You should maintain and service your vehicle correctly, the service schedules are based on the age and mileage of the vehicle, see your car's manufacturers guide for details or contact your local garage. Make sure the tyre treads are legal and the tyre pressures are correct - this includes having a legal spare tyre. Ensure all the lights are working before heading off and if the weather conditions are poor make sure your windows are clear before moving. If you are ever in doubt of the safety of your vehicle seek advice from your local garage.
You are legally required to have a valid MOT, road tax and insurance on your vehicle which needs to be renewed every year.
For advice on driving in poor weather conditions see our blog: Vehicle winter checks and tips
READ THE ROAD AHEAD
Make sure you are extra vigilant when driving. Drivers of all different ages and driving experience are on the roads with you. Take some of the following precautions when driving:
- Maintain a safe distance behind the vehicle in front as this will give you more time to react to anything that happens ahead. For example, if the driver in front slams their brakes on then you have a time advantage and are less likely to hit into the back of them. Being able to brake in time instead of swerving the vehicle will prevent the possibility of you losing control of the vehicle. If someone is tailgating you stay calm and pull over when it is safe if you feel necessary to do so.
- Recognise and anticipate potential hazards before they develop. E.g. if you are coming up to a set of traffic lights and they turn red you should begin to slow down within plenty of time. You shouldn't need to brake heavily when the car in front slows down or once you are really close to the lights. By doing this you are driving economically and will cut down your fuel expenses, see our blog for further information on driving economically. Another example would be when the traffic lights turn green check that the intersection is clear before you go, another driver could have skipped a red light and could be driving in your direction.
- Mirrors, ensure that you check your mirrors when you change speed and direction.
Avoid having any distractions in your vehicle. You shouldn't drink or eat whilst driving or use your mobile phone, to prevent your phone from being a distraction you could consider turning it on silent. As a new driver even loud music can be distracting so whilst you are becoming familiar to the vehicle you could consider turning the radio down or off until you are completely comfortable with driving.
Driving with a group of friends can be off-putting even for the most experienced of drivers. You should experience driving on your own and/or with a responsible adult before giving lifts to friends.
ARE YOU IN THE RIGHT CONDITION TO DRIVE?
Before setting off on any journey, however short, you should always be in a good driving condition. So if you have had an argument with someone or are upset it is advisable that you don't drive as your judgement may be misguided. If you feel tired or feel yourself becoming drowsy whilst driving you should pull over at the next service station or next safe place to have a high-caffeine drink and a rest.
Although by law you are legally able to drive with a small amount of alcohol consumption we'd recommend not driving at all if you've been drinking. Even the smallest amount of alcohol can affect your reaction time and judgement.
For more advice on drink and tired driving see our blog: Driving in the festive season
BAD DRIVING HABITS
Try to avoid picking up bad habits, you should comply with all traffic rules i.e. wearing a seatbelt, sticking to the speed limits, stopping at red lights and giving way at junctions etc.
Make sure all your passengers are also buckled up before you pull away.
Vehicle shunts, crashes and breakdowns are inevitable, no matter how responsible you are. In case of an emergency you should keep the following items in your car:
- A phone with a substantial amount of battery
- Emergency phone numbers: Parents/Next of Kin & break down recovery
- Insurance details
- First aid kit
- Bottled water and long-life food
- Torch and extra batteries
If you are going on a long or over-night journey you should always tell someone where you are travelling to.
REMEMBER the more driving experience you have, the more you will increase in confidence and improve.