Young drivers may view themselves as unfairly maligned when it comes to road safety and accidents, and the truth is that most young people drive reasonably safely on the roads. But if you’re fairly new to the excitement of owning and driving your first car, whether you have full or provisional insurance, there are a few basic safety tips to follow.
Firstly, obey the rules. Now we know that some rules are meant to be broken, but the rules of the road are not. They are there for essential safety reasons. Other drivers might speed past you and use their mobile phones, but don’t be tempted to follow their example. Not only could you be putting yourself (and other drivers) at risk, getting caught could land you a fine or points on your licence. Not the ideal way to start out on your driving career.
Secondly, don’t be tempted to carry too many passengers. Even one additional person in the car can be a distraction, but a group of three or more people can be even more risky. This applies even more if your mates are encouraging you to show off. Few people are immune to the perils of peer pressure and younger people are especially at risk. With this in mind, it’s perhaps wise to avoid giving people lifts until you’ve built up some experience. Drunk people are notoriously unpredictable – don’t let them in your car. Just say no!
Avoid driving at night where possible. There are several reasons why driving at night is riskier than driving during the daytime. You might be sober and driving carefully but you stand an increased risk of running into drunk or dangerous drivers, so you need to be extra alert and attentive. Unfortunately, night-time also brings an increased risk of tiredness, so be aware of this and don’t drive if you feel tired. And remember that you need to be seen – check your lights before you head out.
It’s not just darkness that carries with it a need to be more aware of the driving conditions. A dry, sunny day is the perfect time in which to drive, but our climate doesn’t always allow for perfect driving conditions! Experience will bring increased confidence in gauging conditions, but it’s advisable to veer on the side of caution initially. If driving in heavy rain, maintain a larger distance from the car in front than you would usually, and it goes without saying that speed should also be reduced. Be careful when going around corners and be aware of any oncoming risks. Avoid driving in fog where possible but if you have to then make sure you know where the fog lights are before setting out – and use them. Avoid driving in snow.
If this all sounds like doom and gloom, remember that driving is a serious business and any lapse could put your (and other road users’) safety at risk. But there’s also good news. Young drivers might want to consider taking an advanced driving test to improve skills and build confidence. These courses not only cover adverse road conditions such as driving at night or on slippery surfaces, they’re also designed to be fun and encourage an assertive and responsible attitude towards driving. They might even reduce your premium.
So remember – stay calm, obey the rules, be aware of the driving conditions and gradually build your experience and confidence. You’re allowed to have fun too of course, but always enjoy yourself responsibly. At least when behind the wheel.