​​​​It's a big step going from driving with an instructor or other accompanying driver to driving alone and can perhaps seem very daunting. It might even make passing your driving test appear like a walk in the park! However, you're becoming more independent and it's normal to be a little nervous.

Here's a few pointers to help you on your way.

Your first drive

Keep it simple. Maybe just go around the block with nobody else in the car but you have the reassurance that someone will be waiting at home. Keep expanding the area you're driving around until you feel more confident to venture further afield. Remember that you will likely have been driving to and from home as part of your driving lessons (unless you're taking lessons when you're at work or school/college) so the immediate area should be familiar to you.

Know your car

Your car is likely to be different from your driving instructor's car. Does your car have all the same gadgets and reference points for parking? Take time to learn about the controls and especially for lights and wipers. For example, many cars have auto lights so you don't need to switch them on when it's dark. What about older cars that don't have auto lights - do you know where the light switch is and when to put the lights on?

The size of your car may be different, possibly larger, than your instructor's car. Practice parking in a quiet car park or street and get a feel for the size of the car and the reference points you can use to help with the various parking manoeuvres you will be doing. Don't be afraid of getting it wrong a few times, practice makes perfect after all.

Lifts

Hold off on giving people lifts until you feel confident about driving when you have others in the car. You want to show your friends and family that you can drive, and they may even be pressuring you to give them lifts to places (parents especially when they want to go out for an evening!) but you want to be confident that having the distraction of others in the car isn't going to put you off your driving. Get a little experience driving solo and then think about passengers.

 

 

New Drivers Act & Penalty Points

If you receive 6 or more penalty points on your licence in the first two years after passing your driving test, your licence will be revoked by the DVSA and you will have to resit your theory and driving test. Who wants to go through all that again?

Examples of endorsable offences:

Speeding - minimum of 3 penalty points and £100 fine.

No insurance - minimum of 6 penalty points and £300 fine.

Using handheld electronic devices whilst in charge of vehicle - minimum of 6 penalty points and £200 fine.

Using a handheld electronic device

Using a handheld electronic device (e.g. mobile phone, iPad or other tablet) is an offence when you are driving the car - that much is obvious. However, you could also be charged with the offence if you are parked at the side of the road or in a queue of traffic and still have the engine running as you are deemed to still be in control of the vehicle. To minimise the change of being charged with this offence, you should pull over in a safe and legal place, turn the engine off and remove the key from the ignition before using the device.

If the device is in a holder/cradle that is attached to the car (e.g. air vent mount, windscreen mount) then this would be exempt as you're not holding the device when using it. However this is still a distraction and should be avoided.

P Plates

Swap the L plates for some P plates and you're letting other road users know that you're a new driver. Hopefully they'll then be a little more understanding if you take a little longer moving away from traffic lights or at a roundabout, or make any little mistakes. Remember that all drivers make mistakes, so if you do make a mistake learn from it and don't fret about it.

 

 

You've done it. Beaten the nerves and shown the examiner that your driving is at a safe level to be able to drive unaccompanied on the roads.

Congratulations.

But learning doesn't stop there. Every day on the roads is different, you will come across different situations and you will need to deal with those, possibly without anyone else in the car to ask for guidance.

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