Congratulations! You’ve passed your driving test and you’ve torn up the L plates – so what now? Here are my top tips for new drivers.
Can it really be nearly 20 years since I got my driver’s licence?
As my son approaches his 17th birthday, he’s getting excited about getting his L plates and getting behind the wheel. Meanwhile I’ve been thinking back to when I passed my test and how I felt as a new driver.
I learned fairly late by most people’s standards, and passed my test just before my 24th birthday. I can still remember how exciting it was to finally have the freedom to travel wherever I wanted, rather than being reliant on rural public transport.
So Aviva have asked me to come up with my top tips for new drivers, to help them through this exciting time.
Take it Steady
It’s really exciting when you finally get your full driving licence. After months of driving lessons and one or more driving tests, you’re itching to hit the open road.
But don’t rush into a mammoth road trip for your first solo driving experience.
Although you may feel ready to drive on your own, it feels very different without the guidance of a driving instructor. And it’s understandable if you’re feeling a little nervous about it.
So make your first solo trip a quick nip around local roads that you know well.
I drove for the first time on my own very early on a Saturday morning, so that the roads would be even quieter. That way, I knew that I could take my time about pulling out at junctions, and wouldn’t have much traffic to deal with.
Making sure you know the financial basics of running a car is an important part of being on the road.
Simple things like checking your route so that you don’t add miles to your journey and £££ to your petrol bill. Or keeping your tyres inflated to the right pressure to make your car as fuel efficient as possible.
And always remember to check around for the best deals on your car insurance at renewal time. Aviva offer an app which will monitor your driving skills and help you to save money on your
It also comes with an integrated dash cam which can help give you peace of mind on the road.
Get P plates
If you’re feeling a little nervous about driving without an instructor, you may like to fit green P ‘probationary’ plates to your car.
These aren’t a legal requirement, but they show that you have just passed your driving test. You can keep them on your car for as long as you wish.
If you’re in Northern Ireland, you must display ‘R’ plates (restricted driver plates) on your car for the first 12 months after you pass your test.
Motorway Driving Lessons
Driving on the motorway for the first time can certainly be a bit nervewracking. Driving at higher speeds and filtering into traffic from the slip road can feel a bit daunting at first.
Learner drivers can now drive on the motorway before they pass their test with an approved instructor and a dual control car. But if you didn’t do this before your test, a short course of motorway driving lessons can help to put you at ease.
Before long you’ll feel much more comfortable and confident on motorway journeys.
Another good option for new drivers is the Pass Plus scheme.
This is a practical training course that helps drivers to improve their skills and drive more safely. Anyone can take the course, but it’s most useful to new drivers in the first 12 months after they pass their test.
The course covers skills like driving on rural roads or at night, and takes a minimum of 6 hours to complete. You’ll need to find a Pass Plus registered approved driving instructor (ADI), but some councils offer discounts off the cost of Pass Plus training.
Learn some Basic Car Maintenance
My final tip is to learn some basic car maintenance. You don’t need to become a motor expert, but knowing how to maintain your car is an important part of being a good driver.
As well as knowing how to fill up with petrol, you should learn basic skills like checking your oil, coolant and windscreen wiper fluid. Make sure you know the correct tire pressure for your car, and how to check it, as well as how to check the tread on your tyres. It’s also a good idea to know how to change a flat tyre, even if you have roadside assistance.
And make sure you know what all of the lights on your dashboard mean!