Four things all new drivers need to know about driving

Posted On Thursday October 24, 2019
teen driver
teen drivers experience a lot of 'firsts'

It’s National Teen Driver Safety Week October 20 – 26 and a lot of new drivers fall into this age group.

“There’s a lot of ‘firsts’ about driving that can be hard, whether it’s your first time on the road or you’re experiencing your first snow storm, collision or traffic stop,” said Ottawa Police Service Traffic Officer, Jon Hall. “But you can prepare before it happens so you know what to do.”

Cst. Hall’s list of four things all drivers need to know about driving:

1.What to do when you are stopped by a police officer
If you are pulled over by police, stay in the vehicle. The officer will approach you. You will have to show your driver’s licence, insurance and registration.

“You are supposed to have these documents with you at all times,” says Cst. Hall, “but as a backup plan, have electronic copies on your phone.”

2.Know what to do if you are in a collision
“If you are in a collision, stay at the scene and call police,” says Cst. Hall. “All collisions must be reported, even if they are minor.”

You can call Ottawa Police Service at 613-236-1222 or use 911 if the situation is life-threatening.

Answer all of the questions from the call taker, who will assess the situation and follow all instructions you are given. If damages or injuries are minor, you will be sent to a Collision Reporting Centre to file a report.

Next, call your insurance company to find out what’s covered. 

“Not every cost is approved. Check first rather than being sorry later,” says Cst. Hall. “Better yet, contact your insurance company before you have a collision and keep the information handy for when you need it.”

3.Why you should leave the phone alone
Why are distracted drivers more likely to be in a collision compared to non-distracted drivers?

“Driving and texting are exclusive tasks; you can’t do both at the same time because your brain has to switch back and forth between the two,” says Cst. Hall. “Texting puts you at 23 times more risk of being involved in a collision.”  

In addition to phones, other electronic devices, eating food and putting on make-up take you away from the primary task of driving.

“If you can’t wait to text, talk, eat or take care of some personal grooming, safely pull over and stop first,” says Cst. Hall. “Doing it while stopped at traffic lights doesn’t cut it, it still takes your attention from what’s happening on the road.”

4.Adjust your driving to the changing weather

“The biggest mistake new drivers make is they drive the same way in all types of weather. Speed limits are set for optimal conditions. If roads are bad, don’t drive unless you have to.  Then if you do, slow down, leave yourself lots of stopping distance and give yourself extra time to get where you’re going.”

How effective are snow tires?

“When used with other safety measures, snow tires can be useful to drive in snowy and icy conditions,” says Cst. Hall. “They aren’t mandatory, but they make a difference.”

What else can you do?

“Clear your car of snow and make sure equipment is working. You’re going to need a lot of windshield washer fluid when roads are sloppy or it’s snowing.”

Cst. Hall also recommends keeping an emergency kit in your car. “Flares, a flashlight with batteries, a basic first aid and tool kit, jumper cables and a blanket are a good start,” he says. “Include some seasonal extras in your kit, like candles and matches. It could save your life. Make sure you know how to use everything and consider a roadside assistance plan.”

Remember, everyone has a role to play in road safety. Preparing yourself will help keep you and other road users safe.