You’ve passed your test and are now, legally, a ‘driver’. Perhaps you’ve just finished school, or maybe university, and, as you head out into the working world, you are about to buy your first car. Whilst this is a joyous time for many, it can also be nerve-wracking knowing that you are now on your own. One in four newly qualified drivers will be involved in an accident within two years of passing their test, according to the AA.
It’s important that, as a new driver, you are confident in your abilities. This makes driving a more fun and stress-free experience. You should, after all, be happy with what you have achieved! But equally, ensuring that you are following road rules and regulations and driving safely will safeguard you against becoming a part of that statistic. In this post, we have compiled some ways to help you practice safe driving and combat anxiety as you transition from a learner to a fully-fledged driver.
Mix it Up
Before you’ve passed your test, ask your driving instructor to take you on some unusual routes. Get used to driving in new and different areas so you can be prepared for the unexpected. Learner drivers can sometimes be fixated on passing their test, and neglect the actual experience of developing varied driving abilities. The more variety you can pack into your lessons, the more variety you will be prepared for in real life! The driving charity BRAKE has said that young drivers are less likely to spot hazards because of inexperience. Don’t just practice in your local town; head further afield. If you have already passed, consider taking PassPlus. It’s a practical training course that helps you work on your driving abilities and motorway skills.
Get to know your car
If you’ve bought a new car, spend half an hour or so learning the functions. Windscreen wipers, indicators, even the fuel cap opening (and how it is released). New drivers can start to panic if they are already driving and discover something isn’t where they expected it to be. BRAKE spoke to one young driver who had been caught by the police driving without his lights on because he wasn’t sure how they worked. Make sure that’s not you!
You aren’t alone
Many nervous new drivers think that they’re alone in their anxiety. Feeling under pressure to show off with their friends, young drivers will bury anxiety. This can lead to suppressed feelings of concern, with the new driver feeling like everyone else is more confident than them. Fear of driving is far more common than you think, so accepting that you’re nervous and then tackling the problem is key. It’s all about small steps and ensuring you feel comfortable when driving. Make sure that your passengers aren’t distracting you and that they understand that their safety is your responsibility.
Practice, Practice, Practice
Incidents will often occur when the driver is experiencing unusual conditions, such as wet weather or driving late at night when they are tired. Try to practice in some slightly challenging conditions with a trusted companion. If you’ve driven in rain in a calm environment before, then getting caught in a rain shower alone will be less of a challenge.
Driving at night requires different skills to daytime driving; the ABI found that the risk of crashing at night was significantly higher and that young drivers were the most likely to drive at this time.
Account for the potential for the bad decisions of other drivers. Anticipate that everyone will not always be perfect. We all make mistakes and leaving enough space and time to deal with unexpected situations means that you will not find yourself panicking as a result of someone else’s error!
If you find yourself becoming anxious whilst driving then it is okay to pull over (when it is safe to do so) and take a minute to breathe.
So, if you’re a new driver, a recent test-passer or even just finding yourself getting anxious about driving then follow the above tips to help de-stress your drive. Many young drivers have found that by being able to track their driving with a black box, they have adapted and developed safer driving techniques. Our insurance policies mean you can review your driving behaviour through the feedback in your online Portal, and find out where you can improve. If you would like to get a quote or find out more about how telematics can help you drive safely as a new driver then please get in touch.