You’ve passed your test! Congratulations! After all your hard work you can finally drive away in your dream first car.
They say that you really start learning to drive after you pass your test. And they are right. There are so many things still to learn when it comes to driving a car. And, many of these things are about learning how to stay safe on the roads. One in five new drivers are involved in a car crash during their first year of driving. Even worse, a third of drivers killed in car accidents are under the age of 25. Those are scary statistics. So while you are good enough to drive on your own, you still have a lot to learn.
But, there are some things that you can do to ensure that you are as safe as possible when you are on the road. In this article, we are going to look at some safety points that you will want to consider after you’ve passed your test.
Pass Plus Schemes
One of the best ways to ensure that you are prepared for life as a legal driver is to take part in a Pass Plus Scheme. This is also a great way to bring down your insurance.
A Pass Plus Scheme will teach you to drive in busy towns, adverse weather conditions and on motorways. It will make you a much more competent driver as well as making you more confident out on the road.
There are different schemes you can choose from and these can cost a range of different prices. We recommend that you shop around first. Be aware though, not all of these will equal lower insurance, so check with your insurance provider to see which schemes they recommend. We recommend a course through the IAM. They are the most highly regarded scheme.
Others include ROSPA, which is held by serving or retired police officers. You will have to retake this every three years to ensure that your skills are up to date. The AA also offer two free courses. These are Drive Smart and Drive Confident. However, places for these are limited. But, the choice is yours.You can read more about the IAM here.
Know your limits
And we’re not just talking about alcohol. Although you are experienced enough on the road to take your test, you are still a very un-experienced driver. So, while it may be tempting to go on a road trip straight away, we advise that you do not.
Stick to the routes you know first. Driving for longer than an hour can be tiring and you can lose concentration. Small journeys, like driving to work or college, are best. Then, slowly build up your experience. Just like learning to drive, it’s not a race. Building up your experience and confidence will mean that you are less likely to make the wrong decision.
Know the law
This one sounds obvious but it’s important. There will always be people who flout the rules. Whether it be the person driving too fast in their sports car or the person on their phone, there will be people who break the rules. But that doesn’t mean you should.
Just because people do it doesn’t make it okay nor does it mean if you get caught, the punishment won’t be as severe. If you get caught breaking the rules as a young driver then you will get a hefty fine and could potentially lose your licence.
You also need to keep an eye on the laws, because they do change. For example, the punishment for using your phone while driving has increased. Now, you get six points on your licence. This means that if you have been driving for less than two years and you get caught on your mobile phone, you will lose your licence. This is because six points on your licence results in an automatic ban if you have been driving for less than two years.
Remember you’re in control
This means that when your friends want to turn the music up so loud you can’t concentrate, turn it down. It can be hard not to give into peer pressure, we all know that. But when it comes to driving, lives are on the line. Therefore, you need to remember that you are in control and your friends should respect that.
Also, while it may be tempting, showing off in front of your friends isn’t clever either. Driving too fast or messing about in general is dangerous and will get you into a lot of trouble if you are caught. When you first pass your test avoid driving with a full car or with loud music blaring. And don’t be afraid to tell your friends to be quiet when you need to concentrate.
Don’t drink and drive
If you’re reading this article then the chances are you’re pretty clued up already. After all, why would you be looking at ways to be even safer? But it wouldn’t be an article about safety if we didn’t mention drinking and driving.
Just don’t do it. You don’t need us to tell you the sheer stupidity of drinking and driving but it is important that you know the legal limits. It’s also important that while they are the legal limit, they are just guidelines. People cope with alcohol differently so know your own limits.
You should also remember that alcohol can stay in your system for up to 48 hours. There have been cases where people have been breathalyzed the morning after and they are still over the limit.
Do not do illegal drugs and drive. It’s as simple as that. However, if you are on prescription medication, then you also need to take care. There will be some prescription medications that will impair your driving and you will be advised not to drive. Check with your doctor to see how long you have to wait before you can drive again. You could end up doing yourself and others harm if you do drive. And, if you get caught then you are breaking the law. It is this type of law that is often overlooked, as many think drug-driving only applies to illegal drugs.
Know what to do in an emergency
While we don’t like to think about it, it’s always best to be prepared. Knowing what to do in the event of an emergency is vital information. You can read our article about what to do in the event of an accident here.
You should also know what to do if you break down. Many first cars are used and are more unreliable than newer models. Therefore, it’s handy information to know what to do if you break down. It’s also a good idea to know how to change your tyres, how to change the oil and the basics of car maintenance to ensure that you don’t break down. You can read about what to do if your car breaks down here.
Neither of these situations are ideal, but if you’re clued up it will make things slightly less terrible.
So there are a few of the safety points we think you should consider. We recommend that you take part in a Pass Plus scheme or similar. It will improve your driving skills and your confidence hugely. It will also lower your insurance if you go through IAM. Knowing your limits in terms of experience, and alcohol, will also keep you much safer. Remember not to give into peer pressure, it really isn’t worth it. Being clued up about what to do in an emergency or when you break down will also make things easier should that event occur. And stick to the speed limit! Hopefully this has given you an idea of how to be safer on the road as a new driver.