Safety for New Drivers : 3 Tips To Improve Driving Safety

Safe Driving in the Rain

(Flickr: woodleywonderworks)

If you have recently acquired driver’s a license, there’s a good chance that you are getting caught up in all of the excitement and potential of being able to drive. Indeed, having your own license offers you a sort of freedom you’ve never known before, and it’s easy to get carried away thinking that now that you have a license, you can drive anywhere, and any way, that you please. However, while the independence is real, you also need to remember that it is important to be a safe and responsible driver. There are a number of steps you can take as a new driver to help get yourself off on the right track. Here are a few simple suggestions.

Additional Driving Lessons

To begin with, consider additional driving lessons after you have obtained your license. The driving license itself certifies that you have met the necessary skill and knowledge requirements to drive on your own however the driving test or perhaps even your initial driving lessons may not prepare you for every real life situation. So, while this is not to suggest that all people with licenses are ill equipped to drive, there is no harm in taking some additional driving lessons to improve any weaknesses or driving confidence issues you may have. Many driving schools offer advanced or additional driving lessons which cover topics like night or motorway driving. Some of these additional driving courses such as the Pass Plus could even help to reduce your insurance premium. In summary, additional driving lessons can help to make you a more capable and safer driver.

Choose the right Vehicle

Next, you should consider the vehicle you will be driving in and the potential financial or safety-related restrictions that are associated with driving it. New drivers often find that car insurance premiums are very expensive and can vary dramatically in price depending on what make or model of car you buy. Whilst many people research about how much the car will cost to run (e.g. tax, fuel efficiency insurance) it is also important to consider the reliability and safety features the car such as collision protection, airbags and safety rating. You can get information about car insurance from companies such as Aviva. A full car insurance package is often preferred and can end up saving you a great deal of money and hassle in the event that you find yourself in an accident.

Remember the Driving Lesson Basics

Finally, the most important advice for new drivers is to remember the basic rules and practices you learned in your driving lessons. Some people develop bad driving habits after the pass their driving test such as speeding over the speed limit, driving with only one hand and talking or texting on the phone as you drive. These are things that many people do once they get ‘comfortable’ behind the wheel however, they can all be very dangerous as you are not in full control of your car. It is very important that once you have your license you obtain a comfort level with the road, other drivers and become confident in your own abilities.

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Three ways a driving license can help you get a job

driving-license-card

Driving licence card by edwaado on flickr

For most young people, getting a driving license is a rite of passage. Not only is it a sign that you are a grownup who is mature enough to take control of your future, but it gives you independence and the freedom to move around and come and go as you please. It is for similar reasons that holding a full, clean driving license can also help you get a job.

When competition for jobs is so tight, anything that can give you an edge and make you stand out from the next applicant is highly valuable. Furthermore, whatever kind of job you’re looking for – from jobs that require driving everyday to those that don’t necessitate having your own wheels – possessing a driving license is still favorable. However, there are jobs where having a driving license and even your own car can make or break the deal. Construction job usually require a full driving license so you can easily get yourself to jobs and help move materials. Others, such as delivery jobs are only attainable with a driving license. If you’re looking for construction jobs UK wide then check out the reed.co.uk website for a huge range of available positions.

But a driving license can also be a major enabling factor in getting jobs in management positions and roles that require mature minds that can function independently. Here are three ways a driving license can help you get a job.

Driving Decision making

We don’t really think about it whilst we are behind the wheel but driving actually requires constant decision making: should you take route A or B? Is it now safe to overtake? Should I change up a gear now? These are all things your brain is asking itself and instantly responds to. The ability to make quick, safe and correct decisions under pressure is highly valued in the work place and this is something we do as drivers all the time.

Driving Independence

A driver’s license requires you to think and act independently of others. If there is no one else there in the car with you, you need to react and take control of the situation independently. Working independently is another important characteristic sought out by employers.

Driving Maturity

In the wrong hands a car can be a deadly weapon, but in the right, mature hands it can facilitate all kinds of tasks and make life a lot easier. Having a level of maturity – represented by a clean driving license – shows employers you can deal with various scenarios in a mature, reasoned manner, which is one of the most important traits recruiters look for.

Driver safety checks (Inside the car)

Once you are satisfied with the safety outside your car you can get inside the car and set your driving position.

Adjust your seat


Setting your driving position is very important, you must be able to touch the pedals and press them to the floor without stretching. Set your seat by adjusting the slider (usually underneath the seat) so you can comfortably reach the pedals.

Set the stearing wheel


In most cars you can adjust the height of the searing wheel. Move the stearing wheel into a suitable and comfortable position.

Driving Position

When setting your driving position you should make sure you are comfortable, you have clear visibility of the road (front, sides and back), you can easily push all of the pedals and move the steering wheel. You may also need to adjust the mirrors in the car so you can use them effectively. If you are in doubt about your driving position or mirrors, check with your driving instructor or a more experienced driver.

From inside the car you can also check that your windows work, that all the doors shut correctly, that the seatbelts work and that you have enough petrol in the tank for your journey.

Related Guides:- Outside car safety checks

Driver safety checks (Outside the car)

Safety is the number one priority when learning to drive and before you drive any car you should ask yourself, is this vehicle safe?
As an introduction you should familiarise yourself with some basic safety checks, doing this will also help you become more familiar with your car and what to look out for.

Where to start?


