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.
So let’s have a look, shall we?
1. Familiarise yourself with your car
First off, get to know the car. Whether it’s yours or your borrowing mum or dads, familiarise 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
This may sound like a new driver’s worst nightmare, but hear us out. 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.
The key is to stay calm and take your time. And if it helps, take another driver with you. No matter how you do it, do it in your own time so you’re not caught out on your morning commute.
3. Turn off the radio
One of the perks of passing your test is that you get to pick the tunes. But not so fast! When you first pass your test, 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.
But regardless of whether you’re in this demographic, loud music can mess with your concentration. And if there’s one thing we’ve learned so far, it’s that concentration is key for new drivers. So thus, until you’re confident, turn the music down or off.
4. Use P plates
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.
Before planning a road trip, make sure you’re fully confident in your ability. This includes driving in all weather conditions and with passengers and a heavy load! 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. If you're planning a trip somewhere further afield, check out the route beforehand. Knowing the main A roads, junctions and motorway exits will mean you can relax a little.
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 two-second rule
The two-second rule is there to keep you safe, so stick by it. Leaving enough space (two 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.
11. Tackle the motorway sooner rather than later
Ah, motorway driving. Many motorists fear driving on the motorway, but the truth is, it takes much less skill than to drive in the city. Motorway driving is all about confidence, so it’s best to get it out the way. If you don’t, fear could build and you might never overcome it.
If you’re struggling, you can take motorway driving lessons if you’d feel more comfortable with an instructor by your side.
12. Refer back to the highway code
We always recommend jogging your memory of the highway code. We echo this message before a long journey, or if you think you might come across unfamiliar road signs. Plus, there are often updates that every motorist should know.
So there you have it. Most of these tips relate to confidence, which is only something you’ll get from driving. But alongside these tips for new drivers, it’s important to keep your car in good condition with regular services. And don’t forget the all-important MOT test that every car needs by law! To book your MOT, locate your local garage here.