The statistics for new drivers when it comes to road safety make for very uncomfortable reading. For example, drivers aged 16-19 are a third more likely to die in a crash than drivers that are aged between 40-49. One in four 18-24 year olds crash within two years of passing their driving test and young male drivers are involved in more crashes than young female drivers.
Young people, those aged 17-19 make up just 1.5% of UK licence holders but they are involved in 9% of all fatal and serious crashes where they are the driver.
As we said, uncomfortable reading.
Which is why we are writing this article today. In this article, we are going to look at some safety tips for new drivers including how to stay safe when driving in bad conditions and driving on the motorway.
There are many ways to stay safe when out on the road when you are a young driver, so here are some of our tips to stay safe when out on the road.
Tips for after you pass your test
Consider Having Extra Training
After you pass your test, you might want to consider having additional driving lessons to help you tackle other conditions and other scenarios which you may not have gone over when you were learning to drive.
There are plenty of schemes out there that offer you additional lessons, and some of these courses can even lower your insurance.
These are courses such as Pass Plus, AA’s Driver Confidence Course and BSM Refresher Lessons. The Institute of Advanced Motorists also have plenty of courses that can help you become more confident when driving and also give you extra tips on driving in different conditions and on different roads.
Get to know your car
The chances are you might not have learnt to drive in the car you are going to be driving in. Practicing in it, yes, but you might not have driven exclusively in that vehicle. Therefore, when you pass your test it’s a good idea to take some time to get to know your car and to learn how to drive it on your own, without somebody sitting in the passenger seat.
Learn where everything is, where the warning lights are and where the hazard button is. Take a drive around a familiar route to get comfortable in that car before you start doing longer journeys in that vehicle or driving passengers.
Go out in bad weather as soon as you can
Driving in bad weather isn’t fun, and can often be very scary to new drivers.
Therefore, it is a good idea to go out in bad weather as soon as possible to get adjusted to driving in such conditions. It is the UK, after all, and the weather can be terrible at the best of times.
We recommend going out in bad weather with a parent or someone you trust and drive a familiar route to get you acquainted with driving in bad weather. Understand how your braking distance is impaired, your grip is reduced and how to alter your driving style accordingly when you are out on a road you know with someone you trust is a lot safer than going out on your own on an unfamiliar road in such conditions.
Safety tips when driving
Hide all distractions
Using your phone when you are driving is illegal, and recently the punishment has become much stricter, including getting banned if you have been driving for less than three years. Even having your phone in your lap can be considered being on your phone, no one can prove that you weren’t holding it seconds earlier.
Even hands-free car kits aren’t necessarily as safe as you would like, especially those ones that sit on your steering wheel. Having your phone in your vicinity can be tempting, especially if you get a text or a phone call. Your reaction times can slow, you can get distracted and you could end up having an accident, injuring yourself or others around you.
Put your phone somewhere where you can’t see it. Alternatively, if your phone has a Do Not Disturb option, utilise it. If you have an iPhone, you can put your phone on Do Not Disturb, meaning that none of your texts or social media updates come through and notify you, but you can set it so you can have emergency contacts whose phone calls come through or set it so if someone rings twice it will ring. Therefore, if there is an emergency you will still receive the call. In which case, you can pull over and answer the phone.
Keep the volume down
It can be tempting, when you’re out on your own for the first time, to have your music as loud as you want with no complaints, but this can be dangerous and can distract you hugely. You can’t hear everything, such as an approaching motorbike, and the loud music can be distracting, particularly if you are singing along.
Keep the volume down, you can listen to music loudly when you are at home, but recreating a concert in your car is not good.
Don’t drive when you are angry
This applies to everyone, not just new drivers, but driving while angry or sad or stressed can impair you and can lead to you making reckless or silly mistakes.
If you’ve had a tough day at work or school, take some time to relax and make sure that you are in a good temperament to drive.
Take extra care at night
Winter in the UK means that it gets dark very quickly, very early, so you may find yourself driving when it is dark quite often.
You should take extra care when it’s dark, drive more cautiously then you wouldn’t need to rely on street lights and other cars to guide you. Be aware of your surroundings, including pedestrians walking on the pavement next to the road and those who are looking to cross.
