Safety tips for learner drivers

Learning to drive is an exciting part of your life – but with the freedom it brings, comes some pretty hefty responsibility. There’s a great deal to learn and get to grips with when you’re starting out driving. And if you don’t take it seriously, the consequences can be dire. Here are a few safety tips for learner drivers to keep in mind.

Stick to the speed limit

New Zealand police are getting stricter over enforcing the speed limit and will ticket drivers for even going a little over posted speed limits. There’s good reason for them to do this because at higher speeds you simply can’t stop as quickly in the event of an emergency and so as the saying goes “the faster you go the bigger the mess”.

And it’s not just about sticking to the speed limit on the open road. The same applies in an urban environment where lower speed limits apply. The graph below shows that the likelihood of a fatality in a car versus pedestrian accident greatly increases above 30 km/h. So going even 10 km/h over these lower speed limits is a much bigger deal than many people think.

Drive to the conditions

It’s as simple as that – slow down when it’s wet. Water on the road means it’s more difficult for your tyres to keep their grip on the road. The result is it takes longer to slow down if you have to stop in a hurry. But even when the weather is fine, remember that the speed limit is the maximum you can go under perfect driving conditions, it’s not a target to strive for.

Don’t drink and drive

Do we even need to mention this one? It’s really a no-brainer, but still worth remembering. Before you head out, make sure you’ve got a plan for how to get home. If there’s a chance you’ll drink, then don’t take your car. It’s not even worth having one drink in case it tempts you to have another. Here’s some hard hitting adverts in case you need further reminding.

Don’t text or talk on the phone while driving

It’s so easy to do but it’s a real no-no. It’s illegal and downright dangerous. In fact any kind of distraction can be dangerous, such as putting on makeup, eating/drinking and so on. Multi-tasking is more difficult than you think, try this test if you still need convincing.

Keep the condition of your car up to scratch

When you start out driving, often an older car is all you can afford. These sorts of vehicles really need to be maintained as they are more susceptible to problems. Make car maintenance a regular thing – check the oil and water, the window washer fluid, your wiper blades, and that there’s enough air in your tyres. And while you’re at it – give it a clean! A wax will help protect your car from rust which is one of the big problems with older vehicles, especially if they spend a lot of time outside (keeping it under cover is best).

Be prepared for the worst

Always have a mobile phone charger in your car. And a torch is another essential. But a few other important things could be the likes of a first aid kit and a blanket. If you have an older car you may also like to include a few extras such as jumper leads.

Join a roadside assistance scheme

It’s pretty cheap to join a roadside assistance scheme such as the AA or VTNZ. It’s also offered free by some insurance companies or when you purchase certain new cars, and sometimes even used cars from some dealers. You never know when you’ll need their help.