Getting your driving license and starting driving lessons is one of the most exciting events when you are a teenager, as driving can mean freedom and adventure. Finally you can see a time when you will be able to get to all the places you want to go without having to take the bus or ask the parents to ferry you there.
There can also be a lot of peer pressure to pass your test and get a car – and this can make the process of learning to drive stressful, especially if you don’t pass first time and your mates do.
Most people don’t pass their test first time – and actually taking the test more than once can eventually turn you into a better driver, rather than sailing through it and becoming overconfident. Overconfidence in an inexperienced driver can soon result in an accident and possibly a tragedy.
Younger drivers may also feel peer pressure to drink and drive or take drugs and drive – and it can be easy to underestimate how quickly just a few sips of alcohol can affect your judgement behind the wheel, especially if you are driving at night.
This is not to say that just because you are a teenager you cannot be a brilliant driver – but there is no need to rush the process of learning to drive, or feel bad if you don’t pass your test first time. The more you drive the better you will be – so enjoy every lesson and driving experience. Here’s how:
- Listen to your instructor and make the Highway Code your preferred bedtime reading material. The Highway Code is a mine of useful and essential information which will not only keep you safe, but will make you a much better driver and give you more control over your car.
- Respect your car – cars are dangerous, difficult to control and impossible to drive when you first start driving. Cars are cool, but they can kill and maim in a split second, so never take risks behind the wheel.
- Passengers place their trust in you, so respect that trust and put your passengers first – in left-side shunts it is the passenger who is injured or killed, so never shoot the lights or pull out of junctions without bothering to look.
- Practice braking – in every situation possible. When you first learn to drive, approaching a junction can be terrifying experience and you wonder how you will ever judge how to slow down in time without your instructor raising their voice, taking control – or getting ready to bail out. You will be able to judge braking at junctions, but it takes practice and concentration.
- Don’t get cocky behind the wheel or show off: showing off distracts your attention away from driving and focuses it on your own ego – focus on the road ahead and your driving, which will earn you much more kudos than ending up wrapped round a lamp-post.
- Don’t drink and drive, or do drugs and drive – just don’t even go there, as living with permanent disability or the guilt of a passenger being injured can wreck your life. If your mates don’t think it’s cool if you stay sober on a night out, let them find and pay for a cab home while you drive back in safety – they’ll soon change their minds.
- Take a Young Driver course to complement your lessons. Ask Bank of Mum and Dad to pay for it as a birthday or Christmas present – Get in Gear (http://www.get-in-gear.co.uk/) offers an Advanced Driver course for those who have passed their test the previous year. If you are 14-plus and are interested in driving, some driving institutes offer Junior Driving Courses – see the under-17s course run by Driver Skills (http://www.driverskills.com/shop/under-17-driving-lessons-yorkshire-p-12.html) or the Young Driver Scheme (www.youngdriverscheme.org).
- Learn about how to maintain your car and when it will need servicing –pay attention to tyres, headlights, oil and water, and the pedals, which can become worn with heavy usage.
- Don’t turn your car into a mobile nightclub – playing music so loudly that you are oblivious to other road users is dangerous and also inconsiderate, especially if you are driving at night: no one likes to be woken up by a passing bass line at 4am, so turn it down.
Road accidents are now one of the main causes of personal injury among Brits in the UK and abroad. Don’t take risks or get into confrontations with other drivers and keep yourself safe – it is better to drive carefully and arrive at your destination late, than not to arrive at all.
Disclaimer: This article is for information only and is not intended as an instruction manual or as safety advice. All drivers should obtain professional tuition and pass a driving test before driving cars and other vehicles and should follow the advice of their instructor and in line with the Highway Code. The publishers and authors of this article accept no liability for any accidents or incidents which occur as a result of not obtaining professional driving instruction or any incident which occurs as a result of following the advice in this article, as other circumstances may also contribute to any accidents or incidents which do occur. Always practise driving in a safe open location away from other road users and pedestrians, under professional supervision.
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