INTRODUCTION TO THE GUIDE
Nothing like the excitement of getting behind the wheel of a car for the first time. As a teenager, you might exclaim, “finally! I can drive!” - Your fists punching the air in both relief and excitement.
That's until you finally have to face the fear of getting on the highway. Then you try to remember everything you learned in driving school, and you suddenly realise that keeping your eye on the road is not a gentle suggestion, it is a driving mandate.
But before receiving your driver's licence, you imagined how it would be - to finally move about as we please.
Trips out of town no longer have to cost you hours on public transport, you can finally visit family members in a few minutes. Commutes to work are much more straightforward. Thus, we can generally agree that becoming a proficient driver is essential - for convenience sake.
That’s why you are here reading this article. You understand that driving is a massive responsibility.
Though most of us snatch at the opportunity once we realise we can zoom away from our parents, this article isn't just for young drivers venturing into adulthood. Some put off learning how to drive till they are older but if you are reading this, you are either about to have access to the control of a vehicle or you are struggling to adapt to your new ability. At Stanly Harris, we understand your worries. You've come to the right place.
Safe driving doesn’t merely protect your life, it protects the lives of other motorists and passengers as well.
Quickly scan over the Table of Contents below to familiarise yourself with everything you will be learning on this page. Don’t think you’ll be able to finish reading it all in one sitting? You can bookmark the article and continue reading later.
Table of Contents
LEARNING TO DRIVE A CAR FOR THE FIRST TIME
Before Getting on the Road
As excited as you may be to step on the gas pedal, make sure you have received a provisional driving licence for Great Britain or Northern Ireland. You need one to learn how to drive legally among other licenced drivers.
And while you are in control of the vehicle, make sure you are always accompanied by either an instructor, family or a responsible friend! THIS IS IMPORTANT! You are still learning.
Learning to drive can be quite scary and intimidating. Having an experienced driver sit beside you will help improve your skills, plus they can help you make the right decisions in case of emergencies.
Also before officially receiving your license, be sure that you are practising in a car which displays ‘L’ plates. You will alert another motorist to drive cautiously around you.
POP QUIZ 1
What is the driving age in UK?
In the United Kingdom, you may start driving a car once you reach the age of 17. But you can apply for a provisional licence once you are 15 years and 9 months old.
However, teenagers can receive a driver’s licence at the age of 16 if they receive the enhanced rate of the mobility component of Personal Independence Payment (PIP).
HOW TO PREPARE FOR YOUR DRIVING TEST
Here is a list of 5 critical considerations to keep in mind as you prepare for your driving test:
1. Practice driving in large car park
The parking lots of some shopping centres, movie theatres and open commercial areas are usually large enough to practice turns and other evasive manoeuvres. Make time on a Sunday when the town shuts down. With enough room to make mistakes and nobody watching, these areas are perfect for new and young drivers.
2. Take the driving test seriously
Some exams will earn you a good grade in a class, other exams give you the ability to travel freely. Take your driving test seriously, you don't want to be stuck with the frustration of having to take the test multiple times.
Be sure to study for your theory test. Without passing the theory test, you can’t book your driving test. Plus, the information you will absorb while studying will be applicable once you hit the road.
3. Get comfortable with driving-related tasks
Although you won't be asked to during your exam, you may need to change a tire one day, best to familiarise yourself with where the jack is. Do you know where the gas station is? Best to learn how to fill up the tank. Understanding how to take care of the day to day responsibilities of your vehicle will help you feel more in control and confident during your test.
Below are a few things to brush up on while learning how to drive:
- How to jump-start a car
- Understanding road signs
- How to change a tire
- How to change the oil
- How to gauge tire Pressure
- What Vehicle Indicator lights Mean
- How to get to Petrol
4. Learn about how your car works
Aside from relying on your mechanic, you can prolong the life of your vehicle by properly maintaining it. You don’t even have to read the manual, there are youtube videos that will teach you everything you want to know. By being more knowledgeable about your vehicle, you will drive more effortlessly.
5. Plan your trips
As a new driver, driving should be a planned activity. Not something you suddenly have to do in the middle of the day. Map out where you plan to go, when you plan to head off and how you plan to return. Choose quiet areas. Prepare the skills you intend to practice. Decide how much time you are going to spend driving or if you'd rather be shown specific skills by your instructor.
Talk to your instructor or chaperone about driving weaknesses you’d like to develop before your test.
Get plenty of practice. Don’t rush to the exam date. Wait until you can drive without the support of a more experienced driver. Once you finally arrive for your test, be sure to have your:
- UK driving licence number
- Driving test reference number or theory test pass certificate number (from the letter you got when you passed your theory test.
Be aware, to receive your driver's license after taking your driving test, you must:
- Demonstrate safe driving in various traffic conditions.
- Demonstrate an understanding of The Highway Code as you drive.
To learn about everything you need to do to pass the test, be sure to review The national standard for driving cars.
AFTER PASSING THE DRIVING TEST
Now that you have finally passed your driving test, you are going to need to follow a set of precautionary rules.
