After The Test - Driving Alone for the First Time
We believe the idea of a new driver being a menace on the road is a stereotype which, fortunately, only applies to a very small number of young people. In fact many new drivers, alone behind the wheel for the first time after passing their test, find themselves too nervous to do anything other than drive very carefully until they gain more experience.
But the fact remains that too many new drivers have accidents in their first year; one in five, in fact, according to current research.
More experience = fewer accidents
4 Young Drivers has the following ideas to help new drivers gain more experience and reduce the risk of an accident.
- Take the Pass Plus driving course. This will take you into situations you may not have encountered in your driving lessons, such as motorway driving, night time driving, busier roads in larger towns etc. This is great experience and completing the course might also reduce your car insurance
- You may only ever have driven your instructor’s car in driving lessons and during your driving test and chances are you never used some of the controls. When you buy your own car, spend plenty of time getting to know where everything is. Fog lights, hazard warning lights, screen-wash, even the radio – groping around for an unfamiliar control while you’re driving is a dangerous distraction
- Are you really aware of other road users? How safe are pedestrians and cyclists from you? The only way to gain insight into their vulnerabilities is to spend some time walking (or cycling) in their shoes. Where might your blind spots be? In what situations might a pedestrian or cyclist be unobserved until it’s too late? Spend some time on a bike to really appreciate where the dangers might be
- Learn your car’s limits. What would really happen if you floored the accelerator? You might get a shock at how unstable your car is at higher speeds. Some racetracks around the UK advertise days when you can take your own car. In a safe, supervised environment, you can find out for yourself just how easy it is to over-estimate the control you have of your car at higher speed
- Drive in all weathers. Until you’ve driven down a dual carriageway with a strong wind buffeting you, or felt the car struggling to gain traction on an icy road, you really have no idea what it’s like. That’s not to say you should drive in conditions which are unsafe, but practical experience will improve your awareness that poor driving conditions increase your braking distance, for example
- Spend some time driving alone. No matter how comfortable you were driving with your instructor beside you, it can seem very bewildering when you’re suddenly in charge. Having a car full of noisy passengers is a distraction you can do without. Give yourself plenty of time alone to get used to life behind the wheel.
We can’t close without reminding you how important it is to make sure you arrange insurance before you drive. No matter how prepared you are, even the most experienced drivers have accidents sometimes and the right insurance cover can save you time and money.