Driving Tips and Advice For The New Licence Holder - Behind The Wheel of Your Automobile
Having just completed my first year of driving, incident free, behind the wheel of my much loved Nissan Micra, I felt compelled to give an insight into the trials and tribulations, the joys, the achievements, and my views of other fellow motorists during my first year. Third time lucky proved to be the case for me in my test and the delight I took in removing my “L” plates immediately was a mixture of extreme pleasure and sadness, as I said goodbye to my label as a “Learner Driver” to suddenly being “one of the gang”, a fully fledged licence holder.
The words uttered by my partner, the Motor Mechanic and my personal Driving Instructor, “Now the learning really begins”, really could not have rung more true! Reality bites the first time you realise you do not need to be accompanied by a full licence holder (law in Ireland for provisional licence holders). . . . . you are now that person! Maybe it is the maturity of age, but I hold the view that an automobile is a potential weapon that handled incorrectly may have devastating consequences. With that in mind, I have put together some tips and advice that I believe will definitely prove beneficial to achieving a safe driving mentality and attitude.
You never know when devilment will strike!!
Putting Lessons Learnt into Practice
Suddenly a whole new world of possibilities opens up. First step is the first outing alone. I remember sitting in my car in my underground car park and thinking, this is it . . . All decisions are now totally mine, what if I forget things? Will I be able to park at the shopping centre? After a few “warming in laps” in the car park, I drew a big deep breath, buzzed the gates open and I was off driving along in my automobile. Suddenly the brain seems to kick in and reacts automatically, much to my delight and satisfaction.
My pet hate had been roundabouts as a learner driver and I am surrounded by a large number of them in varying sizes where I live. Beads of sweat time, for the first approach that I made at my local busy 4 exit roundabout! The road markings suddenly become so important to know and you don’t have the help of your usual navigator in the passenger seat! Knowing when to join the roundabout takes practice and the more you do it, the more confident you become.
“When it’s time to go it’s time to go”, is another gem told to me when tackling roundabouts and it is so true. As a newbie driver I would (and still do) Google where I want to go so I know the route and what to expect, sometimes looking at less direct ways if I feel a bit nervous. Don’t be afraid to do this, you are in control, do things you are comfortable with and build up your confidence. You will be surprised how quickly you progress and try to make sure you drive as much as possible, even if it is a short distance. Another tip is to alternate your types of parking whenever possible, as this will increase your ability to manoeuvre in different situations and avoid the “panic stations” scenario.
Motorway Driving -
Living near the busy M50 motorway, this was the biggest challenge I faced because as a learner driver you are not allowed on Motorways. It is part of everyday life to the vast majority of City dwellers, so to master the rules and the rule breaking is important. I say rule breaking as here in southern Ireland, correct lane driving seems to be an obscure concept for many, and does irritate me, much to the amusement of my partner the Mechanic and Driving Instructor!!
Having held the opinion that everyone else driving has to be better than me, with their years of experience, I now see that I may have been premature in my thought process. In a nutshell, there are some dreadful motorway driving examples out there. It seems wrong that it does not feature (like a number of important issues) as part of your test, certainly in Ireland as there are so many things to consider. Weather conditions are a major factor that I don’t see drivers factoring in with speed and breaking distance adjustments.
Being a mature newbie I like to think brings some common sense approaches to driving so use them. Plan your first motorway drive knowing which exit you are going to need so that you are not caught out and feel the need to do something dangerous. Worst case you miss your exit and you just carry on until you can leave at the next one. I have done this a few times, so don’t panic; you will get to where you want to be, safely and in one piece.
Glove compartment: Have a wind up torch, tire pressure gauge, notes on tire changing, tube of “fast orange” (waterless hand cleanser), cloths and a pen and paper.
Challenge yourself: Set yourself little challenges and you will be amazed at all you will achieve. Something as simple as smooth gear changes (manual gearbox) or changing your first tire!
One Good Deed: Adopt the practice of doing at least one good deed as a driver. This could be allowing pedestrians to cross, allowing traffic out at a junction . . . . Something that will help others. I have even converted my partner to doing this as he thinks it is a great idea!
Dashboard lights/symbols: Know them all and their importance, if they come on . . STOP!!! A friend of mine stayed driving when a red light came on. She didn’t know what it was and suddenly there were awful noises and her car stopped. At the garage she learned that the light was the “oil pressure warning light” and probably the most important light on the dash. Worse still she learned that her engine was now scrap and a replacement was more expensive than her car was worth. She had to buy a new car but worse still the garage told her that if she had stopped when seeing the light on the dash, she would have had no issues with her car except to top up the oil. A very expensive lesson, be warned.
The warning lights shown below in the photograph left to right are
- The Battery Charge Warning Light
- The Oil Pressure Warning Light
- The Check Engine Warning Light
- The Break Fluid Warning Light
Please note, just as important as The Warning Lights is The Temperature Gauge, seen here above The Break Fluid Warning Light.
Enjoy Driving . .Stay Safe
Everyone has their own reasons as to when they start to learn to drive and when you do, it will open up so much freedom for you. For me it opened up location choices for employment that were not possible before, being able to shop where and when I wanted and to visit family and friends easier. My next challenge is to drive abroad in Italy which is for another day!
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