Advice for Young Drivers

The team of driving instructors here at Steering Clear have vivid memories of passing their driving tests, and what it was like to be a novice driver. There were mixed feelings common to all of us. Nervous.

Excited. Terrified, said one person! We just couldn’t wait to get behind the wheel. Surely, passing your test marks a strong transition into adulthood. You’re all grown up and driving a car. And yes, even driving instructors had to learn to drive in the first instance, you know.

Are you a young, inexperienced driver?

Well done on getting your licence. Now is the time to know and understand that you have a very serious responsibility, not only to you, but also to the safety of your passengers, other road users and pedestrians. Did you know that one in five new drivers in the UK is involved in a crash during his or her first year of driving? Please don’t be a statistic. Here’s some information, advice and tips that we’ve put together just for you:

Let’s start with the obvious one:

Insurance

The average cost of car insurance for drivers aged 17-22 is, believe it or not, about £1,300. Phenomenally high but of course, with good reason.

There are three types of car insurance: third party only, third party fire and theft and fully comprehensive.

In theory, third party insurance (cover if you damage someone else’s vehicle or cause them an injury) should be cheaper but in practice insurers think that people who choose it are a bit of a risk, so that doesn’t really work.

Adding a responsible, experienced driver to the policy (for example your Mum or Dad) could reduce your insurance costs. Also, obvious things, like having a safe place to park, NOT pimping up your car, and driving something relatively “sensible” could help. For example, how much do you think your insurance could for a brand-new Range Rover? The cost of an average third world country’s debt, that’s how much.

There’s no getting around it, though. If you’re a young driver your car insurance will probably set you back (or most likely your parents) more than the cost of your summer holiday.

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Get to know your car

Before venturing forth on your own, you need to be 100% familiar with the car you are driving. It goes without saying that this vehicle is NOT the one you learned to drive in and you’ll have enough to think about without knowing what to do if the heavens open, for example.

Sit in your car and, well, mess about with things.

Test the indicators, adjust the seats, learn how the windscreen wipers work. And the horn. Know which side the petrol cap is on. Have a read through the owner’s manual to know where everything is and how to use it. And yes, you can have the radio on…with care.

Practice with An Experienced Driver Next to You

A very valuable piece of advice, this one. Bribe your Mum, Dad, Aunt or anyone else more practiced behind the wheel to come out with you for short trips. They can sit with you while you perform certain manoeuvres, hopefully offering some sage advice on that tricky turn in the road or negotiating roundabouts.

It’s all about feeling confident and developing your skills. Believe us, you will get there faster if in the early weeks, someone you trust is with you.

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Don’t drive to Scotland

OK, if you live in Scotland that’s another matter but for goodness’ sake, please start small. Don’t plan long, challenging journeys. You’ll need to focus on your manoeuvres it all becomes second nature, so limit your early driving to about an hour or so. Take a trip to the supermarket and enjoy the rather bizarre thrill of loading groceries into boot and driving home again without having to get the bus.

Each small achievement will boost your confidence and you’ll be itching to get out there and work on your new skills.

Consider Pass Plus

More driving training, we hear you say. But I’ve got my licence now. Yes, we know. But there were quite a few things you didn’t master when you learnt to drive, such as motorways and how best to cope with bad weather. You may not have driven in the dark yet, for example. And when you do, it can be a bit of a shock if you don’t know what to expect.

Pass Plus is a series of lessons aimed at developing your competency as a young driver. It’s not a test as such, although you do have to achieve a certain level of skills, but we really recommend it to strengthen your resolve on the road. We’ve written a blog about Pass Plus that you can read here.

(By the way, Pass Plus isn’t considered a particularly effective way to reduce your insurance)

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Kick Your Mates Out

In the nicest possible way, of course. So many accidents happen late at night with a “responsible” young adult driver volunteering to abstain from alcohol to give his or her friends a lift home. Rowdy youngsters, dark, winding country lanes – what could possibly go wrong?

Even having your friends in your car during sober daylight hours could make you lose focus. So, just for the time being at least, take a considered view about who you drive around.

And lastly…

Be Prepared for Driving to Change Your Life

Although you’ll be shelling out for road tax, a parking permit, an MOT, servicing and repairs (and that doesn’t come cheap), now is an exciting time. You’ll probably want to jump in your car for any old excuse – even to your local shops – and we don’t blame you. Having a driving licence affords you freedom and independence to go where you want when you want.

In summary our advice is this:

Getting your full licence is just the start. You’ve proved to your examiner that you are a good enough driver to pass the test itself and importantly, that you are highly likely to hone your skills as you continue driving. Nobody is a perfect driver on the day of their test. Yes, even us!

Just follow our advice and what seems daunting now will be second nature before you know it.