You are here

Help for young drivers (that you may not learn at driving school)

25 October 2021

Help for young drivers (that you may not learn at driving school)

It’s one thing knowing the road rules and passing your driving test but nothing quite makes up for experience.

Driving requires skills not just in vehicle control but also in scanning the road ahead, identifying potential hazards and knowing how to respond to pressures and distractions. Although only time and practice will hone your skills as a driver, we’ve put together a list to alert young drivers to some things only the benefit of time can usually bring.

We’ve put together a list of some of the most common things that can affect young drivers:

Passengers

Anything that takes your eyes off the road, hands off the wheel or your mind off driving can be dangerous. Even a short 2 second lapse in concentration can have lifelong consequences as this can double your risk of a crash.

Passengers can be distracting and noisy. They can also encourage you to take unnecessary risks such as speeding and breaking the rules. Don’t be shy to ask passengers not to distract you. When you’re driving, their life is in your hands and you all have a right to be safe.
 

Mobile phones

Between phone calls, text messages, pings from various social media accounts, our mobile phones seem to be alerting us constantly. Notifications can be distracting for anyone, and probably more so for young people. 

Checking mobile phones while driving is fast becoming the most common cause of young driver incidents and even a moment of distraction can prove fatal. 

Given the power of mobile phone distraction and the consequences that can follow, the best best practice for young drivers is to turn off mobile phones when they get in the car. At the very least, place it out of reach in the back of the car - even placing it in the glove box can be too enticing.

Risky behaviours

Being young, certain areas of your brain responsible for impulse control, planning and decision making are still developing. This combined with inexperience could mean you underestimate particular risks or situations and overestimate your capacity to deal with them. Risky driving behaviour includes speeding, driving when tired, driving without a seatbelt and driving under the influence of alcohol or other drugs.

The skills to anticipate and accurately assess driving hazards develop over time, but they’re certainly not fully there for young drivers, so you should take extra precautions to reduce those risks.

Drowsy driving

Driver fatigue is one of the biggest killers on the road, and while it can affect anyone, young people are at higher risk due to less driving experience and high rates of sleep deprivation. Driving when you’re tired has been found to have similar effects to driving drunk.

If you’re planning a late night out or are still tired from the night before it’s best you avoid driving and find an alternative option till you’ve had a good sleep.

Poor Weather conditions

110 hours of lessons may seem like a lot but this is by no means enough to have covered every kind of weather condition you will encounter. It always pays to drive to the conditions. Slow down in wet weather and use headlights on low beam to help other drivers see you. For safe breaking allow extra distance to the vehicle in front. 

To improve visibility in fog, snow or bad weather, you should use fog lights or headlights on low-beam. Other things you can do include ensuring your windscreen wipers are in good working order and using the air conditioner or demister to keep the windscreen clear. Also avoid sudden braking or steering actions and don’t attempt to overtake if you need to quickly accelerate.

Car Maintenance

A few simple steps can help save money, prolong the life of your vehicle and increase the safety of you and your passengers. All of these steps should be laid out simply in your car’s owner’s manual.

Here are some jobs you can do yourself.

  • Regularly check engine oil – with the car parked on level ground, pull the dipstick out, wipe clean, and push it back in the tube all the way. Remove and have a look at the oil level. If it’s too low, add about 100ml and wait a while before checking again.

  • Keep radiator water and coolant topped up - First ensure your engine has cooled down. If it’s still hot, it’s still under pressure and can burn you if you try to take the radiator cap off. As a precautionary measure, always use a large cloth to take the radiator cap off. Your engine cannot go without coolant, so it’s one of the most important maintenance checks you can do.

  • Maintain tyres - The wrong tyre pressure can cost a lot in fuel and lead to premature wear. Check regularly using a tyre pressure gauge and inflate to the recommended level, usually marked on the driver’s inside door. Also check tyres for uneven wear, nails, tears and missing rubber from hitting a kerb.

  • Change oil filters – to prolong your engine’s life, change the filter every other oil change, or every 9500 to 25,000 kilometres.

  • Seal any cracks or chips in windows - A small crack or chip in a window can easily become a large one so it’s important to address this as soon as you see it. By acting immediately, you may be able to stop the crack from spreading by using a windscreen repair kit.

Car insurance

And don’t forget to insure your car. You’ll need compulsory third party (CTP) insurance to even register your car. In Western Australia it’s included in the rego price, but everywhere else, like South Australia, it’s purchased separately. Further coverage is optional, but it pays to have insurance because accidents do happen and car repairs and replacements can be expensive. 

Tags:

Road Rules
Driving Test
Driving Hazards