Hot Top Tips for New Drivers

Now that we’ve explored driving: as an aim; the avenues to entry; the advantages it will provide, and we recently addressed any associated fears and phobias, it’s probably time for some hot top tips for new and learner drivers. Let’s assume you’ve recently received your provisional driving license, where to from here?
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Learning continued

Just because you’ve passed, does that mean you could also teach it? No. But why?

Because the connection between the thought and the action is still young, with time and practise, it will become reflexive (like when a football is coming towards your face and you duck!). So, for those new to driving, it’s a case of repeat, repeat and remix! Yes you can drive the quiet back road near your house with ease – but what about the country lane during rush hour? Or the motorway on a bank holiday?

Just considering the journey is sufficient to prepare the brain for what is ahead. Go one better, consider and plan the journey, then actually do it. Chances are you will need to take someone to the train station at some point; why not do a few trial runs at different times?

Then we have a raft of other variables: Weather and road type – country, dual carriage way, motorway, junctions and roundabouts. The combinations are endless but the point is to test yourself at your own pace with no (big) surprises.

Get to know your car

They can last longer than the family pet if maintained correctly. And if you consider the time spent in the vehicle, you should probably understand it as well as your mobile phone. We’re not suggesting to train as a mechanic, but if, as a mini game, you consider the function of the parts, what they do, and with who. Incrementally, you’ll have picked up the basics, like you did when you got your first smartphone. And the knowledge may just save yourself a frightening mechanics bill.

Another perspective – cyclists, drivers, lorries, pedestrians and even animals are found on the road.

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Whether this means strolling the paths of your local area, cycling to your child’s school or making a note of local farms and animal sanctuaries; this exercise not only prepares you for all the fun things you are now able to drive to! but it brings an awareness of the local area that will serve your confidence greatly.

Blind spots

Where are they? A question every driver considers. Another question to ask, would be: Where is it in you? Are you forgetful or quick to lose concentration (yes, everyone!) or are you quick to rage? If so, be aware of these ‘blind spots’, these moments of vulnerability.

It’s first thing in the morning and you’re bumping into door frames? Take a cuppa and give yourself time to wake up. Had some emotional news and still shaking? Call a friend and take a moment. Driving through town around crowds of sports fans? Be prepared to be ultra-patient. Everything from hay fever medication to excessive caffeine can seriously impair judgement so it’s good to be aware of what you’re putting in your body; it’s always good to be vigilant in this respect.

It might be that the best decision is you don’t drive that day, always allow that to be an option.

Blind spots of others

At the very least be aware of where their physical blind spots are but, as before, be aware of the non-physical. Is it a car packed with family members who are clearly quite active in the back seat? Be prepared for sudden or delayed reactions.

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Blinders (aka passengers): know that you will be affected by any and all additional inputs – ie. Bessie’s, babies and bothers. Anyone younger than 25 will find it biologically impossible to drive normally in front of their ‘Bessie’s’ (best mates); driving with intent to swag (show off) will be irresistible so the inexperienced driver needs to bear this in mind.

Statistics show that: 1/5 new drivers’ crash. With regards to fatalities 1 in 3 under 25’s die as a result but nearly half of those are actually under 20. Interestingly, these stats change once the driver is over 25 years of age!

Baby’s – because it’s not their fault they’re distractingly gorgeous!

Bothers – anything from back-seat drivers to siblings. Know who’s in the car and what they’re capable of.

Finally: Mobile phone – ok, your contacts, your jukebox – your map and your compass? Smart phones and their predecessors are much maligned in the motoring world, for obvious reasons. But let’s not throw out the baby with the bathwater; a knife can be a letter opener or a weapon. Considering the potentially vital applications your phone is now capable of performing, having it with you when driving could be a lifesaver – but that doesn’t mean to have it on your lap, mid snap-chat, whist you’re driving. Put the phone away, it isn’t driving the car – yet. And the Google self-driving cars don’t have the best record!

Keep it fully charged, keep it somewhere it won’t distract you (glove compartment/handbag) but keep it close enough that, in a rare emergency, you can grab it and go.
Some of these tips are obvious, but it’s the conscious effort required and the act of focusing your attention, literally forges those those new pathways to new skills and behaviours.

So, with practice, like everybody else, eventually, it’ll come naturally. Until then, however…. Happy Learning!

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