You made it through Driver’s Ed, learned how to parallel park and passed the DMV test. Now, you are an officially licensed driver for the first time. This exciting, open door to a world of independence comes with responsibility. You should practice safe driving habits and have adequate car insurance.
Getting Behind the Wheel For the 1st Time
You are probably going to be nervous the first time you are given the opportunity to drive yourself without supervision. That is a natural and healthy feeling. Take it slow, check your mirrors often and be alert to your surroundings. Safe driving takes practice. The more you drive, the more confident you’ll become.
Small habits also make a huge difference. Look over the list of good practices below and ask yourself if you really do all of these things. If not, make a conscious effort to begin doing them.
Put on your seat belt and make sure others are buckled
Make sure your mirrors and seat are adjusted properly
Know where all the controls are located
Use your signal
Check your mirrors and look over your shoulder before pulling into traffic
Use both hands placed on opposite sides of the steering wheel
Be alert to traffic all around
Stop behind crosswalks and limit lines
Stop without keeping your foot on the gas
Yield right of way when necessary
Begin and end turns in the correct lane
Maintain the legal speed
Keep a “space cushion” around your car
Know your car and how to do basics, such as pumping gas, changing a tire, jump-starting the car, and adding windshield washer fluid
Always let your parents or guardian know where you’re going, and when you’ll be back.
Don’t try to speed up at yellow lights or get away with a quick call while you’re driving.
Although it’s very tempting to drive around with your friends, try to limit your passengers in your first year of driving. They can be very distracting.
Limit your nighttime driving. Darker means harder to see and you’re also more likely to be sleepy at the wheel at nighttime.
Even if you practice safe driving techniques, you will still need insurance to further protect you, your vehicle and others. Most first time drivers will be covered under their parental insurance plan, but when it is time to get your own policy, remember that insurance premiums increase dramatically for new drivers so maintaining a safe, clean driving record will help reduce the premium rates charged.
Here are some tips when shopping for first time driver insurance coverage.
Decide how much insurance you need. Answering this question depends on a lot of factors. At a minimum you need state-required liability insurance to drive legally.
But it is also wise to buy additional liability if you have assets that could be a target in the event you are at fault in an accident. Anything not covered by insurance falls to you to pay. Also, comprehensive and collision insurance cover your vehicle if you owe money on it and could not easily replace it.
Insurance industry experts recommend motorists carry bodily injury liability coverage of $100,000 per person and $300,000 per accident (referred to as 100/300 coverage). For property damage liability coverage, $50,000 or above is suggested.
Understand what you're buying. Insurance policies are often fraught with technical terms. You should still read it in full, ask questions and understand before signing. Knowing who and what is covered, what exclusions or limitations exist, how to report a loss or claim, the coverage period and what you will be paying are all important features to be comfortable and familiar with.
Comparison shop. Once you decide on what type and how much, you should compare quotes online, by phone or through an agent or broker. Premiums can vary widely but so can the coverage. Make sure the company you have settled on is reputable, with good customer service reviews and high ratings for claims payment.
We are California Southwestern Insurance Agency and are ready to help you with your first-time car insurance needs. This is an exciting time for you and we want to be your partner in ensuring a long, safe driving career. Let us help you understand and decide what policy is best for you. Give us a call or visit www.csia-ins.com.