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When you first get your driver’s license, you are both nervous and excited. You now have all of the freedom of the open road, but you are also responsible for following countless laws and doing your best to avoid car crashes. Statistically, one in four Americans will end up in a car accident during their lifetimes, and you don’t want to become one of these statistics.

To help ease the stress, here are a few ways to ensure a safer driving experience during your first few months as a licensed driver (and for years to come.)

Understand the laws.

Before you ever take that first drive on your own, you need to make sure that you have an in-depth understanding of traffic laws in your area. This s why it is so important to choose a good driving school to help you learn the rules of the road. An improper understanding of things like right-of-way rules can seem inconsequential but result in serious accidents later on.

Banish Distractions

Distracted driving is becoming a bigger problem than ever, with many drivers admitting to texting and other distracted behavior while driving. A text is not worth your life or the life of another driver. Just put the phone down until you can stop somewhere safe. The same rule goes for eating, applying makeup, and other distracting activities. A good rule? If it takes your eyes off the road, you shouldn’t be doing it.

Make sure your vehicle is safe

Yes, it can be time-consuming, but make sure you regularly maintain your vehicle. Make sure your vehicle has passed inspection, and make sure that you perform routine maintenance regularly. Also, if you plan on purchasing a car, get a qualified mechanic to inspect it before you buy. You don’t want end up with a potentially dangerous lemon.

Never Drive under the influence

No matter what situation you find yourself in, never drive under the influence of alcohol or other substances. Drink driving causes a large percentage of fatal traffic accidents each year, and it should be avoided at all costs.

If you keep these few things in mind, you should be on your way towards becoming a safe and responsible driver. Get behind the wheel, embrace your driving personality, and enjoy your newfound freedom on the open road. Just be sure to always make safety a priority.