Top Tips for New Drivers

Congratulations on passing your driving test – it’s a brilliant gateway to newfound freedom! However, remember that the learning journey continues even without your L plates. Here are our top tips for new drivers to ensure you stay safe while driving and, potentially, save a bit on your expenses.

Familiarise Yourself with Your Car

Before hitting the road, it’s paramount to acquaint yourself with the car you’re driving. Whether it’s your own or you’re borrowing it from mum or dad, understanding the car’s features and controls can make a huge difference.

The more you’re in tune with the car’s functionalities, the more confident and relaxed you’ll be behind the wheel.

Ensure you’re aware of how to operate essential features such as the lights (both dipped and full beam), windscreen wipers, and hazard lights.

Don’t just rely on intuition – take a moment to read the car manual. It’s a valuable resource, detailing all the car’s features, and it’s advisable to keep it handy in the glove compartment.

Being familiar with your car’s controls not only facilitates a smoother driving experience but also prepares you for unexpected situations, like sudden rain or dusk setting in. In essence, the better acquainted you are with your car, the safer and more efficient your journeys will be.

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Head Out in Bad Weather

It might initially seem counterintuitive, but embracing the challenge of driving in less-than-ideal conditions can significantly boost your confidence as a new driver.

From wind and rain to fog, ice, or snow, navigating in adverse weather can be daunting when you’re just starting out. However, gaining experience in these situations will equip you with invaluable skills for the future.

Driving In Bad Weather

It’s crucial to remain calm and patient. Hasty decisions can lead to mishaps, especially on slippery roads. If you’re apprehensive about venturing out solo, consider having a more experienced driver accompany you for guidance and reassurance.

Practice makes perfect, so embrace these challenges when you can choose the timing, rather than being unexpectedly thrust into them during essential journeys, like your daily commute.

Remember, every challenging drive you undertake successfully not only hones your skills but also prepares you for unforeseen circumstances down the road.

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Turn off the radio

The allure of controlling the playlist is certainly one of the joys of having passed your driving test. However, before you crank up the volume, consider the implications for your focus on the road.

Especially during the initial stages of driving, maintaining concentration is paramount, and loud music can be a significant distraction, notably for new drivers.

Turn Off The Radio

A driving study revealed that a staggering 98% of teenagers who listened to music while driving committed more errors. Worryingly, 20% of these instances required intervention in the form of assisted steering or braking to avert potential accidents.

It’s not just the younger demographic that’s affected, though. Drivers of all ages can find their concentration waning with blaring tunes in the background. Emphasising once again, for new drivers, concentration is the bedrock of safe driving.

Hence, until you feel more assured behind the wheel, it might be wise to lower the volume or keep the radio off altogether. Safe driving should always take precedence over a sing-along.

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Use P Plates

For those who might feel a tad apprehensive after passing their test, P plates can be a handy tool to boost confidence on the road. Displaying these plates on your car signals to fellow motorists that you’re a newly qualified driver.

P Plates
Image source: Rated Driving

As a result, they are more likely to extend additional patience, granting you a bit more time and space on the road.

Using P plates can not only help alleviate some of the pressure of navigating traffic but also encourage other road users to be more understanding of any hesitations or uncertainties you might exhibit.

While they aren’t a legal requirement, they can certainly provide peace of mind during those initial drives post-test. So, if you feel they’d be beneficial for your confidence, it’s worth giving them a go!

Read more about P plates from Rated Driving

Avoid a Road Trip with Your Friends, For Now

There’s no denying the allure of a road trip with mates – the camaraderie, the shared experiences, and the spontaneous adventures. However, as a newly qualified driver, it might be wise to postpone such excursions until you’ve gained more confidence behind the wheel.

Road Trip With Friends

Driving with a group of friends can introduce additional distractions and even potential peer pressure, which might lead you to make decisions you’re not entirely comfortable with. Remember, safety should always be a top priority.

Before embarking on any long journey, ensure you’re well-acquainted with driving in a myriad of situations – this means being comfortable in various weather conditions, managing the responsibility of having passengers and navigating with a fully loaded car.

Always prioritise open communication with your passengers. If your friends are causing distractions or making you feel uneasy, don’t hesitate to voice your concerns.

Additionally, always insist on the importance of everyone wearing their seatbelts. In the grand scheme of things, ensuring everyone’s safety is far more crucial than any fleeting moment of fun.

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Know Where You’re Going

Navigating unfamiliar routes can be a daunting task for any driver, regardless of how long they’ve been on the road. Even as a seasoned driver with over a decade of experience, being certain of your direction can make a significant difference in your driving experience.

Sat Nav

While sat navs are undeniably useful tools, it’s important not to become overly dependent on them, especially for routine trips like your daily commute. Being familiar with your route not only instils confidence but also makes the drive more pleasurable.

If you’re venturing to a new destination, it’s a good idea to familiarise yourself with the route in advance. Knowing the primary A roads, crucial junctions and vital motorway exits allows for a smoother journey. Being prepared in this way means fewer surprises and a more relaxed driving experience overall.

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Go for a weekend practice drive

After securing your driving licence, it’s essential to remember you’re not suddenly isolated in your learning journey. Taking a weekend drive with someone who’s been on the road for years can be incredibly beneficial. Their presence, guidance, and feedback can bolster your confidence, particularly as a new driver.

