Learning to drive and sitting the driving test are often highlighted as particularly stressful events but for many novice drivers the stress doesn’t disappear the minute they’ve got their licence.
Passing the test shows you’ve mastered the basics of car control and understand the rules of the road but there’s still a lot to learn for inexperienced drivers taking to the road.
To help you on your way we’ve spoken to driving experts from LeaseCar.uk to come up with some tips on everything from staying safe in bad weather to making your money go further.
1. Adjust your driving for bad weather
Inexperienced motorists need to quickly learn how to alter their driving in different weather conditions, from maintaining traction when steering and braking distances to coping with reduced visibility, so it’s advisable to get behind the wheel and practice in rain, wind, fog, snow, ice and even bright sunshine as soon as possible.
2. Turn the radio off
Concentration is crucial when in charge of your car, especially if you’re not yet completely confident, so it’s wise for new drivers to turn the radio or their music down or off.
3. Don’t offer friends lifts
Young drivers can often be pressured into becoming a taxi service for friends, but it’s sensible to avoid potentially dangerous distractions that come with carrying a group of people around until you’re more experienced behind the wheel and only offer lifts on a very selective basis.
4. Think of fuel efficiency
Drive as economically as often as possible by trying to make smooth gear changes whilst keeping the revs low, ditching excess weight in the boot and avoiding racing starts and sharp braking – they should all contribute to achieving more miles per gallon and consequently help lower your fuel costs over time.
5. Apply ‘P’ plates
Nervous new vehicle owners could consider applying ‘P’ plates as soon as they’ve passed their test, to make other drivers aware of their inexperience and hopefully be afforded extra time and space by fellow road users.
6. Get to know your car
When you first get your hands on your new car, make sure all the mirrors and seat position are adjusted properly, learn what all the buttons do and have a thorough read of the car’s manual to steer clear of any avoidable problems – this is extra important if it’s a different car to the one you learnt to drive in.
7. Practice alone
It’s strange to think that drivers who’ve just passed their test have never been behind the wheel alone before, so it’s alright to practice with a more experienced driver, but it could be more beneficial to get some early practice in on your own – consider taking your car for a spin when the roads are quiet, for no other purpose than practising driving.
8. Practice in unfamiliar conditions
Getting to grips with driving at night and on motorways as soon as possible is important for inexperienced new motorists – for this, it’s probably better to take a more experienced driver with you until you’re fully confident.
9. Observe the two second rule
Leaving sufficient space to the vehicle in front by following the two second rule will help you stay safe on the roads by allowing you reasonable reaction time, whilst it’s also wise to try to anticipate any changes in conditions by considering road surface conditions, bends and observing taller vehicle further in front.
10. Iron out weaknesses
If there’s any aspects of driving you particularly struggled with during your lessons, try to perfect them quickly, from three point turns to all types of parking. If there’s anything you really struggle with consider a couple of extra post-test lessons.
11. Know where you’re going
Smart drivers don’t entirely rely on their sat nav or road signs, so if there are routes you’ll be using often (such as a commute) try to learn them immediately and if you’re travelling long distance or to somewhere unfamiliar, check a map before setting off to avoid getting lost unnecessarily.
12. Know when not to drive
Driving when tired, angry, sad or with your mind elsewhere can be very dangerous as you may not be fully focused, whilst hungover motorists might still have alcohol in their system – if you’re already on the road, pull over and take a break.