Stay one-step-ahead with these helpful driving tips
Learning to drive is all about getting you to a level where you are in control of your vehicle and able to drive safely and with confidence when you’re out on the road on your own. Getting to this level takes time, as there are many different elements to consider when learning how to control your car and how to safely navigate your surroundings.
Here we’ve compiled just a few of our top driving tips that learner drivers can benefit from knowing.
Top tips for learners
1. Mistakes happen.
Even to experienced drivers. But if you let yourself dwell on your mistakes, you’re more likely to lose focus and make more mistakes which can damage your confidence. Instead, let yourself learn from your mistakes and consider what went wrong and what you should have done instead – so you can apply that in the future.
2. Trust your decision making.
If it’s worth thinking about, it’s worth doing. Don’t underestimate your ability when thinking about taking an action like braking, changing gear, or signalling. If a little light came on the dash panel every time to tell you to brake, accelerate, signal, change gear, check the mirror etc, would you take action then? Every time something pops into your head, look at that thought as your dash panel light telling you to take that action now.
3. Your mirrors are your best friend.
Look at your mirrors as your wingman (quite literally). They’re here to give you the full picture and keep you safe. Check your mirrors often – before and after you do anything. You cannot wear out your mirrors. Your surroundings can change in an instant, so just because you checked your mirrors a few moments ago, you should still check again before you start a manoeuvre.
4. No time limits on roundabouts.
Emerging from a roundabout isn’t a race. Wait until there’s a safe gap with time to move off safely and stay in control. If in doubt, play it safe and don’t go. A more familiar way to think about roundabouts can be to judge it as if you were a pedestrian. If you would walk across the road, then it’s safe to drive off – if you wouldn’t begin to walk across, then it’s not safe to drive off.
5. Anticipate the road ahead.
You need to watch, plan, and anticipate as far ahead as you can. If you can see what’s going on ahead of you – way ahead of just the car in front of you – you can prepare and not get caught out. If you’re watching much further ahead, you can spot when cars in front are slowing down and braking, rather than just waiting until the car right in front of you has slammed on the breaks.
6. Straightforward parallel parking.
Parallel parking is a manoeuvre that people can often find tricky – but it doesn’t need to be. Keep it simple and just focus on the rear wheel on the curbside of your vehicle. Then all you have to do is focus on getting that rear wheel in-line with and beside the curb – without running into the curb, of course – and the rest of the car will follow.
7. Be kind to your fuel tank.
Fuel costs can add up, so why waste more than you need to? Avoid revving your engine while waiting at traffic lights, crossings, or busy junctions as this uses unnecessary fuel. Why use up fuel when you’re not even moving? Your gas pedal is like a tap – the more you press it down, the more fuel is sucked out of your tank and the more money you need to spend.
8. Driving test nerves.
It’s normal to feel nervous before your driving test, your job is to stay in control of them so you can concentrate on the task at hand. Think of your test as just another driving lesson or as if you’re giving a lift to a friend who’s giving you instructions. Remember, your examiner isn’t looking to fail you – they simply want to know whether you’re ready to safely drive on your own without endangering yourself or other road users.
9. Driving at night. Visibility is obviously reduced when it’s dark outside, so extra caution is needed. It’s also a good idea to avoid looking at the headlights of any vehicles coming towards you – as these can blind you and also cause you to miss potential hazards near to you. We also instinctively steer towards what we’re looking at, so stay focused on the road ahead of you.
10. Country roads. There are plenty of country roads around which can be narrow, lacking in road markings, and feature sharp bends. It can be difficult to sometimes know where country roads are going next due to tall hedges, trees, and winding roads. Look out for telephone poles with cables running between them, as this can help guide you to where the road is heading to.
– Kayleigh Hodge, Pangbourne, 28th February 2020
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