Drive On A Quiet Sunday Morning

However, it’s equally crucial to gain experience driving solo. Venturing out on your own, be it a quick errand to the local shop or a dedicated practice drive, is a rite of passage. You’ve likely never managed the roads entirely by yourself, so it’s a new dynamic to familiarise yourself with.

Choose a time when traffic is sparse, perhaps a quiet Sunday morning, to take your car out. This will allow you to focus solely on refining your skills and building confidence without the added pressure of heavy traffic. Think of these sessions as practice for the real-world scenarios you’ll soon encounter daily.

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Observe the Two-Second Rule

The two-second rule is more than just a driving guideline; it’s a principle designed to ensure safety on the roads. Adhering to this rule means maintaining a two-second gap between your car and the one in front, providing you with adequate time to react to sudden stops or unforeseen events.

But safety doesn’t stop there. It’s essential to cultivate the habit of scanning the road ahead. By doing so, you can anticipate upcoming bends, potential hazards, and any changes in the road surface, giving you a head start in adjusting your driving accordingly.

In wet or slippery conditions, it’s advisable to extend this gap even further, ensuring you have ample stopping distance. By consistently observing these practices, you not only protect yourself but also contribute to the overall safety of all road users.

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Iron out any weaknesses

Passing your driving test is a significant milestone, but it’s essential to recognise that it doesn’t mark the end of your learning journey. Honing your skills as a driver is a continuous process. Every driver, no matter how experienced, will have certain aspects of driving they find more challenging than others.

Driving Lessons

If you identify any areas where you feel less confident – be it executing a three-point turn, managing a parallel park, or navigating roundabouts – it’s crucial to address them. Practice these manoeuvres repeatedly until you feel adept and comfortable.

Should you find certain skills particularly elusive, there’s no shame in seeking further guidance. Opting for a few post-test driving lessons with an instructor can offer tailored advice and hands-on practice to help you overcome any lingering apprehensions and elevate your driving competence. Remember, the goal isn’t just to drive but to drive well and confidently.

Think about your fuel efficiency

As a new driver, the excitement of the open road often translates into covering many miles. However, frequent driving doesn’t necessarily have to lead to sky-high fuel expenses. A smart approach to driving can help you maximise your car’s fuel efficiency.

Fuel Efficiency

Remember the disciplined way you drove during your test or the cautious manner you adopted when your parents were your co-passengers? Emulating that style is beneficial not just for safety but also for your wallet. Maintaining low revs, ensuring smooth gear changes, practising gentle acceleration, and avoiding abrupt braking can significantly improve your MPG (miles per gallon) ratio.

Furthermore, keeping an eye on your tyre pressures and avoiding unnecessary weight in your car can also contribute to better fuel efficiency. By making these conscious driving choices, you can enjoy the thrill of the drive and manage your fuel costs more effectively.

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Tackle the motorway sooner rather than later

Motorways, with their high speeds and multiple lanes, can often be a source of anxiety for many drivers, especially those new to the roads. Yet, in comparison to the complexities of city driving, with its constant stop-starts and intricate manoeuvring, motorways can be less demanding.

The crux of motorway driving lies in confidence. It’s vital to face this challenge early on in your driving journey. Procrastinating might only intensify your apprehension, potentially leading to an unnecessary avoidance of motorways altogether.

Motorway Driving Lessons

If the thought of hitting the motorway feels daunting, remember that you don’t have to do it alone. Consider enrolling in motorway driving lessons. Having a seasoned driving instructor by your side can offer guidance, reassurance, and the expertise to navigate high-speed roads safely and confidently.

By confronting this aspect of driving head-on and seeking the right support, you can demystify motorway driving and integrate it seamlessly into your travels.

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Refer back to the highway code

The Highway Code isn’t just a tool for learner drivers; it’s a continuously relevant guide for all motorists, irrespective of their experience. It’s always a good idea to periodically revisit the Highway Code, especially before embarking on a lengthy trip or when anticipating unfamiliar road conditions and signs.

The Highway Code
Image source: Crown Copyright (Open Government Licence v3.0)

The Highway Code undergoes periodic updates to accommodate new regulations and best practices, making it essential for drivers to stay informed.

A significant component of being a skilled driver revolves around confidence, which inevitably grows with experience. Alongside these valuable tips, it’s imperative to ensure that your car remains in optimal condition.

Regular maintenance checks and servicing play a crucial role in this. Additionally, every motorist should be aware of the mandatory MOT test that each vehicle must undergo. To stay compliant and ensure your car’s roadworthiness, schedule your MOT by finding a reputable garage near you.

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Get the right new driver car insurance

Securing appropriate car insurance is paramount, especially for new drivers. Unfortunately, insurance premiums for novices tend to be on the higher side.

The rationale behind this is straightforward: newer drivers, due to their inexperience, statistically pose a higher risk of being involved in accidents compared to their more seasoned counterparts.

One innovative solution to counteract these high costs is black box insurance. This type of insurance involves fitting your vehicle with a device that monitors and records your driving behaviour.

By demonstrating safe and responsible driving habits, you can potentially earn yourself a more favourable insurance premium, even as a first-time driver.

It’s always worth shopping around to find the best deal that suits your needs. Why not take a few minutes to compare car insurance quotes with us? You might just discover an offer that provides both excellent cover and value for money.

Video by cottonbro studio

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