What are some helpful tips for novice drivers?

  • If you can't see the mirrors of the lorry / truck / vehicle in front of you, they can't see you - pull back.
  • Don't have music on when you're first driving about. Wait a few months. After that it's useful as it can be relaxing - if you listen to the right sort of music.
  • Chewing gum can be good to relax any nerves as eating is normally done when you're relaxed so your brain is fooled into thinking all is okay rather than in charge of a ton or more of lethal weapon.
  • Know the intersection of the road with the window. For my little car I'm best positioned when the driver's side line is at the very bottom corner of the window and the passenger's side line / pavement is at the node on my window wiper.
  • Position the mirrors before you set off.
  • Adjust the steering wheel so the top is an arms length away.
  • Sit up straight so you can see well down the road.
  • Leave  two second gap to the car in front at all times.
  • Leave gaps when sat in traffic - letting people merge into your lane or join your road from a side-street makes things quicker and easier for everyone - be generous and patient.
  • Keep your hands at quarter to three - if an airbag deploys and you've your hands crossed you can break your arm and nose!
  • Know that the first aim whenever you get in the car is for everyone to get out alive. Getting to your destination is second, getting there on time is third.
  • If someone tries to intimidate you by tailgating then slow down rather than speed up. When you can pull over or change lanes to let them pass.
  • If in a queue of traffic at a light on a hill then at the least leave enough of a gap to see "tyres and tarmac", if they roll back they likely won't hit you.
  • Slow before a corner or bend in the road and then gently accelerate through the bend if safe - breaking during a bend can be dangerous and cause over-steer or a spin.
  • Don't drive to the speed limit (as a target to be achieved) - drive within it, and drive to the conditions. In the UK a single carriage road can have a speed limit of 60 mph, but taking that road in the rain at night at 60 mph would be foolish to say the least.
  • Use reflections on cars and shop windows to get extra information.
  • Consider what is around that bend - if you can't see past the bend at all then don't take it at a speed where there could be an accident. I recently was coming off a motorway (70 mph) to join another, the slip road connecting the two was a long tight curve, it was marked at 50 mph, but in the rain and at night I took it closer to 30 mph. The car behind me was obviously irritated by my lethargy and was so close to be practically sitting in my rear seat. As we passed the apex of the curve there was a car was on the side of the road that had obviously been in an earlier accident having taken the bend too quickly. The tailgater backed off.

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