03/03/2017 01:50 EST | Updated 03/03/2017 01:50 EST

Cars On Campus: What Drivers Need To Know Before Heading To College

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A multi-ethnic group of college age students are taking a road trip together in a classic car on spring break.
Obtaining your driver's license and your very own vehicle is a huge step in becoming an independent young adult. Just a few years later, and you are ready to head off to college. Just when you finally got the hang of operating a vehicle around your hometown, you are suddenly thrust into a bustling college town full of navigational and operational challenges. Before you head off to college, it is a good idea to consider how your driving routine will change and make preparations for caring for your automobile while on campus. As you are completing admission applications and taking campus tours, take into consideration the following in regards to your and your car's transition to college life.

1. Is your vehicle allowed? Some universities do not allow first year students to have a vehicle on campus. This policy is particularly common among private colleges and universities in urban settings with limited parking. Some young drivers find that this driving-related policy plays a considerable role in their decision to attend a school. Before you determine where you want to enroll, contact your potential college to find out their vehicle policy.

2. If you're planning to live on campus in a dorm, understand that parking is likely to be extremely limited. Even if your building has a designated parking lot or deck, there are probably significantly less available spots than there are residents. Gone are the days of walking twenty feet from the garage to the kitchen with an arm load of groceries.

3. You must also consider where you will park your vehicle if you are planning to live off-campus in an apartment or condo. Does your rent include a parking spot or garage access? Who is responsible for damage to your vehicle that occurs on the property? Can your visitors park their vehicles in the lot or deck? All of these questions must be considered before you make a decision about where to live while away at college.

4. Learn to parallel park! "No matter where you go to college, you will more than likely encounter the need to parallel park in order to get to class on time", - says Andrei Zakhareuski from Driving Tests. Five minutes before your English 101 class begins is not a good time to attempt the dreaded parallel park for the first time since your driver's license road test. Practice this driving skill on an empty street before you head off to college to avoid fender benders and tardiness.

5. Stay safe! Despite most institutions' best efforts, college parking decks and lots are common places for crime. Always use good judgment and remain aware and alert when walking to and from your vehicle while on campus. Store valuables out of sight in your glove box or trunk or, better yet, not in your vehicle at all. Keep doors locked. Walk to your vehicle with your keys in hand and lock your doors as soon as you are safely inside your car. It's always a good idea to walk to and from your vehicle with a friend or trusted classmate, especially after dark. Remember to park in well lit locations at night.

6. Check to see if your college has a drivers' hotline. Many universities have a service for students who have paid for a university parking pass that gives them access to a twenty-four hour hotline. If you lock your keys in your vehicle, your battery goes dead, or you get a flat tire, a university employee will come to your assistance for free. This is a valuable back-up plan for student drivers who are hours away from their parents' help.

7. Know your school's penalties for parking tickets. You'll probably get several during your time on campus, despite all your efforts to elude the parking police. Many schools will tow or install a "boot" (a large metal lock that covers the wheel and prevent the vehicle from moving) on your car if you accumulate multiple unpaid parking tickets.

Heading off to college is an exciting prospect for many young adults, but moving to a college town brings some major changes to your driving routine. Prepare yourself for a little more responsibility and some new driving challenges and you'll be ready to cruise through college withou any problems.