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10 essentials for new drivers

Learning to drive and passing your test can be stressful. But for many novice drivers, the stress doesn’t disappear once you’ve got your license. As well as the laws, maintenance and knowing what to do when you have a puncture, there’s lots of new drivers tips to help make you a better driver.  

Young Driver
 It is important to keep your car in good condition with regular services

1. Familiarize yourself with your car 

First off, get to know the car. Whether it’s yours or your borrowing mum or dads, familiarize yourself with how it works. The more comfortable you are with the controls, the more relaxed you’ll be and the better you’ll drive. 

Figure out how to turn on the lights (dipped and full beam), wipers and hazards. It’s worth looking through the manual too and keeping this with you in the glove box at all times. Knowing where everything is will make driving a new car easier. Plus, you won’t need to worry if it gets dark or there’s a sudden downpour. 

 

2. Head out in bad weather   

The key is to stay calm and take your time. And if it helps, take another driver with you. Driving in bad conditions will do wonders for your confidence. Whether it’s wind, rain, fog, ice or snow, it’s not easy when you’re a novice. But, getting lots of practice will make it easier. 

3. Turn off the radio 

Concentration is vital, and loud music is one of the biggest concentration killers — especially among teens. In a driving study, 98% of teens who listen to music had more driving errors. And 20% needed an assisted steering or braking maneuvre to prevent an accident. So thus, until you’re confident, turn the music down or off. 

 

4. Display correct plates- P

If you’re a nervous driver, consider using P plates when you’ve passed. Putting P plates on your car will let other motorists know that you’re inexperienced, and should buy you time and space. 

 

5. Avoid a road trip with your friends, for now 

Road trips are a lot of fun, but they can be dangerous if you’re not prepared. It’s not uncommon to feel peer pressure when you’re driving with your friends in the car. But there are ways to prepare for it and deal with it.  And don’t be afraid to tell your friends if they’re making you feel uneasy. Likewise, to wear their seatbelts. 

 

6. Know where you’re going 

Knowing where you’re going sure makes driving less stressful, even for me, someone who’s been doing it for 10+ years. While sat navs are great, don't rely on them for everyday journeys like a commute. Knowing where you’re going puts you at ease, but it also makes the journey more enjoyable. 

7. Go for a weekend practice drive 

Once you’ve passed your test, you’re not alone — remember that. Going for a drive at the weekend with an experienced driver could do wonders for your confidence, especially as a new driver. 

Having said that, you should still drive alone, whether it’s to nip to the shop or out for a practice drive. Remember, you haven’t been behind the wheel alone before, so you’ll need to get used to it. Take your car for a spin when the roads are quiet, like on a Sunday, for no other reason than practice. 

 

8. Observe the three-second rule 

The three-second rule is there to keep you safe, so stick by it. Leaving enough space (three seconds) to the vehicle in front will give you enough time to react. It’s wise to look ahead too, observing the upcoming bends and changes to the road surface. 

 

9. Iron out any weaknesses 

Learning doesn’t suddenly stop once you pass your test, because you're still far from a great driver. If there’s anything you’re not great at — whether it’s a three-point turn or a parallel park — practise until you’re good at it. If you’re struggling, consider having a few post-test lessons. 

 

10. Think about your fuel efficiency 

Chances are when you first pass your test, you’ll cover a lot of miles. But this doesn’t have to mean expensive fuel bills. The trick is to drive as you did on your test or as you would if your parents were in the car. Low revs, smooth gear changes, gentle acceleration and braking — these will all help keep your MPG and fuel costs low. 

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