Driving a new car (or one that’s new for you) can be daunting – and dangerous if you aren’t careful. Maybe you’re renting a car while yours is being repaired after a crash. Perhaps you’re using a rental (or maybe a family member’s) car while visiting them over the holidays. Maybe you bought a new car.

Whatever the situation, if you’re going to be driving a car you’re not used to, it’s essential to take a few extra steps before you head out on the road.

Get familiar with the car

Locate everything you may need to use. Before you go anywhere, locate the buttons, switches and other equipment you need to put the car in different gears and use the headlights, windshield wipers, emergency flashers and defoggers. Test the turn signals and horn. Be sure the headlights and taillights work. If the car has unfamiliar safety features, find out what they do and what the various alerts mean.

Adjust the seat and mirrors. Set the mirrors to the proper positions. Be sure your seat is positioned so you can easily reach the pedals (and that you know how to move the seat if you need to). Make sure the seatbelt fits correctly and that it works.

Know how to get where you’re going. It’s best to set the GPS before you begin driving even if you’re familiar with the area. There might be a detour or road construction you didn’t know about. It’s also important to know how it works, as you might need it later.

Start out by driving around the parking lot or a quiet street. If you’re in an airport rental car area, you can often find a service road nearby. Drive a few miles on that before getting out on an expressway or interstate to get familiar with the feel of the car.

When you’re driving an unfamiliar car, it’s more important than ever to avoid distractions. You can’t afford to lessen your reaction time by even seconds if you need to avoid a reckless or negligent driver.

If you have been injured in a crash, make sure that you’re getting the compensation to which you’re entitled from the at-fault driver and their insurance company. An experienced attorney can help ensure that you get the best possible settlement.