Any car you drive should be fully legal which includes having road tax, a valid MOT certificate and you should be insured to drive it. Most of the basic safety checks you can do are visual checks which involve checking your cars systems are topped up and in good working order.

Are you a learner driver?


If you are a learner driver you must display “L” plates whenever you drive the car. Remember to remove the plates after you have finished and keep them safe for next time.

Outside the car


Start by walking round the car and checking for any signs of visible damage. Wear and tear damages such as small dints and paintwork chips are usually acceptable but keep your eyes out for any chassis or tyre wall damage.

Check the tyres


Your tyres give you grip on the road and to ensure you car is road legal and safe you should always maintain AT LEAST the UK minimum tread depth of 1.6mm. Your tyres will wear down due to the friction with the road surface however, you should also look out for wear on a specific tyre or part of a tyre which could indicate a problem with the car. For example you may find your tyres wearing on the inside much quicker than the outside, this could be down to the tracking or balancing being out. If you are unsure or concerned about the wear on your tyres you can always take your car to a reputable garage for advice.

Are your brake and headlights working?


It’s important that all the lights on your car are working correctly. You can turn your headlights on from inside the car and then go out and check they are working. Now check your rear fog lights and brake lights by pushing down on the brake pedal (TIP: You may need to ask someone to check them for you).
Finally you should check that all your indicators are working, most modern cars will have rear indicators, side indicators and sometimes even wing mirror indicators. All of which should be fully functional.

Under the bonnet


You need to be aware of what the basic systems are under your bonnet. You should be aware of how to check your oil, coolant, windscreen wash and water levels as you will need to demonstrate this during your practical driving test.

Practice Driving in your own car

Private practicing can be a great way for learner drivers to gain essential experience. It allows you to practice in your own time with another qualified driver and build upon the knowledge you are getting from your driving instructor (ADI).

Like with any other skill the more practice you get the better you will be but its important to remember that private practice is not a substitute for professionally instructed driving lessons. If you feel comfortable, you can practice things you have learnt in your driving lessons but if you’re in doubt ask your ADI (driving instructor) what you can practice to improve your driving.

When to start to practice driving?


In some cases it can be best for new drivers to be introduced to driving by a professional driving instructor. In order to get the most from your private sessions you should wait until you (and who ever your driving with) are comfortable behind the wheel. Often new drivers make mistakes which could be potentially dangerous if they are not dealt with correctly. Trained driving instructors can spot these situations and have the advantage of dual controls to help you out.

Everyone learns at a different rate so there is no “rule” on when you can start your private driving but make sure that you and whoever will be driving with you is comfortable and that you comply with any laws.

Planning your route


Planning is essential, when you’re learning to drive it can feel like there are so many things you need to think about so choosing a good route should be done before you leave the house. You should plan a suitable route so that you are prepared and you know exactly where you need to go.

If you know your local area you could get involved in the route planning stage. Remember that learner drivers are NOT allowed on motorways and that your route should reflect the learners ability. Don’t drive in peak traffic times or choose difficult routes.

Initially stay close to home, short drives are good to build up a relationship between you, the learner and the car.

Concentration is key


Driving can be safe and fun but to make sure you stay safe on the roads you should always be in the right frame of mind. Don’t drive if your tired or angry and avoid driving with distractions such as young children or loud music.

Bad Driving Habits


If you are taking a learner driver out for practice ensure that you are aware of the most recent regulations and that your driving is up to scratch. Remember that you may have experience but it’s important to teach learner drivers how to drive properly. Learner drivers can pick up many bad habits from watching other drivers so it’s vital that you set a good example and give the learner feedback if you see bad habits developing. For information read out guide on Common bad driving habits

How to choose a driving instructor

It is no surprise that the vast majority of learner drivers who passed their theory and practical test first time were taught by a driving instructor. With so many driving instructors it can be difficult to choose the right one for you. It is often best suggest that you combine personal recommendations with your own decision making skills to determine the best driving instructor for you.

Before choosing your driving instructor you should always check if he/she has a valid certificate and that they are registered with the DSA.

What is the DSA


The DSA or Driving Standards Agency checks the standards of all approved driving instructors. In order for an approved driving instructor to qualify they must;
> Have held a full driving licence for at least four years
> Pass an advanced theory test – (this is different to the one that learner drivers take)
> Pass a strict driving test – (Yes, the instructor has to pass a test too!)
> Reach and maintain a high standard of instruction which is regularly checked by a supervising examiner from the DSA.
> Be registered with the DSA
> Display an ADI identification certificate on the windscreen of the tuition vehicle

Things to look for in a driving instructor;


> Should be registered with the DSA
> Have a good reputation
> Be reliable and punctual
> Be well prepared, have structured lessons plans and teach you at your own pace
> Have a car that suits you and that is well maintained
> Give you and only you the full time allocated in your lessons
> Be friendly, patient, approachable and make you feel comfortable about asking questions
> Make sure all lessons are one-to-one and there is no ‘piggy-backing’

What questions to ask your driving instructor


> How long have you been a driving instructor?
> Are you a fully qualified ADI?
> Will you be teaching me for the whole course?
> What cars do you have available? are they dual control?
> Will all the lessons be in the same car?
> Can you pick me up from my house, school, work etc?
> How long are your lessons?
> What days do you teach on? Are lessons available on the weekend? at night?
> Do you do any discounts on block bookings?
> Which centre do you use?