We understand the eagerness you may be feeling as an inexperienced driver. You can’t wait to drive comfortably without worrying about an accident. You want to stop being so nervous as you backing out the driveway. You wish your heart would stop skipping every time another car speeds by you. Until you can drive without working up a sweat, here is a list of recommendations to help guide you to proficiency:
1. Don’t become the chauffeur of your friends.
Take the time to feel comfortable driving without pressure or expectations.
2. Practice during times of the day when traffic is the lightest.
3. No cell phones and social media.
Not only would you be breaking the law, but you'd also be risking your life and the lives of others. Limit distractions whenever you drive.
4. Focus on what is in front of you.
You are always better off paying attention to the motorists ahead of you. They may slow down or brake suddenly. Don’t drive faster just because you think you may be annoying motorists behind you.
Better for everyone to arrive home later (but safe and sound), as opposed to, quickly heading to the hospital (or car insurance company).
5. Don’t rush
As you get used to driving, you should consider the ability a luxury that ought to be approached with carefully planned trips. Almost as if you were still preparing for your driving test. Give yourself time to feel relaxed before and during your ride.
RECOMMENDATION FOR NEW AND YOUNG DRIVERS: NEW DRIVER P PLATES
What are "New driver P-plates"?
Though not mandatory, you can display green ‘probationary’ P plates to show that you’ve just passed your driving test.
These plates may not be the trendiest modifications to celebrate your new licence, but they indeed are a mature decision.
They show that you appreciate the responsibility of driving, you intend to drive with caution until you feel confident driving alone.
Plus, as a new or young driver, it is important that others are aware of your inexperience. Every driver goes through the same humble beginnings, we all remember feeling timid behind the wheel of a car. Our reactions aren’t quite as sharp as they need to be due to a lack of experience. By driving around with new driver p-plates, you'll be asking other motorists to allow you a bit of extra space on the road. They will usually be patient. Many will slow down to make your driving more comfortable.
TIPS FOR NEW DRIVERS
1. Make the driver's seat as comfortable as possible
For new and young drivers it is essential to ensure that the driver seat is in a position that is most natural to the driver. Raise or lower your seat, so you can see the road and react without obstruction.
Check to ensure your mirrors are clearly within sight when you turn to face them.
Be sure that your view of the mirror presents a full display of relevant objects as you make driving decisions.
If you're comfortable. And if you have adjusted your driver's seat, you will feel much more relaxed and more capable of responding to sudden changes in your environment.
2. Stay calm, it's only driving
Being nervous is alright. Take your time and take a deep breath. You may require a few rides around the neighbourhood before you can finally feel relaxed, but you will eventually be able to drive your car as you would ride a bike. Ultimately, it just clicks. But it's a process so be patient and take a deep breath. Hold the wheel in the correct position. Sit up straight. Check your mirrors and your engine indicators. You will be fine. Start off slow and be cautious.
3. New and Young drivers must pay attention
Anything that takes distracts the inexperienced driver must be considered a risk to the drivers, other motorists, passengers, pedestrians, and even private and public property.
Just about everything is at risk if your music is on too loud, your cell phone keeps buzzing, or your tweets keep ringing from your tablet.
4. New drivers must be practical
Don’t get carried away. Just because you are legally allowed to drive, doesn’t mean you should drive everywhere. There is nothing wrong with taking the train to another city until you have enough experience to drive around town confidently. Stick with what you know. Practice often and get familiar with driving by getting used to moving around in places you already know.
5. Drive during the daytime
As an inexperienced driver, you ought to restrict yourself to driving during the day. That's means you don’t get to nominate yourself as the designated driver on a night out with friends. That means the car stays home while the sun is away.
EXTRA TRAINING (PASS PLUS)
By preparing with a Pass Plus registered approved driving instructor (ADI), you can take a practical training course to improve your driving skills. The training usually consists of at least six hours of instruction. Once complete, the extra training can help you score a car insurance discount.
HOW TO GET COMFORTABLE WITH DRIVING ALONE
To become comfortable with driving alone you need to practice driving without distractions. That goes beyond turning off your cell phone. Turn the radio off, remember your lessons and take a deep breath. Woo. It is just you and your vehicle and nothing but the road, and thousands of other drivers.
With no one there to look out for you, you ought to be extra calm. No additional thoughts. You have to focus on adapting to the challenges of driving.
To help keep your mind clear, we have put together a list of possibilities that may be going through your head while driving alone for the first time.
Driving is not the right time for you to let your mind wander. Review the list below to improve your driving:
1. Don’t worry about what people think of your driving
The only thing you should be thinking about is maintaining control of your vehicle.
2. There will be surprises
Mistakes will happen, but you will be able to correct them if you drive slowly. You need to develop your reaction time to a person suddenly deciding to cross the street. Parallel parking may take a while to master. You may have underestimated the difficulty of merging into a lane. Be patient and drive carefully. Ask your instructor for help when you need it.
3. Your driving reflexes will improve
Don’t get frustrated. There are no limits to the number of practice hours you may log before the test. And certainly none to how much may be required for you to feel comfortable after receiving your licence. Something as simple as turning on your windshield wipers when it rains can seem like the most challenging task when you are driving alone. With practice, you will react without thought.
4. Stay in the safe lane
If you are brave enough to try your hand at practising on the highway, be smart enough to stay away from the fast lane. Experienced drivers are comfortable behind the wheel