Once you’ve passed, you will of course no longer require the help of your driving instructor, and it’s time to hit the roads by yourself. While this can seem a bit daunting, once you’ve overcome the initial nerves and built up your confidence a bit, you’ll wonder what all the fuss was about.
5 tips for driving alone for the first time
Driving alone for the first time can be an exciting and nerve-wracking experience all in one. Now that you have your licence, the world is your oyster, and you can go on those road trips you’ve been dreaming about, but first things first you need to get the first solo drive out of the way. Here are our top tips for driving alone for the first time.
- Get comfortable
- Don’t rush to take your friends out
- Avoid driving during peak times
- Avoid any distractions
- Be confident
Get comfortable in the driver’s seat
It’s worth spending some time sitting in the driver’s seat with the engine off and playing around with the seat positioning and mirrors etc. Once you’ve got all of this set up correctly, it’s unlikely you’ll have to adjust them again, unless somebody else is driving your car and moves things around.
Both your interior and exterior mirrors will need adjusting for optimum viewing of your surroundings. You should be able to see the entire view from your back window in the interior mirror, move this around until you can see everything you can see from your rear window. Exterior mirrors should be angled so a small amount of the side of your car can be seen, with the horizon at the centre.
You can adjust the height and position of your seat using the controls on the side. You should test the seat position by pressing down on each pedal (with the engine switched off) and seeing which seat position feels most comfortable for using the pedals. One way to test if your seat is positioned correctly is to sit up straight and move your sear back and forth until you can easily press the pedals completely down without moving your body. You should only need to bend and extend your legs to press down on the pedals, and your heel should stay on the floor.
Don’t take your friends out straight away
You’re probably looking forward to picking up your friends and taking a road trip together, but we suggest having some time out on the road by yourself first to build up your confidence and driving experience. Having your friends with you could be a distraction and could also add pressure, making you feel even more nervous. Once you feel completely confident and ready, you can pick up your friends and show off your new driving skills.
Avoid driving during peak times
You should try and avoid driving during peak rush hour while you get used to life on the roads. You’ve more than likely experienced rush hour as a passenger before, so you’ll know how busy the roads can get and it can be very stressful, even for experienced drivers, let alone new drivers.
For your first few drives on your own, you could drive around quiet residential roads or an industrial estate, if you’re feeling more confident, you can head out on the main roads, but we recommend choosing a time when the roads are quiet so that you don’t get stressed out by other drivers.
Avoid any distractions
While you’re getting to grips with your new car and life as a new driver, you should avoid any distractions such as loud music or having too many passengers with you. During your time learning to drive, your instructor will not have been playing music in your lessons. This is so that you don’t become distracted if your favourite song comes on, help you hear the sounds from your car and be able to listen to your instructor properly. When you’re out on the roads by yourself, you won’t have your instructor to listen to, but you still should keep the music to a minimum if you think it’ll distract you.
As you get used to your new car, one of the best ways you can find your biting point is by listening to the sound the engine makes. The engine will start to make a slightly different noise when you’re at the biting point; you will have learnt to listen out for this change in sound during your lessons. The noise your car makes is also a signal for when it’s time to change gears; the engine will become louder when you need to shift up a gear.
Last but not least, be confident!
Driving is a mix of confidence, skills and knowledge. You already have the skills and knowledge needed to be a good driver; otherwise, you wouldn’t have passed your test, now you need to work on building up your confidence. The best way to build up your confidence on the roads is to practice as much as possible; confidence comes with experience so the more you can get out and put your skills to the test, the quicker you’ll grow in confidence.