Hitting the road behind the wheel of your first car is a rite of passage for many young people and the long summer holiday is often the perfect time to get some practice in. With this in mind, Motors.co.uk has put together our five top tips for learners and newly passed license holders.
1. Losing your L plates
You’ll be surprised how easily L or P plates can dislodge themselves from your car the first time you take to a dual carriageway. While it can be a little disconcerting to see a plate fly off when you hit 50mph due to wind resistance, don’t worry. Pick where you put your plates carefully, making sure they are easily seen by other drivers and somewhere the magnetic back can have complete contact with the vehicle.
2. Keep a set of shoes in the boot
Footwear might not be your top priority but having the wrong shoes on when driving can be distracting or even dangerous. For example, during the summer, flip-flops might be your first choice. However, these are notoriously unsafe to drive in. To save having to rethink your outfit, keep some driving shoes in the boot or passenger foot well, this way you’ll always be prepared. As you need to be able to feel how the car is responding to you, aim for something with a flat but thin sole.
3. Bring out the shades
When you begin driving regularly, sunglasses become more than just a fashion accessory as glare from the sun can be very off-putting and, at times, dangerous. During the summer you are more likely to be carrying a pair but even during autumn and winter the low sun can impair your vision. One top tip is to keep a pair of sunglasses in the car at all times, that way you’ll never be without.
4. The test is only the beginning
When you do finally get that pink card to put in your wallet, it’s just the beginning. You’ll hear plenty of people say: “You only really learn to drive once you’ve passed your test”. This is true, over the next few months and years you’ll become more practised at techniques and grow in confidence. However, don’t get into bad habits, remember everything you were taught and hone your driving skills.
It can also be a good idea to keep in contact with your instructor, as having lessons for post¬-test skills like motorway driving, night time driving and driving in snow can be useful. Many young drivers also see merit in taking the Pass Plus driving test and using an instructor you know can make it easier.
5. Get to know your car and the road
Everyone has been a learner or a new driver. It’s important not to get stressed out by other road users and rush that three-point turn you’ve been trying so hard to perfect. Stay calm and focus on driving. Shake off anything that doesn’t quite go to plan and remember the most important thing is that you keep yourself and others safe.
Once you’ve passed your test and have your first car, it can be all too tempting to just jump in and go. Remember, you are still relativity new to the road and it’s important you become familiar with each new car you drive. Take time to get to know the vehicles’ turning circle, the strength of the breaks and where controls such as the hazards, lights and wipers are. This way you’ll be able to drive confidently and calmly.