The first thing that any new driver must do before driving an automobile becomes familiar with all automobile safety features and controls. Once you are completely familiar with your vehicle, you are ready to begin. Before pulling away in your car, however, be sure that it is completely safe for driving. Here is a list of points you should always check before starting the engine:
AIl books and coats should be placed in the trunk so that you have a greater amount of room available for driving unhampered – a safety feature and a comfort feature combined. Be sure that the backseat of the car is clear. If suddenly, any loose particles in the back seat could be hurled to the front, and injury may result. It would be best if you got into the car by the curbside whenever practicable. In some places, it is an offense to open the driver’s door in any way that creates a hazard to passing vehicles. In automobiles in which this is impractical or in awkward situations, extreme care must be taken. Always approach the drivers-side door from the front of the car so that you cannot fail to see oncoming traffic. AII doors should be locked to help prevent them from flying open in a collision and from keeping anyone from forcing their way into your car if you stop in traffic.
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Check to ensure that the parking brake is on to prevent any movement of the vehicle. The gear selector should be in Park before starting. Make sure that signal lights function properly. (The car will have to be on to check if they are working properly.) Adjust the ventilation; excessive hear will cause drowsiness, and poor ventilation may create a carbon monoxide hazard. Adjust the seat so that you can reach all foot pedals comfortably. Also, make sure that you have an unobstructed vision at all angles. It may be necessary to use cushions to attain this.
Adjust all mirrors to tell at a glance the positions of other vehicles on the road. Fasten your seat belts. The car should not be put in motion until all belts are fastened and adjusted. Check that the brake pedal has resistance when you press it. This indicates sufficient brake fluid in the brake lines and that the brakes will function properly. If the hydraulic brakes do not function, do not attempt to get to a garage, but have the car towed there by a tow truck. Be alert but relaxed. You are no longer a pedestrian. You are in command of a powerful machine that can give thousands of miles of service and satisfaction but is capable of destroying life and property.
Preparing to drive
Getting ready to drive is an important event in a young person’s life. Are you emotionally prepared to drive? Are you ready to concentrate all your attention on driving? Do you possess the necessary, safe attitude for competent, efficient driving? Are you willing to overlook the mistakes of other drivers? If the answers to these questions are ‘yes,’ you are ready to begin.
Make sure the parking brake is on. Press the brake pedal with the right foot and hold. The vehicle must not move until you are ready. This step also tests the brakes for proper function and is an excellent safety precaution. If the brake is working properly, you will be unable to press the pedal completely to the floor. Move the selector lever to Drive. This is the position for normal driving in most automobiles. Place your hands on the steering wheel in the “ten-and-two” position. Always look behind you. Using the mirrors is not enough: there is a “blind spot” that must be checked by looking over your left shoulder. Signal your intentions to inform other drivers what you intend to do. (Even at this practice stage, you should perform every step as though you were in regular traffic. This way, the proper techniques will soon become second nature, and you will make the transition from the practice area to the busy street with a minimum of difficulty.)
Remove your right foot from the brake and place it on the accelerator. Your left foot should be used only to engage the parking brake and to change the driving lights from low to high and back. Release the parking brake. Gently depress the accelerator. Smooth driving is the mark of an expert. Re-check the traffic, and move out when the way is clear. Always re-check traffic. You are now on the road. Look ahead and get the complete picture. Know what is behind you, to your left, to your right, and in front. In preparing to stop, check your blind spot, signal, and then pull over to the side of the road when the way is clear—brake to a smooth stop. Place the gear selector in Park, turn off the ignition, and remove the key. Engage the parking brake, and, if leaving the car, lock all doors. Leave via the curbside if at all possible.