Know where your fog lights are should there be no street lights to guide you and remember to turn them off when you approach another car.
Don’t drive if you’re tired, or if you were out the night before
Driving when you’re tired can be very dangerous, regardless of whether you are a new or experienced driver. If you have a long drive ahead of you, make sure you get a decent nights sleep and are well rested before you start off the next day.
If you start to feel drowsy, or feel like you can’t concentrate, then pull over into a service station and have a rest. It’s surprisingly easy to sleep in a car if you are really tired. Pulling over at a service station also gives you a chance to get something to eat, grab a coffee and stretch your legs. It’s incredible what a walk around a WH Smiths and a questionable casino can do to your energy levels.
Another thing you have to think about is if you have been drinking the night before. This can be dangerous for many reasons. One of the reasons is that you never sleep well when you’ve had a drink, so you could end up feeling drowsy. Another reason is that, even though you might not feel it, you could still be over the limit. The average liver can process around 1 unit of alcohol per hour. If you drink 8 units it will take you 8 hours to sober up fully. That is eight single drinks, or just four doubles. Therefore, if you drive the next morning you could still have alcohol in your system and this could impair your driving or get you in trouble should you get pulled over.
Be responsible when it comes to taking passengers
It can be tempting, when you first pass your test, to fill your car with your mates and go on a road trip. It can also be tempting to drive too fast or just act irresponsibly in general. We do not recommend this, obviously.
Young drivers are more prone to peer pressure, and this peer pressure can have disastrous, sometimes fatal, consequences. Be sensible when it comes to taking passengers. If you think that they are going to distract you, don’t give them a lift. It can endanger you, your passengers and other drivers. It’s not worth it so make sure that you are not distracted by your friends messing about or encouraging you to do so stupid things.
Top tips for driving on the motorway
Driving on the motorway as a young driver can be hugely intimidating, and a scary prospect for some. However, it doesn’t have to be. Here are some of our top tips for keeping safe on the motorway.
Take someone with you
You can book extra lessons with your instructor after you have passed your test if you wish, and they can help you through driving on the motorway for the first time. We do recommend this. Your instructor knows you, your driving style and is really the best person to learn from when it comes to driving on the motorway.
If you do not want to do this, then take someone who you trust and who is calming and will reassure you if you are nervous. A parent or family member would be a good choice, someone who has been with you when you’re driving privately. We don’t always recommend taking a friend out with you for the first time, unless they are an experienced motorway driver and are also a calming influence.
Keep your distance
Higher speeds mean longer stoppage time, therefore it is vital that you keep your distance when you are on the motorway.
Stay in the left-hand lane unless you are overtaking slower moving traffic.
When overtaking, use ‘mirror, signal, manoeuvre’ and avoid sitting in the middle or outside lanes. The police can actually hand out on the spot fines for hogging the middle lane now, so definitely do not do it.
In the event that the motorway has more than three lanes, keep to the lane furthest to the left unless overtaking slower traffic.
You should always be aware of lorries changing lanes, they have bigger blind spots than you do so you should keep your distance.
For every two hours of driving, you should take a fifteen-minute break. This is especially important when it comes to motorway driving. There’s no harm stopping at a service station and grabbing a coffee or perusing the magazines.
Know what to do should you break down
Breaking down on the motorway can sound like a nightmare, and it definitely isn’t ideal. However, knowing what to do in the event of a breakdown will make things much easier should the event occur.
Move over onto the hard shoulder as soon as possible, or a service station if you can. Get out of your car straight away. Use your mobile or use the emergency phone to call for help. If you are on the hard shoulder then you will have to move onto the verge behind the barriers and stay there until help arrives.
Hopefully this article has given you some top tips to keeping safe when it comes to driving as a new driver. The main thing is to ensure that you are not distracted, keep your mobile away from reach and make sure that you aren’t carrying any distracting passengers that will pressure you into doing anything reckless. If you are unsure about going on the motorway, driving in the dark or driving in bad weather conditions, then take someone out with you for the first time you do that journey. Make sure you trust them and that they will be a reassuring influence should you get nervous.