Both driving lessons and driving tests have been undeniably affected by COVID-19 over the last 18 months however, with restrictions lifting over the summer in Scotland and throughout the UK, they have thankfully been allowed to re-start. As an unfortunate result, it has been reported by the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) that there is a significant backlog with many test centres fully booked through till December 2021.
For those who’ve been lucky enough to secure a slot and have recently gained their driver’s license, or for those who have perhaps passed at some time in the last 18 months and haven’t had much driving experience since we understand that journeys as a new driver can be nerve-wracking. Especially if it’s your first time in the car without an instructor or another driver.
Brake, the road safety charity, recently reported that road traffic accidents are one of the leading causes of death amongst young people, and the main cause of death among those aged 15–29 years. As such, it’s vital that new drivers know the steps they can take to stay safe on the roads, and what their options are for compensation claims if they are injured in an accident that wasn’t their fault.
At Bonnar Accident Law we have significant experience handling road accident claims so get in touch today if you have any questions or keep reading for our top tips on how new drivers can feel at ease on the roads.
The Risks to New Drivers
Driving at Night
In 2019, 37% of young driver fatalities and serious injuries occurred in the nine-hour period between 9 pm and 6 am, despite roads being relatively quiet during this period. Nighttime driving can be considered particularly risky for all drivers, no matter their age or level of confidence, due to the lack of light, decreased visibility of hazards and likelihood of drivers being more tired with diminished concentration levels. However, it’s deemed to be even risker for young new drivers as they may be more likely to take risks from peer pressure, to drive under the influence or to be distracted by passengers who are intoxicated.
Over-Confidence and Speeding
There’s a fine line when driving between confidence and arrogance, and it’s natural for young drivers to feel they have mastered the ability to drive once they’ve passed their test and have gained more driving experience. However, over-confidence can be a recipe for disaster and cause drivers to overestimate their ability to respond to hazards, whilst underestimating the risks associated with factors such as speeding. Excessive speed is a key contributor to road traffic accidents throughout the UK as young drivers often don’t have the experience or know-how to react appropriately to a dangerous situation.
It goes without saying that young people are subject to peer pressure in many areas of their life, and as a result, may show off to achieve a favourable status amongst their friends. Research has shown that newly qualified drivers with a car full of passengers of a similar age are four times more likely to be in a fatal crash, compared to when they’re driving alone. However, when carrying older adult passengers, young drivers are less likely to crash, which indicates that these accidents are caused by peer pressure rather than simply the presence of passengers.
Tips for New Drivers to Stay Safe
Plan Ahead for New or Long Journeys
Make sure you leave yourself plenty of time if you’re driving a new route and familiarise yourself with the route beforehand to help build up your confidence. On the day, utilise Sat Nav or GPS devices to help guide you and schedule comfort breaks at least every 2 hours on longer journeys.
If you have passengers in the car with you, treat them as your responsibility and avoid doing anything that would put you, or them, at risk. This includes showing off by driving faster or taking risks, giving into peer pressure and not becoming distracted by your mobile phone or excessively loud music.
If you experience any aggressive behaviour on the roads, the best course of action is to stay calm, maintain a steady speed and avoid any confrontation. If you do give in to road rage and feel shaken at all, pull over at the next safe place to stop and allow yourself time to calm down and gather your thoughts before you continue your journey.
Know Your Car
Make sure you know the warning signs on your car and have at least a basic knowledge of car maintenance in case something does go wrong on the road. Emergency car kits including de-icer, jump leads, phone chargers and even a spare tyre can a lifesaver, especially in the winter. And whilst it may seem obvious, keep an eye on your fuel throughout your trip and don’t leave filling up until the last minute.
Take Your Time
Don’t feel pressured by other drivers if you are on a road or at a junction you don’t feel sure of. It’s far better to take your time and only go when you feel it’s safe to do so. If you’re driving at night, be extra cautious and avoid the temptation to speed when the roads are quieter. Lastly, as a new driver, you will feel tired quicker as driving takes up a lot of energy and concentration so don’t stress about not getting to your destination quickly and make sure you pull over for a rest break if you start to feel sleepy on the roads.
What do I do if I am involved in a Road Traffic Accident?
We completely understand how distressing being in an accident will be as a new driver. If you’re taking shaken at the time to clearly identify who was at fault, do not admit liability or responsibility, rather just stay calm and try to remember as many details as possible to help support your Road Traffic Accident compensation claim.
It’s important you gather as much information and evidence as you can at the time. This includes the registration, make and model of the vehicle as well as the other name, address, contact details and insurance details of the other driver involved. If it’s possible take videos or photographs of the scene and the contact details of any witnesses. Most importantly, seek medical attention as soon as possible if required and report to your GP following any hospital admissions, and always report the accident to the police.
If you have been injured in a road traffic accident that wasn’t your fault and you would like more information, please get in touch with one of our No Win No Fee solicitors today.