Are you a new driver? It can be daunting getting out on the road as you adjust to this new skill.
Over time, you will build up the confidence and skills needed to excel at driving. As you adjust to this new part of your life, there are a few things you need to know about as a new driver.
The 10 pieces of advice in this article cover everything from car maintenance and driver awareness, to help you settle into your role as a new driver.
Read on and find out the 10 things you need to do in order to excel as a new driver.
Get Used To Being In The Driver’s Seat
You need to make sure that you understand how your car actually works. Spend some time getting used to controlling the vehicle. That means driving with no distractions - so no music playing, no matter how tempting that may be - whilst you settle into the rhythms of being a new driver. You should also take the car out in all weathers - as long as it’s safe - so that you can acclimatise to driving in torrential rain as well as summer sun.
It may be a good idea to take the car for a run around an area that you know really well, to help you get used to making decisions, without the fear of not knowing where to turn. You can gradually drive further along the same route to build up your confidence.
Changing up your destination can also be a wonderful way of adjusting to different types of roads. If the journey isn’t too long, try and figure out roads you already know without the help of a Sat Nav so that you can improve. At the same time, it is always a good idea to keep a physical map in the car, just in case.
Similarly, take some time to recognise and know the various switches and buttons in your car - knowing where each one is located without having to think about it will come in very handy. Same goes for the pedals, the shift, and understanding whether your car has a manual or automatic transmission. Knowing what the lights on your dashboard mean is also super important.
Remember that you can always use P plates to let other drivers know that you are new to all this, so they should give you extra room and time to work things out. Just remember that you need to leave enough space between you and the vehicle in front of you to give yourself time to make your next move.
Always Respect Road Rules
From road signs to speed limits, you need to adhere to these rules, as they will keep you, fellow drivers and pedestrians safe. So wear your seatbelt, don’t drive too fast and follow traffic signals so that you can keep yourself and others safe.
Be Prepared For Any Situation
It is always a good idea to keep a first aid kit in your car just in case of accidents. Likewise, you should keep your driver’s licence, vehicle registration, vehicle handbook and some proof of insurance in your car just in case. Best to keep a spare phone charger, sunglasses, water, snacks, - that won’t go off - blankets, a torch, and any tools or fluids that your car may need too. After all, it’s never a bad thing to have snacks with you!
Trust an Experienced Driver
When you are adjusting to life in the driver’s seat, it is a good idea to have a calming presence in the passenger’s seat to guide you. An experienced driver will be able to assist you, make suggestions, and generally help you feel relaxed - so choose someone that makes you feel at ease, and you’ll have a fun day out. It is also worth considering that you most likely have never driven at night before - best to do this when you have an accomplished driver on hand to reassure you.
Take a Solo Drive
As long as you feel up to it, taking a drive by yourself is another great way to boost your confidence. With no one else in the car, you can drive with a clear head, and make decisions on your own. You don’t have to drive far, but a small drive every now and then can help you to get used to being behind the wheel.
Try and head out when you know the roads will be quiet, to avoid unnecessary stress. Just remember to drive sensibly, and take your time - you can control your own car’s movements, but other drivers can be unpredictable. That’s why it always pays to think ahead, and stay focused on the road.
Don’t be afraid to press firmly on the brakes if you find yourself in a situation that requires this, like if traffic suddenly stops or something crosses your path. If you notice a ‘bad driver’, exercise caution and put a certain amount of distance between your car and theirs, just to be on the safe side. Remember to adjust your mirrors every time you get in the car too, so that you and your passengers can see the road from the appropriate angle at all times.
On a similar note, whilst it may be tempting to get your friends in the car and take them for a drive, it might be worth improving your skills first and waiting until you’ve been driving for some time before you get your mates involved.
Learn How To Take Care of Your Car
It isn’t just the occasional tyre change that you will need to take care of in order to keep your car in good shape. Booking your car in for a service, repair or MOT when needed is the best way of maintaining your vehicle. Outside of the services which a professional mechanic can perform for you, you will need to know how to check various parts of your car. This can include knowing how to take good care of your clutch and putting air in your tyres, amongst other necessary tasks.
Clean Your Windscreen
It goes without saying that you won’t see very clearly out of a dirty windscreen. That’s why it is so important that you keep both the front and rear windscreens spotless, so that you don’t run into problems whilst driving in low sunlight.
Learn How To Change a Tyre
If you can spend some time learning how to change a tyre, then this can save you if your car suddenly experiences a puncture. To change a flat tyre, you will need a spare wheel, jack, wrench, locking wheel nut key, alignment tool, wheel chocks, and gloves.
You should never try to change a tyre on the hard shoulder of a motorway or on the side of the road - instead, find a safe place to do this that is away from any traffic. Make sure that you change the car on steady ground, and not on an incline. Remember to refer to your vehicle handbook throughout for advice.
Save Money on Fuel
If you are worried about the cost of burning through fuel as you take your car out on all of these practice runs, just remember to brake and accelerate gently, with low revs and slow gear changes. You can take heavy items out of your car that you don’t need to try and alleviate the pressure on your tyres, and book in for a service as and when to keep on top of your car’s health.
Know That You Will Always Be Learning
Just because you’ve passed your test recently, that doesn’t mean that you know everything there is to know about driving. You should drive as though you have just passed, so that you can stay safe on the road. This may involve referring to the Highway Code when you need to.
Be open to learning more from an experienced driver, and don't be afraid to find out more about something if you think it will help. Have faith in your abilities - you may be new to this, but you are already well on your way to becoming an amazing driver!