So you’ve passed your test, paid a small fortune to buy and insure your first car and you’re ready to go out and explore the world. Learning to drive is great fun, makes life more convenient and allows that element of freedom that most teenagers crave. All of these great things can easily end in disaster however, even if you have passed your test with flying colours and are feeling particularly confident behind the wheel.
Staying safe on the road is one element that new drivers sometimes put to the back of their minds. Judging speed and distances can sometimes be difficult to get used to and there is always the risk of other drivers, who may not be as safe, being the ones that cause problems. We’ve collected a few easy to follow safety tips that will not only keep new drivers safe on the road, but also avoid unnecessary costs further down the line.
Get to know your car
A new car, especially if it’s second hand, can sometimes be a whole new experience for novice drivers. A lot can go wrong, from flat tyres to broken lights to brakes failures. Getting an MOT every year is obviously a legal requirement, but basic maintenance carried out very now and again will actually save you money in the long run and keep you safe. Always check your oil, water and windscreen washers every week or so and top up accordingly and check your tyre pressure regularly. Tires are one of the biggest causes of road accidents too, so make sure your treads are within the legal limits and get the car straight to a garage if they are running low.
Getting to know basic car mechanics /will also help you to spot when something is wrong, such as an engine over-revving, a clutch slipping or brakes sticking. There is plenty of information available online, but programs like Pass Plus will explain car maintenance better than a standard driving test.
Having insurance is of vital importance and again a legal requirement, so take some time to choose the right deal. Younger drivers often have to pay a higher premium, so shop around for the best deal that offers the best cover for you, especially where several firms offer insurance for this specific demographic. Comprehensive insurance is often the best, as it will cover every eventuality and trust us, literally anything can happen when it comes to cars. Don’t take the risk.
Really learn to drive
Passing a driving test doesn’t automatically make you a great driver. Many driving instructors mention that the real learning experience begins the day that the certificate is given out and new drivers will encounter many situations that don’t come up on the test. From road rage to double parking, there are a lot of problem drivers on the roads who could cause serious problems if drivers aren’t wary. Basic things that most parents bang on about like slowing down a bit, putting your mobile phone in the glove box and never drinking and driving are likely to be givens, but there are still some things that young drivers do that can cause fatal accidents even if they think are driving safely.
Having a car full of friends with loud music on in the background is great fun, but this assault on the senses can make it difficult to judge distances, listen for sirens and other cars and even concentrate on busy roads. Try kicking your mates out for the first few months until you really get the hang of navigating your way around.
If you’re struggling to resist the temptation to slam your foot down on the accelerator and go around a corner at an insane speed (yes, it’s great fun) then feel free to go ahead and do it – safely, off the road. There are now loads of track days around the country where car owners can pull up, fill out a few forms and thrash their Nissan Micra around a private racetrack, keeping exciting yet dangerous driving off public roads and allowing speed freaks to have their fun.
What the future looks like
If you’re still feeling apprehensive about safety on the road, then the good news is that driving will probably get easier and safer as new technology beings to appear. Many new cars are fitted with built-in safety features as standard, including proximity warnings, auto-braking and speed limit detection to help you avoid collisions, but little touches like automatic headlights, tyre, water and oil alarms, and parking sensors will also help you with the annoying little niggles that can cause headaches. We will soon also see more telematics to help us with road safety, such as warnings of accidents or accident blackspots ahead, ice and adverse driving condition alarms, and even signals that tell us that we are driving dangerously or inefficiently.
Although driving can be daunting at times with a lot that can go wrong, driving should still be treated as a fun and exciting activity that helps us to get out and see the world. By following some of these simple pieces of advice, most new drivers should be able to avoid costly or dangerous situations and ensure their driving experience is positive.