Checklist for Rookie drivers

You’ve done your practice drives and passed your license exam. Now it’s time to drive in the real world, where the roads can get hectic, distractions are all around, and other drivers seem to be constantly late to wherever it is they’re going.

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All this can feel pretty daunting, so before you get into the driver’s seat, here’s what you can do to make sure you arrive safely, with nerves intact. First up, when you get into the driver’s seat do Buckle up. This should always be the first thing you and all your passengers. The seatbelt is effective in reducing serious crash-related injuries and deaths.

As a rookie, drive at designated speed limits. Always keep within the speed limit (or well below it if you are driving on wet, icy, narrow, or windy roads). Young drivers in particular can be more likely to see speed as exciting and are particularly prone to approaching bends too fast and overtaking dangerously.

Make sure you have the appropriate paperwork with you in your vehicle. This means: your driver’s license, insurance policy, registration papers and emergency information. When you’re required to pull over, probably by the Police, park you vehicle at side of the road when it is safe to do so, and stop. Stay calm and be cooperative.

The peak traffic times can be daunting for rookies. When faced with traffic jams, try to keep enough distance between you and the car in front so you have time to respond to sudden braking; always stay three cars lengths from the car in front of you. Get to know your car’s features; for example, vehicles equipped with Active City Stop technology or i-Stop, i-ACTIVSENSE , which operates at speeds below approximately 50 km/h by applying the brakes if it detects that a crash is likely. Other features like the ABS helps to maintain steering control and vehicle stability by keeping the brakes from locking. If ABS activates, the pedal may pulsate under your foot and you might hear the wheels lock and unlock. Don’t worry, that’s just the system doing its job.

A red light is not a social media break, while you know full-well not to use your mobile phone while driving, it’s important to remind yourself that the same applies at a red light.

Driving at night can be a little more complex because it is more difficult to see in the dark than it is during the day, and you have to deal with glare from oncoming traffic. Additionally, keep your windows clean to maximise visibility at night. When the road you’re on has potholes or is slippery, drive slowly so you can anticipate and avoid them. If your vehicle comes with Electronic Stability Control (ESC), that can be a great help too.

According to the Road Safety Department of Malaysia, the highest number of road fatalities involved teenagers between the ages of 16 to 25 years of age. Also, never drink and drive or when you’re too tired to do so!

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Finally, make sure you have the knowledge of what to do if you are in an accident. Turn on your hazards. Turn off the engine and check that you and your passengers are alright. Have your documentation and local emergency numbers on hand. Check if it is safe to get out of your vehicle and be sure to stay calm to negotiate with the other person involved.

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