Learning to drive means taking on a huge responsibility. Your first few years behind the wheel likely will require considerable discretion. After all, you have a car to take care of, which is an expensive piece of heavy machinery. You also have to ensure others on the road – and your passengers - are protected. Most importantly, you must take care of yourself. There are a wide range of laws and rules to help you meet that goal.
As a newer driver, it might be hard to keep up with some of the rules of the road, and of automobiles. Therefore, it's critical to keep safety in mind – whether you're in the car buying process or shopping for insurance.
Use a Reputable Car
Some young drivers get their first vehicles from their parents. Others buy their own cars. When selecting your first car, pay attention to a few important details.
- Look at your car's consumer ratings. See if it has a reputation for good performance. Often, a sturdier car, can best benefit young or inexperienced drivers.
- Ask for a vehicle history report on the car. This can give you specific information on your exact car. It might tell you if the car has recalled parts, a history of accidents, or flawed parts that make it a lemon.
Furthermore, don't forget your budget. You should be able to cover payment, as well as maintenance costs on the vehicle.
Keep Your License and Registration Active
The car buying process doesn't end when you drive the vehicle off the lot. You'll need to have a valid license to get behind the wheel. And you'll need to register your vehicle with your state.
Each state has a different process for getting a driver's license. You'll likely have to take a class, as well as a written and visual test. You'll also have to pass a test while driving the car. Take the time to study and prepare for these examinations. The better you prepare, the more likely you are to get your license on the first try.
Keep in mind, your first license might be a learner's permit or provisional license. These licenses give you driving privileges, but with restrictions. You should able to obtain a full license after your provisional period ends. You'll likely also need to renew your license and registration every few years. Keep documentation on hand for when you must re-file.
Get Car Insurance
One of the most important components of the car's registration is its insurance coverage. You'll need to carry an active on the car. Indeed, many states require you to show proof of insurance before registering the car. Failing to insure your vehicle might result in legal penalties.
Carrying a policy also makes logical sense. The coverage will likely protect you from challenges and incidents that might otherwise endanger your finances.
That said, car insurance is as diverse as the millions of drivers who hit the road each day. It's imperative that you carry a policy that targets you and your vehicle. Work with your insurance agent to set up the protection you need.
Some of the coverage options you might consider carrying include:
- Liability Insurance: There's always a chance you could harm someone else while you drive. As a result, that person might sue you, or request you pay them for their vehicle damage or injuries. Such actions might cost thousands of dollars. Your liability coverage can help cover these losses.
- Collision Insurance: This protection can extend to your own vehicle. If you have a wreck, you'll likely need money to repair the car. This element of coverage will help pay for repairs.
- Comprehensive Coverage: More incidents than just wrecks might damage your car. Comprehensive protection can pay for damage from weather, fire or theft.
- Uninsured/Underinsured Coverage: Not every driver carries enough liability coverage to help you if they cause you harm. This protection might help cover those losses instead.
- Personal Injury Protection: This protection can cover the costs of both your and your passengers' injuries.
Other coverage might include roadside assistance, towing, or rental car coverage.
Each element of your policy will likely have an upper limit. You will also face deductibles, exclusions and other policy rules. Therefore, you'll need to work with your agent to determine the right coverage.
Follow the Rules of the Road
As you start driving, it's important to remember that driving privileges are conditional. Violating the law means you might lose these privileges or receive tickets and fines. Poor driving might even affect your insurance coverage. Your insurer might raise your car insurance rates or even cancel your coverage as a result of repeated problems.
Therefore, it's important to know what you are doing and respect others on the road. As you start to drive, remember this: It's not just you that you have to look out for when you're on the road. It's all those around you as well.
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