seats are required to wear a seatbelt. If you get caught driving without properly buckling up, you could be subject to fines of up to $200. Even worse, you could be putting yourself and your family or friends in danger.
In order to make sure you’re protecting your and your passengers, you must know exactly when you can and cannot perform certain maneuvers when driving. Performing them under illegal circumstances can lead to accidents or tickets:
- U-turns at stop lights.
- K-turns on public roads.
- Making a right-hand turn at a red light.
- Failure to yield.
- Confusion over who has the right of way.
Getting a Quick Refresher
If you’re surprised at how much important driving information you’ve forgotten since your driver’s education class, it might be time to take a quick refresher. Attending an online defensive driving course is a great way to help become a better, safer driver. As an added bonus, you’ll enjoy reduced premiums on your auto insurance plans, and might even have the option of tossing out any outstanding traffic violations on your record or at least reducing the amount of points against you. Just make sure not to forget everything you learn all over again!