SOUND OFF: What's Your Best Driving Advice?

As teens get their licenses and permits, what's one thing you want them to know before they head out on the road?

When first learning to drive, my father stood me next to the car to tell me about the most dangerous part on the vehicle. He said, "it's the nut that holds the wheel."

According to research from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, 16-year-olds have the highest crash rate of any driving age group, and the crash rate per mile for 16-year-olds is nearly double that of 18- and 19-year olds.

This suggests that even a couple of years' worth of experience is a significant factor.

While teens will likely have to learn some things through practice, there are some pieces of wisdom experienced drivers can share. Here are some driving tips from Patch editors (as we spend a good chunk of time driving around town!).

But we also want your driving advice. Please add yours to the comments section, below. 

Even before I was learning to drive, my mother repeated a mantra which I adopted when I started to drive: "Your turn will come, and when it does, it will be easy." When I find myself becoming impatient at an intersection that's taking forever, I remind myself that there's no need to rush, and I'm not going to be stuck there forever.

Grahame Turner, Brookline Patch Editor

Be courteous on the road. At a four-way stop sign intersection, it is the norm to allow one car to go through at at time. It's a lot easier than it sounds! 

Danielle Masterson, Woburn Patch Editor

When you're waiting to pull out into traffic (taking a left) and you see someone coming toward you who is taking a right -- don't always go by their blinker. My mom always told me, don't pull out until you see the oncoming traffic fully stop, or you see their wheels of the other car turn right. I can't tell you how many times I've almost pulled out in front of someone I thought was taking a right, only to realize they had their blinker on by accident. 

Melanie Graham, Newton Patch Editor

Always try to let the other guy in. Whether it's slowing up for a moment to let someone make a left turn, or slowing momentarily to let someone get into the rotary or even get in front of you in line — it's so easy to be thoughtful, and unless you're crazy late for an appointment, doesn't hurt you at all. 

Karla Vallance, Regional Editor

Use your turn signal! Please! It's the only real way to communicate with other drivers, so use it often and appropriately. Be mindful of the signal and pay attention to times it does not click off after a turn and manually turn it off so you don't confuse other drivers. Use it in parking lots, on highways when changing lanes, on back roads—everywhere. I promise: It makes a difference.

Becca Manning, Needham Patch Editor

What are your suggestions for brand-new drivers. Leave your wise counsel and sage advice in the comments section below.

Marc Stern September 15, 2012 at 11:39 AM
I submit that every one of your pious comments, while I am sure you mean them, is just what it is meant to be a pious comment for a youngster who is literally lathering to get behind the wheel. My own opinion suggests this much -- if you will allow a person who wrote about autos for newspapers and other venues for more than 30 years -- no one is going to listen to your platitudes. This much I have found in after having driven a million miles or so in car testing and more than 4,000 cars (yes it is possible, do the math if you write a column and handle three cars per week): no one is listening to you, let alone reading you, not even the parents who are silently jumping up and down at the thought of no longer having to drive their kids anywhere. The best advice for any of them comes from a stark reality: they now have a license to kill and a machine in which they can do it. They can kill themselves or someone else or both, but either way, the result is horrendous. It doesn't matter whether you suggest courtesy or using your horn or any of the other actions that you -- yourselves probably don't follow because you are 1. young, 2. journalists 3. somehow thinking you are above the fray (I was there once I know the feeling). The one thing that has to be driven home repeatedly is what my father told me the day they handed me my license (he was in the back seat biting his nails). The car is no toy: come home to us alive so someone else can, too.
Bill Montague September 15, 2012 at 05:32 PM
My advice to new drivers and old: When driving on a 4 lane highway with no center barrier - with cars coming at you. The best place is to be in the Right Hand Lane. You will notice many cars in both Left Hand lanes, coming at each other at 60 m.p.h. at least - that is a closing speed of over 120 m.p.h. with only a few feet between cars. Should a mechanical failure cause a car in their left hand lane to cross over into your on comming lane - you can well imagine the results. If you have ever seen the results of such a collison - both vehicles are so badly damage you can not tell a car from a pickup. This happend on Rout 2 many years ago. My practice is to always drive in the right hand lane - when there is no barriers in place. Cheers! Bill Montague
Bill Montague September 15, 2012 at 05:43 PM
I would like to offer one more comment to new drivers. When in traffic do not watch the car ahead of you - but look beyond that car - see what is happening as far ahead of you as you can. When you see red brake lights on several cars ahead you are now aware that you need to slow down. Anticipation is a great driving skill to aquire! In todays world we need as much information - ahead of us as we can get! Cheers! Bill Montague
John Casy September 15, 2012 at 05:44 PM
In Needham be careful driving on Norfolk st around 4 to 6 P.M. Theres two familys who let there small children ride their bikes in the middle of the street. Even when there cars coming the parents are slow getting their kids out of the street. Just a matter of time till one of these children gets hit by a car. I have seen a child age about 6 years old run across the street with no parents in sight. Why don't the police make these parents control their children. Perhaps DSS needs to look in to this matter.
Kirsten Vandijk September 16, 2012 at 12:19 PM
Always keep in mind that the Speed Limit is the LIMIT--not the minimum. And try to keep the 2 second rule in mind as well. Leave enough space between you and the car in front of you. This space allows for reaction to unanticipated actions; an obstacle in the road, a sudden stop, etc. And the STOP sign means STOP. Not slow down and continue. And please oh please oh please pay attention to your driving and limit distraction. The car you are driving is heavy machinery and not the little tykes toy car from your childhood that you may have enjoyed crashing with others for play.
Katy G. September 16, 2012 at 06:50 PM
Be predictable. Leave three car spaces between you and the car in front of you, or a three second delay.
Dennis Noonan October 09, 2012 at 02:24 PM
Avoid backing up whenever possible. Use seatbelts.


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