During lessons, you constantly dream about the time you finally pass and can get on the roads independantly. However, for many newly passed drivers, when they are faced with the task of being in control of the car without the support of their instructor, a sudden wave of nerves come over them. Your first journey driving alone with no instructor for reassurance can be incredibly daunting, but with preparation and staying calm, we can guarantee that it won’t be as scary as you may think.
How To Conquer Driving Alone
There are many different tips and tricks you’re likely to hear time and time again to keep in mind when you pass, but it’s important only to do what you feel comfortable with. If you don’t want to jump straight into driving after gaining your licence, there is no pressure. You are likely to hear from your instructor, friends and family that the real test begins the moment you are behind the wheel alone and this is true. Most of your driving knowledge and skills are taught through trial, error and experience on the roads, so if you feel as though you aren’t quite ready, then take your time. You can even consider taking a pass plus course to gain confidence in your own car without the support of dual controls.
Either way, it is highly recommended to carry out a set of steps when preparing yourself for your first journey alone. To get you started, we’ve devised a list of the top tips to ease the pressure a little.
Now you’ve passed, your car is likely to become your second home, so it’s important you feel comfortable. Think back to your very first driving lesson, what was one of the initial tasks your instructor set you? Was it to adjust your seat and mirror positioning to suit you? If the answer is yes, which it most likely is, do the same before your first journey.
Getting the perfect seat and mirror positioning is probably going to take a little experimentation and playing around with adjustments. Both your interior mirror and both side mirrors need to be at an angle which allows you to see as much of your surroundings as possible. If this was something you instructor always prepared prior to your lesson, not to worry, the Driving Test Tips website has a full guide you may want to spend some time reading through.
Again, pinpointing the right seat positioning for you is vital, and although it may take time at first, once you’ve got it, you won’t have to worry about the task again. Always move your seat positioning with the car stationary and the engine off because you’ll need to test out how well you can push down each petal.
Invest In P Plates
Although P Plates are optional, if you’re feeling particularly nervous about your first journey after passing, they are most definitely a worthwhile investment. P Plates can be displayed as long as you feel as if they are required. There are no rules or regulations regarding the use of P Plates, so technically they can be displayed for however long you want, at any point of your driving lifetime, or alternatively, not at all.
Some new drivers are incredibly confident with their skills and take to driving as second nature, so may decide to avoid displaying any indication that they have only recently passed. However, displaying P Plates will give you slightly more leeway with other road users, and they are likely to be considerably more patient if you make the odd mistake. It shows other drivers that this is a new experience for you and it may take you a little extra time to get your head around things, so they shouldn’t put any pressure on you.
Be Confident In Your Skills
The idea of other drivers being more patient leads on perfectly to our next great tip. Be confident in your skills, your examiner passed you for a reason, and this is because you are a good driver. Don’t let other drivers intimidate you if they decide to lose their temper and become impatient. We would love to say that every other road user will be kind and considerate, but this, unfortunately, just isn’t realistic. Stick to the road rules you’ve been taught, take action on what you think is safe and ignore them if they become rude.
Decide Whether You Need A Passenger For Support
It is entirely your choice whether your first journey driving independently is with the support of a passenger or alone. Everyone deals with nerve-wrecking situations differently. Where some people may like to have a trusty companion by their side, others prefer the peace and quiet of dealing with the scenario alone.
If you do opt for having a passenger with you for support, we suggest enlisting the help of a family member or trustworthy friend who is an experienced driver. Avoid picking all of your friends up for a road trip on your first journey alone; it will put you under immense pressure and essentially, you will have a car full of distractions.
A quick journey around your housing estate or a quiet industrial area during off-peak hours is perfect for conquering your first trip alone. Pick a location you are familiar with and slowly navigate around, experimenting with different bite points and speeds.
Lastly, Ditch The Phone!
Over 10,000 people are prosecuted each year for being caught using their phone while driving; this can be anything from texting to merely changing a song on their playlist. As a new driver, in your first two years of driving, you can only afford to get six points on your licence before you lose it. Being caught using a mobile device while driving will leave you with the whole six points.
The law states that you can use your mobile phone for navigation, to have a phone call and listen to music, only if it is connected to a hands-free device. You cannot touch or operate your phone at any point while driving, and this includes being stuck in traffic or stationary at a traffic light. Save your licence and spend a little extra money getting a mobile phone holder and Bluetooth kit.
We’ve had a few pupils in the past who recently passed after taking driving lessons in Oxford and came to us in a panic because they were caught on their phone while driving. The area was quiet, and there were no other cars around, so they thought they were safe and decided to send a quick text or skip a song. However, they were still caught by officers.
Enjoy Your First Journey Alone
If you follow our top tips, stay calm and practice as much as you feel as if you need, we can guarantee that you will have no problems. We hope that our article has helped to ease your nerves a little!