The uni season is on! You pack up your life into boxes again and head to the student halls or a new house, or perhaps you’re commuting from home. One of the many things you need to decide in preparation is whether you’ll drive or not.
There are pros and cons to driving to university. Whether it’s a trip to Nando’s or taking the heavy coursebooks with you on holidays, having a car in university will make it a lot easier to get around. Your friends will love you and the list of things to do on the weekends could also include road trips.
You might have trouble finding a place to keep it, when you’re not driving, and feel like it’s sitting there for nothing. Your friends might love your car a bit too much and you’ll end up being the designated driver every night.
If you do decide to drive to university, there are some things we advise you keep in mind.
Make sure you’re insured
Having your car insured is a legal requirement in the UK. If you haven’t done so already, you should spend some time researching the most suitable cover for you – it can be hard for a new driver without NCD (No Claims Bonus)!
At insurethebox we offer car insurance aimed at young people. We fit a black box to your car so that we can track your driving in order to reward you with a personalised renewal premium – if you drive safely. It’s also a great way of learning to drive better, and driving smoothly can further help you save money on fuel.
Maintain your car
If you want to avoid an early trip to the scrap yard or getting a fine for driving a car that’s not in the right condition, you should know how to maintain your car.
You don’t need a specialised mechanic to do the basic checks, just learn them yourself! Check your fluid levels and tyre pressures, especially if your car is loaded up, and test the lights.
If any of your dashboard warning lights have been switching on, go and have it checked before you set off. From battery faults and fuel problems to damaged tyres, it’s also good to understand the most common breakdown causes in case your car breaks down.
Lighten up your load
Research by Highways England shows that over half of students in the UK would drive an overloaded car. If you’re travelling far for university, it’s understandable you want to take as much with you as possible – but a heavy car full of loose items isn’t safe.
To drive smoothly you need to maintain an even distribution of weight in the car. The largest items should be in the boot to keep you and your passengers safe in case you need to brake harshly in an emergency.
For any items that don’t fit your boot, try to place the heavier items close to the centre of your car. Don’t stack anything and block your vision.
If it feels like you don’t have the full control and flexibility that you normally do when driving, leave something behind. Maybe this new chapter is a chance to try a less materialistic lifestyle too!
Highways England research also shows that 7 out of 10 students have driven while tired. But driver tiredness actually has the same effect as being over the drink-driving limit. In fact, one in six crashes resulting in death or injury are fatigue-related.
This is especially dangerous around the festive season, which for some university students is every week! It’s not enough to check that the alcohol has left your system, you also shouldn’t drive if you’re sleep-deprived.
Late night or not, we recommend taking at least a 20-minute-break for every 2,5 hours of driving. Have a look at some tips for driving when tired here.
Finally, the most important thing about this new chapter is to relax and enjoy! If you’ve prepared well and know how to drive safely, you’ll have a pleasant start to another year.