5 Mistakes New Drivers Make

A smiling young woman with her head out the window of a moving car.


Getting a driver’s license is a coveted achievement for most 16-year-olds but with this hasty excitement, most new drivers miss out on some vital information. It is arguably the most exciting step for a teenager to take but there are reasons why it makes other drivers on the road a little uneasy. If you know a new driver or are one, make sure to check out these five mistakes new drivers make and do your best to avoid them.

Too Many Distractions Present

Young woman speaking on the phone and putting on makeup while driving a car.

Distractions can inhibit the driver from making correct decisions and may delay reaction time. A friend in the backseat may have a really captivating story to tell, leaving the driver less focused on the road and more focused on the conversation at hand. A phone call or text message that could have been taken later might be answered because of boredom driving home, leaving one hand on the steering wheel. A quick snack before work could mean less eye contact on the road and more focus on peeling away the wrapper.

Experienced drivers deal with these types of distractions better but they can inhibit drivers of any ability and/or experience level. Whether the car is packed with friends, a cell phone ringer is on or food is being eaten in the car, a new driver often has too many distractions present without even knowing their impact.


Not Keeping a Comfortable Distance Between Cars

Bumper to bumper traffic

Knowing how much distance to keep between the driver’s vehicle and the car in front can take time and experience to master. Leaving extra room lowers the risk of accidents but most new drivers are unable to tell really how close they are. To err on the side of caution, it is recommended to increase the distance as speed increases. For example, keeping two entire car lengths on the freeway will allow the driver time to slam on their breaks if needed and will lower the chances of a car accident. If a driver is sitting in traffic moving 5mph, the distance between vehicles can be lowered because it is easier to come to a complete stop at 5mph than it is at 70mph.


Developing Habits from Parents

A man driving with one hand on the wheel

Drivers who immediately pick up habits from their parents can be a great hindrance as they gain experience. A false sense of confidence can be created if the driver feels as if their driving skills are similar to their experienced parents. Less caution will be taken by the driver when confidence levels are higher than ability.

Becoming extremely comfortable behind the wheel and picking up their dad’s signature one-hand-on-the-wheel driving habit can instantly reduce steering control. Not to mention other habits parents and long-time drivers have picked up over the decades they have been driving like talking on the phone, applying makeup, eating, flipping through radio stations, road rage, texting, reaching for items that have fallen, rolling through stop signs, speeding, etc. All of these habits have been ingrained in the new driver’s mind throughout childhood and can result in a false sense that these habits are okay.

It is suggested for the new driver to take driving courses led by someone else outside of the immediate family in order to correct these habits.


Not Maintaining the Vehicle

Close up of a vehicle after a accident with burn marks and a blown out tire.

Not maintaining a vehicle may seem like a problem that won’t prevent accidents but we aren’t talking about getting a wash and wax every few months or even cleaning the windshield every gas stop (although keeping the windshield free of debris is recommended). Forgetting to service a car’s key safety performance areas like brakes, tires (pressure and tread), or oil can leave the driver in dangerous situations. Most new drivers don’t know how or when they should service a vehicle and in most cases, parents forget to stress this importance. If a new driver spends the next few years of driving not knowing the importance of maintenance, every mile they put on the car is a mile closer to a possible accident.

Here in Northern Arizona, keeping an eye on the tire tread is very important once the roads begin to ice over in the winter. Even if the car is completely capable of driving in the ice and snow, it won’t matter if the tread is low or if the tires are almost bald. Low tire tread can also result in a blow-out any time of the year, putting the driver in danger. Regular brake check-ups can reduce possible brake failure which is dangerous in any situation.


Lack of Caution

Close up of the front of a white sedan with recent front end damage from a car accident.

Most new drivers stick to driving in familiar locations for a little while before venturing off onto unknown streets and neighborhoods. If the driver is used to driving around their neighborhood, chances are that they have learned what time of day they “really have to stop at a stop sign”. This lack of caution grows into a habit once the new driver continues their routine. This can result in a very dangerous situation when driving in a new area or to a new destination. Distractions coming from the navigation and new intersections with the combination of the comfort they had in their neighborhood is often a recipe for disaster.



Dealing with your first car accident can be frightening. Our team of dedicated trial attorneys at Antol & Sherman, PC, have more than 60 years of combined legal experience and a strong track record of providing successful legal counsel. We have been practicing criminal, family and divorce, drug and DUI, and accident law in Flagstaff, Arizona and surrounding northern Arizona cities including Camp Verde, Sedona, Williams, Holbrook, Winslow, Cottonwood, Mayer, Seligman, Kingman, Page, St. Johns and more for over 30 years. Antol & Sherman, PC and their staff of lawyers would love to sit down and discuss your legal needs. Please call us at 928-241-6339, stop in today at Antol & Sherman, PC, 150 N Verde St Suite 102, Flagstaff, AZ 86001 or visit us at flagazlaw.com.